Only four months after the appointment of Sergey Kostyrkin the Head of the Administration for Transport of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation for the Northwestern Federal District, the Administration has found itself in the middle of several scandals. In the end of July 2016, the Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Finlandsky Line Internal Affairs Department and a Patrol-Guard Service policeman of the Vitebsky Line Internal Affairs Department have been arrested on suspicion of participation in drug dealing on an especially large scale. In addition, in the beginning of July 2016 a criminal case has been initiated against two officers of the St. Petersburg Line MIA Transport Administration suspected of bribe-taking. And all this events occur in the aftermath of a well-remembered story of murdering and burning two transport police special force officers in December 2015.
After the tragedy that occurred on December 4, 2015 on Murinskaya road in St. Petersburg, when a gang attacked a transport police patrol vehicle and brutally shot dead and burned 2 transport police special force officers to steal 40 million rubles, no one had doubts that the Northwestern MIA Administration for Transport is facing drastic changes. Immediately after the tragedy, a large task force from the central Investigation Department of MIA and a whole bunch of generals arrived to St. Petersburg. No one in the transport police was able to clearly explain: what did the transport police special force officers do during the work hours on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, with weapons and cases full of money?
In fact, everybody knew the answer. The police officers were performing their side job as cash couriers. This and other side jobs of policemen have drawn the interest of the General Administration of Internal Security of MIA and other enforcement agencies. The interest was 100% justified: the main objective of the transport police is to locate and cease drug trafficking from St. Petersburg to European countries. And apparently, not all Northwestern MIA Transport Administration officers had such innocent side jobs, as cash transportation, to make the ends meet.
Photo: Transport police patrol vehicle was ambushed on December 4, 2015 on Murinskaya roadOur
Sergey Kostyrkin, the new Head of the MIA Administration for Transport for the Northwestern Federal District, was appointed by the President Vladimir Putin. On April 30, 2016 the Head of the state has signed the Decree № 204 making the Pulkovo Airport Police Chief the head of the MIA Administration for Transport. Sergey Kostyrkin began his career as a patrol-guard service inspector in the legendary police station № 27 of the Kuibyshev District Administration of MIA (currently the MIA Administration for the Central District) located on Krylov lane. Kostyrkin has been working in the transport police for the last 26 years. Vadim Kashirin, the previous Head of the MIA Administration for Transport, has submitted a resignation letter on December 31, 2015. Many sources link his resignation with the murder of transport police special force officers who were delivering migrants’ salaries to St. Petersburg construction sites during the work hours.
Today, despite the summer and vacations season, the MIA Administration for Transport is virtually burning out at work. Informed sources say that the Administration is in fever and the new head is very serious in his intention to bring discipline. This is confirmed by numerous drills and service audits resulting in corruption and drug dealing criminal cases.
For example, a service audit against officers of the St. Petersburg Line MIA Administration for Transport has resulted in a criminal case under Article 30 and part 5 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Attempted Bribe-Taking by a group of persons by previous concert). The official announcement was published on the web-site of the Administration for Transport of MIA for the Northwestern Federal District, but it did not provide the names of suspects: “the Head of the St. Petersburg Line MIA Administration for Transport has been removed from his position, while a number of senior officers of the St. Petersburg Line MIA Administration for Transport have been brought to disciplinary liability”. The suspects have been dismissed from the Ministry of Internal Affairs ranks.
Making business on drug trafficking
Another scandal has erupted in the end of July 2016. Criminal investigation officers of the transport police, jointly with their colleagues from the District Administration of Internal Security of the General Administration of Internal Security of MIA, have arrested two policemen suspected of drug dealing. A criminal case has been initiated against Oleg Ritman, the Head of the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Finlandsky Line Internal Affairs Department, and Aleksander Ivanov, the Patrol-Guard Service policeman of the Vitebsky Line Internal Affairs Department. They are charged with participation in drug dealing on an especially large scale. According to some sources, the cunning officers used to sell drugs seized from criminals. Another side job in off-work hours.
Photo: Oleg Ritman
It is necessary to note that not a long time ago, the Major Oleg Ritman had boldly reported to Oktyabrkskaya Magistral (October Main Line) – the official newspaper of Russian Railways – that “thanks to his smartness and unique methods, he has put more than one drug dealer behind bars, and upon release from detention, they are coming to thank him for setting them on the paths of righteousness”. Too bad, nobody knows what the Major thinks of the paths of righteousness now, when he is in detention.
And this is not an isolated incident. Two years ago, a similar scandal in St. Petersburg has attracted attention of Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. The scandal involved a 37-year old Colonel Aleksey Levkovsky, the Deputy Head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the St. Petersburg Line MIA Administration for Transport, a policeman with perfect reputation. Federal Drug Control Service officers had been tracing a criminal group selling large amounts of various hard drugs and arrested two active members of the group. Both detainees named the third accomplice – it was the above-mentioned colonel. The investigation continued, and the General Administration of Internal Security of MIA focused its efforts on Levkovsky. The results were truly surprising: during the search in the apartment of Levkovsky on the Solidarnosti avenue, the Federal Drug Control Service officers found over 36 kg of heroin (!) as well as methadone and drug nicknamed China White. The amount of doses was extraordinary – over one million. Even seasoned veterans of the Federal Drug Control Service were shocked by such a treasure.
According to the law enforcement authorities, the Colonel Aleksey Levkovsky has created a sales market for heroin, methadone, and China White. In fact, Levkovsky had unique opportunities for this. His duties included control of the largest St. Petersburg railroad terminals – Moskovsky and Ladozhsky. As it is known, the main migrant flow from the Central Asia arrives to the Moskovsky terminal. He was also the Head of Division combating crimes in long distance trains. According to information published later by the Federal Drug Control Service, the monthly drug turnover of the criminal group involving the police colonel reached tens of kilograms of heroin and a kilogram of synthetic drugs. The cost of drugs seized from Levkovsky was 60 million rubles.
Photo: Aleksey Levkovsky
The sentence in this criminal case has not been adjudged yet, but that high-profile story and the current events raise two sad questions: how many rogue cops still remain in the transport police, and how much drugs still arrive to St. Petersburg under their cover?
Channels to shut off channels
It is not a coincidence that in this difficult time, a new division has been added to the Northwestern Administration for Transport of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – a Drug Control Administration. A recruitment advertisement on the Administration web-site provides a list of vacancies. The new management hope that this new blood could bring to senses the transport policemen riddled with corruption. Although the goals of the new division are pretty traditional: interdiction of drug trafficking into the region and drug transit to the Russian Federation and European states and closure of smuggling channels.
The Drug Control Administration has been created by the Decree of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia № 331 of June 21, 2016 “On organizational and staffing aspects of territorial Russian MIA transport bodies”. According to the Decree of the Administration for Transport of the Russian MIA for the Northwestern Federal District № 323 of July 7, 2016, drug control units have been created in the Administration for Transport of the Russian MIA for the Northwestern Federal District and subordinate line administrations.
Today, after the numerous departmental and interdepartmental checks, the Administration for Transport of the Russian MIA for the Northwestern Federal District is reporting the progress achieved with the new head. However, the results as of the middle of summer look pretty modest. The Administration boldly reports that for the 6 months of 2016, it “managed to improve considerably the effectiveness of struggle with the crime and corruption” and that “the work related to detection of drug trafficking offences has been intensified” – which is not surprising, taking the recent incidents. The Administration also refers to some positive dynamics in its work, but its web-site does not provide any specific information.
Photo: Administration for Transport of the Russian MIA for the Northwestern Federal District sums up the results
There are some specific data, however, on priority directions for transport police further activities in the Northwestern Federal District. The Colonel Sergey Kostyrkin, the Head of the Administration for Transport of the Russian MIA for the Northwestern Federal District, noted the following main priorities: “maintain service discipline and legitimacy and upgrade the level of professional and moral-psychological readiness of the staff to implement the assigned tasks”. Translated from the formal police language, this means that the purge in the Administration for Transport of the Russian MIA for the Northwestern Federal District ranks has just started – which implies new high-profile arrests in the nearest future.
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