Ways in which Bastrykin’s ex-deputy “fights” corruption  

Ways in which Bastrykin’s ex-deputy “fights” corruption 
Photo: The CrimeRussia

The other day it was reported that Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption Vasily Piskarev received a 45-million-ruble apartment from the Presidential Executive Office head in the elite Green House residential complex and registered the VIP real estate and a Land Rover Freelander on his family. Based on the popular belief that corruption and politics are inseparable in Russia, The CrimeRussia traced the career of the parliamentary anti-corruption leader and found out that Piskarev, who used to be the deputy of Alexander Bastrykin, was both involved in corruption schemes and associated with the Tambovskaya and Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya organized crime groups. If we just peek into the wallet of the United Russia veteran, we can clearly see that he fights corruption only in his pretty statements, while the apartments mentioned are only a fraction of what Piskarev has accumulated over the years.

Family Enrichment Manuals

To begin with, just a brief introduction to the family of the Russian billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev, who, it would seem, has nothing to do with the above-mentioned parliamentarian. But it is the example of Gutseriev that shows how the “family billions”, can be accumulated with the help of political and power structures, which is one of the most important components here. For example, the media has talked a lot about the family of Safmar Group founder Mikhail Gutseriev, who has topped the Forbes’ ranking of the richest families in Russia for the fifth year in a row with an estimated fortune of $5.65 billion. Mikhail Gutseriev passed a share in the Cyprus-based Landbury Trading, which owns a 30.4% stake in Safmar Financial Investments to his son, Said Gutseriev, in January of this year, while his uncle Sait-Salam gave Said shares in oil companies and M.Video, which, in fact , almost doubled Gutseriev Jr.’s fortune.

Note that Mikhail Gutseriev’s brother, police lieutenant-general Khamzat Gutseriev, was a member of the Federation Council from the Aginsky Buryat Autonomous Okrug between 2004 and 2010, and his other brother, businessman Sait-Salam, was a State Duma deputy of the 3rd and 4th convocations (1999-2007). Mikhail Gutseriev himself is referred to as a “Russian entrepreneur, doctor of economic sciences, member of the board of directors of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs,” and to top it all, a member of the Writers' Union of Russia.

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Russian billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev

In other words: if you want to get rich “safely”, get a family law enforcement officer and, for bigger guarantees, a family politician, then you can register all of your wealth in the name of any member of your family. It becomes even easier if you are both a law enforcement officer and a politician. However, the hero of our story, Vasily Piskarev, is a "beggar" in comparison with the aforementioned Gutseriev. Nevertheless, his career in law enforcement agencies, and later - in the State Duma, became secured his comfortable existence and another proof of hypocrisy and corruption in the civil service.

State Duma’s chief corruption fighter

The 55-year-old native of the Kursk region, Vasily Piskarev, is not just a lawyer and an ordinary State Duma deputy from United Russia. He is a member of the high council of the party, chairman of the parliamentary committee on security and anti-corruption, co-chairman of the federal budget committee aimed at ensuring national defense, national security and law enforcement. Between 2008 and 2016, Vasily Piskarev was deputy chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, he wears epaulettes of a colonel general of justice and has a number of awards and honors in the law enforcement field.

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Vasily Piskarev

Those could be excellent prerequisites for being an effective head of the anti-corruption committee and aggressively fight corruption, without marring your name in indecent acts.

However, Vasily Ivanovich (as his position requires) does not mind “shining” in corruption-related crimes and often reminds his compatriots that he and his colleagues are not just sitting there behind their desks doing nothing, because the State Duma has passed more than a hundred laws aimed at the prevention of corruption offenses.

It is gratifying that according to those laws, it is now possible to dismiss an official for “loss of confidence” and even control their income after dismissal. It is surely a big step that a Russian official will no longer be able to have rights to foreign bank accounts and real estate, which, if detected, will be confiscated by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, and when dismissed for corruption, the public servant will automatically be added into a certain “black list”, which will make him unemployable in the civil service for life. We emphasize that all of the above methods of combating corruption are the brainchild of the Duma anti-corruption committee and directly its head Vasily Piskarev.

In addition, this May, Piskarev’s committee introduced a new law, according to which officials caught in corruption will not be able to avoid criminal liability by delaying investigative procedures. That is, no sick leave or vacation to abscond justice. Those seem like great initiatives and Vasily Piskarev seems to be an honest politician.

“For example, China does not have laws that would control the income of a fired official. Chinese have been discussing our legislative experience. We are supposed to have the most advanced anti-corruption legislation. At the moment, it meets all international standards,” he said during a session of the State Assembly of the Republic of Mordovia on August 26 this year.

“Never seen or heard about that!”

At the end of July of this year, a "landing" of 13 representatives of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office came to Mordovia to study the "family business" of Mordovian ex-head Nikolai Merkushkin, who was in the position from 1995 to 2012, after which he governed the Samara region until September 2017. What went wrong in the career of Merkushkin and his Family is a separate corruption story, which, we hope, the special commission of the Prosecutor General’s Office will tell us after the investigation is completed.

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Prosecutor checking Nikolai Merkushkin’s family

However, a search engine clarifies the situation in a funny way: according to the president of Russia, they wanted to make a monument of Nikolai Merkushkin in Saransk, but all the information relating to that has been deleted. 

It would seem that the ex-head of Mordovia, Vasily Piskarev, and the “active fighter” with corruption, should have nothing in common. Note that no direct links between the two officials have been found. Although Piskarev does have certain relations with Mordovia: in 2016, he became the deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation from the region, which, however, Merkushkin had stopped governing by that time. Therefore, we assume that Piskarev has a purely specialized, working relation to the so-called Merkushkin case, which, as it turned out, is indicative of his competence in the "field of corruption."

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Vasily Piskarev is a frequent visitor of Mordovia

When the Mordovian mass media asked Vasily Piskarev about the progress made by the special commission of the Prosecutor General’s Office that arrived in Mordovia, he said, “Of course, I know, I’ve heard that a commission of the Prosecutor General’s worked in the republic... I don’t know the details, you must face heard more than I have since you live here... You should redirect your question to the prosecutor of the republic, since we, State Duma deputies, are not the ones who organized the inspection or ran it.”

To the journalists' question, “Have you heard that the commission was reviewing the activities of the Family’s business?” Piskarev answered, “I don’t know, I don’t know, you know better. And you will know the findings, you are so active, so you will surely know everything before the others.” “Information surfaced that Vladimir Putin has ordered to deal with Merkushkin’s thing once and for all. Have you heard anything about that?” the press kept asking. “No, no, I haven’t heard anything!” answered the chief anti-corruption parliamentary, who had arrived in the region where a corruption investigation was being conducted against the former head.

The CrimeRussia has no comment on the matter, but Mordovian people sure do.

Bastrykin’s Augean Stables

It was a telegram channel called Futlyar Ot Violoncheli that revealed the information that Vasily Piskarev had received a 45-million-ruble apartment in the elite Green House residential complex located in a well-maintained Moscow forest park with a lake in the floodplain of the Ivnitsa River and an exit to Mozhayskoye Shosse as a gift from the President’s Administrative Office. He registered the real estate and a Land Rover Freelander on his family (in particular, a daughter). The channel has been bothering quite a few of Russian corrupt officials with its exposures.

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Green House, an upscale Moscow housing

For what exactly the chief anti-corruption fighter got such a gift, one can only guess. What does not surprise us is his decision to register the immovable property on a family member since it is a common practice among Russian officials. It is worth emphasizing that the State Duma’s Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption, headed by Piskarev, is responsible for introducing the bill on the prohibition of texts that harm the reputation of parliamentarians and other senior managers. In particular, the authors of the law propose obliging Roskomnadzor to block the entire publishing site within 24 hours after not deleting the "defamatory" information.

This must be the way that Vasily Piskarev is trying to clear the Russian internet from archival information related to him. But we know that the Internet archives are imperishable, and they are unlikely to burn out in Roskomnadzor’s fire.

It is known that, being from the prosecutor's office of the Vsevolozhsk district, Leningrad region, Vasily Piskarev made a long journey up the career path from a simple prosecutor to the deputy chairman of the IC of the Russian Federation, where he oversaw procedural issues and the organization of the investigation in the State Investigation Directorate for almost 8 years.

He did love the Leningrad region, which gave him a ticket to the Investigative Committee life. Therefore, in 2008, almost immediately after Alexander Bastrykin came, Piskarev terminated a criminal case of a forcible takeover of a number of enterprises in the region, which entailed an appeal to Bastrykin by the then Leningrad governor, Valery Serdyukov. It turned out that Tambovskaya gang was behind the forcible takeovers and its leader was Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin referred to as the “night governor”.

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Barsukov-Kumarin was the Tambovskaya leader

Barsukov-Kumarin was arrested back in 2007, and has since been imprisoned, while criminal cases against him for various new counts have been opened more than once since then. One of the more recent court hearings was held in March this year in the Kuybyshevsky District Court of St. Petersburg, which sentenced the former «night governor» to 24 years in a maximum-security penal colony and fined him one million rubles for creating an organized criminal community. In June 2019, the St. Petersburg City Court reduced his sentence by six months. Between the two meetings, last April, the FSB investigation service in St. Petersburg charged him with the murder of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova.

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Barsukov-Kumarin is in prison

Let’s go back to 2008, when Vasily Piskarev covered for Tambovskaya. We could draw a parallel with the ICR’s ties with Gennady Petrov, one of the Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya leaders, who competed with Barsukov-Kumarin’s Tambovskaya in the “dashing 90s”, eventually beheaded by the arrest of the leader. In addition to Petrov, Alexander Malyshev and Sergey Kuzmin are also considered Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya leaders.

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Alexander Malyshev and Gennady Petrov in 1992

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Sergey Kuzmin and Gennady Petrov with members of the Japanese Yakuza criminal group

According to reports, Gennady Petrov is a longtime friend of Alexander Bastrykin, who, allegedly, owes his current position to his friend. In addition, Petrov was a co-owner and holder of a large stake at Rossiya Bank.

Operation Troika, which began back in 2008, resulted in the National Judicial Collegium of Spain issuing an international arrest warrant for Gennady Petrov and Alexander Malyshev, as well as about 20 other Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya members who had settled in Spain. They were arrested on suspicion of laundering about 50 million euros through Spanish banks.

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Gennady Petrov’s arrest

After a year of imprisonment, Petrov was released, and managed to escape to Russia in 2012. Similarly, in 2015, Malyshev managed to escape from Spanish justice. It is believed that the Russian side agreed for a "double escape", because then the Spanish press got to mention some big names covering Russian mafia case. Among them were Alexander Bastrykin and his deputy chairman Igor Sobolevsky, as well as then-deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak, ministers German Gref, Anatoly Serdyukov, Viktor Zubkov, deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service Colonel-General Nikolai Aulov and others. It was allegedly through them that Petrov promoted his people to the power departments. By the way, Sobolevsky and Aulov were put on the international wanted list but Russia refused to extradite them. Sources from Petrov’s entourage report that Gennady Petrov, in addition to Igor Sobolevsky, was also associated with Vasily Piskarev, whose name miraculously avoided getting into the Spanish press.

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Alexander Bastrykin and his former deputies are associated with Tambovskaya-Malyshevskaya

In addition, the United Russia veteran Vasily Piskarev does not hide his friendship with the ex-governor of the Oryol region (September 2014 - October 2017), a communist, Vadim Potomsky, whom he first met in the Vsevolozhsk district of the Leningrad region, where they had some joint businesses. In turn, Potomsky’s sister was married to a Tambovskaya member named Ilya Parshuk, and Potomsky himself never really hid his friendship with vors.

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Oryol region ex-governor is a friend of Vasily Piskarev

Cherkizon and Lame Horse

While working in the Investigative Committee, Vasily Piskarev was also mentioned in the sensational 2009 criminal case of the Cherkizovsky market (Cherkizon). 6 thousand containers with $2-billion’s worth of smuggled goods were seized then, including those with health-hazardous children's goods. The Azerbaijani businessman Telman Ismailov was the Cherkizon owner.

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Cherkizovsky market owner, Telman Ismailov

Sources knowing about the aforementioned criminal case say that Telman Ismailov paid Piskarev a bribe in the amount of several million US dollars allegedly in order to avoid criminal liability, after which the activity of investigators with respect to Cherkizon decreased noticeably.

Even then, it was established N. A. Solovova, Piskarev’s special assistant, arranged his meeting with Ismailov, where they tried to change the course of the smuggling investigation. She regularly transmitted generous “gifts” in envelopes to her boss and was an intermediary between Piskarev and his partners from the territorial bodies of the ICR. However, no criminal measures were taken against Piskarev: he was not imprisoned, but the Cherkizovsky market, nevertheless, was demolished.

Since then, Ismailov’s affairs (he had, in addition to the Cherkizovsky market, many other businesses such as hotels, restaurants and private security companies), have begun to lose ground. In December 2015, by a decision of the Moscow Region Arbitration Court, Ismailov was declared bankrupt, becoming the first bankrupt from the Forbes’ list. Forbes estimated Ismailov’s fortune at $800 million in 2012.

It is also known that representatives of the owner of the Perm night club Lame Horse, Anatoly Zak, tried to negotiate with Vasily Piskarev for the release of the businessman from custody for 2 million euros. Piskarev took part of the money but he was unable to help after all. The reason for that was too wide a media coverage after the death of 156 people in a fire that broke out at Lame Horse in December 2009. Therefore, Piskarev had to return the deposit of 700 thousand euros to Anatoly Zak’s men.

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Anatoly Zak tried to get out of jail for a bribe

In April 2013, the Leninsky District Court of Perm sentenced Zak to 9 years and 10 months in prison. In November 2016, he tried to get released on parole, however, the Segezha City Court of Karelia, and later the Supreme Court of Karelia, refused his request. However, at the beginning of last September, Zak still managed to get a release after his term was recalculated according to the law where a day and a half in a pre-trial detention center equals a day in prison.

Based on the foregoing, a question arises as to why would a person with such an impressive corruption history not only keep avoiding prosecution but even oversee the anti-corruption sector in the State Duma? Of course, as Mayakovsky put it, if a star is lit, someone must need it. But you have to agree that a notorious corrupt official as the chief fighter against corruption is more than one could bear. Although, given the high-ranking names we have mentioned in conjunction with Vasily Piskarev, the current Russian lay of the land is what it has been for ages.

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