Two rival private security companies and personal interest of Deputy Head of Astrakhan police
Nikolay Vasin, the former Deputy Head of the Administration for the City of Astrakhan of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, used to provide cover to a private security company. He was also pressurizing a competing firm and imposed a considerable monthly levy on its director. Vasin acted via his colleague-intermediary Ivan Zhigulsky, the former Deputy Head of the Center for Organizing the License and Permit Issuing Activity of the Russian MIA Administration in the Astrakhan Region.
Moderate – but real – prison terms
According to the regional Prosecutor’s Office, the Kirovsky District Court of Astrakhan found Nikolay Vasin, the former Deputy Head of the MIA Administration for the City of Astrakhan, guilty under part 2 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Bribe-Taking by a functionary on a considerable scale). Ivan Zhigulsky was found guilty under part 1 of Article 291.1 of the Criminal Code (Mediation in Bribery).
In April 2015 Ivan Zhigulsky, the Deputy Head of the Center for Organizing the License and Permit Issuing Activity of the Russian MIA Administration for the Astrakhan Region, approached Nikolay Vasin asking to stop checks of Olymp (Olympus) Private Security Organization Limited Liability Company, whose director was familiar with Zhigulsky, for compliance with the administrative legislation.
On April 24, 2015, in Mindal Restaurant of Astrakhan, Ivan Zhigulsky received from Petr Khorobrykh, Director of Olymp Private Security Organization, 90 thousand rubles for Nikolai Vasin. On the same evening, Zhigulsky met with Vasin, and they shared the money: Vasin has taken 35 thousand rubles, while Zhigulsky retained the remaining 55 thousand. Shortly after this, Zhigulsky was arrested by officers of the Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation near building № 12 on the May 1 Quay.
Nikolay Vasin on a briefing in the Russian MIA Administration for the Astrakhan Region
On April 25, 2015 (next day after the bribe-giving), in the morning, the FSB operatives arrived to the apartment of the Deputy Head of the MIA Administration for the City of Astrakhan. During the search, they found and seized 5,000-ruble bills photocopied by the FSB prior to the meeting between Khorobrykh and Zhigulsky in Mindal Restaurant. This is how the FSB Directorate in the Astrakhan Region has proven that Vasin had indeed received a bribe via an intermediary.
According to the Caucasian Knot Internet portal, the State Prosecutor Oksana Sagiyan asked the court to sentence Nikolay Vasin to four years in a general regime penal colony and a fine of 2.7 million rubles, while Ivan Zhigulsky – only to a fine of 2.8 million rubles.
The Prosecutor has ruled out the possibility of a conditional sentence for Vasin because his criminal activity was a menace to the public. With regards to Zhigulsky, she believed that the punishment could be limited to a fine because the intermediary had admitted his guilt and testified against Vasin.
Nikolay Vasin was sentenced to 3 years in a general regime penal colony. Mediator Zhigulsky was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in a penal colony settlement. In addition, both of them have been deprived of the right to hold senior positions for three years and must pay 1,350,000 rubles in fines.
Therefore, the court has sentenced both suspects to real – although moderate – terms due to the corruption nature of their crimes.
Olymp vs. Monarch
An Astrakhan police officer, familiar with the convicted colleagues, provided details of the high-profile case to the CrimeRussia.
“I can’t say for other cities, but in Astrakhan, you can’t just establish and run a private security company. Various enforcement agencies provide cover for such firms. Very often the founders of private security companies are relatives to colonels and generals, while their staff consist of retired officers from the FSB, MIA, and other services. For instance, mother-in-law of Nikolai Vasin is a co-owner of Monarch Private Security Organization Limited Liability Company – this company is a competitor to the above-mentioned Olymp,” – the source told.
According to him, all the fuss was about a profitable protection contract for facilities of Astrvodokanal (Astrakhan Water Canal) Municipal Unitary Enterprise, which provides cold water supply for all Astrakhan residents. The enterprise owns over 200 facilities; nine of those are of strategic importance and subject to mandatory protection. The monthly cost of this contract was 200 thousand rubles.
“I have heard that FSB officers are lobbying interests of Olymp; therefore, this company has won the tender to guard the Astrvodokanal facilities. The contract has been signed for the period of April 1 – June 30, 2015. Nikolai Vasin was upset to lose such a big money, because Monarch Private Security Organization – where his mother-in-law owns a share – would also like to get this contract. And Vasin instructed his subordinates to pressurize Olymp staff,” – the policeman explained.
Astrvodokanal Municipal Unitary Enterprise
District police inspectors started visiting all objects guarded by Olymp on the regular basis. These included not only Astrvodokanal facilities, but also several stores and ELKO Hypermarket. The policemen were performing strict checks, disrupting the work of guards, drawing-up protocols of various administrative violations.
Petr Khorobrykh, the Director of Olymp Private Security Organization, was fearing the worst (e.g. revocation of the protection service license) and offered his acquaintance Ivan Zhigulsky to settle the issue with ferocious Nikolai Vasin. The businessman also addressed his cover in the FSB for help. The further events have occurred under control of the FSB.
“As far as I know, during the trial, Vasin has completely denied all accusations against him. He stated that he had never lobbied interests of Monarch, while the checks of Astrvodokanal facilities and ELKO Hypermarket had been performed in the framework of a scheduled police operation Law and Order, and Petr Khorobrykh had no reasons to be worried. But we, the colleagues of the convict, know 100% that this is not true. Overall, the attitude towards Vasin in the agency was negative. This careerist could easily double-cross a colleague if this was beneficial for him,” – our source told.
Interestingly, Petr Khorobrykh, Director of Olymp and key witness in this criminal case, has been recording his conversations with Ivan Zhigulsky since 2014.
According to Aleksey, this means that the FSB Directorate in the Astrakhan Region had started an inquiry into activities of high-ranked police officers long time ago. The fact that Nikolay Vasin has taken the bribe and brought the money to his home inapprehensively indicates either his complete disregard of safety precautions or total confidence in his impunity.
Drank a bottle of brandy and shared the money
On August 23, 2016 Zhigulsky provided a confusing and conflicting testimony to the court. In particular, he said that he does not remember the transfer of money to Vasin and his own arrest.
According to Zhigulsky, he met Petr Khorobrykh back in 2009 on a birthday party of his subordinate. Since then, the Deputy Head of the Center for Organizing the License and Permit Issuing Activity and the Director of the Private Security Company maintained friendly relations. From time to time, the businessman was giving 5,000 rubles to the policeman to support the useful friendship.
This is the reason why Khorobrykh has complained to Zhigulsky on checks performed by district police inspectors and shared his worries about possible adverse implications for his company.
Zhigulsky promised to help and addressed Vasin, who estimated his condoning attitude towards Olymp at 30 thousand rubles per month. The eighteen 5,000-ruble bills (90 thousand rubles) given to Zhigulsky by Khorobrykh were the payment for a relieve from the police checks on objects guarded by Olymp for the next three months. The mediator intended to give Vasin more than half of that amount, but gave only 35 thousand rubles because – according to his own words – he was intoxicated and could not think well.
Ivan Zhigulsky, the Deputy Head of the Center for Organizing the License and Permit Issuing Activity of the Russian MIA Administration in the Astrakhan Region
Still remaining in this condition, Zhigulsky was detained by the FSB officers. They have searched him and found the money received from Khorobrykh. Then he was escorted to the Regional Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for questioning. No one offered Zhigulsky to pass a test for alcohol intoxication.
Another prosecution witness, Petr Khorobrykh, told the court that he was worried not only about his company, but also about the lives of people close to him because he had heard many unpleasant comments about Nikolai Vasin from their mutual acquaintances. Khorobrykh said that he was recording his conversations with Ivan Zhigulsky on his own initiative to protect the company from potential troubles in the future. Being the Deputy Head of the Center for Organizing the License and Permit Issuing Activity, Zhigulsky could easily shut down the business of Khorobrykh by revoking his protection service license.
“The case has been fabricated by FSB officers”
Not everyone is satisfied with the court verdict. The CrimeRussia journalist has spoken with an Astrakhan lawyer who introduced himself as a friend of Nikolai Vasin and declined to provide his name.
“There is no doubt that this criminal case has been fabricated by the FSB Directorate for the Astrakhan Region. The best dream of this agency is to put as many policemen behind bars as possible,” – he told.
He noted several facts that – in his view – confirm his version.
“The criminal case against Vasin was initiated on April 24, 2015 – although the searches in his apartment have been conducted only on the next day. The Deputy Head of the MIA Administration for the City of Astrakhan could not be recognized a suspect prior to the discovery of money given by Petr Khorobrykh,” – the lawyer explained. According to him, the FSB officers have performed the searches with numerous procedural violations; the operatives were entering and exiting the apartment many times; the money could be planted there. He also stated that there were no fingerprints of Vasin on the bills found in his apartment.
The district police inspectors, in fact, did not produce any administrative protocols against Olymp Private Security Organization Limited Liability Company. They just identified nine unrelated violations committed by individual Olymp employees. In other words, Petr Khorobrykh had no real reasons to worry. And somehow he managed to escape criminal prosecution for bribe-giving. After all, it was Petr Khorobrykh who offered a bribe to police officers – which is a criminal offence.
According to the friend of Vasin, he knows details of the searches from the wife of the convicted colonel and other details – from fellow lawyers.
“There are two private security companies, whose interests have been lobbied by two different enforcement agencies. It was a clash between the police and FSB, and nothing more. The FSB has won again. Now they have got all protection contracts for municipal facilities in Astrakhan, this is it,” – the lawyer said.
It is necessary to note that the Astrakhan Court has received appeals from the conviction of the former police officers Nikolay Vasin and Ivan Zhigulsky.
Saburova believes that the Russian authorities violated articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guaranteeing the right to life, as well as the right to freedom and personal inviolability.