Quick learner — Zakharchenko’s colleagues tell stories about his secret mentor
The MIA Colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko, who became the most regular person mentioned in the Russian media reports in 10 days since his arrest, remains a rather baffling person. An exemplary student and a black sheep in his youth, Zakharchenko graduated from three universities and took a PhD in economics. But over the years in law enforcement, he has turned into a problem solver and a clandestine billionaire. His colleagues are now telling about people who had influence on him.
Currently, a large investigation team, consisting of the FSB and ICR members, is inspecting the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption (GAESCC) and other departments of the Interior Ministry, whose employees worked with Zakharchenko. They inquire into his professional and personal contact books, studying the cases and developments of the office he headed.
The media outlets are also conducting their own investigation, regularly publishing new details regarding Zakharchenko, his relatives, and the vast sums of money and expensive property registered on all members of his officially unemployed family.
A Rosbalt correspondent talked to a few of Zakharchenko’s former colleagues, who shed some light on a number of previously unknown circumstances.
Teacher and student
According to classmates, during school years Dmitry Zakharchenko ignored disco parties, drinking and girls — instead he was wholly absorbed in his studies, as demanded by the strict teacher's family in which he grew up. Starting his career in law enforcement from the service in the Rostov-on-Don tax police, Zakharchenko moved to Moscow in 2005. One of his colleagues claims that he did not stand out until 2007, pulling along like the rest in the Department for Economic Security (later renamed into GAESCC after a series of corruption scandals).
"And then he became close with Dmitry Zabednov, a legendary person. The main shadow dealer in the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the time," one of Zakharchenko’s former colleagues said.
This name does ring a bell, from the time when the CrimeRussia reported on the high-profile case of the former Lieutenant Colonel of the Ministry of Defense Karlen Azizbekyan, who had been a co-owner of the Moscow casinos Crystal and Golden Palace. For a long time, Dmitry Zabednov had been the head of the 7th Division of the Special Investigative Bureau under GAESCC, but he failed to pass certification in 2011.
Zakharchenko’s colleague claims that Zabednov was probably the most influential MIA officer of the time, who had previously worked in all major law enforcement departments of Moscow (including the Department for Organized Crime Control, Bureau for Internal Affairs of the MIA Main Department and Department for Combatting Economic Crimes in the Northern Administrative District, where he became friends with the future Head of GAESCC Denis Sugrobov). But Sugrobov was not Zabednov’s only friend — he had contacts with dozens of generals from various departments, top managers of leading banks, famous businessmen from the Forbes’ list, powerful black marketeers, and leaders of the major organized crime groups, including Zakhar Kalashov, better known as Shakro Molodoy.
Zakharchenko’s colleague describes Zabednov as a person capable of solving any issue, who was connected to multiple criminal schemes worth billions of rubles.
After meeting Zakharchenko, Zabednov began to distinguish him from the rest of his social circle, as a result, they soon became close friends, the source said. In a short time, Zabednov introduced Zakharchenko to his acquaintances, let him into various illegal schemes, potentially within control of the financial police officer.
Eventually, Zabednov and Zakharchenko got close to the structures of the banker Pyotr Chuvilin, convicted for swindling. In exchange for protection from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and solving various issues with security officials, the financial police officers received from Chuvilin and his people the interest from their shady deals.
According to the source, Zakharchenko and Zabednov’s employers controlled hundreds of companies and banks. "The firms got densely hooked on the money of the Russian Railways and other budgetary funds, the banks — on cash out and envelope flows. This list also included the banks, which transferred the money through the channels of the group, as well as the banks protected by Zakharchenko and Zabednov. They too often worked with large amounts of budgetary resources. It was all about dozens, if not hundreds of billions of rubles," the source describes the career-rush of Zabednov-Zakharchenko tandem.
Zabednov, who had previously managed to escape unscathed, was finally noticed by law enforcers during the investigation of Shakro Molodoy’s case, when the latter capture the largest metropolitan casinos, Crystal and Golden Palace. But investigators had no chance of prosecuting him. In October 2012, Zabednov’s corpse was found in a Porsche Cayenne parked in the Butyrskaya Street. Forensic experts said the death had come from a heart attack caused by taking hard drugs.
Devil for work
Photo: Dmitry Zakharchenko among colleagues in the culinary competition of the anticorruption department
As for Zakharchenko, his financial situation only improved with the death of his partner. His share doubled, but the protected shadow structures did not care about that, because, according to the source, Zakharchenko worked off his interest perfectly, saving huge amount of money for the shadow businesses.
"As soon as one of the structures received a request from various departments to combat economic crime, the tax officials, Zakhar (as the friends called the Colonel) sat down at the computer and started writing a response on behalf of the structure. He knew how to write them to get rid of the suspicions," Zakharchenko’s former colleague explained.
If formal answers did not help, the colonel took the situation under personal control, he could come to the requesters, their managers, and block further actions. Shadow dealers could safely engage in their shady activities, while dozens of attempts to initiate criminal proceedings failed at the first stage.
Greed was his undoing
According to Rosbalt sources among Zakharchenko’s former colleagues, unshakable belief in his own immunity and years of impunity prevented him from ceasing all his illegal activities and covering up the tracks in time. All in all, it must have been difficult to give up the established source of huge income.
The first time when the upcoming problems were clearly outlined before Zakharchenko was in 2014, when the FSB arrested Pyotr Chuvilin on suspicion of fraud. Even then, law enforcers had rumors that Chuvilin told a lot of interesting things in his testimony, mentioning Zakharchenko’s role in his criminal schemes.
However, the Acting Head of the Directorate T did not take the threat seriously, believing that he was under the protection of his connections in the ICR, the MIA, and the FSB.
In October 2015, the Russian Railways management resigned, and a number of criminal cases was initiated into activities of front companies associated with the public transit rider, as well as the banks directly connected to Zakharchenko. However, the colonel did not pay attention even to this wake-up call. Although after Zakhrachenko had been arrested, a source of the CrimeRussia confirmed the fact that the colonel had been developed in connection with the theft in the Russian Railways.
As former colleagues say, it was really dangerous for Zakharchenko to remain in the country after Shakro Molodoy had been arrested, followed by senior ICR officials Nikandrov, Lamonov, and Maksimenko. Zakharchenko had joint shadow schemes with the latter, and it was time to assume that the end was near. But Zakharchenko once again disregarded the danger and remained in the country, thus making a grave mistake.
Photo: Dmitry Zakharchenko in the Presnensky Court of Moscow
On September 8, Zakharchenko was detained by FSB agents, and in the evening charged under three articles of the Criminal Code.
"Of course, this is Dima’s money"
This is especially surprising since Zakharchenko has carefully prepared his escape routes. In addition to real estate in Barcelona and Switzerland (investigators have documents proving it), the colonel had about 300 million EUR on six offshore accounts in Europe in the name of Dmitry’s father, Viktor Zakharchenko.
A total of 120 million USD and 2 million EUR were confiscated from the apartment of Zakharchenko’s half-sister, Irina Razgunova, after the colonel been detained. Although the main version of the investigation is that the money does not belong to Zakharchenko, but rather is part of the 26 billion rubles stolen from Nota-Bank, many former colleagues disagree with it.
Some of them do not rule out that the found cash is the money of the criminal organization protected by Zakharchenko.
The scale of illegal money trafficking, which involved Zakharchenko, has reached billions of dollars. And since he was in the share, all the money property currently confiscated from the colonel and his family may well be his shadow earnings.
"Of course, this is all Dima's money. Well, since he wrote it down on his father, then his family's money. For ten years Zakharchenko helped people conduct operations worth billions of dollars, he was in the share. This is all his share," one of his former colleagues said.