Investigators of former Yoshkar-Ola mayor Pavel Plotnikov’s case have no evidence of his guilt?
The prosecution had been working on the case against Pavel Plotnikov for 18, yet no results were achieved.
The ex-mayor of Yoshkar-Ola, Pavel Plotnikov, who was arrested for corruption crimes, was to leave the pre-trial detention center on June 3 – this was the day when the maximum term of imprisonment expired. He was not presented with an official charge, and, according to Art. 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the former mayor had to go free and prove his innocence outside the walls of the pre-trial detention facility. Taking into account that earlier six of the eight episodes of the criminal case, including the key one – the receipt of a bribe in the amount of 4 million rubles ($70.000) – were closed for lack of corpus delicti, Plotnikov's chances of acquittal increased. But the employees of the Investigative Committee’s Third Investigative Directorate in Nizhny Novgorod made a third attempt to ensure that Plotnikov remained in custody until August 3. To do this, they appealed to the Nizhny Novgorod regional court, and the Yoshkar-Ola ex-mayor was even conveyed to the Nizhny Novgorod detention center. So why 18 months was not enough for the investigators to finish the investigation of the criminal case, and how was it possible to circumvent the Code of Criminal Procedure?
Ex-Mayor of Yoshkar-Ola Pavel Plotnikov was detained on December 3, 2015. A criminal case was initiated under part 2 of Art. 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (bribe-taking on a large scale). The version of the investigation reads as follows: even before his appointment as mayor in June 2014, Plotnikov, being the Chairman of the Committee for Management of Municipal Property of the Administration of the Yoshkar-Ola City District, received a bribe from entrepreneur Alexander Turuev in the form of an apartment worth 4 million rubles for assistance and removal of barriers in the conduct to commercial activities. It should be noted that Alexander Turuev was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Mari El to 9 years in a strict-regime colony for attempting to organize an attempt on Plotnikov’s life, and has already testified against the ex-mayor of Yoshkar-Ola being under arrest.
Later, at the end of January 2016, another criminal case was brought against Pavel Plotnikov – this time under Art. 289 of the Criminal Code, on suspicion of illegal business activities. According to the investigation, the ex-mayor of Yoshkar-Ola, from May 2012 to November 2015, through third parties managed a commercial firm. At the same time, holding key posts in the administration, Pavel Plotnikov provided all possible protection to the controlled LLC.
But after a year and a half of the investigation, at the trial it turns out that Plotnikov cannot be charged with anything. On May 19, the Supreme Court of Mari El examined the petition of the investigators to extend Plotnikov's detention until August 23.
The court found out that in March 2017 another criminal case was initiated against the ex-mayor of Yoshkar-Ola – on bribes received in the form of three garages from the same Alexander Turuev. The investigators insisted that Plotnikov, having found himself free, could escape, since he had already tried to hide from law enforcement in December 2015 and was then detained at a train station.
Pavel Plotnikov himself said that in all the criminal cases that were initiated against him in March 2017, the corpus delicti was not found and the same will be with the ‘new facts’, since the investigation has no evidence and the whole investigation is based on Turuev’s testimony, which cannot be trusted. According to the information of the ex-mayor, during the investigation, several hundred Yoshkar-Ola businessmen and officials who did not testify against him were questioned.
- The investigation understands that there is nothing to charge Plotnikov with, therefore, it initiated two criminal cases in March. Now, according to Turuev's testimony, I received three garages from him as a bribe. These were formalized transactions: the garages were purchased by my mother-in-law. There are issued documents. Time will pass – a month, two, three – and again we’ll see this statement: "Sorry, Pavel Vyacheslavovich, you did not commit any crimes." I understand that you can investigate for a year, two, or 38 months. Please investigate. But why all this time should I be in jail? - said Pavel Plotnikov in court.
On May 19, 2017, the Supreme Court of Mari El partially granted the request of the investigation to extend Plotnikov’s detention until June 3, and not until August 23.
On May 26, the Supreme Court of Mari El rejected the appellate citation of the Prosecutor's Office which asked to cancel the previous court decision and arrest the ex-mayor for three months. But the staff of the IC’s Investigative Directorate, apparently, decided at all costs to leave Plotnikov behind the bars and applied for the extension of the pre-trial restriction to Nizhny Novgorod.
"The circumstances with which the investigator appealed to the court of the Nizhny Novgorod region are identical to the circumstances already considered by the Supreme Court of Mari El," said Pavel Plotnikov's lawyer Igor Komarov. The only change in the petition is that the investigators announced their desire to join the criminal case about Pavel Plotnikov’s alleged patronage of one of the commercial organizations. But this is the same thing that was investigated by the Mari El MIA and which was terminated due to the lack of corpus delicti. Apparently, in order to save a high-profile corruption case, any methods are good, including violation of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation and ignoring the two court decisions in Mari El.
As a result, the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court decided that Pavel Plotnikov should remain in custody until at least August 3, and then, maybe, Turuev again will remember something and tell. However, the question is how to deal with two completely different decisions of the courts on absolutely identical circumstances?