Vladimir Chechin: Prosecution business in Saratov
The Prosecutor’s Office of the Saratov Region is rumbled by scandals on the regular basis. Officers of the watchdog authority are being caught with bribe-taking one by one. Vladimir Chechin, Deputy Head of the Criminal and Judicial Administration and Head of the First Department of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Saratov Region, is currently in detention. According to the investigation, this high-ranked official received a bribe in the amount of $10 thousand and 750 thousand rubles from a businessman.
Arrested during the transfer of money
Vladimir Chechin is an experienced prosecution officer, he had been working in the watchdog agency for more than 30 years. His career was successful from the very beginning. In 1985 he was appointed the Prosecutor of the Oktyabrsky District in Saratov. In 2002–2012 was the head of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Volzhsky District. Upon reaching the preretirement age, he has transferred to a more tranquil job – became the Head of the Department of State Prosecutors in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Saratov Region.
On August 25, 2016, during a joint special operation of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), Vladimir Chechin was arrested on Dzerzhinskogo street in Saratov while accepting a bribe. $10 thousand and 750 thousand rubles have been given to the Prosecutor in his Nissan car.
The ICR has initiated a criminal case against Chechin under part 5 of Article 290 (Bribe-Taking on a large scale), part 3 of Article 30 (Attempted Crime), and part 3 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling committed on a large scale). Searches have been carried out in the office and home of one of the most experienced officers in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Saratov Region. The detained Prosecutor has been immediately convoyed to Nizhny Novgorod to prevent possible pressure on the investigation by his colleagues. In addition, the 3rd Investigations Directorate of the Main Investigations Directorate for the Volga Federal District of the ICR – which handles this criminal case – is based in Nizhny Novgorod.
On August 29, 2016 the Nizhny Novgorod City Court has decided to detain Vladimir Chechin until October 24, 2016. The court has taken into consideration that the daughter of the suspect lives in the USA, while he is well aware of operating procedures of law enforcement authorities and might abscond from the investigation.
It is worthy of note that in his interview to Obshestvennoe Mnenie (Public Opinion) Saratov web portal, Vladimir Chechin, then-Prosecutor of the Volzhsky District, had said that it is important to abide by the laws, fight corruption in law enforcement authorities mercilessly, and introduce zero tolerance to bribing in the society.
It is easy to be booted out of our structure for violations – there is no indulgence for nobody here; we have a clear and strong top-down command structure and a straightforward hierarchy. Of course, our agency is closed; not much is leaking outside – but inside the organization, the officer would look very pale if he has done something wrong, – Vladimir Chechin said.
It turned out later that the Prosecutor himself and many his colleagues not only were doing something wrong but taking large bribes as well.
Why Vladimir Chechin was arrested?
Nikolai Bekishev was the businessman who gave a bribe to Vladimir Chechin on the day of his arrest. He is the founder of bankrupt Resurs Oil Company Limited Liability Company and co-owner of Trans Povolzhie Limited Liability Company specializing in freight trucking. In March 2016, a bankruptcy procedure has been initiated for this company as well.
Arrest of Vladimir Chechin by FSB officers near his car
According to Saratov Bez Formata web portal, business affairs of Nikolai Bekishev were not going well in the last years. His oil company had a debt of 300 million rubles. In addition, back in 2009 the businessman borrowed 54 million rubles in a Saratov bank with the annual interest rate of 20%; the loan was secured by 12 real properties belonging to Trans Povolzhie Limited Liability Company and worth over 70 million rubles.
Nikolai Bekishev has made the decision to borrow money on such conditions without approval from other owners of the transportation company – Aleksey, Maksim, and Ksenia Bandorin. They have disputed the actions of their business partner in the arbitration court claiming that the businessman – who owned only 49% of shares in Trans Povolzhie – had no right to use assets of the company as a security for this loan. In May 2016, the Bandorin family has proven their case in the cassation instance of the arbitration court.
Currently assets of the transportation company are put up for sale – while Bekishev is struggling with his former business partners for a land lot belonging to Trans Povolzhie and located in the Victory Park of Saratov, near Rout Hall Cafe. This is the most valuable asset of the bankrupt company.
Apparently, Vladimir Chechin requested 750 thousand rubles from the businessman for a favorable verdict in this lawsuit. The above-mentioned $10 thousand found in the Prosecutor’s car during the arrest had been paid for dismissal of a criminal case against the son of Nikolai Bekishev. According to some sources, Ivan Bekishev was charged with theft of construction materials for the total amount of 4.5 million rubles.
Money found in the car of Vladimir Chechin
By the way, financial circumstances of this businessman were pretty tight. In 2016 he was found guilty of non-payment of salary to the personnel of Resurs Oil Company Limited Liability Company and tax violations. In total, Bekishev was owing to his staff and the government some 6 million rubles.
In such a desperate situation, the businessman had to address the influential Prosecutor for help – and Chechin promised to assist. Soon the Regional Directorate of the FSB and the ICR started an inquiry into this case.
According to the investigation, Vladimir Chechin had no real possibility to affect the decision of the arbitration court – therefore, he was charged not only with bribe taking, but with swindling on a large scale as well.
Prosecutor and Nadezhda (Hope) company
During his long career in the law enforcement, Vladimir Chechin had used his official powers more than once for the benefit of certain businessmen – thus, inflicting losses on other entrepreneurs. A bright example is the story with Saratov-based Nadezhda (Hope) Limited Liability Company.
According to Svobodnaya Pressa–Povolzhie (Free Press–Volga Region) web portal, being the Prosecutor of the Volzhsky District, Vladimir Chechin used to provide assistance to Sergey Kurikhin, a Deputy of the Saratov Regional Duma, who runs construction business and owns several local media outlets.
In 2011 Kurikhin decided to erect a luxury 6-store residential building in the center of Saratov, at 35 Lermontova street. But an annex to the house located at 4 Solyanaya street, constructed by Nadezhda (Hope) Limited Liability Company, was adjacent to the land lot allocated for this development. This facility was obstructing the Deputy’s project, and Prosecutor Chechin addressed the Volzhsky District Court asking to recognize the facility an illegal structure that must be demolished.
Sergey Kurikhin, the Deputy of the Saratov Regional Duma
The Head of the Prosecutor’s Office has ignored the fact that Nadezhda had an official construction permit issued by the City Hall and that the facility had passed the technical inventory and was formalized by the registration chamber. The company had spent over 1.5 million rubles on the construction; by 2011 the annex was a monolithic structure with foundation.
All efforts of Nadezhda Limited Liability Company to withstand the influential Prosecutor in court have failed, and in 2012 the almost-complete annex was dismantled. Deputy Kurikhin was the main beneficiary of this – nothing obstructed his development project anymore.
Corrupt Prosecutors in Saratov
The watchdog agency of the Saratov region is often rumbled by high-profile corruption scandals. In addition to Vladimir Chechin, the following prosecution officials have been caught with bribes and other violations during the last two–three years: Dmitry Volkov, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Ershovsky District; Anton Yurov, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Town of Engels; Vladimir Zubatkin, the Prosecutor of the Town of Engels; and Dmitry Korogodin, the Acting Prosecutor of the Town of Balashov.
Dmitry Volkov, the former Deputy Prosecutor of the Ershovsky District, was found guilty under part 3 of Article 30 (Attempted Crime), and 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).
It was proven in court that on June 9, 2016 Dmitry Volkov received a bribe on the Engels-Ershov-Osinki motorway from an officer of the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (MIA) in the amount of 400 thousand rubles. The Prosecutor promised the policeman – who faced a criminal prosecution following a pre-investigation check – to decline the initiation of a criminal case against him. However, the prosecution officer, arrested red-handed by the FSB and ICR, had no real possibility to affect this procedural decision in any way. The court has sentenced Dmitry Volkov to 1.5 year in a general regime penal colony.
Arrest of Dmitry Volkov, Deputy Prosecutor of the Ershovsky District
Anton Yurov, Deputy Prosecutor of the Town of Engels, was arrested in the middle of June 2016. He was also charged with attempted swindling through his official position, as well as on a large scale. According to the investigation, in exchange for 3.5 million rubles, the watchdog agency officer promised a person charged in the framework of a criminal case to re-categorize his offence under a lighter Article of the Criminal Code.
A year ago, the 3rd Investigations Directorate of the Main Investigations Directorate for the Volga Federal District of the ICR has initiated a criminal case against Vladimir Zubatkin, the former Prosecutor of the Town of Engels. He was charged with a series of swindling episodes, numerous abuses of power, and bribe-taking in the period of 2012–2015. In total, the investigators have incriminated 8 offences to the prosecution officer.
Dmitry Korogodin, the acting Prosecutor of the Town of Balashov, was caught in bribe-taking on June 7, 2013. According to Rossiiskaya Gazeta (the Russian Newspaper), the high-ranked law enforcement officer was extorting 400 thousand rubles from Mikhail Volodin, a local businessman, threatening to initiate a criminal case against his son. Denis Volodin participated in a brawl in Kristall night club – and the Prosecutor demanded money from his father on this basis.
The court found Korogodin guilty under part 5 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Bribe-Taking by a functionary on a large scale) and sentenced the former Prosecutor to 4 years in a maximal security penal colony and fine of 1 million rubles.
Opposition in the Prosecutor’s Office
In fact, Vladimir Chechin could be caught red-handed on more than one occasion. For example, Saratovsky Reporter has published information that ten years ago, when the Prosecutor’s Office was headed by late Evgeny Grigoriev, special services were preparing to arrest the high-ranked prosecution officer. But Chechin managed to get off the hook that time.
Late Evgeny Grigoriev, previous Prosecutor of the Saratov Region
It was reported that Vladimir Chechin and Vyacheslav Simshin, the First Deputy Head of the Prosecutor of the Saratov Region, were members of an unofficial opposition party within the watchdog agency and actively resisted the staffing policy and plans of their chief Evgeny Grigoriev. The unseen struggle escalated so much that the Prosecutor of the Saratov Region has consented to the arrest of Chechin by FSB officers during acceptance of another large bribe. But somebody has warned the Prosecutor. Apparently, it was Simshin. As a result, Vladimir Chechin refused to take the money and reported the bribe offered to him as an attempted provocation.
On February 13, 2008 Evgeny Grigoriev, the Prosecutor of the Saratov Region, was murdered. Aleksey Maksimov, former General Director of Saratov-based Serp i Molot (Sickle and Hammer) Factory, was accused of organization of this crime. Later Maksimov was found hung in the pretrial detention facility cell. According to the investigation, the businessman had ordered the murder of the Regional Prosecutor because he thought that Grigoriev was involved into raiders’ attacks on his enterprise.
After the death of Evgeny Grigoriev, Vladimir Stepanov was appointed the Prosecutor of the Saratov Region; he had no open conflicts with the group of Simshin and Chechin. Still, he was removed from this post by a Decree of the Russian President № 261 of June 2, 2016 “On removals from posts and appointments in some state federal agencies”.
Experts believe that Vladimir Stepanov was dismissed due to numerous corruption scandals involving officers of the Saratov Prosecutor’s Office in the last years. In addition, the former Regional Prosecutor had conflicts with some authorities and businesses. For example, as per his instruction, a criminal case was initiated against Aleksey Prokopenko, the City Manager of Saratov. The official was found guilty of non-compliance with court verdicts requiring to provide housing to people on the municipal housing waiting list and fined 200 thousand rubles.
Currently Vyacheslav Simshin performs the duties of the Regional Prosecutor; he is called the Gray Eminence of the watchdog agency.
Vyacheslav Simshin, the acting Prosecutor of the Saratov Region
In the end of July 2016, Deputies of the Saratov Regional Duma have approved a new candidate for this position – Sergey Filippenko, former Head of the Administration for the Ural Federal District of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation. But the decree to appoint him the Prosecutor of the Saratov Region has not been signed yet.
In 2018, the official became a founder of a fund that deals with shooting and entrapment of wild animals in a hunting sector he supervises. With that, the official did not report about it to his senior executives.