‘Surprising neighbor’. Who registered general Drymanov in Volgograd?
The immediate neighbor of Aleksander Drymanov, ex-Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR, in the Dzerzhinsky district of Volgograd – where he has got a residential registration shortly before the arrest – was Mikhail Murzaev, Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR. Who was the mysterious ‘high patron’ of the disgraced general in the hero city?
Aleksander Drymanov, ex-Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), is taking active efforts to retain his special subject status and get out of the jurisdiction of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation immediately after the resignation.
For two years, Drymanov has been balancing on the razor's edge – he remained at liberty and held his post, while the other top rank suspects in the high-profile criminal case against functionaries bribed by thief-in-law Zakhary Kalashov, including general Nikandrov, former deputy of Drymanov, were locked in Lefortovo Pretrial Detention Facility.
Media started mentioning the name of the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR in relation to the case against operatives investigating the deeds of Shakro Molodoy after the arrest of Nikandrov and two other high-ranked ICR officers – Mikhail Maksimenko, Head of the Main Directorate for Interdepartmental Liaison and Internal Security, and his deputy, colonel of justice Aleksander Lamonov, in mid-July 2016.
The FSB investigators have insisted on the arrest of the officers suspected of receiving a large bribe from thief-in-law Zakhary Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy) for the release of two his henchmen – criminal ‘authority’ Andrei Kochuikov (Ital’yanets (Italian)) and Eduard Romanov – through reclassification of charges laid against them under less severe articles of the Criminal Code. By that time, Kochuikov and Romanov had remanded in custody for more than six months for extortion of 8 million rubles ($127.9 thousand) from Zhanna Kim, owner of Elements Restaurant in Moscow.
Andrei Kochuikov (Ital’yanets (Italian))
The criminal case was instituted against Ital’yanets and other suspects, including officers of a private security company controlled by Shakro Molodoy, after the shootout on Rochdelskaya street leaving two persons dead and five more people injured.
Zakhary Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy)
Kommersant newspaper wrote about searches of Drymanov carried out on July 17, 2016 – on that day Nikandrov was arrested. Then the media reported his searches again in September 2017, citing incriminating testimonies provided by Aleksei Kramarenko, ex-Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Central Administrative District of Moscow of the ICR, and Denis Nikandrov, – but Drymanov and the ICR had refuted all allegations.
Aleksander Aleksandrovich Drymanov was appointed the Acting Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR by Alexander Bastyrkin, Chairman of the ICR, on February 9, 2015. In December 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed an order officially appointing Drymanov to this post. Earlier, Drymanov used to work as an investigator in the Administration for the Vladimir Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation. Then he has transferred to the Prosecutor General's Office and was promoted to a senior investigator for special cases. After joining the ICR, Drymanov was involved in the investigation of the YUKOS case, high-profile corruption episodes, and embezzlements of funds allocated by Russian regions to the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Transnistria). Later Drymanov was in charge of the inquest into the genocide of North Ossetian people by Georgian armed groups. Drymanov has successfully completed the investigation of the second case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev charged with theft of 350 million tons of oil and transferred the indictment to the court. The general handled a high-profile corruption and unlawful eavesdropping case whose primary suspect was general Aleksander Bulbov, Head of the Operative Support Department of the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation. In 2007, Drymanov investigated the criminal case against Aleksei Barinov, Governor of the Nenets Autonomous District. He had supervised the prosecution of pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and commanders of Aidar, Donbass, and Dnipro-1 Ukrainian regiments. For a long period of time, Drymanov was directly subordinate to the ICR Chairman as a senior investigator for special cases.
The 50-year-old Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR was fully aware this spring that the Damocles' sword – i.e. the criminal case pertaining to bribes received from Shakro Molodoy – is going to descend upon him as soon as he loses the immunity granted by his position – currently, only Alexander Bastyrkin may initiate a criminal case against the major general of justice.
Alexander Bastyrkin, Chairman of the ICR
To make himself save, Drymanov decided to become a lawyer and picked the Volgograd region to obtain the relevant status. The possibility to take accrued vacation time, while continuing enjoying the patronage of Bastyrkin, who has been soft-pedaling the operative materials provided by the FSB, enabled Drymanov to prepare the grounds for retreat to secure positions.
The CrimeRussia possesses a copy of the voluntary resignation letter signed by Drymanov on May 30, 2018. According to a source of RIA Novosti in law enforcement structures, Drymanov has registered at his new place of residence in the Dzerzhinsky district of Volgograd on June 4, 2018.
The Moscow general needed the local residential registration to be eligible to take the bar exam at the Chamber of Lawyers of the Volgograd Region – according to the Russian legislation, a candidate must submit a bar exam application at the place of his/her residence. In early July, the Qualification Commission of the Chamber of Lawyers of the Volgograd Region has accepted papers confirming the legal education and relevant work experience of Aleksander Drymanov and his application for bar exam.
The seemingly weird choice of the region by Drymanov – who was born near Tula, served in the Vladimir region at the beginning of his career, and lived in Moscow up until the resignation – was, in fact, well-reasoned. Kommersant newspaper reported, citing its source in law enforcement structures, that Drymanov had longtime friendly connections in the Volgograd region since his study in the Volgograd Academy of the MIA that trains future investigators.
Drymanov hadn’t considered the metropolitan area a suitable place for residence and work due to a number of reasons. According to Kommersant, the general did not want to attract the attention of the media. Lawyer Aleksei Mikhalchik claims that Moscow attorneys disliked Drymanov for his sharp reaction to any criticism of actions taken by his subordinates and unwillingness to take into consideration arguments brought by the defense. In addition, the lawyer’s status downgrades the special subject rank of the general: Drymanov still can be prosecuted only by the ICR – but not exclusively by Bastyrkin anymore; any head of a regional investigations directorate can institute a criminal case against him.
Aleksander Drymanov in court
Therefore, despite his escape from the jurisdiction of the FSB, this circumstance would pose a real threat to Drymanov in Moscow. The CrimeRussia became aware that the relocation to Volgograd has successfully solved this problem.
Last week, Bloknot-Volgograd.ru portal has published photos of a two-story mansion in the Dzerzhinsky district of the city reportedly used by general Drymanov as the permanent place of residence. The home is located in a densely developed residential area not far from Mamayev Kurgan – some 10 minutes by car from the city center. According to realtors, the mansion may cost 10–15 million rubles ($160.4–240.6 thousand).
According to Volgograd media outlets, a powerful neighbor of Drymanov often parks his car near the home where the Moscow general is officially registered
The source of RIA Novosti in law enforcement structures notes that although Drymanov is registered in that home, he does not actually reside there. Neighbors suppose that the mansion is uninhabited.
According to the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr), as of July 23, 2018, the lot 600 square meters in size with a home having a living space of 344 square meters located at 2 Martovskaya street, Dzerzhinsky district, Volgograd belongs to some Ali Kurban ogly Ismailov who also owns an adjacent lot of the same size at 4 Martovskaya street.
Focus.kontur.ru database has a reference to a Volgograd-based individual entrepreneur of the same name. Prior to the closure, this individual enterprise had specialized in “retail sales in general stores”. A shawarma kiosk abandoned on this lot and visible on Google Maps dated 2012 confirms this.
On April 11, 2018, Ismailov has registered again as an individual entrepreneur specializing in 13 activities, including “lease and management of own or rented residential and non-residential premises”.
By that time, Drymanov has repeatedly been mentioned in the investigation file as one of the bribe recipients.
In March 2018, testimonies of general Denis Nikandrov, who has made a plea deal, were pronounced in court – allegedly, Nikandrov had given to Drymanov a debit card with €9,850 on it and an iPhone linked with it.
According to Nikandrov, this was the payment for his appointment a Deputy Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR and general ‘patronage’.
Denis Nikandrov in court
There is nothing unusual that a former fellow student or friend of Drymanov has granted him a residential registration to make the general eligible to become a Volgograd lawyer. However, based on a Rosreestr excerpt for an adjacent lot having a common fence and surrounding grounds with Drymanov’s official place of residence, it is possible to understand who has provided hospitality to the Moscow general.
According to Rosreestr, the lot 1,203 square meters in size with a home built in 2006 had initially belonged 100% to Mikhail Kanduevich Murzaev. The lot size matches the one mentioned in the asset and income declaration for the year of 2017 filed by lieutenant general of justice Mikhail Murzaev, Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR.
Lieutenant general of justice Mikhail Kanduevich Murzaev has been the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR since the ICR creation. One of the most powerful law enforcement functionaries in the region. According to the official biography of Murzaev posted on the web site of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region, a native of the Kalachev district, Volgograd region has joined the Regional Prosecutor’s Office after the graduation from the Kursky Saratov Law Institute with a major in Jurisprudence in 1986. Repeatedly was in charge of operative and investigation groups created to solve especially grievous violent crimes and contract killings, including those committed by organized criminal groups. Was the Head of the Interdepartmental Anti-Corruption Group established to coordinate activities of operative and investigative services pertaining to the identification and repression of corruption crimes in law enforcement structures and governmental authorities. Has numerous state awards and honorary weapons. Murzaev has advanced through ranks in the Regional Prosecutor’s Office to a Deputy Prosecutor of the Volgograd Region for Investigation Supervision. After the creation of the ICR, has been appointed the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region. In May 2013, the term of Mikhail Murzaev’s appointment has been extended by 5 years by an order of President Putin.
According to the Rosreestr, as of February 2015, the property ownership was equally distributed between members of Mikhail Murzaev’s family. Svetlana Ivanovna Murzaeva, Mikhail Mikhailovich Murzaev, Ivan Mikhailovich Murzaev, and Valeria Mikhailovna Murzaeva had jointly co-owned the home.
Lieutenant general of justice Mikhail Murzaev
The income and asset declaration of the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region states that he and his spouse – according to the web site of the Volgograd Regional Clinical Center for Medical Rehabilitation, she works there as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Organization and Methodical Work – own 1/5 of the lot and home each.
Plenty of information is available about other co-owners of the land and home as well. According to the web site of the Volgograd Children’s School of Arts № 5, 13-year-old Valeria Murzaeva is an early talent – the girl started painting at an age of 1.5 year; currently the school stages her exhibitions. Ivan and Mikhail Murzaev, sons of the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR, are also known to the media – but not in so positive context.
On May 26, 2016, Ivan Murzaev, born 1990, was behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser Prado SUV and hit a local resident walking along the road on Akhtuba–Krasnoslobodsk motorway. 46-year-old Aleksander Cherekaev, a former police driver, was killed on the scene.
Later the State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate has reported that the victim was intoxicated and had crossed the road in an undesignated place. On the other hand, the medical assessment of the driver hasn’t revealed any intoxication symptoms. According to Volgograd bloggers, the police inquest into the incident has been launched a month after it. No criminal case was instituted based on the inquest results.
As of the end of 2017, the other son of the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region – Mikhail Murzaev – was an investigator of the Koptevsky Inter-District Investigations Department of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR led by general Drymanov up until recently. In December 2017, Mikhail Murzaev was beaten by some unidentified persons and knifed near a khinkali cafe on Neglinnaya street in Moscow. According to the medical report, Murzaev had a bruised nose, closed nose fracture, bruised eyes, bruised forehead and left ear, bruised left shoulder joint, and a stab and slash wound of the upper one-third of the left thigh. The ICR officer has ascended to ‘fame’ a few days later, after thrusting police officers, who had come to take his testimonies, out of his apartment claiming that he is “a special subject”.
VIDEO: Son of the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR ‘greets’ Moscow policemen
Other relatives of the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR are also involved with the justice system. For instance, Zakhar Kanduevich Murzaev, brother of lieutenant general Murzaev, is a judge at the Dzerzhinsky District Court of Volgograd. Feedback comments on his performance posted on Russian Judges web site have various dates – but all of those are negative.
Some Valeria Ivanovna Murzaeva is a judge at the Krasnooktyabr’sky District Court of Volgograd. No information about family ties between her and the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region or judge Zakhar Murzaev can be found in open sources.
As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, Mikhail Kanduevich Murzaev, patriarch of the ‘lawyers clan’, has a reputation of the “supreme political figure in the region” controlling all significant appointments and dismissals there.
Pursuing his policy, Murzaev relies on best graduates of local law schools; one of them was Denis Nikandrov, ex-Deputy Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR, who, according to his colleagues, was absolutely loyal to Murzaev
Nikandrov was in charge of the criminal case against Evgeny Ishchenko, ex-Mayor of Volgograd, arrested on May 30, 2006 and charged inter alia under Article 286 (exceeding official powers) and Article 289 (illegal participation in business activity) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
Murzaev and Nikandrov had also handled together a high-profile case against Mikhail Tsukruk, Head of the MIA General Administration for the Volgograd Region, accompanied by a number of weird circumstances – witnessed had changed their testimonies in the courtroom claiming that the previous false statements were beaten out of them, charges were continuously changed in the course of the investigation, and the key witness – Florid Salim’yanov, Head of the State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate of the Volgograd Region – died under unclear circumstances in a hospital from spleen rupture. As a result, Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika had to interfere and reprimand Murzaev, then-Deputy Prosecutor of the Volgograd Region, “for improper execution of judicial duties in the framework of the supervision of the criminal case against M.V. Tsukruk”.
Major general Mikhail Tsukruk
In 2007, Deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov has submitted an official letter to Yuri Chaika requesting to investigate the unacceptable situation with framed-up cases in the region. An entire paragraph in this letter was dedicated to the role of Mikhail Murzaev in these unlawful actions.
“The Volgograd people are forcibly involved into and witness high-profile framed-up criminal cases linked with redistribution of assets, imposition of ‘levies’ on major enterprises, embezzlement of budget funds, raiding takeovers of enterprises, false bankruptcies, money laundering, and pervasive corruption in the regional and municipal authorities of Volgograd,” – Mitrofanov wrote.
The Deputy claimed that the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region ‘covers up’ businessmen affiliated with him and frames-up criminal cases against others.
According to Mitrofanov, criminal cases instituted against people having ties with Murzaev were promptly closed: the Deputy's letter referred to dismissed criminal cases against V.F. Zheltobryukhov, ex-Head of the General Administration of Natural Resources and Environment for the Volgograd Region of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, and T.M. Abrekov, Chairman of the Krasnooktyabr'sky District Court of Volgograd. The powerful investigator had reportedly put pressure even on his former patron – Governor Maksyuta. The letter described a criminal scheme designed to siphon off budget funds via football clubs of the region – by some coincidence, at that time, Murzaev was the Head of the Football Federation of the Volgograd Region.
Shortly after the submission of the Deputy’s letter to Yuri Chaika, Mikhail Murzaev has filed a lawsuit against Mitrofanov and won the case. The letter hasn’t affected the successful career of the lieutenant general in any way. According to Novaya Gazeta newspaper, the supreme status of Murzaev is secured by his close ties with the FSB Directorate of Internal Security that had desperately needed at some point a professional and reliable ally in the southern part of Russia. The newspaper claims, citing its sources in the ICR, that more than dozen governors, ministers, and mayors dismissed in the region in the last 15 years “have lost their posts by decisions of Murzaev” – “those unwilling to recognize his authority, were fired”. His extensive connections in Moscow and support of ICR Chairman Bastyrkin have been strengthening the power of Murzaev in the region year after year.
Alexander Bastyrkin and Mikhail Murzaev
RBK Group claims, citing its sources in the ICR, that general Drymanov has longtime friendly ties with Mikhail Murzaev – this is why he was so eager to settle in the Volgograd region. According to Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Mikhail Maksimenko, Head of the Main Directorate for Interdepartmental Liaison and Internal Security of the ICR, sentenced in April to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony was a close friend of general Murzaev as well.
According to the RBK Group’s source in the ICR, Moscow had recently considered the candidacy of Murzaev for a Deputy Chairman of the ICR – several commissions have visited Volgograd to check his performance. No serious violations were identified, but for some reason, the idea to relocate Murzaev to Moscow has been postponed.
Volgograd media outlets had repeatedly predicted the resignation of the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region since 2014. At that time, they wrote that Mikhail Murzaev has suffered a stroke and intends to resign for health reasons. In December 2017 and May 2018, the lieutenant general had taken scheduled vacations – and the media had bidden him farewell twice expecting his resignation immediately upon return. The current term of Mikhail Murzaev’s appointment is about to expire this summer.
But the rumors turned out to be false again – on July 26, the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region has held a conference with heads of territorial ICR departments and subdivisions and summed up the results of the first half of the year. Time will show whether general Murzaev has any reasons to be worried or not. After all, the ICR hasn’t received yet a Presidential order dismissing Aleksander Drymanov – who is currently facing up to 22 years behind bars for two bribe-taking episodes.
Initially, the defendants in the case had been charged with embezzlement through swindling in the amount of 225 million rubles ($3.3 million). In the final version of the indictment, the article was changed to 1.5-billion-ruble ($22.45 million) embezzlement.