Feodosia ex-Head: "FSB officers offered me to swim in handcuffs"
Dmitry Shchepetkov is accused of corruption, but local residents believe he simply "stood in the way" of an ‘authoritative’ businessman.
Kerch began the trial of the criminal case against the former head of the administration of Feodosia Dmitry Shchepetkov. He is accused of Exceeding Official Powers (part 1 of Art. 286 of the Criminal Code) and Attempted Bribe-Taking (part 3. of Art. 30 of the Criminal Code, part 6 of Art. 290 of the Criminal Code). According to the investigation, the official together with his deputy Makar Makarov extorted 300 thousand dollars from the businessman for permission to extend the lease of 2 hectares of land. Both were detained in late 2015, but Shchepetkov still does not admit his guilt, while Makarov made an agreement with the investigation and in 2016 has already received 3.5 years for mediation.
Novaya Gazeta writes, according to Shchepetkov, immediately after the detention they began to force him to confession to the crime. They put a bag on the head, tied him to an armchair with scotch tape, connected wires to the fingers and a current was streamed to them under quiet music. According to the ex-city manager, after he lost consciousness, torture by electricity stopped. But the pressure was still there – he was taken outside and asked if he could swim in handcuffs with his hands behind his back.
The ambulance doctor, summoned to the temporary holding facility of Simferopol, where Shchepetkov was brought to after such an interrogation with passion, noted "bodily injuries in the form of concentric burns on the distal phalanges of the thumbs of both hands". Later the lawyers of the former official filed a claim on the FSB officers questioning his client, but were denied to initiate a case. As the senior criminal investigator of the 549th military investigation department of the Investigative Committee Khomyakov explained, "reddening of the skin in the area of the thumbs did not lead to a short-term health disorder or a minor permanent disability".
In the future two more episodes were added to the case of Shchepetkov. He allegedly promised to help businessman Sergey Avanesyan, who had problems with permits for the functioning of a cafe on Ayvazovsky Avenue in Feodosia. But as payment for the patronage of business Shchepetkov ‘asked’ Avanesyan to help the city by transferring 500.000 rubles ($8.8 thousand) to the budget for holding Barabulka fish cuisine festival. The second episode concerns taking a bribe of 250 thousand rubles ($4.4 thousand) from another entrepreneur by the same scheme – in the form of financing a charity event.
At the same time, many people knowing Shchepetkov personally, as well as ordinary citizens, began to doubt the objectivity of the case when they learned the name of the main victim – Roman Lukichev. He has long been known in the region as a major developer, entering the offices of the highest superiors on the peninsula and familiar with the ‘shadow owners’ of the Crimea. The prosecutor's office, the FSB and the Council of Ministers of the Crimea began receiving letters asking them to pay attention to the situation – the fact is that long before Shchepetkov's arrest he was in conflict with Lukichev. For example, in 2014 Shchepetkov did not agree the delivery of the apartment building built by Lukichev’s company, and then refused building a plot near Kerch highway, near the sea. It is noteworthy that when Shchepetkov was under investigation, Lukichev obtained the necessary plot, and the house was put into operation, and even within the framework of the Federal Target Program for the Development of the Crimea.
In January 2017, when the investigation into Shchepetkov’s case had already been completed, the Feodosiya City Court unexpectedly refused to consider it – the process was transferred to Kerch.
Shchepetkov's lawyers pointed to numerous violations in collecting the evidence base of the prosecution. In particular, Lukichev's claim was not registered by FSB officers in the established order, no necessary checks were conducted on it. However the judge agreed with prosecutor Svetlana Udinskaya, who claimed about the "low significance of these arguments".
At the last hearing, held on April 18, the defense insisted on the personal presence of the injured Lukichev, who was invited to the hearing, but did not appear and sent his representative. Kerch court decided to bring him to trial on April, 28.