Conspiracy weavers in fight for Russian law enforcement system
Members of the ‘Anti-Bastrykin conspiracy’ featured in corruption and takeover scandals of the federal scale.
The CrimeRussia has learned from reliable sources about a conspiracy that revolved around a number of senior staff of the Russian Investigative Committee (RIC) and the Prosecutor General's Office, who tried to dislodge Alexander Bastrykin, head of the RIC, under the pretext of reforming the investigative agencies. A currently disgraced general, Yuri Alekseyev, was supposed to take his place. All the details of the plot, its participants, and the reasons it failed are examined further in this article by the CrimeRussia.
Over the last 10 years, the Russian authorities had mixed results in discussing the idea of creating a single state body, which would unite under its wing the investigative agencies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) and RIC. Back in 2003, Dmitry Kozak, who then worked as Deputy Head of Presidential Administration, was the first to speak about the possibility of creating a so-called ‘investigative monster.’ However, this idea found no support among others: the head of MIA Boris Gryzlov, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolay Patrushev, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, and the head of the FSKN Viktor Cherkesov — all rejected the proposition. None of the security forces wanted their departments to give in the investigative functions. The second wave of discussions on the creation of a new security agency came in 2007, after Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree on the establishment of the Investigative Committee at the Prosecutor General's Office. According to the decree, the RIC was entrusted with conducting the investigation, while the prosecutor's office was left with only a supervisory function. This time the idea was opposed by the head of the FSB Nikolay Patrushev and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev.
It was mentioned once again in 2014, when the idea was backed by the Security Council of Russia, though it suggested to postpone the project till 2017 due to the lack of funds. In November 2015, the RIC head Alexander Bastrykin had an interview with a media outlet, noting with mild frustration that "the issue is currently frozen."
“I decided not pursue this idea while I hold this office [the RIC head]. We had some meetings, discussions and conversations. After listening to what the Interior Ministry has to say, I think that I don’t need any of that,” Bastrykin said, as quoted by Lenta.ru.
Meanwhile, at the expert estimation the project required almost 100 billion rubles, which made its dearness the likeliest cause for the delay. However, a source of the CrimeRussia claimed that Alexander Bastrykin had other reasons of utmost importance to postpone the establishment of the security agency.
A source of the Crime Russia claimed that Alexander Bastrykin had other reasons of utmost importance to postpone the establishment of the security agency.
The circle of conspirators included several people who were in Prosecutor General's Office in the 2000s, the Crime Russia’s source reported. Bastrykin could suffer a terrible and treacherous blow, since one of the conspirators was his first deputy, Colonel General of Justice Vasily Piskarev. The case also involved a very close friend, who gained immense popularity over the last years — Deputy Prosecutor General Gennady Lopatin. The two first met back in the mid-2000s. The third member of this conspiracy club was Deputy Interior Minister, Head of the Investigative Department of MIA, General of Justice Yuri Alekseyev. Like Piskarev and Lopatin, Alekseyev started his career in the Prosecutor General's Office, working in its Central Investigation Department in 2000. In 2001-2011, Alekseyev served in the internal agencies. His latest position was Head of the Investigative Department of MIA. In February 2014, after the in-house conflict between the Investigative Department and the GAESCC, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed Alexeyev. A significant role in the conspiracy against Bastrykin was played by a certain Artur Zavalunov, who flew off-radar, but was quite popular in certain circles. He is currently working in the Presidential Administration. Zavalunov is in fact the right-hand man of Gennady Lopatin and visits his boss at the Prosecutor General's Office every day, as if it is his job. Zavalunov was entrusted with lobbying for the ‘right’ people to be assigned on certain positions in the power structures.
At various times, all four members of the ‘Anti-Bastrykin conspiracy’ featured in corruption and takeover scandals of the federal scale. In this context, it is worth remembering that the names of Artur Zavalunov and Gennady Lopatin had been repeatedly mentioned in connection with the forcible takeover of the oldest Russian enterprise — Yaroslavl Plant ‘Red Lighthouse’ Open Joint Stock Company. That case was about the general director of the plant Konstantin Sonin who fabricated documents and stole a controlling stake in the Yaroslavl Plant ‘Red Lighthouse’ from the Vibropromtekh JSC thus illegally taking over the whole enterprise — backed up all the way by Zavalunov. Facing pressure and threats from invaders, the main shareholder of the Vibropromtekh JSC Sergey Basovets managed to initiate a criminal case on fraud with the plant shares (art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code) against Sonin. This clearly was not part of Zavalunov and Lopatin’s plans.
The partners-in-crime decided to discuss the situation at the Marriott hotel located on Petrovka Street, 11. According to our source, the two conspirators walked around the hotel for a long time, and then went to the lobby bar inside. There they continued to search for means of saving Sonin. Apparently, the night turned out to be fruitful, because rather soon Deputy General Prosecutor Vladimir Malinovsky closed the criminal case against Konstantin Sonin. Moreover, to put pressure on Basovets, Lopatin called for help of his trusted friend, Yuri Alekseyev, who at that time was Deputy Chief of the Investigative Committee at MIA. Through the combined efforts, a criminal case was open against Basovets, who was accused of inflicting psychological trauma to executive director of the Vibropromtekh D. Chekalov.
The group consisting of Alekseyev, Lopatin, Piskareva, and Zavalunov started nurturing a plan to topple the RIC head Alexander Bastrykin from his office and subsequently establish control over the entire law enforcement system of Russia.
However, Alexeyev had already been spotted in corruption scandals before. Some sources implied that thanks to Alexeyev’s ‘business acumen’ the Investigative Committee at MIA successfully combined the functions of a private commercial enterprise and a state agency. Alexeyev made a first bite from this cherry pie in 2004. On Alexeyev’s instructions, an investigator issued a search warrant on spurious grounds for the warehouses of Esmeral JSC as part of a relevant criminal case. During the said procedure, the employees of the Main Directorate for Combatting Economic Crimes and the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry in the Central Federal District hauled away a large shipment of allegedly contraband shoes from the company stocks. After that the seized goods were transported into the warehouses under Alexeyev’s control and later successfully sold. At the same time, a very similar fate awaited another supply of confiscated goods, which had been taken from the cars of AST market: in the course of criminal proceedings the investigators expropriated and subsequently sold the company’s consumer goods worth about $ 700 thousand. Alexeyev’s subordinates also detained six trucks with goods released from the Evraziya terminal, though in that case they chose not to sell, but to return the property to the owner, albeit probably for a fee.
General Alekseyev also earned quite a fortune fabricating criminal cases against businessmen. Closing such cases he was able to make some serious cash. According to his own ‘price list,’ the termination of the criminal case of custom cost about $ 1.5 million. His trusted mediators among the actual Ministry of Internal Affairs employees conducted the negotiations. As reported by the media, Alexeyev had pleasure doing business with companies such as Panavto CJSC, Wimm-Bill-Dann CJSC, and MVO-Holding CJSC.
The general practiced his raiding skills not only on the Red Lighthouse plant. Alekseev is also rumored to have been directly involved in the seizure of assets of a large Moscow company Gruppa Kvadro Telekom, which specialized in the construction of external engineering networks. The company’s owner Evgeny Uhabin tried to resist the raiders, but received a strict prison sentence as a result.
Coincidentally or not, but after the re-certification of the Russian Interior Ministry in 2011, Alexeyev left his office, which was not a big surprise considering his reputation. In July of the same year, he resumed his work in the Russian Prosecutor General's Office as Head of the Department for Supervision over the Execution of Laws on Federal Security, Interethnic Relations and Countering Extremism. This was made possible thanks to the help of his longtime friend Gennady Lopatin. In just a year, through strenuous work of a grand decision-maker Artur Zavalunov, who had influence over the Presidential Administration, Alekseyev managed to retain his post of the Head of the Investigative Department of the Interior Ministry. Valery Cojocar, who replaced him after the resignation, had to leave.
The incident was not covered in the press, but later the media outlets reported that Alexeyev was dismissed by order of Vladimir Putin. After that, Alexander Bastrykin made the second conspirator practically powerless, depriving him of the rights of signature and decision-making.
During this period, the group consisting of Alekseyev, Lopatin, Piskareva, and Zavalunov started nurturing a plan to topple the RIC head Alexander Bastrykin from his office and subsequently establish control over the entire law enforcement system of Russia. The source of the Crime Russia claimed that in their dreams the conspirators went so far as to divide the power in the yet non-existent joint investigative agency. Ultimately, the plan failed and the plot was timely exposed by the FSB employees. The incident was not covered in the press, but later the media outlets reported that Alexeyev was dismissed by order of Vladimir Putin. After that, Alexander Bastrykin made the second conspirator practically powerless, depriving him of the rights of signature and decision-making.