Greetings from 1999. Ex-Head of Mari El is a gang leader? 

Greetings from 1999. Ex-Head of Mari El is a gang leader?
What about your past, Governor? Photo: The CrimeRussia

Arrested for a bribe of 235 million rubles ($4.1m) former Head of Mari El Leonid Markelov could face affairs from dashing 1999. On the eve it became known that at the end of last year a new criminal case on Illegal Acquisition and Storage of Ammunition was initiated against him (part 1 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), which has now been transferred to the Prosecutor's Office to determine the jurisdiction.

According to official data, the cartridges were found in the house of the former Governor during a search in April last year. Why did Markelov store them and where did they come from? Could a new criminal case of illegal storage of ammunition be related to the criminal past of Leonid Markelov? The CrimeRussia studies the publications of regional and federal media of the late 1990s and early 2000s to find details of the political career of Mari El former Head Leonid Markelov, arrested on corruption charges.

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Leonid Markelov

According to open sources, in 1995 Leonid Markelov was elected to the State Duma of the second convocation on the federal list of the LDPR party. In the regional press in the late 1990s they wrote that MP Markelov 'bought' the mandate spending criminal means. In this regard, the press mentions a criminal case about the theft of 3 billion rubles ($52.6m) from Sberbank in 1995. A resource News. Opinions. Blogs published information from an analytical certificate signed by the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Mari El, Colonel of Militia Evgeny Gurevich. This information, as stated in the material, is kept in the archives of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation.

"In 1995, a loan of more than 3 billion rubles, taken from Sberbank in care of Ivika LLP, was cashed through Flagman LLP (Yu.G. Buyanov). About 2 billion rubles of this amount were transferred to the account of Shabalin through Ajar bank for use in Moscow by Leonid Markelov and Yuri Vinokurov." It was also reported, the data were received that "L.I. Markelov, I.B. Vinokurov, Yu.G. Buyanov are the organizers of a criminal group."

The same note describes in detail how Sberbank money was siphoned off. There is evidence that operative investigative measures were carried out against the possible members of the organized crime group, during which it was established that Leonid Markelov, Igor Vinokurov and Yuri Buyanov were the organizers of the gang that, from 1994 to 1997, received loans for large amounts of money through front men and commercial structures. In the same way, 3 billion rubles were stolen from Sberbank - a large loan was taken by Ivika in 1995 and cashed through the firm Flagman, owned by Yuri Buyanov. According to the data collected by operatives, the millions that the group received through shell companies went to purchase shares of various enterprises in the Republic of Mari El and beyond. However, the case was terminated - the investigation was suspended in connection with the failure to identify the perpetrators of the crimes. That is, to prove the involvement of Markelov and other persons mentioned in fraud. As later associate of Markelov Vinokurov discovered, cases were terminated because of pressure from the LDPR party leadership. Igor Vinokurov wrote in his statement to Prosecutor General of Russia Yuri Chaika about the influential patrons of the former Governor and his direct involvement in the theft of Sberbank's funds.

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Igor Vinokurov

According to all the same testimony of Igor Vinokurov, Leonid Markelov did not win elections to the State Duma in the Mari El single-mandate electoral district, so he accused his colleagues (including Igor Vinokurov) of stealing 80 thousand dollars and for a time disappeared from the political field of the republic. It is not known what the former Head of Mari El was actually doing at that time. Already after he took the post of Head of Mari El, there were reports that in 2000 (before being elected president for the first term) he worked as deputy general director of Rossgosstrakh OJSC, but, as Kompromat writes, there is no evidence that at least someone saw him at the workplace in the insurance company.

In 1996, Markelov unsuccessfully ran for the post of Head of the Mari El Republic. Then deputy Galina Starovoitova reported that his supporters "drive through the villages and threaten to burn them" if local residents gave their votes in favor of other candidates.

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Galina Starovoitova reported on the methods of Leonid Markelov's work with the electorate

In 2000 Markelov won the election by winning 58.23% of the vote. In an interview with a local radio station, he said that this happened only thanks to the control of the RF embassy in the Volga Federal District. During the 2004 election campaign, he received the nickname Lyonka Blue Screen due to active support in the media.

After Markelov scandalously takes the post of Governor of Mari El, he begins to get rid of everyone who could create competition for him or "blurt out too much." Thus, in early 2006, a criminal case was opened against a former associate of Markelov, Igor Vinokurov, on fraud on an especially large scale. While the investigation was underway, Vinokurov wrote a statement addressed to the Prosecutor General of Russia. In it, he admitted that he together with Markelov stole Sberbank’s 3 billion rubles.

"A criminal case was initiated on this fact. I was charged. In the decree on bringing to justice the plot of the commission of the crime was described quite clearly. However, in connection with the fact that Markelov was a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, he got the chance using his contacts in the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation and a criminal case from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Mari El was transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tatarstan, where the case was terminated according to far-fetched circumstances..." associate of Markelov wrote.

As Vinokurov says, the deputy mandate of Leonid Markelov cost him $170.000 and served as a shield for law enforcement. According to Vinokurov, it was Markelov's personal order and the criminal case was a frame-up, and the motive for this act was the desire to ‘liquidate’ an uncomfortable witness.

However, Vinokurov's written revelations did not help him to avoid prison. According to the Forum-msk.org, "the scandal associated with the statement of entrepreneur from Mari El Igor Vinokurov, who surrendered to the General Prosecutor's Office of Russia, reporting on the crimes committed by him together with current president of Mari El Leonid Markelov, got a completely logical continuation."

Vinokurov's lawyers received a notice from the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation (September 19, 2006, No. 16/2-R-06) signed by prosecutor Z.S Postnikova: "Appeal on the crime committed by I.B. Vinokurov and others, is sent for examination to the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Mari El."

And on September 27, 2006, an identical response came from the FSB of the Russian Federation (11.09.2006, No. A-423) signed by V.G. Voronina: "...Your appeal has been sent to the General Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation".

Thus, on September 11, 2006, the FSB sent an appeal to the Prosecutor General's Office, which in turn lowered it to Mari El.

The lawyers of Igor Vinokurov made an attempt to send a copy of his client's letter to the republican Prosecutor's Office, but the supervisory authority told that it did not intend not only to accept the statement, but also speak about the crimes of Leonid Markelov, Forum-msk.org reports.

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Is it the last charge or not?

Thus, the data on the possible criminal activities of Leonid Markelov were hid between the FSB and the Prosecutor General's Office. However, similar information is contained in the investigative work entitled "Corruption in Mari El," sponsored by Colonel of the Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Dolgov and State Duma deputy Sergey Mamaev. In this regard, as reported by the site Mariuver.com, several inquiries were sent to the FSB and the Investigative Committee, including form Nikolai Kharitonov, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Regional Policy and Problems of the North and Far East. The parliamentarian asked for a "thorough check" of the Head of Mari El, his family members and the origin of their income. But, apparently, the requests just disappeared.

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Deputy of the State Duma Nikolay Kharitonov

In 2007, Igor Vinokurov was found guilty of committing crimes under part 1 of Art. 159, part 1 of Art. 160, part 1 of Art. 126 and part 2 of Art. 309 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and sentenced to 10 years in a strict-regime colony. Now an uncomfortable witness from the past has already been released and runs business. In the meantime, Leonid Markelov will remain in jail until April 13. Now investigators try to find out why the former Head of Mari El kept ammunition at home, and study the documents seized from him during a search in April last year. 

It is not excluded that the new charge of illegal storage of ammunition is just a beginning of official's criminal life, and law enforcement bodies will be able to revive the cases of 1999 that were buried.

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