Norway’s nuclear safety partner released on bail after fraud scandal

Elisabeth Walaas (in the middle) was shown how Norwegian money had been spent in Saida Bay by Yevgeny Yevstratov (to the right) in 2009. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

In 2009, Yevgeny Yevstratov proudly showed State Secretary Elisabeth Walaas the reactors from the submarines Norway had granted hundreds of millions for decommissioning. Today, he is accused of massive budget misappropriation.


The former deputy head of Rosatom, Yevgeny Yevstratov, is accused of massive fraud that allegedly took place from 2007 to 2011. In September 2009, Yevstratov was head of the delegation to the annual Norwegian, Russian commission on nuclear safety.

Norway has granted more than NOK 1,5 billion (€204 million) for improving nuclear safety in northwest-Russia since 1995, reads the portal of the Foreign Ministry.

Several hundred million kroner of Norwegian grants have been spent on decommissioning five old nuclear powered submarines. The reactor compartments from these submarines are today safely stored onshore at the new facility in Saida Bay west of Murmansk on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, as reported by BarentsObserver from the visit to the Saida Bay.The Norwegian delegation to the Saida Bay was headed by then-State Secretary Elisabeth Walaas in the Foreign Ministry in Oslo.

In July last year, Yevgeny Yevstratov was detained suspected of embezzling 50 million rubles (€1,32 million), RIA Novosti reported. He was charged on a series of large-scale fraudulent acts at Rosatom and Atomflot enterprises under his supervision.

No information is made available regarding which projects at Atomflot in Murmansk or other enterprises of Rosatom from where money have been pocketed or misused. Norway has through its cooperation agreement with Russia also granted tens of millions to safety projects at Atomflot, the homeport for the fleet of nuclear powered icebreakers

Pocketed 50 million
Chief of the Interior Ministry main department for economic security and corruption counteraction Maj. Gen. of Police Denis Sugrobov told Itar-Tass after the arrest: “About the same period of time (2008-2009) some 50 million rubles were allocated for the research at the nuclear power enterprises. However, instead of their own developments officials of the nuclear power agency were downloading the scientific materials from the Internet, were posing them as their own know-how and misappropriated the profit from this.”

Sugrobov added that the detectives have found the documents proving the misappropriation of 60 million roubles, which were allocated in 2009 to build two facilities to dispose of the spent nuclear fuel.

Nothing is said about where these spent nuclear fuel storages are located. In the Murmansk region, a storage is located at Atomflot and another at the Kola nuclear power plant.

Five million rubles bail
Although still charged, a Moscow city court this week released Yevgeny Yevstratov on a five million rubles (€132,000) bail, Itar-Tass reported on Monday. According to the news agency, Rosatom stated that the violations, for which their former deputy head was detained, were committed on the premises of Rosatom in Murmansk and St. Petersburg.

Rosatom is Russia’s state-run nuclear corporation, in charge of most locations on the Kola Peninsula where Norway has provided financial assistance.

Audit cooperation
Norwegian and Russian Audit authorities have jointly worked on auditing the nuclear safety projects where Norwegian money is spent. The two parties signed a memorandum on this in April 2010 as reported by BarentsObserver. That was one year before Yevstratov was arrested.

There is no information indicating that money from Norway has been misused or pocketed by any Rosatom officials.

Since March 2009, 208 chief executives of Rosatom have been brought to various types of responsibility at the initiative of domestic controlling groups. 68 top managers were fired.