Swindling on large scale behind the murder of lieutenant colonel of Federal Penitentiary Service
Another high-profile construction scandal is escalating in St. Petersburg. This time, the neverending project at the center of the scandal is Kresty-2 pretrial detention facility promised to the city 10 years ago. Its main difference from another long-delayed project – Zenit Arena stadium – is the cruel shooting of Nikolai Chernov, lieutenant colonel of the Federal Penitentiary Service supervising the construction.
Lieutenant colonel of the Federal Penitentiary Service Nikolai Chernov has succumbed to his wounds in the Military Medical Academy on the morning of March 7, 2016. The best medics had been struggling for his life but consequences of eight gunshots were too severe. By that time, ‘witness’ Sabir Sadykov has already become a suspect, while the supposed mastermind behind this crime – colonel Sergei Moiseenko, Deputy Head of the Regional Administration of the Federal Penitentiary Service – was arrested. Currently the investigators have no doubts about the motive of the crime: the neverending construction of Kresty-2 pretrial detention facility in Kolpino. More specifically, it pertains to questionable contracts and dozens of claims filed by subcontractors with the arbitration court. In other words, swindling on a large scale is likely behind this murder case.
Back in 2007, when the colossal construction project has just started, the new prison in Kolpino was dubbed “the largest penitentiary facility in Europe”. But the inmates haven’t moved there from Arsenalnaya quay yet. The completion had been repeatedly delayed; October 2016 was the last deadline, and it was missed as well.
12 billion rubles (some $203 million) had been allocated from the federal budget in 2007 to build Kresty-2. The new pretrial detention facility occupies 35 hectares, its capacity is 4 thousand inmates. It was planned to transfer there all remand detainees from all the pretrial detention facilities of St. Petersburg. The unique building won’t have exterior bars, its courtyard is to be equipped with a heated football field. This is the most expensive project in the entire history of the Federal Penitentiary Service. By 2016, the project cost has increased by 3.5 billion ($59 million) due to the road and railroad underbridge construction. The funds had to be provided by the Government of St. Petersburg. The original project budget was only 4.3 billion rubles ($73 million).
Prior to the assassination of lieutenant colonel Chernov, the situation with the new pretrial detention facility could be compared with a delayed action mine. According to the media, it became known a year ago that there is not enough money to complete the construction, and additional 1.2 billion rubles ($20 million) are required. The supreme management in Moscow have clearly explained major general Igor Potapenko, Head of the Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service, that no additional funds are to be provided by the federal center. The situation was also escalating because of the general contractor, General Construction Corporation, and its legal battles with subcontracts.
Murdered lieutenant colonel of the Federal Penitentiary Service Nikolai Chernov
The subcontracts have filed 37 lawsuits against General Construction Corporation Open Joint Stock Company in the last two years. In particular, Silanar company has recovered through legal action 4.6 million rubles ($78 thousand) from General Construction Corporation for performed sewer, heating, and water supply works. The works had been completed and accepted, but the general contractor refused to pay the money. The court has satisfied the plaintiff's claim. The claims of all the subcontractors were almost identical. Why could this happen? Did the general contractor deny payments due to its blatant impudence or financial issues? It is necessary to note that Viktor Kudrin, General Director of General Construction Corporation, had submitted in 2015 an official letter to the supreme management of the Federal Penitentiary Service stating that the company refuses to continue this construction project. The subcontractors, in turn, have found themselves in a situation when the general contractor neither accepts the performed works, nor signs the acceptance certificates. The current indebtedness of General Construction Corporation amounts to hundreds of millions of rubles.
General Construction Corporation Open Joint Stock Company is one of the major players on the St. Petersburg construction market. The company has built Igora mountain ski resort and Strelna palace and park complex; it participated in the construction of the Mariinsky Theatre second stage and Western High-Speed Diameter in St. Petersburg. The new pretrial detention facility, Kresty-2, had to become a true masterpiece in its professional portfolio.
In addition, in January 2017 the general subcontractor of Kresty-2 – Petroinvest Limited Liability Company – has filed a bankruptcy claim against General Construction Corporation with the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. The amount of the claim is 32 million rubles ($542 thousand).
It was obvious in the recent years that the construction of Kresty-2 would result in a major criminal case. Meticulous journalists had published chilling stories of workers employed at the ‘project of the century’ telling about outrageous lawlessness at the construction site. The official salaries were only 9,500 rubles ($160); the rest of the money had to be paid in ‘black cash’ – but was never paid. The entire construction teams were resigning, and the newly-hired teams had to demolish or redo works performed by their predecessors. The cautious management of the old Kresty pretrial detention facility was not willing to take the new prison onto its books to avoid being held liable for all its defects. No one wanted to go to the new jail upon its completion.
This has ultimately led to the tragic death of lieutenant colonel Chernov. He had refused on principle to sign the numerous delivery and acceptance certificates. This stance resulted in his conflict with colonel Moiseenko. According to Fontanka.ru, their relations were so bad that “he was recording operational meetings with a voice recorder and had visited the Internal Security Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow”. It is easy to figure out what matters had been discussed there – according to CrimeRussia sources, “the Federal Penitentiary Service always was a ‘sweet spot’ for shady businesses”.
There is no doubt that lieutenant colonel Chernov was ready to testify against his immediate superior. He had been collecting hours-long records of work meetings for a reason. The Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation is currently studying these records. Back in June 2016, the secret services have received from auditors of the Federal Penitentiary Service interesting documents pertaining to embezzlements amounting to 425 million rubles ($7.2 million). It addition, it was discovered that, contrary to the tender documentation, the builders of Kresty-2 had received advance payments in the amount of 30% of the limit – instead of the prescribed 20%. It is hard to say at this point what other violations and details could be in these documents. The identities of swindlers might be there, as well as evidence of numerous ‘kickback’ paid by the subcontractors.
‘Fixer’ Sabir Sadykov
It is not a coincidence that ‘fixer’ Sabir Sadykov has been chosen as a contract killer. A person with a murky past and present. Allegedly, he represented interests of several subcontractors whose papers Chernov had refused to sign; without the signed acceptance certificates, they could not receive the payment. No doubt that ‘kickbacks’ received by Moiseenko would pop-up in that case more than once because his financial situation is pretty questionable – although until recently, he was considered the least suspicious person among the supreme management of the Federal Penitentiary Service. There is a version, however, that Moiseenko had to take a drastic action because of the strong pressure from above – i.e. he was, in fact, an ‘intermediate link’ in the colossal embezzlement scheme run in St. Petersburg.
Colonel Sergei Moiseenko was transferred to the Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service in 2003 and appointed its Deputy Head. A unique position was created specifically for him: Deputy Head for Capital Construction. His duties included not only construction, but the entire housing and residential complex of the Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. In 2013–2014, in the midst of the construction of Kresty-2, he has become the richest top manager of the Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service. According to the official declaration, his annual income was some 2 million rubles ($33,885), while the income of his spouse was some 800 thousand rubles ($13,554).
There are no doubts that colonel Sergei Moiseenko is facing two criminal cases: one pertaining to the contract murder and another one in relation to the swindling during the construction of Kresty-2. It can’t be ruled out that more episodes emerge in these cases over time. An interesting detail: unlike his accomplice Sabir Sadykov, Moiseenko has been detained not in Kresty, but in an old and legendary FSB pretrial detention facility located at 6 Zakharievskaya street and officially known as the Pretrial Detention Facility № 3 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia.
According to the CrimeRussia sources, Aleksander Klaus, Head of the St. Petersburg Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, has received an order from Moscow to “sort out in detail” the flagrant situation.
Clouds are gathering over the ICR general. His former subordinate Aleksey Kramarenko, arrested in late 2017 in the case of a bribe to high-ranking ICR officers from thief in law Zakhary Kalashov, has revealed the involvement of his former immediate superior in the corruption episode.