Center of Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria lawyers complain to Bastrykin about criminal prosecution

Center of Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria lawyers complain to Bastrykin about criminal prosecution
Sergey Chvarkov Photo: Kommersant

Main prosecution witness retracted his confessions, saying that they were obtained under pressure.

The defense of former Head of the Russian Center of Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria, General Sergey Chvarkov has appealed to ICR Chairman Alexander Bastrykin with a request to investigate the validity of his criminal prosecution on charges of Swindling on an especially large scale (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code), Kommersant reports. Lawyers have found out that the criminal case against the general was initiated without a statement and the injured party, and the main prosecution witness retracted his confessions, saying that they were obtained under pressure. The legality of the prosecution will be also assessed by the military court, with which the defense has appealed against the investigation’s actions.  

The criminal case against Chvarkov was initiated in October 2018. A week later, an indictment was filed against the general. At the request of the investigation, the Moscow Garrison Military Court elected a preventive measure in the form of a ban on certain actions for him: Chvarkov escaped arrest, but is only allowed to have short walks. The scientific activity of the general, who holds the post of deputy chief of the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Federation (VAGSh), and is also a member of the presidium of the Academy of Military Sciences, the scientific council under the Security Council of the Russian Federation, and the Club of military leaders of Russia, has become impossible. 

The investigation theory is that Chvarkov and “unidentified persons” committed machinations during the period from January, 2016, to December, 2017, when representatives of the General staff were providing defense research support to development and engineering works - Graduate of the General Staff Academy. These works were being performed for the Ministry of Defense by NPO RusBITekh OAO within the contract worth of 484 million rubles ($7.3 million). The investigation found out that cash payment vouchers for payment of wages to employees of the Academy were made in the office of NPO RusBITekh OAO. After that, the employees headed to the General Staff Academy with envelopes with cash inside. Employees of the Academy were supposed to get their money as wages there, however it was stolen by officials of the General Staff Academy and NPO RusBITekh OAO. The military investigation department of the Investigative Committee believes the malefactors led by Chvarkov stole at least 6.4 million rubles ($97 thousand) this way. The general’s defense does not deny the possible violations, however states he has nothing in common with them.

The investigation concluded - on the basis of testimonial evidence of an employee of the General Staff Academy - that Chvarkov had been involved in theft. He was responsible for accompanying support of the government contract from the Academy’s side. The witness stated the general was the author of the fraudulent scheme, and the majority of funds could go to him. When confronted with him, he subsequently stated he had wrong-footed Chvarkov under constraint. Another witness reported he had handed sealed envelopes from NPO RusBITekh OAO to Chvarkov; he believed those had been money or documents. However, the witness does not know for sure what was inside: he never opened them. The third witness, a representative of the Academy, stated he had signed cash payment vouchers at the order of the general. However, criminalistics handwriting examination found out the signs had not been made by the witness, but by an unknown person who had tried to imitate his handwriting. The defense states these and other circumstances give reason to believe the witnesses could misinform the investigation to evade responsibility by shuffling off the blame on to Chvarkov.

The lawyers of the General also note that, in accordance with the requirements of the legislation, the case should have been initiated at the request of the injured party, but there was no such party. Thus, the prosecution of Chvarkov is illegal, the defense believes. According to the lawyers, only the customer and the holders of the state contract could act as victims. However, according to the final act of acceptance of the research and development work VAGSh Graduate, signed by the representative of the Ministry of Defense and the General Director of NPO RusBITekh JSC, all works were performed in accordance with the contract terms. The customer acting by the Ministry of Defense has no comments on the quality, volume and deadlines for the performance of works.

The defense asked Bastrykin, noting his “irreconcilable position in defending the rights and legitimate interests of citizens,” to study the criminal case of Chvarkov and check the legality of the procedural decisions made in it, and based on the results of the inspection, instruct to stop the prosecution of the General for lack of evidence.

Chvarkov’s lawyers also filed a complaint with the Moscow Garrison Military Court. Pointing, among other things, to the facts set forth in the appeal to the Chairman of the ICR, they asked to recognize the decision of the investigator for particularly important cases of the Military Investigative Directorate on initiating criminal proceedings to be illegal and unreasonable. The trial is to begin on January 28.

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