Suspects with general’s epaulettes. Arrests and convictions of law enforcement functionaries in 2018
The year of 2018 has confirmed yet again the seriousness of the message conveyed by the Russian President to the Federal Assembly in his address: neither high ranks nor past combat merits would save corrupt officials from just punishment. This applies to supreme commanders of law enforcement structures as well. The CrimeRussia remembers the most high-profile trials and arrests of high-ranked law enforcement functionaries in the last year.
In the framework of the National Anti-Corruption Plan, the law enforcement authorities continue purging their ranks from abusers of official powers and bribe-takers. A number of high-ranked commanders from nearly all military and security structures – from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to the Prosecutor’s Office– have been prosecuted and convicted.
Investigators of Shakro Molodoy
In the first half of 2018, several high-ranked officers of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) detained in summer 2016 have finally been convicted. Denis Nikandrov, Mikhail Maksimenko, and Aleksander Lamonov were found guilty of accepting a large bribe from thief-in-law Zakhary Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy), so-called ‘king of the criminal world’, and in other bribe-taking episodes. According to the investigation, the ICR officers have received the bribe for the release of two henchmen of Shakro Molodoy – criminal ‘authority’ Andrei Kochuikov (Ital’yanets (Italian)) and Eduard Romanov – from the pretrial detention facility through reclassification of their deeds under less grievous articles of the Criminal Code. After the shootout on Rochdelskaya street, both of them were charged with extortion of 8 million rubles ($117.1 thousand) from Zhanna Kim, owner of Elements Restaurant, and remanded in custody.
Nikandrov, Maksimenko, and Lamonov
After spending almost two years in Lefortovo Pretrial Detention Center, Denis Nikandrov, ex-Deputy Head of the Main Investigations Directorate for the City of Moscow of the ICR; Mikhail Maksimenko, Head of the Main Directorate for Interdepartmental Liaison and Internal Security of the ICR; and his deputy Aleksander Lamonov have been sentenced to various prison terms. Nikandrov and Lamonov, who had collaborated with the investigation and testified against their accomplices, have been convicted to 5.5 and 5 years behind bars respectively. Maksimenko, who denies any guilt in the two bribe-taking episodes, has been sentenced to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony and fine of 165 million rubles ($2.4 million).
In October, the Supreme Court has mitigated the sentences imposed on Nikandrov and Lamonov by replacing a maximum security penal colony with a general regime penal colony for the former and canceling a fine of 32.5 million rubles ($475.8 thousand) for the latter. In addition, in accordance with the recently introduced system, 1 day spent in a pretrial detention facility counts as 1.5 days in a penal colony – therefore, both of them may apply for parole soon. The court has drawn a line under the criminal cases against Nikandrov and Lamonov. However, the sentence imposed on Maksimenko may not be final – in August, he has been charged with two more bribe-taking episodes: receipt of a Jeep Wrangler from businessman Dmitry Smychkovsky and $1 million from Shakro Molodoy via the same intermediary.
Failed to become a lawyer
Aleksander Drymanov, ex-Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR, was arrested in July 2018 – shortly after his voluntary resignation. For almost two years, the general had remained at liberty and held his post – although his accomplices were languishing in Lefortovo and his name was mentioned in the investigation materials.
His former deputy Denis Nikandrov provided evidence against Drymanov and told the operatives that the general was directly involved in the receipt of the bribe from Shakro Molodoy.
For a long time, the supreme post held by Drymanov and patronage of Alexander Bastyrkin, Chairman of the ICR, had granted him immunity from investigators of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. Shortly before his arrest, the general was actively taking efforts to become a lawyer in the Volgograd region and gain the relevant status. Taking his friendly ties with general Mikhail Murzaev, Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR, he had a good chance to get out of the FSB jurisdiction. Murzaev has even provided a residential registration to Drymanov next door to his own home. Alas, the ICR general failed to complete all formalities in time and was detained.
Initially, Drymanov was charged under paragraph “c” of part 5 and part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (bribe-taking on an especially large scale) in relation to the bribe received from Shakro Molodoy. Then another episode has been added to the criminal case: receipt of a bribe in the amount of €9,850 form Nikandrov for ‘patronage’. According to experts, the ex-Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR may face, for the totality of the crimes committed, up to 22 years behind bars.
Echo of Kemerovo fire
On May 25, 2018, major general Aleksander Mamontov, ex-Head of the Kemerovo Region Directorate of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM), has been arrested and remanded in custody. In the course of the inquest into the tragedy in Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) Trade and Entertainment Center that had occurred in Kemerovo in March 2018 and claimed lives of more than 60 people, including 37 children, general Mamontov and Grigory Terentiev have been charged under part 3 of Article 293 (neglect of duty) and part 4 of Article 160 (misappropriation or embezzlement) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
The investigation believes that in 2017–2018, they failed to schedule and carry out a fire safety inspection of the trade and entertainment center located at the former Kemerovo Confectionery Factory. Mamontov and Terentiev are also suspected of misappropriation in the amount of 1.8 million rubles ($26.3 thousand) for the benefit of third parties. According to the operatives, in 2015–2016, Mamontov had hired three persons as labor safety engineers on behalf of the regional organization of fire safety and civil defense veterans. These people were promised salaries without the requirement to fulfill their job duties. In addition, at a session held to determine pretrial restrictions for Mamontov, representatives of the investigation told the court that the EMERCOM general had attempted to conceal evidence. Prior to the arrest, the suspect has ordered to destroy all accounting records of the Kemerovo Region Directorate and amend documents pertaining to the fire in the trade center. Mamontov denies any guilt. In total, 11 people have been detained in the course of the inquest into the Zimnyaya Vishnya fire, including 4 EMERCOM officers: Mamontov, Terentiev, fire watch commander Sergei Genin, and Andrei Bursin who was in charged of the firefighting operation.
Another supreme EMERCOM officer prosecuted in 2018 for a crime unrelated to his service was Sergei Shlyakov, a former deputy of Vladimir Puchkov, ex-Minister of EMERCOM. In 2015, Shlyakov has resigned in the rank of colonel general.
The decorated general participated in the rectification of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident and was in charge of many rescue operations. He was awarded an Order of Merit for the Motherland IV Class, Order of Honor, Order of Military Merit, and a dozen medals from various ministries and agencies. In late July 2018, Sergei Shlyakov was arrested in the Moscow region for swindling.
According to the investigation, in 2015, the ex-Deputy Minister, acting as a member of a criminal group, was involved in a fictitious sale of the post of the Governor of the Yaroslavl Region.
The operatives believe that Shlyakov and three his accomplices from the metropolitan area, who had no relation to governmental structures, have initially received from a former Senator $230 thousand and 15 million rubles ($219.6 thousand) and then received from him additional $550 thousand. However, Yuri Udalov did not get the Governor’s chair promised to him. The fraud victim addressed the MIA General Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption for help. The investigation interpreted the deeds of the fraudsters as swindling – because none of the suspects could affect the appointments of regional heads in any way. Currently, the 63-year-old retired colonel general remains in a pretrial detention facility. On December 12, 2018, the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow has extended his detention term until February 13, 2019.
Swindling with governmental contracts
General Igor Kachev, Head of the Saratov Region Directorate of EMERCOM, has been charged with exceedance of official powers in November 2018. Following a motion brought by the Regional FSB Directorate, he has been suspended from office – according to the investigation, Kachev may put pressure on witnesses or destroy documentary evidence.
The criminal case against him pertains to the implementation of governmental contracts. The episodes involving the exceedance of official powers by the general have been identified in the course of joint inspections carried out by the Main Directorate of Internal Security of the EMERCOM and FSB Directorate for the Saratov Region. Unlike his colleagues Mamontov and Shlyakov, Kachev has been released from the pretrial detention facility under a written pledge not to leave the city.
Customs gives the green light
Sergei Fedorov, First Deputy Head of the Far Eastern Customs Directorate of the Federal Customs Service (FCS) of Russia, has been arrested in March 2018 and remanded in custody. The general is suspected of bribe-taking on an especially large scale.
According to the investigation, since December 2015 and until October 2017, Fedorov had received on a regular basis bribes from businessman Rodion Tikhonov totaling at least 26 million rubles ($380.6 thousand) and $150 thousand for general ‘patronage’ of his Dalzavod-Terminal Closed Joint Stock Company. The high-ranked customs official had administered the Far Eastern Customs Directorate for the benefit of the above company and settled all its issues with customs officials arising in relation to imports of goods to the Eurasian Customs Union. Fedorov is facing up to 15 years in a maximum security penal colony, while bribe-giver Rodion Tikhonov may be sentenced to a more severe term for the creation of an organized criminal group importing goods to Russia at understated prices.
Arrested for ‘import substitution’
In May 2018, the Moscow Regional Military Court has remanded in custody major general Aleksander Ogloblin, ex-Head of the 1st Administration of the Main Administration for Communications of the Ministry of Defense. The Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR has charged him under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (swindling on an especially large scale). The investigators believe that Ogloblin, as the customer ordering equipment from Voentelecom Joint Stock Company, had received a portion of illegal profits gained by his accomplices. The criminal case was instituted back in 2013 following audits carried out by the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office. In late 2017, Aleksander Davydov, General Director of Voentelecom; his deputy Oleg Savitsky; former advisor Dmitry Semiletov; and Evgeny Zhilkov, Financial Director of Voentelecom, have been arrested in the framework of that case. Concurrently, the offices of Voentelecom and its partners in Moscow and St. Petersburg have been searched.
In 2013, the Ministry of Defense has undertaken a large-scale modernization of the communication equipment. According to the investigation, the management of the telecommunication company had used various schemes to overcharge prices under contracts signed with the Ministry of Defense, including contracts to supply equipment in the framework of the import substitution program. For instance, the military had to pay some 1 million rubles ($14.6 thousand) for each router – while their market price was some 350 thousand rubles ($5.1 thousand) per unit. Voentelecom had attached new labels to the Chinese equipment, thus, making it ‘made in Russia’. The investigation estimates the total damages sustained as a result of these machinations at 460 million rubles ($6.7 million). Currently, general Ogloblin remains in custody – but still continues earning money. Being a shareholder of Informtekhnika Group of Companies, he received in October dividends in the amount of 46.5 million rubles ($680.7 thousand). However, the military court has immediately seized these funds.
Slap on the wrist
The high-profile criminal case against Viktor Trutnev, ex-Head of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department, and three FSB officers has concluded in July 2018 with surprisingly lenient sentences delivered by the Moscow Garrison Military Court. Earlier, it was reported that the guilt of all defendants under part 4 of Article 291.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (mediation in bribery) had been proven in full during the trial.
The prosecution had asked to sentence general Trutnev to 10 years behind bars, while the FSB officers – to 8 and 7 years. However, the court decided that the presented evidence and witnesses’ statements make it possible to reclassify the charges laid against the suspects into “attempted swindling” punishable by lesser terms. Trutnev was convicted to 5 years behind bars conditionally and fined 200 thousand rubles ($2.9 thousand). Aleksei Vinokurov, Artur Yusufov, and Denis Semenov, operatives of the Balashikha Interdistrict FSB Department, have also got conditional terms – 3, 4, and 4.5 years respectively – and were fined up to 500 thousand rubles ($7.3 thousand). The CrimeRussia wrote earlier that all the defendants were charged with mediation in the extortion of a bribe in the amount of $70 thousand from Yuri Kornilov, General Director of Trans-Eco, in exchange for the dismissal of a criminal case instituted for swindling targeting subsidiaries of Russian Railways. However, the Prosecutor’s Office intends to appeal the excessively lenient court verdict.
Yakov Stakhov, ex-Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), had been hiding from justice for a long time – but ultimately was sentenced to a conditional term as well. Initially, general Stakhov was charged with abuse of official powers. According to the investigation, in 2007, Stakhov made an arrangement with Alrosa Insurance Company to provide two Mercedes-Benz vehicles for the needs of the regional MIA; one of these vehicles was an executive-class car. The first vehicle was provided to the MIA, while the second – transferred to a relative of Stakhov. The average cost of that Mercedes was 319 thousand rubles (some $13 thousand at the exchange rate of 2007). After being summoned by the Regional ICR Directorate for questioning, Stakhov suddenly flew to Moscow and disappeared for 4 years. In October 2016, Stakhov, accompanied by his lawyer, has voluntarily surrendered to the investigators, admitted his guilt in full, provided detailed testimonies, and was released under a written pledge not to leave the city.
A month later, the criminal case against the general has been dismissed based on non-exonerating grounds – he was amnestied in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Being a Doctor of Law, Stakhov was well aware that the State Duma of the Russian Federation has "freed from punishment persons who had committed offenses of low-to-medium severity, have state awards, and attained the age of 55". However, later, the investigators have reclassified the charges laid against him under part 3 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (swindling committed by a person through his official position, as well as on a large scale) and resumed the case. On May 7, 2018, the ex-Minister has been sentenced to a conditional 4-year term with a probation period of 2 years and 6 months and deprived of the rank of major general and general's pension. The court has taken into consideration the past military honors and awards of the ex-general, his higher doctorate degree, and heart attack suffered by Stakhov.
General from Forbes list
Unlike the two generals mentioned earlier, Vyacheslav Varchuk, ex-Deputy Commander or the Internal Military Forces of the MIA, was convicted to a real term. In July, the Moscow Garrison Military Court has sentenced the lieutenant general to 6 years in a maximum security penal colony and fined him 20 million rubles ($292.8 thousand) for bribe-taking on an especially large scale. The punishment could be much more severe – but Varchuk made a plea deal, admitted his guilt, and compensated the damages.
The general was arrested in March 2017. The court established that he had received significant ‘kickbacks’ from officers of the Administration for Communications and arranged the payment of additional 250 million rubles ($3.7 million) from the budget to them. Despite the compensation of damages, the family of the former Deputy Commander of the National Guard of Russia won’t live in misery: over the long years of his service, general Varchuk has secured their wellbeing and was even included in the Forbes rating “The 20 Wealthiest Law Enforcement Officials in Russia” in 2013. Varchuk and his relatives reportedly own real estate in the center of Moscow, a manor in the metropolitan area, and a fleet of deluxe vehicles worth in total some 500 million rubles ($7.3 million).
Next door to thief-in-law
Retired major general Vladimir Romanyuk, ex-Deputy Head of the MIA General Administration for the Sverdlovsk Region, has been arrested on October 3, 2018 in his home in the Moscow region by operatives of the FSB and MIA General Administration of Internal Security.
Romanyuk, who has retired almost a year ago, is charged with ‘covering-up’ underground casinos. According to the investigation, he received a bribe in the amount of 1.3 million rubles ($19 thousand) for ‘patronizing’ illegal gambling establishments and solving their problems in Yekaterinburg.
Initially, Romanyuk had denied any guilt – but after a face-to-face questioning with retired police colonel Sergei Glushchenko, who had acted as an intermediary, the general admitted the receipt of a bribe in the amount of 1.3 million rubles ($19 thousand) and signed a voluntary surrender. General Romanyuk has spent several months under home arrest and was released in early December under a written pledge not to leave the city; he collaborates with the investigation and provides testimonies. The ex-Deputy Head of the MIA General Administration for the Sverdlovsk Region is currently checked for complicity in other crimes as well. It became known that he is a neighbor of detained thief-in-law Yuri Pichugin (Pichuga
(Little Bird)). The CrimeRussia wrote earlier that both the former police general and crowned thief have homes in Zhostovo township, Moscow region. Romanyuk may assist the operatives in the inquests against Vyacheslav Gaizer, ex-Governor of the Komi Republic, and thief-in-law
Yuri Pichugin – who is also charged with creation of a criminal community.
In addition to the above-listed high-ranked law enforcement commanders, Aleksander Sokolov, ex-Head of the General Administration for the Perm Krai of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS), has been sentenced in 2018 to 12 years in a maximum security penal colony for bribe-taking. The following persons have been prosecuted: retired FSB major general Aleksei Beloborodov, ex-Deputy Head of Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, (charged with swindling for the total amount of 31.5 million rubles ($461.1 thousand)); Aleksander Kuznetsov, Deputy Head of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai (exceedance of official powers in relation to the non-fulfillment of works paid from the budget – construction of a temporary detention facility in Norilsk – resulting in damages totaling 190 million rubles ($2.8 million)); Mikhail Begun, Head of the Tomsk Region Directorate of the EMERCOM (bribe-taking on a large scale); and Viktor Morozov, ex-Deputy Prosecutor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region (the 69-year-old retired general is charged with domestic homicide of his female neighbor). The trial of major general Igor Mitrofanov, ex-Head of the MIA Administration for the Tomsk Region, is ongoing – Mitrofanov is charged with illegal collection of pension benefits and bribe-taking. The CrimeRussia will continue monitoring the developments in his case.
Aside from generals, a large number of colonels and lieutenant colonels were arrested and convicted in 2018, thus, losing any chance to become generals in the future.
Their list includes colonel Nikolai Grin’kov, ex-Deputy Head of the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA Administration for the Arkhangelsk Region (bribe-taking on an especially large scale); lieutenant colonel Eduard Voronin, ex-Head of the Department for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of Yekaterinburg, who was arrested in the framework of the case against general Romanyuk and released under home arrest after making a plea deal; Nikolai Germashev, ex-Head of the Operations and Search Division of the MIA General Administration for the Rostov Region (bribe-taking); colonel Nariman Altynbaev, ex-Deputy Head of the MIA Administration for the Penza Region (abuse of official powers); colonel Vladimir Novikov, ex-Deputy Police Chief of Stavropol (swindling through the appropriation and sale of other person’s apartment); retired police colonel Evgeny Voronin, ex-Head of the 6th Division of the Criminal Investigation Department of Nizhny Novgorod, (abduction); colonel Zoryan Gavrilyuk, Head of the Central District Supply and Logistics Administration of the MIA of Russia Federal Budgetary Institution (bribe-taking and exceedance of official powers); Aleksei Smyk, ex-Head of the MIA Administration for Repairs and Construction (abuse of official powers resulting in damages totaling 830 million rubles ($12.2 million)); colonel Adam Yakhutl, Deputy Police Chief of the MIA Administration for Transport for the Southern Federal District (swindling); Dmitry Elizarov, Head of the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA General Administration for the Saratov Region (two bribes on an especially large scale); colonel Alfia Mokshina, Head of the Administration for the Vladimir Region of the National Guard of Russia (bribe-taking); colonel Khaibula Ibnukhadzharov, Head of the Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Criminal Investigation Administration of the MIA for the Republic of Dagestan (misappropriation and embezzlement); colonel Magomed Khizriev, Head of the Operations and Search Division of Internal Security of the MIA for the Republic of Dagestan (bribe-giving to be appointed the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan); Vera Rabinovich, Head of the Department for Economic Crimes of the Main Investigations Administration of the MIA General Administration for the Samara Region (bribe-taking); Dmitry Sazonov, Deputy Head of the Administration for the Samara Region of the National Guard of Russia (bribe-taking and ties with Zakonovskie organized criminal group); Sergei Gudovanny, Deputy Head of the Economic Security Service of the FSB Directorate for the Samara Region; and Pavel Cheremshantsev, Head of the “M” Department of the FSB Directorate for the Samara Region (bribe-taking and ties with Zakonovskie organized criminal group).
The large-scale ‘sweeping purge’ has also affected the watchdog authority. The following prosecution officials have been detained: Oleg Gorbunov, ex-First Deputy Prosecutor of the Republic of Bashkortostan (bribe-taking on an especially large scale); Ramil Garifullin, Prosecutor of the Sovetsky District of Ufa (bribe-taking); and Artur Sharetdinov, ex-Deputy Head of the Department for Overseeing Criminal-Procedural and Operative and Search Activities of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bashkortostan (bribe-taking). In October, 35-year-old Ilya Kopytin, Prosecutor of Vladimir and ex-Prosecutor of Murom, has been charged with bribe-taking and abuse of official powers. However, the Regional Prosecutor has later annulled the order on institution of criminal proceedings, and the Prosecutor General’s Office upheld this decision. On December 26, it became known that Ilya Kopytin is now employed with the Regional Prosecutor’s Office.
The list of law enforcement officials who have trespassed against the law in 2018 may be continued on, and on, and on. Hopefully, the investigative, prosecution, and judicial authorities won’t forget about them and none of the offenders escape punishment.
Seventeen Russian Governors are facing criminal prosecution for bribe-taking. The rest of them may be jailed any time for exceedance of official powers. At least, Nezygar (@russica2) Telegram channel claims so citing an unidentified source in the law enforcement structures. However, according to that source, it is currently prohibited to prosecute top-level officials. In 2018, the operatives had only searched offices of Vice Governors or Deputy Ministers – not their bosses. The CrimeRussia found out what supreme functionaries are on the hook of the law enforcement authorities and may be immediately indicted if the President orders so.