A company owned by Russian billionaire oligarch Arkady Rotenberg has been awarded a state grant to conduct training on civil-society development and combating corruption.
Russian media, citing public state-tender documents, reported on January 11 that Rotenberg's company Granat had been given 46 million rubles ($688,000) by the Public Chamber advisory board to hold roundtables, public discussions, and conferences on the topics.
Rotenberg is a childhood friend and former judo partner of Russian President Vladimir Putin. After Putin became president in 2000, Rotenberg was made head of the state-controlled vodka distillery Rosspirtprom.
Later he increased his fortune by controlling companies that sold pipes to the state-controlled gas giant Gazprom. Anticorruption activists, including opposition figure Aleksei Navalny, have charged that Rotenberg's firms grossly overcharged Gazprom.
He also controlled lucrative contracts to build Russian federal highways, to publish school textbooks, and to prepare infrastructure for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Rotenberg was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 for his role in Moscow's occupation and annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
His personal fortune is estimated at $3.1 billion. His brother, Boris, and his son, Igor, are also billionaires.