Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), accused Ponomarev of libel and unlawful commercial activity. According to Ponomarev, he now figures only in the investigation of the activity of Aleksei Beltyukov, vice president of Skolkovo. According to the investigation’s story, Mr. Beltyukov unlawfully gave Ilya Ponomarev, deputy of the State Duma, $750,000 from Skolkovo’s funds.
Margarita Polyanskaya: I understand that you were told at an interrogation about the Skolkovo Fund case that no criminal case will be opened on Zhirinovsky’s complaint?
Ilya Ponomarev: Yes, that’s entirely correct.
Margarita Polyanskaya: How did the interrogation go?
Ilya Ponomarev: It was absolutely constructive. To be sure, we talked together for six hours. But I got the impression that the investigation really does want to establish the truth. I understand what exactly drew the attention of the investigation — there were all kinds of petty procedural lapses on the part of the fund in the sense of registration of papers. All of this attracted attention, made them cautious, and the investigation is clarifying all the circumstances connected to this. But I have the impression that we can prove that there were no violations, and certainly not at a criminal level, in this process.
Margarita Polyanskaya: The investigators wanted to verify the value of your lectures. How will this be conducted?
Ilya Ponomarev: At this point there has not been a conversation about that. In the final analysis, this is a subject of civil and legal relations between the Skolkovo Fund and me as a contractor. The fund did not present any claims, because the money from a legal point of view is not from the [state] budget. The fund is a separate organization; legally it is a non-commercial fund. And if it does not present any claims about this, accordingly, there is no reason to verify the scholarly value. We did not speak on that topic.
Margarita Polyanskaya: Did you talk about your relations with the Skolkovo Fund, and regarding the lawsuit from the fund itself?
Ilya Ponomarev: I believe that the defensive measure was absolutely correct. We discussed such a scenario some time ago. This is a means to extinguish this wave as quickly as possible, because it is completely obvious that the court should take a decision that there were no violations. Therefore, I’ll reiterate, there are civil and legal relations, there is a contract, the contract was fulfilled, there is reporting on it, the reporting has been accepted, there were no mutual claims regarding this reporting. So there should be no further claims.
Margarita Polyanskaya: This is, after all, a matter of the relations between you and the Skolkovo Fund. But I would like to hear some sort of commentary from you regarding the costs of the lectures. Because there were very many opinions that your lectures were rather expensive.
Ilya Ponomarev: Again: the word “lecture” that is being used in this case is not a lecture as in a university, where a professor comes out and reads something to students about modern problems in physics. In my case, this is a special meeting, public presentations mainly in front of a business audience which essentially describe how a profit can be made in Russia with the help of the Skolkovo project, what should be done, what shouldn’t be done, what opportunities there are. That Life News was even there, and plucked a quote out of my speech, where I said that usually investors say, who have been urged to come to Russia, that they don’t invest in a single project. I explained why that isn’t so, because in this project, you can make money.
These speeches have a completely concrete, pragmatic interest for those who come to them because they help them either save money or make money. Such things cost a fair amount all over the world. I brought a print-out to the Investigative Committee today — I just went on Google, and typed “value of public lectures”. The first line was a complete price list, and I fall into the category of $10,000-$50,000. In any country of the world, they would charge that much for that sort of work.