Moscow, March 8 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Russian defence ministry will spend 90 million rubles (around $3 million) to revamp its website, which earlier came under government scrutiny over alleged theft of budgetary fund.
“In 2012, 90 million rubles were allocated on the further modernisation of the defence ministry’s site. Part of this amount will be spent on salaries to new employees, but most of the money will be spent to develop the site’s People’s Exploit page, which contains an electronic database of soldiers and officers who perished during World War Two,” a ministry source said.
The military has already shelled out 36 million rubles (around $1.2 million) to have its online domain modernised, but the project was never completed, the Military Prosecutor General’s Office said.
The earlier update for the ministry website — that downloaded the Tetris game instead of state-of-the-art patriotic shooter games — was a likely fraud, according to military prosecutors.
The project was overpriced to begin with, and military officials did not check whether the work done was worth the money when they paid the bill to the website designer, the report said.
Prosecutors have identified no suspects but said they have opened a case on charges of large-scale fraud, punishable with up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to one million rubles.
The defence ministry has said the website was actually enhanced during the revamp, with multimedia features added and technical specs boosted.
But it avoided denying the allegations, saying only that it was cooperating with prosecutors on the matter.
The story first hit the media in January, when reports spoke of simple flash games, including Tetris, Minesweeper and Battleship that the site offered instead of modern war-themed computer games that Russian military officials have been demanding since 2010.
The four games on the ministry’s website cost around 320,000 rubles ($11,000) to produce each, while just $1 million sufficed to create a state-of-the-art massive multiplayer online game, the Izvestia daily said.
The ministry’s updated website has been endorsed with a “test version” tag ever since the revamp.
A spokesman for the developer, IT company Systematic, said it has done everything that its contract with the ministry required. He said the only problem was that the company missed the deadline, which resulted in a fine of 2.8 million rubles.
Up to 20 percent of all military spending is lost to embezzlement, Military Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky said last year.