Police General’s ‘Boldintsevo fall’: where and how did former Kurgan Region Police Chief ‘work’?
Trial of former Department of the MIA of the Russian Federation in the Kurgan Region Head Igor Reshetnikov is nearly complete. A public prosecutor proposed pardoning him for one crime and giving a suspended sentence for another one. However, the defendant insists he is not guilty and refused the pardon. The investigation was started anew. Why is the General so sure he is not going to be held liable for turning a rehabilitation facility into a country cottage of his own?
Following the Prosecutor’s petition, the Kurgan City Court decided to start investigation into the case against former Department of the MIA in the Kurgan Region Head Igor Reshetnikov anew on March 20. During the hearing, the Major General’s attorney said evidence presented by the prosecution is untenable and asked his client is cleared of charges. The prosecutor retaliated by petitioning for starting the investigation anew to decide whether the defense team’s demands are tenable and to answer each point made.
Igor Reshetnikov is accused of breaking part 1 of Article 285 (Abuse of Official Powers) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The Prosecutor asked the defendant is given a 3 year suspended sentence with 3 year probation period for his 1st crime (the Boldintsevo Recreation Facility). It is worth mentioning that Prosecutor Kiselev believes: Reshetnikov has to pay for damages (14 million rubles ~ $245.000) he inflicted on the budget; Reshetnikov’s possessions should be forfeited. The Prosecutor proposed pardoning the defendant for his 2nd crime (a dog training center designing), for he is a North Caucasus veteran.
Boldintsevo Recreation Facility
The defense team demands its client is cleared of the charges. Reshetnikov did not plead guilty and denied both charges. He refused the pardon saying he does not need one since he is innocent.
Reshetnikov was appointed the Kurgan Region Police Chief in 2011. He worked as the Head of the Criminal Police Service of the Department of the MIA of the Russian Federation in the Khabarovsk Krai prior to that. Reshetnikov decided to turn the Boldintsevo Recreation Facility into his residency after moving to Kurgan. Former Police Chief lived in the center permanently. Unlike him, Reshetnikov decided to stay in an official state city apartment and began staying at his country cottage with his wife and daughters over the weekends. That is the reason his subordinates nicknamed it “general’s country cottage”.
The Boldintsevo Recreation Facility was a one-off design implemented in 2004. It was meant for police officers who had completed their service in local conflicts. On paper. However, police officers had to recover in other places. Average employees were barred from the Facility as soon as Reshetnikov took his new office. People could only get there with the Police Chief’s personal permission from now on. Even Reshetnikov’s deputies had to ask him for permission to visit Boldintsevo
Igor Reshetnikov in court
The Facility has never been used as initially intended. During the trial, many Kurgan police officers said they would have gladly undergone rehabilitation in Boldintsevo if they had the opportunity. Head of the Medical Unit of the Department of the MIA in Kurgan Aleksandr Mishnev even confessed he only learned about existence of the Facility’s financed by the agency after investigators began asking him about its use, whereas he strongly believes such a facility could be of great use for rehabilitation of MIA veterans.
The ‘general’s country cottage’ lives up to its name. There are 4 bedrooms, 2 parlors, kitchen, home cinema, karaoke, and gym in the 2-storey 600 m2 wooden building. There is also a wing with a sauna and pool. The picturesque Boldintsevo Lake not too far away is an added “bonus”. The place seems ideal for receiving visitors. And that is exactly what Reshetnikov would be more than happy to do. He would make a call and one of security guards keeping the watch 24/7 would fire up the sauna while maid would set the table.
The General invited his confidants to Boldintsevo more often than anyone else. These people had moved from Khabarovsk to Kurgan with him. The following people and their families visited the cottage near the lake: Deputy Head of the Department of the MIA in the Kurgan Region Andrey Aleshkin; Head of the Department for Economic Security and Combating Corruption of the MIA Maksim Shevelev; Support Services Head Sergey Mazko. It is worth mentioning that they all are now ‘visiting’ much less comfortable ‘facilities’. Aleshkin was given a 10 year-long custodial sentence for bribe taking and swindling. Shevelev was sentenced to 9 years in high security prison. Mazko is serving a 3.5 prison term in high security prison for taking bribes. They used to make pleasant surprises for their friend back in the day. For example, the 3 men and Police Chief of the Department of MIA in the Kurgan Region at the time Andrey Smirnov set a luxurious festive table for Reshetnikov in Boldintsevo when he was promoted to general in 2012.
Amusingly, Reshetnikov made the following claim during the trial: he and his subordinates did not have their time off in Boldintsevo. Instead, they worked there. Reshetnikov allegedly held secret staff meetings there. The General could not hold them in his office due to fear of information discussed leaking to gangs. That is why he had no other choice but to invite his deputies to the country cottage; Reshetnikov thought it was more secure. Naturally, the sauna was the most secure of all the places there; that is where the high-ranking officers gathered. “We also used the sauna when working, and steam room especially, since it is protected from surveillance. We held staff meetings there, too”, Reshetnikov specified during the trial.
The General invited his agents to Boldintsevo instead of his (potentially) wiretapped office for the same reasons. Apparently, Reshetnikov called women working in ‘service industry’ his ‘agents’, according to crimerussia.com’s sources in regional law enforcement agencies. Such women would often visit the ‘general’s country cottage’. However, it is perfectly possible women of the street visited the cottage solely to aid in police work; the source said the police “routinely” uses prostitutes to gather intelligence. As routinely as it holds executive meetings in steam rooms with sauna brooms and spirits.
Reshetnikov’s fears proved to have been justified as time went by, although it was the FSB that got the information, not some gang. It were the FSB employees who filed a lawsuit against the police Major General.
That is what the General told when asked why the local police top officials gathered in Boldintsevo on holidays when there was not work to be done. Reshetnikov claimed they only did it once, on the New Year. The General had broken his arms, had to wear the Ilizarov apparatus and had no other choice but to receive visitors in informal setting.
Hospitable Reshetnikov invited both his subordinates and heads of all the regional law enforcement agencies to Boldintsevo on holidays as well as on weekdays. Head of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation in the Kurgan Region Ilgiz Iliyasov spent more time than any other guest there. Iliyasov submitted a resignation letter on March 20. Iliyasov’s desire to retire due to 2 high-profile corruption scandals in his agency was given as the official reason. A scandalous video-evidence of the prosecution is the unofficial reason. The video shows mellow Iliyasov hugging Reshetnikov and singing karaoke. The video was shot in Boldintsevo, of course.
Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation in the Kurgan Region Head Ilgiz Iliyasov
Iliyasov was called as witness. He did not deny the obvious and confessed to having visited the ‘general’s country house’ on multiple occasions even under the previous Police Chief Boris Timonichenko. In fact, he began visiting the cottage even more often when the new Chief took the office; he and Reshetnikov were on friendly terms. “Our families were friends with each other”, Iliyasov said. It goes without saying he did not skip semiannual and annual meetings also held in Boldintsevo. They would get informal once done with work. As put by Iliyasov in court, “men drank (afterwards)”.
Receiving dear guests did not put financial strain on Reshetnikov. The household staff was paid from the federal budget. As well as utility bills. Even such expensive consumer electronics as a home cinema and LCD TV were paid from the budget. The bottom line is that all the Boldintsevo expenses were paid using budgetary money. At least 12 million rubles were spent on the ‘general’s country cottage’ maintenance from 2011 to 2015 when Reshetnikov had to resign due to a high-profile corruption scandal in the agency, according to the investigation’s estimates. 6 criminal cases were opened as a result of the scandal.
The General did not spend much money on food and spirits either. A special operations task force composed of employees seconded to the North Caucasus regularly delivered Reshetnikov elite excise-free alcohol on official state trucks, according to crimerussia.com’s source. The Kurgan Region districts heads would go out of their way to please him, presenting Reshetnikov with things like barrels of pickled milk mushrooms or Siberian salmon. Reshetnikov was well aware of the ‘perks’ of his position and was not afraid to use them. For example, a special company (as in military unit, translator’s note) traffic officer ‘worked’ as the General’s wife personal driver instead of doing their job. He would take her to and from her job using an official state car daily. The General also used his official state car as if it were his personal vehicle. Reshetnikov’s personal driver was ready to take him anywhere he wanted 24/7.
Naturally, during the trial, the General claimed all the parties and dinner events held in Boldintsevo were paid for by guests. Everything was done at their own expense, in other words. This allegedly applied even to interdepartmental meetings in the steam room, or rather to the 2nd parts of such meetings. However, it is rather hard to believe the police General would ask his ‘dear guests’ to pay for food and drinks offered by the hospitable host.
Former Department of the MIA of the Russian Federation in the Kurgan Region Head Igor Reshetnikov
Albeit former Reshetnikov’s subordinates follow the trial they are not particularly interested in the outcome. They already know court will go easy on the General. The thing they care about the most is that the Kurgan police finally got rid of the “Khabarovsk team”. Average officers were so glad the General resigned they almost threw a dinner event of their own, according to a source. The thing is Reshetnikov dismissed almost every deputy. They were “experienced and decent people”. Only First Deputy Andrey Smirnov managed to hold down his job. The “outsiders” invited by Reshetnikov to take charge of the Kurgan police crippled its normal activities almost completely. Clearance rates began declining; crime rates began going up. All the new senior officers cared about was their income. Constant complaints about senior MIA officers being corrupt flooded all the agencies. These officers got accustomed to work only caring about money when serving in Khabarovsk, apparently. They literary laid local entrepreneurs under tribute, according to Russian Far East bloggers’ reports. They did not have enough time to establish a similar system in Kurgan. Still, they did try. Hence the criminal cases and corruption accusations. Reshetnikov’s time in the office is best characterized by the fact almost every single senior Kurgan police officer was accused of taking bribes.
As for Trans-Urals residents, they figured out what Reshetnikov was made of during the very first year of him holding the office. In December 2011, university and high school students held a rally at the central city square protesting fraudulent State Duma of the Russian Federation elections. Reshetnikov ordered violent actions against the peaceful protesters: more than 100 people were arrested, thrown into prisoner transport vehicles, and taken to the central police station. They were held there for several hours. The youngest arrestee was only 10 y. o. He was detained for attempting recording police officers on his camcorder. Reshetnikov led the operation personally, giving orders to his men. The operation resulted in a nationwide scandal. Kurgan ranked 1st in Russia in regard to the number of arrestees. The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation condemned the Kurgan police’s actions. The Region residents saw what to expect from the new Police Chief. Reshetnikov did live up to the expectations: local police went after opposition instead of fighting crime. Reshetnikov’s superiors did not have objections, apparently. He was awarded several medals and promoted to major general instead of being reprimanded for increased crime rates. His high-ranking protectors did not give up on Reshetnikov even after the criminal case was opened against him. As expected, many police officers who had testified against Reshetnikov during the investigation began changing their testimonies or even backpedaling completely during the trial. For example, Boldintsevo security guard Aleksey Bagretsov suddenly claimed he got last names wrong: when he told the investigators Reshetnikov, his family, and deputies visited the country mansion he confused Reshetnikov with the previous Police Chief. This makes it quite possible the police General will get away with nothing more than nominal punishment.
Saburova believes that the Russian authorities violated articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guaranteeing the right to life, as well as the right to freedom and personal inviolability.