Legendary FSB officer is defendant in case of Khoroshavin
Colonel Vladimir Zarechnev, who in 1992, infiltrated the Italian Mafia, in due time became the hero of the school film for special services. Since 2014, he is being held in a pre-trial detention center on charges of promised mediation in bribery.
The Moscow Garrison Military court began its consideration of the case in respect of FSB Colonel Vladimir Zarechnev, who was arrested in October 2014 in connection with the bribery case of the Sakhalin company Energostroy LLC managers. The businessmen were planning to remove from office or to outpace the head of the local FSB department, Major General Igor Struchkov to another region.
Zarechnev’s detention was carried out in the framework of the anti-corruption campaign in the Sakhalin Region, which the law enforcement officers began two years ago. A year later, Governor of Sakhalin Aleksander Khoroshavin also became one of the defendants in a criminal case initiated in the framework of this campaign.
61-year-old Zarechnev currently is held in the detention center called the Kremlin Central, in which former Governor Khoroshavin is kept on a related matter.
As the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets reports, Vladimir Zarechnev was charged for quite a rare wrongdoing: Promise or Proposal to Mediate in Bribery (part 5 of Article 291.1 of the Criminal Code). Meanwhile, the Colonel did not admit his guilt. His lawyer Sergey Vitebsky noted one year ago that the investigation has not exactly formulated to whom and in what amount Zarechnev promised to give a bribe. On January 27, 2016, the investigation reclassified the charged to an attempted swindling.
A year after beginning of the anti-corruption campaign, Governor Khoroshavin also got under investigation
It is to be recalled that a series of high-profile resignations and criminal cases on Sakhalin began after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in 2013, who had learned from the regional management of the problems in the construction of the fourth unit of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk TPP-1. The local department of the FSB, which was led by then General Struchkov, was entrusted to take in the situation.
Questions related to construction of the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk TPP-1 aroused to the leadership of the Region
In a series of inspections, the FSB officers established the fact of fraud on the part of the contractor of construction – Sakhalin company Energostroy LLC. Suspicion fell on head of the company Nikolay Kran and a number of his employees and business partners.
According to the investigation, without waiting for the predictable consequences of the FSB checks, the participants of criminal scheme decided to be proactive by providing about $ 1.3 million on outplacing Struchkov, who focused on Energostroy’s fraud, out of the Region.
They started acting through Moscow – in the capital, the intermediaries were found – former FSB Colonel Konstantin Uvarov and son of another high official of the Federal Security Service Valery Mikheyev. In winter 2014, the money for bribes was transferred through a network of fly-by-night firms, after which a search for a senior officials in the central apparatus of the FSB, who could find a powerful addressee to resolve the issue Struchkov’s transfer from Sakhalin, began.
At this point, a living legend of security services, central FSB apparatus Department M officer Vladimir Zarechnev, who at the time also led an international non-profit public foundation Pravoporyadok-centr (Law Centre), appears on stage. The foundation for 10 years before these events had been helping the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
First, the mediators have offered to help him with innocuous issues: to find buyers for the shares of the port which belonged to Nikolay Kran, then, the conversation turned to General Struchkov’s removal. For that, the intermediaries promised the head the non-profit foundation to provide generous help to the families of the dead officers.
As reported by Kommersant, in response to this Zarechnev offered them only to report on the facts of Struchkov’s violations to the leadership, if they are documented, after which the intermediaries have disappeared from sight.
Meanwhile, the investigation learned about Zarechnev’s negotiations. The Colonel, who at that time had already been retired, was detained.
Victor of the Italian mafia
Besides the lack of clear evidence, the human rights activist Eva Merkacheva notes that there is another side in this case.
Colonel Vladimir Zarechnev is the legendary and highly respected KGB and FSB officer, on whose account there is a number of brilliant and significant special operations. He is protected and supported by employees and veterans of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department, whom Zarechnev helped as a consultant in a number of operations on detention of thieves in law and liquidation of several organized crime groups and intelligence agencies. He is respected and appreciated so much that they keep paying Zarechnev’s mortgage loan, he got before his detention.
The most famous and the large-scale operation, writes Merkacheva, is the one in which Zarechnev infiltrated the Italian mafia in the early 90s. A documentary film about the operation and Zarechnev’s role is used today as a learning tool in the educational structures of the FSB, said MK.
Vladimir Zarechnev with his wife Yulia
According to the Head of the then KGB unit in Moscow and the Moscow Region, Mikhail Polyakov, in 1992, the Italian mafia was planning a massive "stuffing" of counterfeit dollars to the territory of the former Soviet Union, which could completely destroy the already shaky Russian economy.
According to agents' data, the first batch of fake noes was to be $ 10 million, which at the time was a huge amount. Then, the Italians were planning to increase the amount. The money was printed in Italy, and then they were transported to Moscow in cars, in the caches. The first customers found agreed on very favorable terms, says Polyakov. Russian Criminal structures have been willing to pay 50 real dollars for every counterfeit 100. It is known that the Italians had a good cover: they assisted by the Italian secret services and Donetsk OCGs, as fake money was transited through Ukraine.
When the first tranche has already been in Russia, the security services launched an operation in which Zarechnev under the guise of a buyer, with a high-risk to his life, infiltrated the criminal structures, close to the Italian Mafia.
Zarechnev acted as a crime boss, who had half a million dollars, supposedly to pay the builders’ labor on major metropolitan construction projects.
Then, the first small amount was bought from the Italians, after which the date and time of the main transaction has been assigned.
As Polyakov said, during the operation, the denouement of which took place on the parking lot near the hotel Ukraine, Zarechnev was under a serious risk. There was a time when the surveillance service lost sight of him for two hours, but the officer had a brilliant operation.
The security services are silent about the details of the detention of counterfeiters and the Ukrainian intermediary criminals, but we know there was blood. As a result, all the suspects were detained. The Italians were convicted in Russia, they were sentenced to terms ranging from 7 to 9 years. After three months, the employees of the Italian secret services, who initiated the "stuffing" of counterfeit currency, were arrested in Switzerland. Zarechnev, according to Polyakov, was given the award, which was enough "to eat and drink" and the order "For Personal Courage".
Subsequently, Russian Security Minister Viktor Barannikoff described this operation in the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation as a unique one, and later, the training documentary was made on its basis.
"The movie is not at free access. It reveals lots of the features of this work. And almost all of it is now used by officers, despite the fact that since Zarechnev’s operation nearly a quarter century has passed. And when we learned that the legendary Chekist was detained, we did not believe it", said Polyakov, noting the oddity of charges according to which the Colonel kept in the predetention center and medical contraindications for the Colonel’s custody – Zarechnev’s spleen was removed.