Impenitent bribe-taker: How much ex-Vice Governor of Altai Krai charged and for what?
The trial of Yuri Denisov, the ex-Vice Governor of the Altai Krai, has started in Barnaul. The official who once had a stellar reputation turned out to be a bribe-taker and racketeer, who used his wife as an intermediary to receive the money. Tatiana Denisova was arrested red-handed during the handover of 200 thousand rubles. In a few years, the family of the official has collected over 2.5 million rubles from subordinates, mostly in exchange for allocation of budget funds in the framework of the Education Development Federal Targeted Program. In order to retain their positions, principals of educational institutions of the Altai krai had to give not only monetary bribes to the Denisov family, but also food products.
The Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Barnaul has held the first hearing of the criminal case against Yuri Denisov, former Vice Governor of the Altai Krai. The ex-Head of the General Administration of Education and Youth Policies (currently the Ministry of Education and Science of the Altai Krai) has been charged under item (c), part 5 of Article 290 (Bribe-Taking by a functionary on a large scale), item (b), part 5 of Article 290 (Bribe-Taking by a functionary with extortion of a bribe), and part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Bribe-Taking by a functionary on an especially large scale).
Yuri Denisov, the former Vice Governor of the Altai Region
Yuri Denisov was born in 1947 in Ust-Kamenka village of the Novosibirsk region. Graduated from the Lomonosov Moscow State University of Fine Chemical Technologies. Then worked in the Biysk Technological Institute of the Altai State Technical University for more than 30 years. Has progressed up the career ladder to the Vice Rector for Research, has been awarded a sign “Honorary Worker of Professional Higher Education”. Became a Professor, Candidate of Chemical Sciences, and Academician of the International Academy of Ecology and Life Protection Sciences. In 2004, Denisov has reached the peak of his career: famous Governor Mikhail Evdokimov appointed him the Head of the General Administration of Education and Youth Policies of the Altai Krai. In 2010, Aleksander Karlin, another Governor of the Altai Krai, has promoted Yuri Denisov to a Vice Governor. Prior to this criminal case, Denisov had never been involved into a single corruption scandal – he was known as an official with a stellar reputation, who has done a lot for the regional education system.
His spouse Tatiana Denisova, who is already a retiree, is standing the trial together with her husband. She has been charged with mediation in a criminal scheme. On March 4, 2016, operatives of the Directorate for the Altai Krai of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation have arrested Tatiana Denisova red-handed during the handover of a bribe in the amount of 200 thousand rubles. The operative video record of the arrest has appeared on the Internet shortly afterwards. It shows Tatiana Denisova receiving the money in a plastic bag from a principal of an educational institution. Upon receipt of the bribe, the woman gets into her car, where Yuri Denisov sits in the back seat.
Operative video: Handover of money to the wife of ex-Vice Governor Yuri Denisov
Tatiana Denisova has been charged under parts 1 and 4 of Article 291.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Mediation in Bribery and mediation in bribery effected on an especially large scale).
The criminal case against Yuri Denisov has been initiated in March 2016 – immediately after his sudden voluntary resignation from the post of the Head of the General Administration of Education and Youth Policies of the Altai Krai. Initially the official was charged with receiving a bribe in the amount of 200 thousand rubles – but later the investigation has found that Denisov had been receiving ‘tributes’ from three principals of institutions subordinate to the General Administration of Education and Youth Policies for seven years: since November 2009 and until March 2016. The subordinates had been paying the Vice Governor for signing financial documents related to the spending of subsidies received from the regional and federal budgets in the framework of targeted programs. The official had also received bribes for staffing replacements. The investigators have identified four bribe-taking episodes; the sums had varied from 50 thousand to 2.2 million rubles. In total, the ex-Minister has received 2.5 million rubles.
The first episode – Bribe-Taking on an especially large scale (item (c), part 5 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) – involved Natalia Kalashnikova, the First Vice Rector of the Institute for Continuing Education of Educators of the Altai Krai. According to the investigation, in 2009 Denisov had offered Kalashnikova to give him a bribe in the amount of 150–500 thousand rubles. The woman had to pay this money for the inclusion of her institute into the Education Development Federal Targeted Program and timely transfers of funds in the framework of this program. Kalashnikova agreed to the proposed terms and gave a bribe in the amount of 182 thousand rubles to Denisov.
The second episode – taking a bribe by a functionary with extortion of a bribe (paragraph “b” of part 5 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) – involved Vladimir Bykov, principal of the regional teacher training college. Denisov had demanded from Bykov to make a payment in the amount of 100 thousand rubles to the chairman of the garage construction co-operative on behalf of his son Anton Denisov. Yuri Denisov promised to fire Bykov should he refuse. Of course, the college principal has opted to pay the required amount.
The third episode – Bribe-Taking on a large scale for unlawful actions (inaction) (part 4 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) – involved Sergei Karabits, Principal of the Altai College of Industrial Technologies and Business. In 2011, Denisov had demanded money from him using the same threat as in the previous episode: should Karabits refuse, he would lose his post. Tatiana Denisova acted as an intermediary in this episode: she met with the college principal and explained that in order to retain his position, Karabits had to deliver to their countryside residence expensive food products and alcohol drinks. According to the investigation, the college principal had to feed the Denisov family for four years – since 2012 and until 2016. In total, he spent over 50 thousand rubles on foods for them.
The fourth episode involved again Natalia Kalashnikova, the First Vice Rector of the Institute for Continuing Education of Educators of the Altai Krai. The Education Development Federal Targeted Program was in effect in 2011–2015; in the framework of this program, significant funds had been allocated to the Altai krai. Yuri Denisov used these budget funds at his sole discretion. The former Vice Governor had appointed Kalashnikova the program manager. In 2013, Denisov offered her to pay him money for timely transfers of funds to the Institute for Continuing Education of Educators of the Altai Krai in the framework of the federal targeted program. In 2013 and 2015, the First Vice Rector has paid to the official 2.25 million rubles in total. Tatiana Denisova again acted as an intermediary. According to the CrimeRussia source in law enforcement structures, Kalashnikova is captured in the operative video record showing the arrest of the Denisov family. She started cooperating with the investigation, which has allowed to arrest the couple red-handed during the handover of the bribe.
The most severe offences incriminated to Yuri Denisov are punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of 8 to 15 years and a fine in an amount, which is 70 times as much as of the total sum of the bribe. The spouse of the Vice Governor is facing a prison term of 7 to 12 years and a fine in an amount, which is 60 times as much as of the total sum of the bribe.
In the end of the first court session, the judge has asked the defendants whether they admit the guilt. The spouses have stated that they would tell this during their questioning. According to the CrimeRussia source, earlier the couple had categorically denied any guilt in any of the episodes – despite the fact that they were arrested red-handed. In order to collect the evidential base, the investigation had to question more than 100 witnesses and perform over 20 searches, including the apartment of the Denisov family; the case file includes over 15 volumes. Following a request from the investigation, the court has seized couple’s assets worth over 12 million rubles. The Denisov family owns an apartment with the living space of 88.6 square meters, residential home with the living space of 156 square meters, and two cars: Hyundai Santa Fe and Lexus 330.
The court has remanded Yuri and Tatiana Denisov in custody. The defense attorneys had repeatedly attempted to get their clients out of the prison claiming that they are elderly people and conditions of the pretrial detention facility are not suitable for their age. However, all such attempts have failed, and since March 2016, the spouses remained in the Pretrial Detention Facility №1 of Barnaul. Suspects in some other criminal cases well-known in the Altai krai are also being kept in this penitentiary institution, including Maksim Savintsev, son of a former Barnaul City Manager, and Aleksander Mastinin, Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Altai Krai. Taking that this is the first criminal case against Yuri and Tatiana Denisov, the spouses have not been placed in cells with hardened criminals: Yuri Denisov had one cellmate, while Tatiana Denisova – two fellow inmates.
On December 15, 2016, the regional court has examined another appeal and ruled to place Tatiana Denisova under home arrest. Yuri Denisov remains in the pretrial detention facility. On October 5, 2016, he had celebrated his 69th anniversary in the prison cell. His detention period has recently been extended until March 16, 2017 – so he had celebrated the New Year in jail as well. On December 28, 2016, the defense attorney asked to allow Tatiana Denisova 3-hour daily walks, but the judge refused to soften the home arrest conditions.
Yuri Denisov in court
During all the court sessions determining the pretrial restrictions, Denisov was holding his hand on his heart to demonstrate poor health condition. The ex-Minister claimed that he had several heart seizures during his confinement in custody. On September 9, 2016, Denisov felt ill during the court session, and an ambulance had been called. Then he had been receiving treatment in a cardiology health center for some time – but ultimately returned back to the cell.
On January 31, 2017, the court session started with a discussion of Yuri Denisov’s health condition. A day before, he had an anginal attack, which was successfully jugulated. The ex-Vice Governor said that he is not feeling too well, but can stay in the courtroom. The state prosecutor has read the indictment explaining who had paid money to Denisov and for what. The next court session is scheduled to February 3, 2017. This is the most high-profile corruption case in the Altai Krai in decades.