‘Sweeping purge’ in St. Petersburg universities

‘Sweeping purge’ in St. Petersburg universities
Photo: The CrimeRussia

In the last year, St. Petersburg law enforcement structures have seriously ‘shaken up’ the teaching staff of major St. Petersburg universities. High-profile arrests, trials, and searches torment the education sphere – but this is completely justified due to the rampant corruption in higher education establishments.

Non-agrarian harvest 

Two weeks ago, the St. Petersburg State Agrarian University was hit by a sudden storm: operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation have detained the Director of the International Relations Office. The respected official was arrested red-handed during the handover of a large amount of money from a CIS citizen for an invitation of his relative to study in St. Petersburg. 

The Investigations Department of the Pushkinsky District of the Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has initiated a criminal case – and the investigation team does not rule out that more episodes may appear in it. In fact, this is not the first bribery scandal in the St. Petersburg State Agrarian University.

Дмитрий Кравцов

Dmitry Kravtsov

Today the Pushkinsky District Court examines the case of Isabaly Zeinalov, Dean of the Faculty of Legal Studies, charged with receiving 300 thousand rubles ($5 thousand) from students. Lyubov Mukanova, a specialist in teaching methods, is studying moral and legal implications of bribe-taking together with him. 

The story has begun with a complaint submitted by two students of the St. Petersburg State Agrarian University to the FSB stating that the dean is extorting 200 thousand rubles ($3.3 thousand) from each of them – otherwise they won’t be allowed to take the end-of-semester exams. The complainants, by the way, were not A level students and had outstanding program requirements.

The students could not get the required amounts of money and decided to address the FSB instead. The operatives provided instructions to the young men, and methodologist Mukanova has accepted from them 300 thousand rubles ($5 thousand) in a bag and put that bag into a cabinet. Law enforcement officers have appeared at that moment – making a major surprise for Mukanova and Zeinalov. The bribe-takers have been arrested – but it was difficult to prove the dean’s wrongdoing. Zeinalov had been extorting money from the students but never touched the bills and acted wisely. Still, his crime was exposed with the use of records of telephone conversations and other operative and investigative actions. This story had a continuation.

Зейналов

Isabaly Zeinalov

The next person in the St. Petersburg State Agrarian University who had attracted the attention of investigators was Ruslan Magomayev, Head of the Legal Department. He has been arrested for a bribe in the amount of 1.5 million rubles ($24.8 thousand) received for assistance in the ‘settlement of issues’. The case initiated against him for attempted bribe-taking on an especially large scale has been recently submitted to the court. However, this was not the last criminal episode that had occurred in the university. 

Recently the St. Petersburg Prosecutor’s Office has signed the indictment in the case against Izrail Gluzman, Head of the Department of Development and Capital Construction of the St. Petersburg State Agrarian University, charged with bribe-taking in the amount of 200 thousand rubles ($3.3 thousand). Allegedly, he had received a bribe for leasing one of the premises belonging to the university. According to the investigation, Gluzman had been extorting 50 thousand rubles ($827) per month from the tenant. The businessman has ostensibly agreed and addressed the law enforcement authorities. Under the surveillance of operatives, he has handed over the payment for 4 months ahead to Gluzman. Gluzman has been arrested by the FSB officers red-handed during the receipt of the money.

Широков

Sergey Shirokov

After all these high-profile bribery scandals, Sergey Shirokov, the Chancellor of the St. Petersburg State Agrarian University, has been relieved from office by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. It is necessary to note that the FSB had performed searches in his office as well – but no compromising materials were found because Shirokov had held this post for only 9 months. But the corruption saga continued after his termination.    

Our
notes

There were very few arrests of so high-ranked educators in St. Petersburg in the last 5 years. In 2014, Rovshan Takhmezov, Assistant Professor of the Human Anatomy Department of Pavlov First St. Petersburg State Medical University, was convicted for two bribe-taking episodes and sentenced to a fine of 3.5 million rubles ($57.9 thousand) for the bribes totaling 105 thousand rubles ($1.7 thousand). Takhmezov used to take money from students for passing tests by them.


But this is nothing in comparison with €7 thousand received by Evgeny Galaktionov, Chair of the Criminal Law Department of the North-West Academy of Civil Service. The investigation has found that the doctor of law and professor had forced the students to ‘chip in’ for a bribe for passing the exam and defending course projects. €7 thousand was the price of the course entitled “General and Special Parts of the Legal Law”.

Wave of money

Vadim Minin, Chair of the Department of Marine Electronics of the State Marine Technical University of St. Petersburg, has become a suspect in a similar corruption case. He has been charged under part 3 of Article 290 (Bribe-Taking) and part 1 of Article 292 (Official Forgery) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Minin had received from three students a bribe in the amount of 24 thousand rubles ($397) in exchange for good marks for the exam and course projects. No one had, in fact, administered the exams – Minin just put the marks to the students’ record books. The Kirovsky District Court is currently examining this case.

Needless to say, this is not the first episode when operatives nail to the wall greedy educators from the State Marine Technical University. In January 2017, the court has convicted a female teacher of that university for bribe-taking in the amount of 4 thousand rubles ($66) for allowing a student to take the exams and sentenced her to a fine of 160 thousand rubles ($2.6 thousand) with deprivation of the right to teach for one year.

Our
notes

According to the St. Petersburg City Court, the number of corruption cases has decreased in 2016 in comparison with 2015 from 198 to 130. But despite the downward trend, the overall situation looks pretty sad: 2012 – 83 cases, 2013 – 166 cases, 2014 – 171 cases, 2015 – 198 cases, 2016 – 130 cases.

The situation with the criminal case against Sergei Bachevsky, Rector of the Bonch-Bruevich St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications, remains intriguing. He has been charged with exceeding of official powers. The investigation believes that in 2015–2016, contrary to the legislation, Bachevsky had leased nonresidential premises to three commercial organizations (IRiS Limited Liability Company, Trak Limited Liability Company, and Violett Limited Liability Company). No leasing tenders were conducted and, according to some information, some businessmen were friends of the Rector. The university, therefore, has sustained losses in the amount of 1.7 million rubles ($28.1 thousand). The premises on the ground floor of the University of Telecommunications at 61 Moika quay had hosted boutiques, Italian fashion stores, and a beauty center. Bachevsky has been charged with exceeding of official powers and placed under home arrest – although the investigation had petitioned to remand him in custody. The Rector believes that this criminal case is a result of intrigues plotted by his dissatisfied colleagues willing to “ruin the university”.

sergey_bachevskiy.jpg

Sergei Bachevsky

The situation with the criminal case against Sergei Bachevsky, Rector of the Bonch-Bruevich St. Petersburg State University of Telecommunications, remains intriguing. He has been charged with exceeding of official powers. The investigation believes that in 2015–2016, contrary to the legislation, Bachevsky had leased nonresidential premises to three commercial organizations (IRiS Limited Liability Company, Trak Limited Liability Company, and Violett Limited Liability Company). No leasing tenders were conducted and, according to some information, some businessmen were friends of the Rector. The university, therefore, has sustained losses in the amount of 1.7 million rubles ($28.1 thousand). The premises on the ground floor of the University of Telecommunications at 61 Moika quay had hosted boutiques, Italian fashion stores, and a beauty center. Bachevsky has been charged with exceeding of official powers and placed under home arrest – although the investigation had petitioned to remand him in custody. The Rector believes that this criminal case is a result of intrigues plotted by his dissatisfied colleagues willing to “ruin the university”.

Our
notes

In nine months of 2016, the Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg of the ICR has instituted 269 criminal cases for corruption offences. The total amount of damages inflicted by the corrupt officials is 153.8 million rubles ($2.5 million). The total value of assets belonging to the suspects and seized in accordance with Article 115 of the Criminal-Procedural Code of the Russian Federation in the period of the criminal case initiation is 567.1 million rubles ($9.4 million). 128 solved corruption cases have been submitted to courts in January–September 2016.


It is necessary to note that, according to reports of the law enforcement agencies, the majority of corruption cases have been instituted against the education staff of major universities of St. Petersburg. Interestingly, the majority of whistleblowers are also educators reporting their corrupt colleagues. St. Petersburg investigators openly state this in interviews. According to operatives of the Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg of the ICR, the bribe-takers are trying to be inventive and request the students to provide them with receipts for allegedly borrowed money. This allows the educator to prove that this is his/her money, not a bribe. As the technologies progress, other schemes appear as well. For instance, electronic wallets and money transfers to accounts having nothing to do with the teachers. Some of them take appliances jointly bought by the students instead of the money. Sometimes students renovate professors’ summer cottages, thus, giving them ‘manpower’ bribes. 

The law enforcement authorities believe that it is impossible to completely eliminate bribes in the education system. As long as the education establishments exist, the secret monetary relations between the teachers and the students exist as well.

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