Prosecutor of Rostov region driven into corner
After the arrest of Oleg Mamonov, the newly-appointed Head of the Investigations Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in Noginsk, more and more questions arise to Yuri Baranov, the Prosecutor of the Rostov Region. According to a CrimeRussia source, numerous criminal cases initiated against his subordinates have shaken the positions of the Regional Prosecutor.
In May 2012, Yuri Baranov, who earlier was the Prosecutor of the Krasnoyarsk Region, has been appointed the Prosecutor of the Rostov Region by an order of Yuri Chaika. A high-profile dismissal of Valery Kuznetsov, the previous Prosecutor the Rostov Region transferred to this post from the Chechen Republic, had preceded this appointment. Kuznetsov was fired “for a gross oath breaking”. First, the Prosecutor General’s Office has carried out an audit resulting in a disciplinary action against Kuznetsov – he received an incomplete job competence notice. He disagreed with the audit results and attempted to appeal those. Ultimately, he refused to resign voluntarily and was dismissed ‘with cause’. Kuznetsov has learned about his termination not from the superiors, but from his deputy Dmitry Demeshin.
Fired prosecutor Valery Kuznetsov
However, after the appointment of Yuri Baranov the Prosecutor of the Rostov Region, the number of issues related to the watchdog authority and its questionable decisions has only increased.
Prosecutor Kuznetsov was nicknamed ‘truth seeker’; he tried to bring discipline to the Rostov region – and paid a price for this. During the rule of Baranov, the number of refusals to initiate criminal proceedings and submit indictments to the court has increased severalfold. The Regional Prosecutor’s Office demonstrates surprising forgiveness to officials from the Regional Administration – members of the Governor’s team.
According to the CrimeRussia source, the watchdog authority returns back many criminal cases initiated against functionaries and businessmen close to Vasily Golubev. The Regional Prosecutor’s Office requests to perform ‘additional inquiries’ for such cases. As a result, their investigation is being delayed indefinitely, and ultimately the criminal prosecution of the suspects is ceased.
Right before the transfer of Yuri Baranov to the Rostov region, a number of high-profile incidents have occurred in his former ‘domain’. Law enforcement authorities of the Krasnoyarsk Region started initiating en masse criminal cases related to embezzlements of funds allocated by the government to support local enterprises. It was found that a subsidy of 22 million rubles provided to KrasAvia State Enterprise of the Krasnoyarsk Region was illegal, while the government assistance to Sibtyazhmash Closed Joint Stock Company in the amount of 29.3 million rubles has been embezzled. According to the CrimeRussia source, the Prosecutor’s Office ruled by Yuri Baranov was directly involved into the concealing of these crimes. The names of the Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region and Aleksander Khloponin, the former Presidential Envoy in the North Caucasian Federal District and currently Vice Premier of the Russian Federation, have been mentioned in relation to the embezzlements of federal subsidies. Following an investigation, Denis Pashkov, the Minister of Industries, Energetics, and Trade of the Krasnoyarsk Region, was tried, found guilty under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling on an especially large scale), and sentenced to five years conditionally with a probation period of three years.
A similar corruption scheme involving a possible larceny of funds from a major industrial enterprise is now surfacing in the Rostov region. The legitimacy of certain decisions made by the Regional Prosecutor’s Office raises doubts. The Leninsky District Court of Rostov has accepted for examination a complaint filed by the Rostov Electrometallurgical Plant requesting to recognize illegal the dismissal of a criminal case initiated under part 1 of Article 201 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Abuse of Authority) against an unidentified group of managers of Mechel company who used to manage the plant in 2009–2013. The current management of the Rostov Electrometallurgical Plant claims that they had caused damages over 10 billion rubles to the enterprise.
According to the CrimeRussia source, the Regional Prosecutor’s Office was involved into the above-mentioned dismissal of the criminal case against former Mechel managers. The ‘bravery’ of the Leninsky District Court of Rostov – which dared to accept the complaint on that decision – could be explained by recent senior staff replacements in the regional court.
The local law enforcement authorities have lots of questions to Regional Prosecutor Yuri Baranov. Corruption scandals involving his subordinates are mentioned in federal media on a regular basis.
Yuri Baranov, Prosecutor of the Rostov Region
In the middle of 2015, Mikhail Ageev, the Deputy Head of the 15th Administration for Overseeing Activities of the Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Rostov Region (ICR) and a close associate of Baranov, was arrested red-handed while taking a bribe of 3 million rubles. According to the investigation, Mikhail Ageev asked a local businessmen to pay him for the return of construction equipment seized as material evidence in a criminal case. In July 2016, the criminal case under part 1 of Article 30 and part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Attempted Bribe-Taking on an especially large scale) has been submitted to court where it is still under examination. This episode has taken a heavy toll on the Regional Prosecutor’s Office and its Head Yuri Baranov.
According to well-informed CrimeRussia sources in the law enforcement, the arrest of Mikhail Ageev was an attempt by enforcement structures to limit the possibilities for the Regional Prosecutor’s Office to make illegitimate decisions. Based on insider information obtained by the CrimeRussia, another investigation is currently ongoing against Konstantin Frolov, the Prosecutor of Taganrog. It is linked with the recent arrest of Oleg Mamonov, the former Head of the Investigations Department for Taganrog of the Investigations Directorate of the ICR in the Rostov Region, during the handover of a bribe on an especially large scale.
Oleg Mamonov was the Head of the Investigations Department for Taganrog until March 2014 and then has been transferred to a similar position in Novoshakhtinsk. Using his connections, Mamonov tried to get a post in the Moscow region. The documents for his appointment the Head of the Investigations Department for Noginsk have been prepared and signed – but then Mamonov was arrested on suspicion of bribe-taking at his previous place of duty in Taganrog.
It is known that his brother works in the Prosecutor’s Office of Krasny Sulin of the Rostov Region, his spouse is a court worker, while his father is a Deputy Head of the Municipal Administration of Shakhty.
The media have not published any information in relation to the arrest of Mamonov, but the CrimeRussia managed to obtain some details of that case. Mamonov was arrested after a criminal complaint filed by a Taganrog businessman (currently, a Deputy of the Municipal Duma) and accusing him of extortion.
The complainant, whose name is unknown, has stated that Mamonov, being the Head of the Investigations Department for Taganrog, had demanded money from him for “general patronage”. However, according to the CrimeRussia source, the ‘collaboration’ between the businessman and high-ranked investigator was mutual and beneficial for both of them. Mamonov had promised the entrepreneur to assist in securing for him a municipal cleaning contract. The cost of the governmental contract was 50 million rubles; the businessman had to pay a kickback of 10% to Mamonov. However, after signing the contract, the entrepreneur refused to share the money with the Head of the Investigations Department for Taganrog. The contractor decided to indemnify himself of further issues by turning Mamonov in to the law enforcement authorities. The handover of the bribe occurred under surveillance of the operatives, and Mamonov was arrested red-handed.
After being charged with bribe-taking, Mamonov has been placed under home arrest. Face-to-face questionings are currently ongoing in the framework of this criminal case; so far, no charges have been laid against Konstantin Frolov. Should the situation change, his dismissal might become the last straw for the prosecution career of Yuri Baranov.
After scaring Dagestan with inspections, arrests, and searches, the interdepartmental commission of the Prosecutor General’s Office and ICR has identified key priorities for the regional watchdog authority. After the crackdown on the old clan-based system, the management reforms became more constructive – however, another wave of criminal cases, terminations, and arrests is expected in the republic. The CrimeRussia was figuring out what other Dagestani officials are currently at risk.