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Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the health minister Monday to continue assisting an investigation into a high-profile health insurance fraud
Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the health minister Monday to continue assisting an investigation into a high-profile health insurance fraud, and to monitor the use of budget funds. On November 17, a Moscow court sanctioned the arrests of Andrei Taranov, the former director of Russia's compulsory health insurance fund, and another six top managers, on suspicion of corruption and bribery. Putin told Mikhail Zurabov at a government meeting: "I am asking you to closely monitor the observance of the law, and to monitor the spending of budget funds." Earlier this month, searches were conducted and documents seized in a police raid on the insurance fund's central office in Moscow and eight of its regional offices, as well as on the headquarters of partner firms and companies involved in a state-run program to provide free or subsidized medication to low-income population groups. The Prosecutor General's Office said in a Web posting, "Evidence uncovered in the course of an investigation into the criminal case indicates that the FOMS [Federal Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund] officials received bribes from the heads of regional branches of the fund and representatives of pharmaceutical and other commercial companies involved in distributing medication and medical equipment." Some 600 bribery and embezzlement cases have been opened in Russia since July, when Putin, who has set the fight against corruption as a national priority, ordered the new prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, to draw up an anti-corruption strategy. First Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman said in a newspaper interview in November that annual corruption in Russia had reached $240 billion, a sum almost equal to the federal budget.
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