Details of case of employees of Federal Security Service who extorted bitcoin bribe from son of ex-head of Izvestia emerge

Details of case of employees of Federal Security Service who extorted bitcoin bribe from son of ex-head of Izvestia emerge
Investigators of the central office of the Federal Security Service Aleksey Kolbov and Sergey Belousov Photo: Kommersant

One of the investigators in a case into Erast Galumov accused of swindling had called his relatives and promised to help the detainee for consideration of 65 million rubles ($1 million) converted into bitcoins.

Investigators of the central office of the Federal Security Service Aleksey Kolbov and Sergey Belousov - who had investigated a case into a politologist and an ex-head of Izvestia Erast Galumov accused of swindling - extorted 65 million rubles ($1 million) converted into bitcoins from him - by giving themselves as ‘decision-makers’, reports Kommersant. Meanwhile, they requested Galumov to confess guilt; otherwise, they would add other 8 instances of swindling to the case.

Erast Galumov was arrested in February, 2018, at the request of Belousov. The politologist who had been heading the federal state unitary enterprise Izvestia from 2002 till 2013 (which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Presidential Affairs) is being accused of swindling on an especially large scale (item 4 of article 159 of Russia’s Criminal Code). He is accused of 2 instances related to establishment of an investment contract between a company Legasi, Izvestia and the Department of Presidential Affairs. It was anticipated that the federal state unitary enterprise would lease out buildings to the investor for $25 million, having taken away the printing machine from there and provided it with additional electricity. New head of Izvestia found that 54 million rubles ($844 thousand) were spent for this purpose without a reasonable basis; other 100 million rubles ($1.5 million) had to be paid to energy workers in the space of 2 years by having turned to the Federal Security Service. Decision about termination of the investigation had been made for 23 times, however the case was reopened every time. As a result, Moscow’s Lefortovo court sent Galumov to a remand prison. He became a cellmate of a businessman Dmitry Mikhalchenko who is being accused of theft during reconstruction of a governmental residency in Novo-Ogarevo.

It turned out that the investigators started requesting Galumov to confess guilt; otherwise, they would add other 8 instances of swindling to the case. Besides that, they threatened to put his son Aleksander who had left Russia on an international wanted list.

Meanwhil, man who introduced himself as Mikhail started calling Galumov’s relatives and promised to help. The ‘decision-maker’ asked for 65 million rubles ($1 million) converted into bitcoins. He promised that the politologist would not be accused again and his son would not be hurt; Galumov would get probation after he confesses guilt and covers the damage.

Galumov’s son and lawyers turned to the head of the investigation team Sergey Belousov to file a complaint for extortion, but the latter did not accept the complaint. After that, Mikhail called the relatives of the arrested person and said they “are wandering from proper conduct.” Galumov was accused of theft of money under the guise of payment for electricity.

After that, Galumov’s son turned to the Bureau of Internal Affairs of the Federal Security Service. Officers of the Bureau of Internal Affairs could not find Mikhail for a long time due to the fact that he had used Telegram messenger and a programme that deletes all messages as soon as they are read. A month ago, Mikhail called Galumov’s relatives from a landline phone which helped identify him: the ‘‘decision-maker’ turned out to be Aleksey Kolbov. Under the control of the officers of the Bureau of Internal Affairs, he was given a deposit worth of 3 million rubles ($46.9 thousand) he converted to bitcoins straight away. Erast Galumov fulfilled a requirement of the extorters and confessed guilt. For this, the investigator allowed him to call his 90-year-old mother and arranged meeting with his spouse.

Under im­primatur of head of the Investigative Committee of Russia Aleksander Bastrykin, criminal case into taking a bribe on an epecially large scale (item 6 of article 290 of Russia’s Criminal Code) was initiated. Colonel of justice Aleksander Lavrov initiated the investigation. Lavrov is known by cases of an ex-Governor of Kirov region Nikita Belykh and a movie director Kirill Serebrennikov. The extorters were arrested on April 16 and 17. Kolbov who had stood down in July, 2018, was arrested by Moscow’s Basmanny court. Moscow garrison military court is expected to determine measure of restraint as to Belousov.

Galumov’s lawyer Vladimir Sementsov stated he would ask the Prosecutor-General’s Office to render his client’s case from the Federal Security Service to MIA or the Investigative Committee of Russia “to determine the truth.” In his words, the ex-head of Izvestia has lately acted at the direction of the Bureau of Internal Affairs of the Federal Security Service, but a new investigator of his case is going to transfer his case to the Prosecutor-General’s Office to confirm the indictment.

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