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Russian Army Office to be buried in snow over debt

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

How to you punish an organization that contracted snow cleaners and did not pay them? Why, bring the snow back, of course.

This, at least, is the kind of retribution that a utilities company plans to visit on a regional army staff office in the far eastern city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a company spokesman said on Saturday.

The military owes more than 1 million rubles (US$ 31,000) for last year’s cleanup works, the spokesman said. If the debt is not paid by mid-April, snow removed from city streets will be taken to the staff’s premises, he said.

The threat is real, given that nightly temperatures will remain below zero degrees Celsius in the far eastern city in the next two weeks, according to Gismeteo.ru forecaster.

The case appears the latest - and, possibly, the most comic - aftershock of the ongoing high-profile corruption scandal at the Defense Ministry, where, investigators say, up to 6 billion rubles (US$ 190 million) could have been embezzled through fraud during various maintenance works.

The snow cleanup bill in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was to be footed by Slavyanka, a maintenance company affiliated with the ministry that was earlier implicated in the corruption scandal.

A spokesman for the regional office of Slavyanka could not say whether the debt would be paid in time. But he added that premises of all military units in Kamchatka Region remained blanketed in snow throughout the winter because the head office in Moscow never selected subcontractors to remove the snow.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130409/russian-army-office-be-buried-snow-over-debt