€1,000 for investigator: “From Heart to Heart” 

€1,000 for investigator: “From Heart to Heart”

Sometimes official criminal reports conceal truly Shakespearean passion, and a trivial bribe is a proof of a true love. An officer of the Investigative Committee received a bribe of €1,000 and a book of poems “From Heart to Heart”. This is how a woman attempted to affect the investigation of a case against her husband – who was accused of official forgery.

Sergey Goryachev, the former Head of Petrovsk Districts in the Saratov region, was charged with official forgery. Larisa Gorbunova, the Deputy of the Municipal Council and principal of a local boarding school, decided to save her husband. She gave a bribe to the Investigative Committee officer – €1,000 and a book of poems “From Heart to Heart” by a local poet Valery Logashov. The loving wife was arrested by the regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation at the moment of the handover of the money and book.


Photo: Larisa Gorbunova during the arrest 

Their marital life was happy

Petrovsk is a small town in the Saratov region. Its official population is 29 thousand 820 people. Until recently, Sergey Goryachev and Larisa Gorbunova were truly the happiest couple in Petrovsk. The spouses lived in harmony and sympathy; both of them have made good careers. 

Sergey Goryachev is an electric engineer by education. In the period of 1987–2010, he served in the law enforcement. He demonstrated a good performance and was even awarded with a badge For Excellent Service in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and a medal of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation For Service Valor. 

His career skyrocketed in 2010, when Sergey Goryachev has transferred from the MIA to municipal service. He has quickly advanced from the Deputy Head of the Petrovsk District Administration for Social Matters and Crime Prevention to the Head of the Municipality. Goryachev held this position since December 2011 and until May 2016. 

Larisa Gorbunova was a perfect match for her husband. She has always been active both in public works and her professional field. Her ambitions allowed her to achieve excellent results. Gorbunova is the Deputy of the Municipal Council of the Town of Petrovsk and a member of Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party. The spouse of the former district head used to manage the local employment center; currently she is the Principal of the State Budget General Education Institution in the Saratov Region Sanatorium-Type Boarding School of the Town of Petrovsk. According to the web-site of this education establishment for children with musculoskeletal system disorders, Larisa Gorbunova is a Candidate of Social Sciences. 

In 2015, the educator had successfully represented the Saratov region in the Pedagogical Debut All-Russia Contest; Larisa Gorbunova was competing in the Young Managers nomination against 70 contenders from various regions of the Russian Federation. She returned from Moscow with a Diploma of Laureate and a valuable present.  

However, the year of 2016 was not so successful for the spouses. 

Residents protested and called for resignation

In fact, not all Petrovsk residents were happy with this family idyll. For instance, Chetvertaya Vlast (the Fourth Power) Internet newspaper wrote about a one-person picket staged by local oppositionist Veniamin Grebenshikov back in 2013. The activist was angered by poor performance of Sergey Goryachev as the district Head.

“The town is drowning in dirt, garbage is not removed. It is impossible to enter the forest or plantations. The last remaining boxes and containers for garbage had been removed. Goryachev, although works for free, uses the service car for personal needs. The tax collection rate is poor; not a single workplace had been created during his rule,” – Veniamin Grebenshikov stated.

The public activist had also criticized the spouse of the district head. He said that a complaint against Gorbunova had been filed with the police. Activists requested the law enforcement authorities to audit the spending of budget funds allocated for summer employment of teenagers in the sanatorium-type boarding school whose principal she was.

Shortly after this protest action, Saratovsky Reporter newspaper has published a collective petition from residents of the Petrovsky municipal district demanding resignation of Sergey Goryachev. The people wrote that the district head “...had never reported on his work to the voters and failed to comply with the Governor’s instruction to reorganize the district council apparatus and perform a transition of all staff to fulfilling their responsibilities on the free of charge basis. Due to the above-mentioned violations, pothole repairs haven’t commenced yet – neither in the town nor in the district; the construction of new housing for people resettling from dilapidated housing is being delayed. The town of Petrovsk was left without hot water supply during the whole summer; no new jobs had been created here; there was no real economy of budget funds after the transition of the Petrovsk district council apparatus on the free of charge basis; the budget planning is unsatisfactory; and the tax collection rate is poor. It is a fault of Goryachev that a part of the town of Petrovsk remains inundated for the second year straight – while compensations still have not been paid to the victims”. 

This collective petition was submitted to the Governor of the Saratov Region and the Chairman of the Regional Duma, but at that time it had not affected the positions of Sergey Goryachev.

What is Sergey Goryachev charged with?

The charges laid against Sergey Goryachev by the law enforcement authorities are directly linked with the reform of municipal authorities that has started in our country three–four years ago. In the past, the district head was concurrently the chairman of the local council of deputies and the head of the administration – but after the reform, these duties have been separated. So-called city managers working on the contract basis are currently responsible for administrative management of municipal units in Russia, while chairpersons of deputies’ councils are heads of towns and districts. 

Back in 2012, after the start of the reform, Valery Radaev, the Governor of the Saratov Region, offered heads of districts with population less than 50 thousand people to give up the remuneration received by them as chairpersons of local councils. This reorganization would allow to save some 70 million budget rubles per year.


Photo: Sergey Goryachev 

According to Kommersant, Deputies of the representative body of State power of the Petrovsk district have deprived their Chairman Sergey Goryachev and Vasily Maksimov, the Secretary of the District Council, of their salaries on May 31, 2012. But in February 2013, amendments have been made in the municipal budget, and Goryachev and Maksimov began receiving 30 and 20 thousand rubles per month respectively for expenses related to the fulfillment of Deputies’ duties. In other words, the officials had set salaries for themselves. In 2014, they gave themselves a raise: the Head of the District began earning 40 thousand per month, while the Secretary of the District Council of Deputies – 25 thousand. The actions of Goryachev have supposedly resulted in damages to the municipal budget in the amount of 1.5 million rubles. 

It is necessary to note that Vasily Maksimov considered the initiation of a criminal case against the former district head ungrounded. He stated that the leaders of the local Council of Deputies had been receiving not salaries, but compensations for the fulfillment of Deputies’ duties – which, according to him, did not contravene any Russian law.

Svobodnye Novosti (Free News) information agency has reported, citing its sources in law enforcement authorities, that not only did Sergey Goryachev pay salaries to himself, but also issued bonuses. Without the Deputies’ knowledge, he was making changes in final resolutions of the District Council to reward himself at the budget expense. According to the investigation, the functionary has gained some 600 thousand rubles that way.

Bribe for fair investigation

The scandal has erupted in 2016, after the resignation of Goryachev from the post of the Head of the Petrovsky District and his appointment the Head of the Public Employment Service. A criminal case has been initiated against the official under part 1 of Article 292 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Official Forgery). The investigation believes that at least three such offences committed by Goryachev while being the district head have been proven. 

Goryachev has been arrested and detained. But it is not a coincidence that mafia means family in Italian. The family never leaves its own in trouble. And Larisa Gorbunova decided to fight for her husband and happiness by all means, including illegal ones. 

According to the press service of the Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Saratov Region, on July 28, 2016, Gorbunova offered an officer of the Aktakarsky Inter-District Investigations Department a bribe in the amount of €1,000 for exhaustive, comprehensive, and objective investigation of the criminal case against her husband. Gorbunova believed that the actions of law enforcement authorities against Goryachev were groundless, while the pre-investigation check was not objective and included misrepresentation of certain facts. Therefore, she asked the investigator to look into the matter fairly and was willing to pay for this. 

But the law enforcement officer has not hearkened to the supplication of a loving woman, but instead reported the incident to his superiors, who notified the regional Directorate of the FSB. On August 2, 2016, during a joint special operation, Gorbunova was arrested red-handed in an Armenian cafe of Petrovsk while attempting to bribe the investigator. A criminal case has been initiated against the spouse of the former district head under part 2 of Article 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (giving a bribe to a functionary on a considerable scale). In addition, following an application from the investigator, arrest in the amount over 4 million rubles has been imposed on her assets.

Because Larisa Gorbunova has confessed, she was released from the detention under a written undertaking not to leave. The criminal case against her has been transferred to court a few days ago for examination.


Photo: Best wishes from the author 

The bag intended for the investigator and seized by the operatives contained not only a Barkli valet with €1,000, but also a book of poems “From Heart to Heart” by a local poet Valery Logashov with an autograph and best wishes from the author. 

Apparently, Larisa Gorbunova hoped that this gift could make the rugged investigator romantic and sympathetic to the spouses separated by law enforcement authorities. But the attempt to touch a string in the heart of the officer has failed, and currently the book by Valery Logashov, a member of Rosinka (Dewdrop) literature artistic association, is gathering dust among other physical evidence. 

The loving spouses are waiting for the trials, sentences, and other challenges to their family ties.

Video: PETROVSK: Arrest for bribery 



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