Unnecessary witness. Death of penitentiary service lieutenant colonel Viktor Shevchenko: Suicide or murder?
Two events occurred in close succession in the Irkutsk region. On February 11, 2018, it became known that major general Anatoly Kilanov, Head of the Regional Directorate of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, was removed from office. The main suspect in an anti-corruption inquest carried out in late 2017, Kilanov was accused of extorting ‘levies’ from his subordinates. On February 12, 2018, Viktor Shevchenko, his deputy for service support, was found hanged. The investigation is currently explaining this suicide by a family quarrel. Has the lieutenant colonel really taken his own life? Or was it a disguised murder? And if so, who could be interested in it?
On February 13, 2018, the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia has reported the death of its deputy head Viktor Shevchenko. The 38-year-old lieutenant colonel of internal service died a day earlier – on February 12.
According to the media, the body of the lieutenant colonel was found in a private home in Berezovy-40 neighborhood where Shevchenko used to live with his wife. A day earlier, he stopped taking phone calls from his subordinates who had to postpone because of this several important meetings scheduled to Monday. Then they asked the wife of Shevchenko to figure out what is going on. Approximately at 7 a.m. on February 12, 2018, the woman has found the body of her husband hanged on a roof support beam in the garage. The investigation team has arrived to the scene and found no evidence for violent death. According to some information, a letter was found in the car of Shevchenko asking not to blame anybody for his death.
Viktor Shevchenko joined the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in 2004. Advanced through ranks from a junior inspector to deputy head of a territorial administration. Has been appointed a Deputy Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in summer 2017. Was in charge of production activities in regional subdivisions of the Federal Penitentiary Service and controlled the involvement of inmates into labor. Was awarded a Superior Service Medal Third Class and Certificate of Merit of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia.
Yulia Kuritskaya, Senior Assistant Director for Media Liaison of the Investigations Directorate in the Irkutsk Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), advised that a pre-investigation probe has been launched under Article 110 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (incitement to suicide). Based on the probe results, a decision will be made whether to institute a criminal case or not. According to the preliminary version, the officer has committed suicide over a quarrel with his wife. The couple had no children.
Viktor Shevchenko, Deputy Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service
However, it is hard to believe that a high-ranked officer of the Federal Penitentiary Service decided to take his own life over family issues. A day before the supposed suicide of Shevchenko, it became known that Vladimir Putin has removed from office his direct superior – major general Anatoly Kilanov, Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service. On November 19, RBK Group has reported, citing its sources in the central headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service, that Kilanov was terminated in the beginning of the month.
Major general Anatoly Kilanov, Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service
In October 2017, major general Kilanov was the main suspect in an anti-corruption inquest carried out by Vladimir Osechkin, founder of Gulagu.net human rights portal, and other experts. The inquest has been initiated after the receipt of a scanned copy of an audit of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service dated October 7, 2017 and provided to the human rights activists by a subordinate of Kilanov. It turned out that a commission dispatched by the central headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service has identified gross violations and elements of corruption crimes in the actions of major general Kilanov and the entire command of the regional main directorate.
According to the law, servicemen of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service were entitled to free medical services in a departmental polyclinic. However, the services were not provided to them. Instead, the moderately paid officers were forced to purchase voluntary medical insurance policies from some Everest Service Company. This legal entity does not even have the required qualification – it specializes mostly in “provision of social services, excluding accommodation, to elderly and disabled people”.
Everest Service Company Limited Liability Company belongs to Oleg Gendin, ex-Deputy of the Irkutsk Municipal Duma. The former parliamentarian became famous after purchasing from fashion designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev the right to name one of his companies after him.
Ex-Deputy Oleg Gendin
The interest of the supreme command of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service in collaboration with the company belonging to Oleg Gendin is pretty clear. According to the audit findings, the contracts with Everest Service Company had been signed with gross violations of the anti-monopoly legislation. The ex-Deputy’s company had no competitors, while the customer was not interested in other offers available on the regional insurance market. The decision to award the contracts to Everest was not even put to vote at the general meeting of the personnel.
The audit performed by the central headquarters has found out that the money paid by servicemen of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service have constituted 94% of the total revenue gained by the Gendin's company in 2016 - some 20 million rubles ($354 thousand).
More than half of the officers of the regional main directorate have officially admitted that the command had forced them to purchase voluntary medical insurance from Everest. Since the beginning of 2017, over 1 million rubles ($17.7 thousand) have been withdrawn from the wages of the penitentiary officers for that purpose. The servicemen had signed and submitted applications for money withdrawals under the pressure of their supreme commanders. The auditors have concluded that the legitimate right of the penitentiary officers to free medical assistance was infringed. Instead, paid medical services were imposed on them. The audit report states as follows: “the officials had been improperly collecting funds from the personnel acting in the interests of third parties, which... can be interpreted as corruption”.
It was also found that major general Kilanov and his subordinates had forced the people to purchase voluntary medical insurance policies from a certain company. The Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service hasn’t taken any steps to rectify the violations. Furthermore, according to the penitentiary officer who has provided the audit report to human rights activists, an intermediary representing Kilanov delivered a bribe in the amount of at least 20 million rubles ($354 thousand) to some high-ranked functionary from the central headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service. The bribe was given to ‘settle the issue’, including the annulment of all claims brought by the Moscow colleagues against the Irkutsk general and his subordinates and putting their careers at risk.
Major general Anatoly Kilanov
The audit findings have been submitted, together with the criminal complaints, to the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, Investigations Directorate in the Irkutsk Region of the ICR, Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation, and Prosecutor General’s Office. “This scheme contains elements of the following crimes: extortion, abuse of official powers, and official forgery; FSB operatives and ICR investigators have to deal with this,” – Osechkin said at that time. However, it took the law enforcement authorities a while to react to the anti-corruption inquest – Kilanov was removed from office only in early February.
Anatoly Kilanov was born in 1960 in the Kursk region. Joined the Federal Penitentiary Service in 1990. Since 2010, was the Head of the Directorate for the Arkhangelsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service. In 2011, has been promoted to a major general of internal service by a Presidential Decree. Since July 2015, was the Acting Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service. In March 2016, has been officially appointed the Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service.
No one can say at this point whether Kilanov is going to be charged in the framework of this criminal case or not. This directly depended on testimonies that could be provided by his deputy Viktor Shevchenko. After all, Shevchenko was in charge of production activities in regional penal colonies. Under the rule of the lieutenant colonel, this business has grown enormously. For instance, a shoe factory has been launched in the Penal Colony № 3 of Irkutsk in December 2017. The factory produces several brand shoe models for the personnel of the Federal Penitentiary Service and other governmental agencies. Shortly after that, workshops producing ready-made clothes, furniture, semi-finished meat products, confectionery, and bakery products, as well as woodworking and car repairs shops, were launched in the penal colony.
By February 2018, penal colonies of the Irkutsk region started producing a huge assortment of goods: wooden furniture for home and bathhouse, all types of school furniture, clothing and footwear for hunters and fishers, camouflage suits, sleeping bags, knitted garments for children, and bedclothes. Forged products were in high demand, including wood-fired grills, fireplace sets, lamps, candle holders, and post boxes. Organic kitchen implements and accessories, decorative signs and panels for bathhouses, clothes hangers, birch bark crafts, interior pictures, board games, and various wicker-works, including mushroom baskets, vases, and cache pots, were sold very well. The business was flourishing. Irkutsk penal colonies started taking custom orders, including production of timber block houses. A retail chain selling goods produced in penal colonies has been created. The first in the region penal center of compulsory labor has been established. Regional Deputies have suggested the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service to produce furniture and other goods for municipal administrations.
Irkutsk penal colonies started producing a wide assortment of goods
According to Shevchenko, the Penal Colony № 3 of Irkutsk alone has produced goods and services worth 207 million rubles ($3.7 million) in 2017. Furthermore, the colony was ready to increase its production capacity in order to make its products lucrative for budgetary organizations. Shevchenko had specifically emphasized that governmental institutions may purchase goods produced by penal colonies through a simplified procedure and without tenders. The total production output of the regional penal colonies for the year of 2017 has reached 1.416 billion rubles ($25.1 million). Budget funds constituted a portion of this amount as well. For instance, the penal colonies have implemented 21 governmental contract for participants of the Civil Initiatives Project, including production of children’s playgrounds, football gates, and library furniture and provision of landscaping services.
In other words, a whole lot of money was involved there. The law enforcement authorities could inquire about the further fate of these funds and their final beneficiaries. Shevchenko had definitely possessed this information. The deputy of Kilanov could testify against his direct commander whose reputation was already tarnished by the extortion of money from subordinates on 'voluntary' medical insurance.
Furthermore, Shevchenko could identify high-ranked ‘patrons’ of Kilanov in the Moscow headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service. Therefore, it can not be ruled out that the lieutenant colonel hasn’t taken his own life. Some people could ‘help’ him and then stage a suicide. The very circumstances of his death support this version. A law enforcement officer told The CrimeRussia journalist that it is pretty easy to stage a hanging suicide. It is sufficient to knock the person senseless – for instance, with a sandbag – and then do the rest. The forensic medical assessment won’t identify any signs of violent death in that situation.
Nor can it be ruled out that Shevchenko was not only aware of the corruption schemes run by the Head of the Main Directorate for the Irkutsk Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service - but directly involved into these schemes as well.
The law enforcement operatives could already start asking inconvenient questions to him. The lieutenant colonel was facing a prison term and could choose a different way: taking his own life, thus, avoiding liability for the committed offences.
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