Main evidence in ex-Minister Ulyukaev's case in doubt

Main evidence in ex-Minister Ulyukaev's case in doubt
Alexey Ulyukaev Photo: Kommersant

The witness found mistakes in the analysis of the records announced in the court.

On Wednesday, the Moscow Zamoskvoretsky court was waiting for a key witness upon the case of former Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukaev - head of Rosneft Igor Sechin – but he refused to go on trial. The reason for non-attendance was Mr. Sechin's workload. In the meantime, Elena Galyashina, a professor at the forensic examination department of the Moscow State Law Academy (MSAL) named after O.E. Kutafin, was questioned. She stated that a psychological and linguistic examination of the records of telephone conversations of Mr. Ulyukaev and Mr. Sechin, announced earlier in court, was carried out with serious violations.

The meeting began with the explanation of the reasons for Igor Sechin's failure to appear before the court, on the interrogation of which the defense of Alexey Ulyukaev insists. Presiding Larisa Semyonova read the message of Sechin's lawyer Nikolay Klen who informed the court that his client did not come because of his workload: his business meetings are scheduled till the end of the year. The lawyer noted that there is no hope for the appearance of the head of Rosneft, as "Sechin's workload is expected to increase."

After that, Elena Galyashina, a defense witness, was interrogated and, at the request of lawyers, analyzed the psychological and linguistic conclusion about phone conversations between Sechin and Ulyukaev, which the prosecution believes is evidence of extortion of $2 million bribe by the former Minister.

Galyashina told the court that she considered the investigation of the record as incomplete. In particular, she noted, the phonograms of conversations were examined without confirmation of the recordings’ originality, the experts did not specify a methodology for evaluating the audio recordings, and they did not use special equipment when listening to them. The witness explained that experts Viktor Kislyakov and Alexey Ryzhenko from the Volgograd non-state Southern Expert Center were listening to audio files on a personal computer instead of using special equipment analyzing speech of speakers using a spectrogram. In addition, these experts, according to Galyashina, "had different knowledge in different areas": one of them is a psychologist and the other is a linguist, therefore, according to the witness, they should "share the competence, but instead, in fact they were mixed."

Speaking about the essence of the negotiations recorded, Elena Galyashina noted that, in her opinion, it was Igor Sechin who "initiated the taking of the subject" - bags with money, saying: "Well, in general, you can assume that the task is completed. Take it, put it - and let's go have a cup of tea." The witness drew attention to the fact that Alexey Ulyukaev answered: "Yes?", which, in her opinion, indicates that the Minister did not fully understand what was being offered to him. In addition, the witness admitted that there could be no direct connection between the words about the completed task and the "take" proposal.

Answering questions from lawyers, Galyashina said that she did not find confirmation that the head of Rosneft was the victim of extortion. "Judging by the conversation," she noted, "there were no verbal indications of a negative attitude or threat. And the conversation itself was quite friendly." At the same time, the witness stated that nothing in the conversation indicates that Alexey Ulyukaev understood that he had money in the bag he took.

Prosecutors Pavel Filipchuk and Boris Neporozhny asked Elena Galyashina why she decided that special equipment should be used for psycho-linguistic expertise. "There is a list of recommended programs, and experts are obliged to use them," said Galyashina. "Experts Kislyakov and Ryzhenko used programs that are not in the list of recommended programs, which is unacceptable, since the expert activity should be standardized."

After questioning Elena Galyashina, judge Larisa Semyonova suggested that lawyers present their evidence, but they said that they can not do this without questioning the head of Rosneft. Prosecutors immediately said that "it is an abuse of law", which can lead to violation of "reasonable time for trial". To this lawyer Timofei Gridnev said that the court and the prosecution should have claims not to the defense, but to Sechin, whose interrogation "could change everything." As a result, the presiding judge ordered to send the agenda to the head of Rosneft for the fourth time.

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