Rotten power vertical. Penitentiary system purges corruption
The Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) of Russia has been rocked by new scandals. Several regional FPS bosses and Nikolai Barinov, a former deputy head of the agency, have been detained for bribe-taking. What could be the consequences of these high-profile arrests for the penitentiary service as a whole and for its Director Gennady Kornienko?
Christened by Kresty (Crosses)
The Russian penitentiary system has always been far from perfection, but in the last several years, it has completely discredited itself. Numerous reports about tortures of inmates and corruption scandals make the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) of Russia an ideal target for a show reprisal against ‘rogue cops’. Apparently such a reprisal has already begun.
Oleg Korshunov, Deputy Director of the FPS
In late September, Oleg Korshunov, Deputy Director of the FPS appointed to this post in 2014, has been arrested. The first promise made by Korshunov upon taking up the office was to commission the largest in Europe pretrial detention center – Kresty 2 (Crosses 2) – in 2015. By that time, the construction was ongoing for seven years already, while its cost was steadily increasing. After the disruption of the scheduled commissioning of Kresty 2, the inevitability of criminal cases became clear for all the participants of the multiyear embezzlements. However, the work of the investigative authorities was traditionally not visible for the public, and high-profile arrests began only in 2017, after the murder of Lieutenant Colonel Nikolai Chernov serving in the FPS Administration in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
Kresty 2 pretrial detention center has been designed for 4 thousand inmates with 7 square meters of space allocated for each prisoner. The complex consists of 20 buildings. The construction of Kresty 2 has started in 2007 and is still ongoing. In ten years, the construction cost has exceeded 12 billion rubles ($201.8 million).
Kresty 2 pretrial detention center. Photo: Aleksander Dem’yanchuk/TASS
The suspects have been identified almost immediately – although this should be credited to the victim, not investigators. Chernov has left an entire audio archive of conversations with his boss Sergei Moiseenko, which made possible to arrest the Deputy Head of the FPS Administration in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. Shortly after that, Viktor Kudrin, the General Director of general contractor GSK Joint Stock Company, and Ruslan Khamkhokov, the General Director of general subcontractor Petroinvest construction company, have been arrested as well – Kudrin has been placed under home arrest, while Khamkhokov remanded in custody. The two businessmen have been charged with bribing Sergei Moiseenko, the Deputy Head of the Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region of the FPS. The scheme of collaboration between the business and authorities was simple: Khamkhokov, General Director of Petroinvest, had paid Moiseenko 10% from each money transfer received in the framework of the governmental contract, while the official had blindly signed work acceptance certificates. The tandem had worked in unison since 2009 and until 2015. During that period, the trio has siphoned off some 2.7 billion rubles ($45.4 million) from the project – although officially Moiseenko was charged with taking a bribe in the amount of some 350 million rubles ($5.9 million). Later the investigation has dropped the bribing charges against Kudrin, thus, leaving only the charges laid against him originally and pertaining to the embezzlement of 59 million rubles ($992 thousand).
In fall, the criminal case regarding Kresty 2 has taken another twist. It all started with the arrest of above-mentioned Oleg Korshunov, the Deputy Director of the FPS. It is necessary to note that it was his boss Gennady Kornienko who has turned in Korshunov by describing all his ‘achievements’ in a letter to the Minister of Justice. It turned out, however, that sacrificing Korshunov was not enough for such a high-profile case. In November, investigators of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation and Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) have jointly arrested Nikolai Barinov, the previous Deputy Director of the FPS who had held this post in 2007–2009. Barinov has been charged with taking a bribe from the builders in the amount of 110 million rubles ($1.8 million). According to the investigation, this was the Barinov’s share of the bribe received by Moiseenko from the builders and totaling 350 million rubles ($5.9 million). Barinov has been remanded in custody until the New Year. Should the court extend his detention term, Barinov may personally assess the construction workmanship of Kresty 2 – the ill-fated pretrial detention center is supposed to be commissioned in December.
Nikolai Barinov, ex-Deputy Director of the FPS
Prison is their home?
Construction projects have got into trouble many high-ranked FPS officers. Concurrently with the arrest of Barinov by FSB and ICR operatives, their Ural colleagues have arrested Ilgiz Il’yasov, ex-Head of the FPS Administration in the Kurgan region. He has been charged with taking bribes in the amount of 10 million rubles ($168.1 thousand). According to the investigation, while being the Head of the FPS Administration in the Kurgan region, Il’yasov had supervised in 2012 the construction of department housing for FPS officers in Ikorka village and received kickbacks from the builders. Interestingly, Il’yasov had received not only monetary bribes, but construction materials as well. And what a coincidence: in that period, his son was building a home. In total, four criminal cases have been instituted against Il’yasov under Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Bribe-Taking).
Ilgiz Il’yasov, ex-Head of the FPS Administration for the Kurgan Region
In addition, Il’yasov has been indicted for the usage of convict labor and poor quality of the performed construction works. Il’yasov does not even deny the latter: “Initially, it was cold there indeed, but then the subcontractor has rectified the defects at its own expense, and now it is warm there”. In fact, the inhabitants of the home built by the son of the ex-Head of the FPS Administration for the Kurgan Region do not complain on cold... By the way, Il’yasov considers the fact that all his children serve in law enforcement structures a proof of his innocence. He has even submitted a letter to Vladimir Putin. The ex-Head of the FPS Administration for the Kurgan region concludes the list of his misfortunes by a remark that he has given up on justice and did not vote on the elections this year. It is up to the addressee how to interpret this escapade.
Perhaps, Ilgiz Il’yasov should learn from the experience of his colleague Konstantin Antonkin, the ex-Head of the FPS Administration for the Kemerovo region. Antonkin has been charged with bribe-taking during the construction of a pretrial detention facility in the town of Belovo. Antonkin had acted defiantly and, in some sense, originally. He had approached a construction contractor with a
tempting offer: Antonkin secures a governmental contract worth 60 million rubles ($1 million) for the company – and in return, it builds a home for Antonkin in the place of his choice and registers his ownership on that land lot. This happened when Il’yasov was receiving bribes in ceramic tiles. In August 2017, at the time of the arrest of the Head of the FPS Administration for the Kemerovo region, the construction of the pretrial detention facility wasn’t commenced yet, however, the asset and income declaration of Konstantin Antonkin already included a residential home with the living space of 262.9 square meters. Apparently, the property officially belongs to a distant relative of Antonkin.
Konstantin Antonkin, ex-Head of the FPS Administration in the Kemerovo region
The cunning and resourcefulness of another regional FPS boss are to be envied by Gennady Kornienko himself. This refers to Daufit Khamidishin, the Head of the FPS Administration in the Republic of Tatarstan. He was in charge of the agency for 14 years and even exceeded the maximum age threshold for that position. During his reign, the FPS Administration in the Republic of Tatarstan was involved into a series of scandals, including tortures of inmates, transformation of some penal colonies into ‘resorts’ for thieves-in-law, and trivial bribe-taking. Upon smelling danger, Khamidishin has voluntarily resigned and soon became an Aide to the Prime Minister of Tatarstan.
Gennady Kornienko. Photo: FPS
In fact, Gennady Kornienko seems to be ‘unsinkable’ as well. His predecessor Aleksander Reimer ended up in the dock together with his deputy Nikolai Krivolapov. By contrast, Kornienko has sacrificed Korshunov to the investigators – and the watchdog authorities turned a blind eye to subsidies granted by the Director of the FPS to his subordinates. Apparently, the destiny of Kornienko is already predetermined and he is going to be just as well as Khamidishin.