Chicago in Lgov: Millions for early paroles handed over in bathhouse
On March 28, 2019, Gulagu.net human rights portal reported that an inmate has died in the Penal Colony № 3 of the Administration for the Kursk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) of Russia located in Lgov. According to the public activists, the inmate was killed by a correctional officer. The CrimeRussia has been receiving signals about weird things occurring in this penal institution for a while. Today we publish the information about the Lgov penal colony obtained by the Editorial Board.
The penal colony, together with its appendix – a settlement colony, is a ‘city-forming’ enterprise in Lgov: it provides livelihoods to the majority of its residents.
The economy of the district center is directly linked with the penitentiary institution; this determines a unique mentality of the local people and district authorities – quite different from the rest of the Black Earth region. Nobody is surprised there that Lgov Mayor Yuri Vladimirovich Severinov, ex-Head of the Department for the Lgov District of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, is apparently under direct control of the local criminal world in the person of criminal ‘authority’ Mikhail, his brother Sergei Zolotaya Zhila (Gold Mine), and their henchmen. It is not a secret that many peripheral settlements in Russia still remain in ‘the turbulent 1990s’ and, contrary to optimistic reports of the policing structures, are still controlled by district-level bandits. In fact, the criminal world of Lgov is toy-like and does not interfere with the everyday life of the ‘electorate’.
Lgov Mayor Yuri Severinov
Sergei Korostelev, Head of the Lgov District
The local plant breeding station located in Lgov suburbs – once one of the largest in the USSR – lies in ruins and resembles a heavily bombed frontline settlement. Nearly the only one nice-looking home – sharply contrasting with the overall desolation – is the mansion of Sergei Korostelev, Head of the Lgov District, who actively demonstrates his well-being amid the poverty of ordinary villagers.
Mansion of Sergei Korostelev
Ruins of Lgov
The moral portrait of the municipal authorities is beyond the scope of this article dedicated primarily to releases on parole, obvious runarounds and possible prejudice in making such decisions, and weird releases of some persons serving terms in the Lgov penal colony.
As said above, the colony is a city-forming enterprise; some persons consider its inmates a valuable resource and try to get as much money from them for various services as possible, including situations directly regulated by the law. There is even a ‘price menu’ reflecting the customer’s desire to get the result: the higher is this desire the higher is the price. According to our sources, the right to have good meals or skip works is estimated at 15–30 thousand rubles ($232–464) depending on the client’s financial capacity. The right to use cellular services costs 5–15 thousand rubles ($77–232) not including the phone cost. Cell phones are smuggled into the penal colony by inmates working in its economic facilities and FPS officers. It is necessary to note that the prison administration is actively struggling against this practice – but the ‘couriers’ show miracles of ingenuity and ship phones to clients hiding those in most unexpected places.
Penal Colony № 3 in Lgov
But the most demanded and valuable ‘service’ – both in the Lgov colony and other penitentiary institutions of Russia – is the release on parole.
According to officers of the FPS Administration for the Kursk Region and Penal Colony № 3 and inmates, the early parole system, in fact, does not work in Lgov. Our sources on both sides of the fence agree on this. The early parole is almost never granted there contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation stipulating such a possibility after one-half of the term for grievous crimes and after two-thirds of the term for especially grievous crimes – not to mention the opportunity to be released after serving three-fourths of the term for drug crimes and after serving four-fifths of the term for pedophiles. The two latter categories are often put on an unjust – but separate list. Overall, it is considered a great piece of luck in Lgov to be released a year or 1.5 years before the end of the term.
There are no ‘maximum’ early parole standards in Lgov – only ‘minimum’ (threshold) ones: people can be released only a year to 1.5 years before the end of the term imposed by the court. This completely eliminates the motivation to mend the ways and change behavior for the inmates.
The examination procedure for parole applications used in the Lgov colony speaks for itself. We had a conversation with one of the inmates:
– How is the process going? There are so many complaints... What is weird there?
– It is about the application response time and behavior of judges. Do you have any idea how parole applications are examined?
– Not really... So, your explanations would be very useful.
– The inmates (this applies only to the penal colony – not to the settlement colony) are not taken anywhere. The parole judge comes to the Penal Colony № 3 and holds sessions in the office of the colony warden. The only equipment installed there is a telephone produced during the Soviet time. Both convicts and guards joke that this is a direct line with Stalin. There are no computers, printers, or other appliances there. So, the judge meets the applicants in this room, listens to arguments of the parties – prosecution, defense, and colony administration... Then he says that he needs to go to the ‘deliberations room'. Of course, the judge does not go anywhere – all other people are removed from the room and wait for 5–20 minutes. Then the people return, and the verdicts are announced to them. Interestingly, the applicants receive printed decisions! Where are they printed? The only answer is: the judge brings the verdicts with him. In other words, such sessions are just a fiction and sham.
– Sorry, but, according to the court procedures, the resolution part of the verdict is provided at the end of the process, while the main document is normally provided a few days later. Are you sure that your situation is different? Maybe, they initially provide a brief conclusion and then – the entire text? Of course, this does not explain where the brief decision is printed, but still?..
– I tell you: the full document is provided immediately. No resolution part. The only explanation is that they come to the colony with the complete documents. Your fate is decided in advance, while the court session is, in fact, a joke.
– I see. We are already aware that it is virtually impossible here to be released after serving one-half of the term. But are there any ‘lucky guys’? Is somebody released earlier?
– There are some. An entire ‘gang’ was recently released on parole – ex-Deputies, fraudsters, and other interesting persons.
– Yes, Deputies from Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia) Party – Kostik D’yachenko from Kurchatov and Gennady Shul’gin, ex-Deputy of the Rylsk Assembly. There is a town in the Kursk region – Rylsk. All of them had lived in a separate sector. The both Deputies were convicted under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (swindling on an especially large scale). Some other people were released with them as well. For instance, Anton Demin, a relative of Demin, ex-Vice Governor of the Kursk Region. He was convicted for swindling committed in the course of the gas pipeline installation. His brother serves in the regional police. Dmitry Yagudin was a coiner of false money. Roma Shtyk (Bayonet) had raped a granny... All of them and a number of other people were quickly released on parole. Some of them were set at liberty, while others – initially transferred to the settlement colony and then released. Reportedly, the price was some 1 million rubles ($15.5 thousand).
Deputy Gennady Shul’gin
– The price of the release on parole?
– Yes, of course.
– Who had arranged this?
– According to my information, it was Gennady Shul’gin. He had claimed to be familiar with the Chairman of the Lgov Court... Rumors circulated that Shul’gin delivers money to the chairman in a bathhouse in the Rylsk district... Reportedly, they take steam baths there...
– A judge and a former inmate?
– So what? They could be familiar for a long time and trust each other. Why not?
– But this can be tracked by phones...
– Probably, yes. But who needs this?
– Can you tell anything else?
– I think this is enough. Take care...
To verify the received information, we addressed a source in the Regional Prosecutor’s Office.
– We are researching the parole system in Lgov. We had a conversation with an inmate, and he told us (we provide a narrative of the above dialogue)... What can you say?
– This sounds pretty much like truth. And even more!
– And more?
– As the saying runs, there is no limit to ‘perfection’. The Lgov District Prosecutor suspects the Lgov Court of something like this. Apparently, this explains such questionable releases as the one described by you and the overall low rate of releases on parole. Not every inmate has 1 million rubles ($15.5 thousand). If you have no money – serve your full term quietly. The Lgov District Prosecutor currently has a conflict with the Chairman of the Lgov Court because of this. The Prosecutor is winning on points so far. And we sincerely support him. The chairman is now looking for another job...
– But why cannot the Prosecutor establish order? His opinion is important, right? What is the problem?
– This is a question of a dilettante. With the best will in the world, he can do nothing. During the examination of parole applications, the prosecution is represented not by the Regional Prosecutor – but by ‘Special Prosecutors' for Supervision of the Penitentiary System. They are independent. Shatunov, son of the former Head of the MIA Department for the Oktyabr'sky District, is in charge there. By the way, this is the most criminal district in the region; in the past, it was the most money-generating one. But Shatunov rarely attends court sessions. Normally, his subordinate Kofanov performs this function; his wife is a judge of the Kursk District Court. The stance of Kofanov determines the stance of the prosecution... This is how it works...
Volkswagen of Prosecutor Shatunov
– But still. The Lgov Prosecutor could at least try to put the things to order if he is so principled...
– Yes, he is principled – so what? As you know, the retinue plays the king. If he tries to do something, they would find a way to counter his efforts. There are plenty of ‘sins’ there – supposedly, his subordinates secretly make money on these paroles. I will send you a video showing an old lady giving money to a female officer near the Lgov Prosecutor’s Office on one of the parole days. Some person has recorded this. A complaint was filed in relation to this video. The case was ‘hushed-up’ – allegedly, the granny had repaid a debt. But what debt are we talking about? Just watch the record. Our colleague takes the money and enters the Prosecutor's Office. Then she exits it again... Her behavior is weird, to say the least. The debt is repaid in installments. I don't remember whether this granny was questioned by anybody or not but...
Supposed transfer of the bribe (still from the video)
– But what?
– But this entire story is pretty suspicious. Therefore, the Lgov District Prosecutor is not interested in fouling his own nest. He has plenty of internal issues to deal with... But you still should watch the video.
– Would you have any problems if we publish it?
– No. I was not supposed to have it. I received it, let’s say, ‘facultatively’.
– Is the situation with releases on parole in Lgov still so bad?
– It has slightly improved since recently. Somebody raised this topic. People submit complaints and provide facts. Judges started behaving less eccentrically. But still...
– Thank you. Speak to you later.
– Take care.
The video makes a dual impression and reinforces the suspicions. The behavior of the ‘negotiating parties’ is strange and does not resemble a debt repayment. Initially, one sum is paid. After an objecting gesture of the female prosecution officer, an additional amount is given... Could this be a local debt repayment tradition?.. Frankly speaking, we don’t think so – The CrimeRussia Editorial Board had seen plenty of operational records showing corrupt officials taking bribes. We understand that it is impossible to charge anybody without answering the main question first: for what? But take, for instance, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Kursk District – do they also collect debts near the main entrance? No, they don’t.
It is hard to escape a sad conclusion: if such things happen in the Prosecutor’s Office, what lawlessness can be committed in the court? Nobody oversees the courts... Therefore, the information provided by our sources may be pretty much based on real facts.