Sluggish justice: Chita City court cannot convict two deputy mayors for bribe taking
Anatoly Kulikov and Lubov Kleynos, former Chita deputy mayors, have been under investigation, waiting for their sentences, in Transbaikal for 3 years. The case was concerned with a comparatively small bribe of 4 million rubles initially. However, investigators kept discovering new crimes committed by the defendants. Nonetheless, it does not explain why court hearings were rescheduled 39 times. It is unreasonable to expect that court will make a decision any time soon.
One of the most headline-making bribery scandals began in 2005. Yuri Shalikov, the ArtStroy Construction Company director, decided to build the Panorama Shopping&Business Center at Lenina Street in the center of Chita. It was hard to get permission to construct a building in place of a garden square; local pensioner liked gathering there. Both Anatoly Kulikov, the Deputy Mayor for Construction and Chairman of the Committee for Urban Planning and the City Administration Infrastructure Development, and Lubov Kleynos, the Deputy Mayor for the City Central Office, were willing to “help the director out of the situation”. They helped him get the permission; the Center was built. However, yet another issue arose when the majority of the Center rooms were sold: the Company could not commission the building. Mr Kulikov and Ms Kleynos helped settle this issue down as well. Mr Shalikov thanked them by gifting one of the Center offices in 2006. The entrepreneur added 3.9 million rubles of his own money to the company’s budget to issued cash receipt vouchers to relatives of the civil servants. Mr Kulikov’s daughter and Ms Kleynos’ daughter-in-law both got half of the office.
Lubov Kleynos, ex-Deputy Mayor
Anatoly Kulikov decided to build a garage 4 years later, in 2010. He needed construction materials. The Deputy Mayor remembered about Mr Shalikov, who “owed” him for assistance with the Center. The civil servant demanded the entrepreneur bought him construction materials worth 300 000 rubles. Mr Shalikov humbly agreed to do so due to being afraid of having problems with his future construction activities and commissioning of new buildings if he refused.
Anatoly Kulikov retired in October 2013, and his colleagues threw a leaving do for the “honored builder of the Chita Region”. Vyacheslav Shulakovsky became the new chair. He did not hold the office for long, however. He was arrested as soon as in February 2014 on the allegation of swindling concerned with auction for purchasing of apartments for orphans. He allegedly made sure only certain realtors won. Municipal contracts prices were too high; the civil servant got his cut for every contract signed. Mr Shulakovsky was found guilty of breaking part 3 of Articles 285 (Abuse of Official Powers Entailing Grave Consequences) and part 6 of Article 290 (Bribe-Taking on an Especially Large Scale) of the Criminal Code of the Russia Federation, according to earlier reports by the CrimeRussia. He was sentenced to 12 years in maximum-security prison.
Lubov Kleynos left her office in 2013, too. The 70 y. o. woman was appointed the head of the Zabaykalsky Krai election committee. “Anatoly Mikhalev, the Chita Mayor, and Aleksandr Zenkov, the Chairman of the City Duma, pointed out that Lubov Nikiforovna is a very active, dedicated, committed person with high organizing skills and vast knowledge,” the City Administration Office of Public Affairs commented.
Lubov Kleynos, the Head of the election committee, and pensioner Kulikov were arrested on the allegation of bribe taking in the December of the same year. Police searched offices, apartments, houses and cars of the accused at the same time. Police found a rifle with a scope, knife made of gold and brass gifted by one of Chita construction companies, $14 000, and 250 000 rubles among Mr Kulikovs possession. Police arrested property of Ms Kleynos and Mr Kulikov for the total amount of 8 million rubles.
Ms Kleynos was released with travel restrictions due to health issues immediately after having been taken into custody. Mr Kulikov only spent 3 months in pre-trial detention facility: he was released on 2 million ruble bail in March 2014 due to health issues.
The Office of Investigations of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the Zabaykalsky Krai opened a case against the former Chita deputy mayors for violation of items (a,b), part 5 of Article 290 (Bribe-Taking Committed by a Group of Persons by Previous Concert or by an Organised Group on a Large Scale). As the investigation went on, Mr Shalikov turned out to not be the only entrepreneur to “receive help” from Mr Kulikov. Mr Kulikov offered another Chita construction company a profitable contract with the Chita City Hall. However, the contract would only be signed and money would only be sent on time if Mr Kuligov got 7.5% of the contract sum (57 million rubles). The construction company agreed to pay the cut. It would send him 4.3 million rubles for procurement of construction materials both individually and through intermediaries from 2007 to 2009.
The Kulikov-Kleynos criminal case was transferred to court with an approved indictment. Mr Kulikov was accused of Taking 3 Bribes on an especially large scale (parts 5,6 of Article 290) and 3 instances of Abusу of Official Powers (Article 285). Ms Kleynos was accused of Taking a Bribe on an especially large scale (part 5 of Article 290) and Abuse of Official Powers (Article 285). Mikail Mikhaylov, an entrepreneur and the head of the Zabaykalsky Krai Judo Federation, and Mr Baliberdin, a former employee of Mr Shalikov’s company and the Panorama Center construction project supply manager, were accused of being intermediaries in bribe-giving.
The Zabaykalsky Krai District Court began considering the case but later decided to transfer it back to the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. The case was updated and transferred to the Zheleznodorozhny District Court, Chita in December 2015. Court hearings were rescheduled 39 times since then. The court stated the following reasons for rescheduling: witnesses did not show up 14 times; the victim did not show up 2 times; lawyer did not show up 1 time; 1 time hearings were rescheduled due to Lobov Kleynos being ill. The rest of the hearings were rescheduled due to “others circumstances”. One could suspect judges of willingly postponing consideration of the case. There is no point for them to do so, however. The defendants face so much time in prison that not even the longest trial will be able to discharge them from accusations due to expiry of the period of limitation.
Local media outlets grew tired of following the long-drawn trial. They even almost forgot about the bribe taking deputies. But then the story got interesting again, for there was an unexpected turn of events. The Office of Investigations opened the second case against Anatoly Kulikov this April. The civil servant is suspected of breaking part 1 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code (Exceeding Official Powers which Involves a Substantial violation of the Rights and Lawful Interests of Individuals or Organisations, or the Legally-Protected Interests of Society and the State). The Chita City Hall entered into an agreement with the Razvitie Construction Company in 2009, as it turned out. The contract was concerned with construction of new apartment houses for relocation of citizens living in unfit housing in the Devhichiya Sopka Micro-district. All the apartments in new houses should have been commissioned on the turn-key basis, according to the contract. They should have had complete interior finishing and installed electric stoves. However, the contractor decided to save some money and did not install stoves. Mr Kulikov, being the head of the 2010-2011 inspection board, decided not to pay attention to the fact despite knowing there were no stoves in the houses. The civil servant signed the work acceptance protocol and other documents proving the works contracted were complete. The City budget lost 3.8 million rubles due to his illicit activities. The relocated people ended up not receiving their electric stoves; the contractor has never installed them. It is yet to be known what the company gave Mr Kulikov for his “inobservance”.
New news hit the headlines this autumn. They reminded everyone about the long-drawn trial despite seemingly not having anything to do with it. The news broke in end-October that Mikhail Mikhaylov, the former owner of the Temp Shop and head of the Zabaykalsky Krai Judo Federation, Arkady Deryabin, one of the incorporators of the Zabaykalsky Krai Judo Federation, Vladimir Sekerzhinsky, the former CEO of the Zabaikalskie Suveniri Souvenir Company, and Aleksandr Saraev, an entrepreneur were arrested on the allegation of blackmailing. Mr Mikhaylov, the gang leader, entered into shared construction agreements with Yuti Shalikov, the director of ArtStroy, a Chita construction company, according to investigators. The agreements were concerned with construction of 2 elite apartments in Chita new apartment houses. They signed the apartments away to a straw person – the Mr Mikhaylov’s common-law wife at the time – once they were complete. The suspect did not pay the construction contractor. The apartments were to be given to some civil servant from the Zabaykalsky Krai Administration as a payment for cronyism, according to explanation given to the entrepreneur by Mr Mikhaylov.
Mikail Mikhaylov, the entrepreneur and the head of the Zabaykalsky Krai Judo Federation
Mr Shalikov waited for the apartment to be given to addressee until October 2011. The construction company director grew tired of waiting for his bribe and demanded Mr Mikhaylov either returned both apartments or paid him 7 million rubles. Mr Shalikov reminding Mr Mikhaylov about the debt resulted in gang members visiting ArtStroy’s office. They made him back down from the demands by threatening with guns. A criminal case was opened against 4 gang members for breaking part 3 of Article 163 (Extortion Committed by an Organised Group) of the Code.
One of extortioners
May we remind you that it was Yuri Shalikov who took bribes in the form of Panorama rooms from the former deputy mayors through intermediary of Mr Mikhaylov. Could it be that Mr Kulikov was the mysterious civil servant who should have received apartments in the elite houses? Or was it someone else this time – a patron from the District Administration rather than the City one? The patron should have been influential enough to make Mr Shalikov immediately give away apartments worth 7 million rubles, too. The investigators refuse to disclose more information as of now. The former deputies are still at large, since the court have not yet ruled on the criminal case even though the investigation had long been completed.
On September 25, another person from in the Titov's list - lawyer Dmitry Pankov - returned to Russia under a recognizance not to leave. He was accused of divulging commercial secret and collapse of the deal for 700 million rubles ($10.6m).
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