Story of a dismissed corruption fighter
Dismissed colonel of Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia (FSIN) Sergey Khlopenov declared war on his former bosses.
He is trying to prove in court that he had been unlawfully dismissed from service. In an interview with Gazeta.Ru, the ex-employee of the FSIN told about how he had been investigating corruption and abuse within the agency in various regions of Russia and how it affected his fate.
Over the past five years in the FSIN Internal Security Directorate, Colonel Sergey Khlopenov revealed more than 30 crimes related to theft of more than 70 million rubles. Thanks to his work, about 50 staff members became subject to disciplinary action, three heads of regional administrations were dismissed. However, the officer was not awarding any orders and medals, but instead fired... for the four-hour absence from work.
"I did some digging in the wrong direction, so they decided to cut me down," the colonel thinks. He considers his dismissal illegal and tries to be reinstated through court. In September 2016, the Moscow City Court will hold a hearing on the Khlopenov’s lawsuit to FSIN.
"I have not even received my work record book, they tried to give me a fake one instead, not a single entry correct there," Khlopenov said, outraged.
At the request of Gazeta.Ru, the former employee of FSIN talked about violations he had encountered during the service, and what could be the reason for his dismissal.
"Thefts in FSIN are unsophisticated"
Sergey Khlopenov worked in the law enforcement agencies since 1996. He started as an investigator in one of the Tula MIA departments. Then he worked in the MIA Office of Tax Crimes for the Tula Region, and in 2007 was transferred to the Moscow MIA department for combating organized crime of ethnic orientation.
"We had a lot of joint operations with the so-called thieves’ department," says Khlopenov. "For example, once we worked together on people of Shakro Molodoy and other Georgian kingpins, when the relations with Georgia deteriorated."
However, in 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev considered the organized crime defeated in Russia and ordered to liquidate the relevant agencies.
They were used as the basis for the units to combat extremism and provide state protection.
After the dissolution of these departments, Khlopenov went to work in the Internal Security Directorate of the FSIN, the anti-corruption department.
"I worked with regional offices and of 365 days a year spent about 190 spent on missions, never sat in Moscow," the officer said. "On the one hand, it is difficult — the whole of life is in the road, on the other — it is not the work I had in the departments to combat organized crime. The criminals at large tend to create some clever schemes, while thefts in FSIN are unsophisticated. For example, in 2010, FSIN members in Buryatia sold armored vehicle for scrap. In Chelyabinsk staff received its uniform only on paper, and they used state-owned petrol to refuel personal vehicles."
However, Khlopenov claims that such schemes are not only unsophisticated, but sometimes cynical as well. A shining example would be a case of Deputy Chief of Staff and Educational Work of the FSIN department, colonel of internal service Sergey Koval from Buryatia, who organized the fundraiser with his staff to provide charitable assistance to children with cancer. In total, the employees collected 155.000 rubles. But the kids did not receive the whole sum — 87.000 rubles were claimed by the colonel himself. In 2012, employing the same scheme, Koval claimed donations for flood victims in Krymsk. The inspection materials had been transferred to the Investigative Committee, and the charity-loving colonel was convicted.
Khlopenov also monitored the FSIN inspection commissions, which traveled to the regions for comprehensive inquiries. "For example, in 2011, such a commission went to the Chelyabinsk Region. Their assignment somehow turned into an unforgettable vacation and holiday," Khlopenov noted.
Leaders of the Chelyabinsk FSIN department rented a ship for auditors, bought vodka and hired women of easy virtue. They were having fun the whole week."
From the report to the FSIN Director: "It has been established that the leaders of the FSIN department wanted to form a loyal attitude of the inspectors for the inspected units of this regional authority, and hence organized a wide range of entertainment and leisure activities (accommodation at recreation centers, visits to restaurants and pools, providing women of easy virtue, the organization of boat trips, collective drinking alcohol, etc.), as well as paid for the places of residence of members of the commission and at the expense of the FSIN department and personal funds of the penal enforcement staff. As a result, the goal was achieved, and the inspection was carried out on paper only, cursorily, as evidenced by the act of inspection."
All employees of the commission, who had participated in the pleasant trip, were ultimately brought to disciplinary responsibility.
By the way, if the inspection had been passed in due form, the revolt of prisoners in Kopeisk in 2012 could have been avoided.
Transbaikal corruption kraken
However, theft is not the worst vice of the FSIN. The scourge of the agency, according to Khopenov, is cooperation between the leaders and the so-called crowned thieves. For instance, in 2010, Khlopenov had to participate in the clean-up of the Transbaikal FSIN department from patrons of crime bosses.
From internal memo to the FSIN Director: "In the course of special investigation activities, FSIN received documented information about corrupt relations between FSIN director for the Transbaikal Region Y.A. Amaeva and the so-called "thief in law" G.O. Uglava (also known as Takhi), Transbaikal kingpins — the so-called curator of the region I.V. Osintsev, also known as Osina, P.V. Klimenko, A.V. Kozlov AV, also known as Dyuha; the so-called watchman for the region, A.N. Patrin, also known as Patron, A.S. Mamedov, also known as Aladdin, etc. The facts of illegal ties and money received from these individuals are substantiated by material obtained via investigative activities and testimony of employees."
Intelligence indicates that the head of the FSIN Transbaikal department, major general of internal service Amaev, had connections among the active members of the Osinovskie organized crime group.
In 2002-2003, his wife opened a café named Karina. A significant part of the funds for its establishment, about 300.000 rubles, Amaev took from the Osinovskie group leader, through his confidant Vladimir Biryukov, a friend of Amaev’s. In 2005, Osinovskie also allocated the money for the wedding of Amaev’s son, Arslan. It should be noted that Amaev Jr. worked as deputy head of the Detention Facility-2 for operations and that, at the request of his father, he led to jail the criminal authorities, who extorted money from other inmates. Those facts of extortion were the basis of the criminal case.
"This case was under special control of the Prosecutor General Chaika and the Russian presidential administration," Khlopenov said. "Every day we reported to Moscow on progress of the investigation, and moved accompanied by special forces in Chita. Once, kingpins drove a hearse to the hotel where we lived. That was their way of hinting that we would leave only in coffins."
The investigation was brought to an end. According to the collected materials, in June 2010, the RF IC department in the Transbaikal Region opened a criminal case under part 1 of art. 286 of the Criminal Code (abuse of power). On March 18, 2011, the Krasnokamensk City Court of the Transbaikal Region found Amaev Jr. and the head of the Detention Facility-1 Krivosheev guilty. Head of the FSIN department in the region Amaev Sr. and his deputy were dismissed.
War of the generals
In 2011-2012, a conflict broke out in FSIN between the ex-director Alexander Reimer and his first deputy Eduard Petrukhin. Reimer stripped his deputy of the right to sign financial documents and even put his office on the wiretap. Some of the staff have also been entrusted with collecting compromising materials on his colleague. For example, according to Gazeta.Ru, a whole squad of the FSIN employees was sent to the Krasnodar Region to search for Petrukhin’s dacha. However, the mansion was never found.
Khlopenov is reluctant to speak of the interdepartmental war. "The opposition was, but it went past me. I was engaged in the regions and was not involved in this mess," says the colonel, who was about to receive an award in 2012.
The then head of the FSIN Internal Security Directorate Yevgeni Goroshko sent a petition to the FSIN Director, proposing to award Khlopenov with the medal "For Service to the Motherland» of the II degree, for the exemplary performance of his duties, including for participation in cleaning the Transbaikal FSIN department from criminals. In the end, Khlopenov did not receive his medal.
Khlopenov was to be recommended by the FSIN Director Alexander Reimer, but the latter was dismissed for fraud associated with the supply of electronic bracelets for prisoners. According to investigators, Alexander Reimer, his deputy Nikolay Krivolapov, as well as entrepreneurs Nikolay Martynov and Viktor Opredelenov purchased "prison gadgets" at an inflated price. For example, a single bracelet cost 19.000 rubles, but was bought for more than 100.000 rubles. In essence, while ordinary employees went on business trips across Russia, clearing the regions of corruption, some senior executives were building their own criminal schemes.
Following Reimer’s resignation, Gennady Kornienko, who had previously led the Russian State Courier Service, took his post. Petrukhin was replaced by another courier Anatoly Rudiy.
Khlopenov claims that after the change of leadership in FSIN and permutations in its own internal security service, the working style of the agency also changed. "If earlier we were stimulated to yield results, now they started asking us to slow down," the officer said. "You bring the investigative material that can become a criminal case, and they respond — no touching these people." Khlopenov’s problems began exactly with the investigation of such "wrong people."
Major from Bulgaria
In August 2013, the colonel received information from his source that one of the employees of the FSIN of the Moscow Region, Major M. (name and surname are available to Gazeta.Ru) may be a beneficial owner of a number of commercial enterprises that supply possibly overpriced products to FSIN.
Khlopenov decided to check the information and found out that a number of companies (the list of these companies is available to Gazeta.Ru) were registered in the name of the FSIN employee’s father.
On top of that, the very same employee was the founder of a Bulgarian commercial company with registered capital of € 420 thousand.
"This information was put in the data base FSIN Internal Security Department," Khlopenov noted. "Also, the FSIN personnel management filed a request in the Internal Security Department to provide information on entrepreneurship of the officer M. and his participation in a foreign company. Here it was transpired that the major’s father was familiar with the heads of Internal Security Service. As a result, the personnel management received a response that Internal Security Service is not competent to check the information on foreign enterprises. At the same time, the Internal Security Service deputy Alexander Peklenkov scolded me and offered to resign willingly, saying that he would not let me work."
Gazeta.Ru contacted the deputy chief of the FSIN Internal Security Service Alexander Peklenkov, but he refused to comment on the matter.
Museum visits instead of work
Khlopenov claims that after the previous case, he started having problems at work. "Peklenkov stopped giving me time off for night shifts and on-call duty and constantly instructed to carry out some absurd tasks. For example, I had to visit the Museum of Moscow, then go to the anniversary of Dynamo and be sure to report it," says Khlopenov. "At the same time, there were security leaks on the operational activities that I planned. A few of my sources had been declassified, who were subsequently dismissed from service. Moreover, my close relatives faced provocations."
In August 2014, a man tried to put drugs in his wife's purse in metro. However, a nearby police officer detained the perpetrator. The colonel claims that the investigation revealed the name of the organizer, who was an ex-employee of the FSIN Internal Security Service (first and last name are available to Gazeta.Ru, this story is also mentioned in the official investigation conducted by the FSIN against Khlopenov). In September 2014, Khlopenov himself was attacked. "In general, I was pressured from all sides," the officer said. "They tried to find something, and finally did."
On August 4, 2015, Khlopenov had to undergo medical examinations in a service clinic. However, in the morning he received a call from one of his agents, and the detective went to meet him. After meeting with the informant, the colonel visited the meeting in another office, and then went to work. As a result, he was blamed for not appearing at the hospital and for being absent from work for more than four hours.
From the report on the dismissal:
"The colonel of internal service S.V. Khlopenov has proved himself a professional and skilled staff member for the period of service.
He knows and skillfully applies in practice the normative and legal documents, which regulate the activities of the penitentiary system and operational-investigative activity. At the request of the FSIN leadership, he goes on business trips to correctional institutions and the territorial authorities, where he effectively organizes and conducts operational-search activities to ensure their internal security of the penitentiary bodies.
However, S.V. Khlopenov has recently reduced the level of commitment to his duties and is not fully obeying orders of the leadership, showing unreasonable initiative and irrational arbitrariness." On September 28, 2015, a report was approved on the internal check into the facts stated by O.L. Cherskova, interim head of the FSIN Internal Security Service, dated August 6. The inspection established that on August 4, 2015, colonel S.V. Khlopenov had been absent from work without valid reasons for more than four hours, thus committing a gross violation of service discipline (absenteeism).
In addition, on that day, the employee did not fulfill the order of his immediate supervisor to pass the medical examination..."
It should be noted that the report on the official investigation into Khlopenov’s absence at the workplace stated that his version of the meeting with the informant had been carefully checked and disproved.
Also, the report mentioned that there was no information about the colonel attending any sort of meetings.
The case of lost record books
Khlopenov claims that his dismissal and service check against him violated the law. "For instance, the order on the appointment of the official investigation does not mention the time period, it refers to the memorandum. The report on the absence at the workplace does not contain a time interval, and I have not been familiarized with it," the colonel said. He claims that the inspection data contains only one registered document. Others do not have accounts. "It is unclear how these documents got into the investigation. There is a gross violation of proceedings (FSIN order № 463 dated 10.08.2011 with amendments dated 31.10.2013 "On approval of the instruction on office-work in the institutions and bodies of the penitentiary system"). Besides, the report on the results of the investigation was registered only the next day after I had been dismissed. Also, I was officially on sick leave at the time of dismissal, and therefore, by law, no one had the right to fire me."
The colonel has not been given his work record book back.
"They repeatedly threatened that I would never see my record book and would not be able to restore it," the colonel said.
Ultimately, Khlopenov turned to Zamoskvoretskiy District Court of Moscow, demanding the FSIN to reinstate him. However, he lost at the court of first instance. "But it is noteworthy that during the trial, the FSIN representatives tried to give me a fake work record book with false entries, while there is a copy of a real one in the case files," Khlopenov noted.
It should be noted that Khlopenov is not the first employee of the Federal Penitentiary Service, whose work record book has been suddenly lost. Former Chief of the Main Center of technical maintenance, colonel Vitaliy Nakonechny, and former head of the hardware quality control department, Lieutenant Colonel Sergey Girich, are still fighting FSIN in court.
Back in 2010, these officers wrote in all state agencies about the machinations with procurement of security systems and electronic bracelets in FSIN. In response, the officers became subject to persistent persecution. They faced falsified inspection reports, which were then sent to the RF IC seven times for a criminal investigation. However, the investigator refused to initiate a criminal case on fake documents.
In March 2014, the Moscow Prosecutor's Office officially apologized to the officers for unlawful criminal prosecution, and the court ordered to pay them 1 million rubles for non-pecuniary damage. Now they are witnesses in the case of Reimer. However, the fate of the officers, who struggled against corruption in the penitentiary agency, was rather harsh: they were fired from the service, while their personal files and employment records were rigged. A criminal case has recently been initiated into the facts of forgery of official documents that belong to Girich and Nakonechny.
"But I still have not received my work book," says Nakonechny. "Although a copy of it is in the case file. All this is done in order to poison the lives of disfavored employees, to make it impossible to accrue pension benefits, to pay for years of service, and so on."
Khlopenov has recently appealed to the Moscow City Court.
The opinion of the FSIN
As the FSIN press-service reported to Gazeta.Ru, Khlopenov had been fired for breach of contract by the employee, as established in the order dated October 5, 2015. The validity of dismissal was considered by the Zamoskvoretskiy District Court on June 22, 2016, which refused to satisfy Khlopenov’s demand for reinstatement in the service of the penitentiary system.
"The FSIN staff repeatedly offered to give S.V. Khlopenov back his work record book, but he flatly refused to take it, which is registered in the appropriate commission acts," the press office explained. "Khlopenov was never resisted in obtaining his work book and will never be. For this, S.V. Khlopenov should personally contact the personnel management department of the central personnel board of the FSIN, or give his written consent for sending this document by mail."
According to the agency representative, Khlopenov still has not handed over his official ID to the management personnel. Khlopenov refuses the requests of the FSIN employees, and urges them to turn to his lawyers, the press service reported.
"Khlopenov’s appeals, including those directed to the Ministry of Justice, were repeatedly granted comprehensive answers, with copies of the requested documents sent to him," the FPS representatives explained. They also stressed that there was no actual evidence that Peklenkov had treated Khlopenov with prejudice.
As for the FSIN employee of the Moscow region, a certain M., the press service states that he is currently serving in the penitentiary system. "We received no information from Khlopenov about M. allegedly being the owner of a foreign company. The FSIN Internal Security Service will address this information. An inspection will be initiated, with the results disclosed after its completion," the department stated.
The FSIN press office clarified that Girich wrote a letter of resignation from the penitentiary system due to health condition. His request for retirement was granted, and the appropriate FSIN order was signed on June 6, 2011. "S.V. Girich received his work record book personally, as evidenced by his signature at the record of the individual case," the department stated.
According to the FSIN, Nakonechny was dismissed on grounds of redundancy, the appropriate order was signed on January 9, 2013. Since he was absent from the serviceon that day, to comply with labor laws, the agency sent him a letter, citing the need to appear for the work record book or consent to send it by mail. The validity of Nakonechny’s dismissal, including the issue of giving the work back on the day of dismissal, was also considered by the Zamoskvoretskiy District Court. On October 24, 2013, Nakonechny’s claim was denied.
Former member of the Federation Council believes that this once again points to numerous violations and falsification of evidence during the investigation of his criminal case on charges of bribe-taking in the amount of 27.5 million rubles ($457 thousand).