Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

Russia MP in exchange kiosk theft

By Rupert Wingfield Hayes
BBC News, Moscow

Euro notes, file picture
The 300,000 euros was stolen from a Moscow exchange kiosk

A Russian MP has been left red-faced and out of pocket after 300,000 euros (£267,000) he was loaned was stolen from a Moscow currency exchange kiosk.

Many are asking what Duma deputy Edward Markin was doing changing such a huge amount of cash at one of the city's notoriously dodgy exchange booths?

His assistant says his boss is a good man who has been badly wronged.

Mr Markin, he says, was simply trying to help out war veterans and elderly in his home city of Yekaterinburg.

To do so he had taken a loan of around 670,000 euros in cash from a local bank, which was to be used to buy property in Yekaterinburg and Moscow for a charity he was setting up.

Does the charity have a name? No. Is the charity registered? No.

But in order to do this good work, the money needed to be changed from foreign currency in to Russian roubles.

The best place to do this would perhaps be a bank, but the right-wing politician chose to send his bodyguard to transfer 300,000 euros at a Moscow currency exchange kiosk.

The cashier in the kiosk promptly disappeared out of the back door with the cash.

Despite this, Mr Markin remains unperturbed. He is a rich man, says his assistant, and he can afford to cover such a small loss with his own money.

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