Lesha Dirizher caught in bribe-taking. Another scandal in Balashikha Administration
Andrei Vorobiev, Governor of the Moscow Region, apparently likes the eastern part of the metropolitan area. Somehow, he manages to hush up all major corruption scandals in the satellite towns without much pain. Even the most crooked officials there get off the hook by some miracle. The last incident occurred with a young Deputy Mayor of Balashikha caught in bribe-taking.
On May 25, 2019, the Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow remanded Aleksei Koval’, First Deputy Head of the Balashikha Administration, in custody. Investigators of the Second Department for Special Cases of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) charged him under part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (bribe-taking on an especially large scale). The office and residence of Koval’ were searched; “large amounts in rubles and dollars” have been discovered. Two cars – a BMW and a Range Rover – were found in the official’s garage and seized. Apparently, Aleksei Koval’ needed an SUV to drive in Balashikha – its streets are impassable for other vehicles because the funds allocated for their repairs were pocketed by the civil servant.
According to the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR, “the investigation established that, since summer 2018, the suspect had repeatedly received from a construction company specializing in road maintenance and repairs monetary funds totaling at least 4 million rubles ($61.2 thousand) as bribes for general patronage, provision of contracts, and non-fulfillment of performance quality checks”. Somehow, the investigators haven’t provided the name of the bribe-giver – although this person should be prosecuted, too.
Tvardovskogo street, Balashikha
Evgenia Kiryushina, an Aide to the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR, told Kommersant newspaper that road maintenance issues have attracted the attention of operatives of the Directorate for Moscow and the Moscow Region of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation after mass complaints of local residents about the poor quality of road repairs in Balashikha. According to newspaper’s sources, since spring 2018, almost all road construction tenders were won by Lider (Leader) Road Construction Company Limited Liability Company.
However, according to the Consolidated State Registry of Legal Entities, no company with such a name is registered in Moscow or the metropolitan area. Namesake road construction companies incorporated in other regions had never participated in road repair tenders held in Balashikha. Lider (Leader) Financial and Construction Company belonging to Vladimir Voronin builds some facilities in Balashikha – but it had never dealt with roads. The CrimeRussia was unable to identify the mysterious company whose operations have led to the arrest of Koval’.
We reviewed the road construction tenders held in Balashikha since 2018 and found out that Star Group Limited Liability Company has won the majority of the governmental contracts. A legal entity with a charter capital of 10 thousand rubles ($153) and staff of three people has received since spring 2018 six contracts totaling 162 million rubles ($2.5 million). It is unknown yet whether it has something to do with the case against Aleksei Koval' – the investigators don't disclose this information.
Balashikha Mayor Sergei Yurov
This is understandable because the appearance of much more high-ranked suspects in this case is highly likely. Aleksei Koval’ is just a small fry. He has transferred to the Balashikha Administration from Reutov, Moscow region, in 2017 – shortly after the arrival of Sergei Yurov, the new Head of the Balashikha Urban District. Koval’ used to hold a similar position in Reutov since 2012.
Sergei Yurov has introduced the 33-year-old official to the staff of the Balashikha Administration as follows: "He will supervise a number of important spheres of work and perform the duties of the Head of the Urban District in my absence. I am sure that his experience and knowledge are sufficient to fulfill the assigned tasks".
Aleksei Koval’ (in the center)
Aleksei Koval’ took charge of the Financial Department, Committee for Property Management, document flow, IT development, mass media, and advertisement.
The official is a musician by education. He has graduated from the Moscow Military Conservatory and Moscow State Institute of Culture and was nicknamed Dirizher (Capellmeister) by local people.
Balashikha residents discuss his performance on the municipal portal as follows:
Translation: “Aleksei Leonidovich, we earnestly ask you: either start acting as a Deputy Mayor responsible for a number of spheres or take you friend–quasi-Mayor Sergei Yurov and get off from Balashikha. Zhirkov had started the destruction, and you took the baton." "Does somebody have an idea what Koval' is doing in Balashikha? What technological wonders is he viewing? Where is this machinery? Snow is not cleaned in the city – only Lenina avenue near the administration, while the rest is buried in snow." "Lesha, you have been in power for an entire year doing nothing. Enough, do something USEFUL with Yurov or go back to your Reutov.
Immediately after the arrest of Koval’, anonymous Telegram channels reported that Yurov was detained together with his protege. However, the official web site of the municipal administration has published a special refutation:
“The information about the resignation of the Balashikha Mayor is not consistent with the reality. Sergei Yurov is at the workplace. The municipal administration operates in a routine mode. Comprehensive support is provided in relation to the probe launched against some administration employees.”
Aleksander Khodyrev, Head of Korolev and Ivanteevka
The team led by Yurov consists of henchmen of Aleksander Khodyrev, who was a perpetual Reutov Mayor since 1996. In 2014, Khodyrev was appointed the Mayor of Korolev, Moscow Region, and then transferred to Ivanteevka. The ex-Mayor left his protege Sergei Yurov in charge of Reutov.
After the removal of Evgeny Zhirkov, the perpetual Mayor of Balashikha, from office with the involvement of the Presidential Executive Office, Khodyrev, who is still believed to be the unofficial head of Reutov, managed to appoint his henchmen to the key positions in the municipal administration. It is necessary to note that Khodyrev and Zhirkov had been running joint operations for a long time – after all, Reutov is separated from Balashikha by only a road. Khodyrev has even built a mansion for himself not in Reutov – but in Balashikha.
Evgeny Zhirkov, Head of Pushkino Жирков
High-profile scandals have escalated around Zhirkov in December 2016 – after the leak of several records of his conversations with local criminal ‘authority’ Anatoly Petrov (Petrukha) online. The companions discussed financial schemes and ‘kickbacks’ to be paid to the Government of the Moscow Region to make sure that companies controlled by the Mayor win the city improvement tenders. Road maintenance issues were discussed as well – but no companies involved in the fictitious repairs of Balashikha streets were named.
The law enforcement structures haven’t expressed much interest in the conversations between the Mayor and criminal ‘authority’ – who had casually mentioned Vorobiev and Shoigu as ‘lords’ of the local lands. Experts of the Russian Federal Center of Forensic Science of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation have confirmed the authenticity of the videos. Still, no criminal cases were instituted against Zhirkov. One of the persons shown on the records – businessman and Deputy Aleksander Ivanov – was found shot to death in his office shortly after their publication. According to the official version, he has committed suicide. However, some sources claim that it was he who had leaked the compromising videos online or contributed to that.
Anatoly Petrov (Petrukha)
Only the high-profile scandal around Kuchino landfill site made it possible to remove Zhirkov from office – it escalated to the federal level and reached the President. A probe has established that shady financier Aleksander Solomatin, keeper of the pooled cash fund of Balashikhinskie organized criminal group, was behind the waste landfill operator.
This resulted in the Presidential decision to shut down the landfill and voluntary resignation of Evgeny Zhirkov. However, Governor Vorobiev could not leave such a valuable specialist idle – and Zhirkov was appointed in charge of Pushkino, Moscow region, – not far from his old friend Khodyrev.
Andrei Markov, ex-Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR Андрей Марков
The recent arrest of Aleksei Koval’ may be linked with two important events. First, Andrei Markov, Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR, has resigned in early January. Lieutenant general of justice Aleksander Ivanov currently performs his duties as an Interim Acting Head of the Main Investigations Directorate. Second, immediately after the resignation of Markov, searches have been launched in the Balashikha Administration.
In the course of the operative actions, Dmitry Ayukanov, Deputy Head of the Department of Transport, Roads, and Communications of the Balashikha Administration, was detained. The official directly responsible for road repairs in the city was busted during the receipt of a small bribe of 100 thousand rubles ($1.5 thousand) from a local businessman.
Andrei Vorobiev, Governor of the Moscow Region
It cannot be ruled out that the arrest of Koval’ was a logical consequence of the arrest of Ayukanov. Who may be the next? According to Nezygar’ (@russica2) Telegram channel, Mayor Sergei Yurov has already submitted a resignation letter to Dmitry Vorobiev – but the Governor allegedly persuaded him to hold the post for some more time. Rumors circulate in the Balashikha Administration that Aleksei Koval’ is going to return to his office. Andrei Vorobiev apparently likes the eastern part of the metropolitan area – perhaps, he has some interests there?