“It was a provocation”: Defense strategy of Ulyukaev’s attorneys
The former minister claims he was set up; it was a provocation. The investigation keeps on insisting he is guilty, claiming it has a classified recording of Ulyukaev talking with the head of one of state banks.
The former minister’s attorneys claim their client did not know about the content of suitcases he was handed in Rosneft’s office. Ulyukaev’s attorneys are going to claim the whole thing was a provocation, according to Rosbalt media outlet’s source. The former minister came to Rosneft’s office at Igor Sechin’s, the company head, invitation on November 14, 2016. He came there to “sort out issues concerning Bashneft.”
However, Ulyukaev ended up having a conversation with one of Rosneft top managers instead of Sechin. The former minister knew the manager very well; they both participated in talks on Bashneft issues. It was the manager who handed Ulyukaev the suitcase; the former minister expected it to contain document concerned with the agreement. He allegedly did not know that it was actually filled with 2 million dollars that police confiscated when arresting him.
Let us recall that the former Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation was arrested on the night of November 15. He was caught red-handed when taking 2-million-dollar bribe from Rosneft employees, according to the investigation.
The former minister extorted the money from Rosneft for his agency to help with Bashneft purchase, according to reports. Ulyukaev was dismissed due to "loss of trust." He did not plead guilty.
At the same time, the police is confident he is guilty, for it allegedly has recordings of the former minister talking with the head of one of state banks on the phone. The name of the head is classified. The recordings contain the defendant’s complains about him and his subordinates not receiving anything for helping Rosneft to buy Bashneft; him threatening interfering with performance of the agreement; the former minister’s interlocutor trying to calm him and promising to discussed the issue with Sechin.
The source also reports that the case is most likely to be heard behind the closed doors.
Several public servants and Ulyukaev’s colleagues have previously doubted the investigation’s vision of the case. For example, Sergey Dubinin, the former head of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, said he cannot believe “a sane person would try blackmailing Rosneft and Igor Sechin.” He emphasized the fact he has been acquainted with Ulyukaev for many years and described him as a "sensible person."
At the same time, police did not publish any pictures or videos despite doing so, for example, when dealing with Nikita Belikh and Vladislav Guyzer, former Governors, as pointed out by Kommersant. Moreover, not a single Ministry employee was interrogated as either suspect or witness. As if Ulyukaev was the only one conducting Rosneft’s affairs and demanded a bribe for that.
The following seems to indicate the case is political: the former minister had previously asked to dismiss him due to health issues on multiple occasions. Dmitry Medvedev, the Government Head, unofficially confirmed that he had in fact asked for it, according to Kommersant. However, he has never submitted an official resignation notice. However, no one let him go; Ulyukaev supervised contracts that brought 1 trillion rubles into the Russian budget in 2016.