Confessions of St. Petersburg's ex-Vice Governor: Who had paid to whom and how much
In a couple of months, St. Petersburg City Court is about to start examining a high-profile case pertaining to huge embezzlements committed during the construction of Zenit Arena. The primary suspect – Marat Oganesyan, ex-Vice Governor of St. Petersburg – has made a plea deal and testified against his accomplices. Sources believe that they are the true target of the investigation team.
From the very beginning, the criminal case against Marat Oganesyan seemed to have poor evidential base. Everybody understood that the investigation team had no real base. The duration of the investigation confirms this as well – one year seems too much to solve one criminal episode. According to The CrimeRussia sources, all these irregularities indicate that the investigation needed the names of accomplices. The ex-Vice Governor of St. Petersburg had no choice but to make a plea deal because after his political downfall, the criminal bosses of Oganesyan stopped supporting him. As a result, the defense failed to convince the court to release the ex-Vice Governor under home arrest.
Marat Oganesyan had worked in the Smolny Palace since 2013 and until 2015. He was responsible for the construction sector. Oganesyan was involved into several high-profile scandals, including the construction of the second stage for the Mariinsky Theatre, restoration of Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theater, amendments to the Master Plan, etc. But Governor Georgy Poltavhchenko had retained this construction expert primarily to complete Zenit Arena stadium.
It is necessary to note that the repentance of the former Vice Governor was truly surprising amid the lengthy silence. The sources believe though that this silence was delusive. In the last few months, the investigation activities were very intense. Making plea deals requires more than just admitting the guilt and giving required testimonies. The investigation team must verify the new information and after its confirmation, the criminal case against the defendant may be examined prejudicially. Based on the known facts, the motion to make a plea agreement has been brought by the defense for Oganesyan on October 11. This means that all this time, the investigators were listening to ‘revelations’ of the official, while other special services were actively gathering information pertaining to persons named by him.
Long-delayed Zenit Arena stadium
The law enforcement authorities had purely academic interest to Marat Oganesyan. The ‘who paid to whom and how much’ scheme was of much greater interest for them. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, in addition to questionable construction ventures in St. Petersburg, the functionary had, in fact, orchestrated raiding takeovers of profitable governmental contracts. Of course, such actions could not be performed without assistance of some high-ranked St. Petersburg officials.
As far back as a year ago, sources had named people from the Committee for Construction and ‘inner circle’ of Valentina Matvienko, the ex-Governor of St. Petersburg, among the potential accomplices in the embezzlements of funds during the construction of Zenit Arena.
In the period of 2004–2010, Oganesyan was the Head of Soglasie (Accord) State Corporation that included several construction and IT enterprises. Its best known projects were: the Moscow International Business Center “Moscow City” and reconstruction of historical buildings in the Moscow Kremlin. Then Marat Oganesyan was the Head of the Directorate for Construction, Reconstruction, and Restoration Federal State Institution of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. In 2011, he worked in the Northwestern Directorate for Construction, Reconstruction, and Restoration. In 2013, was appointed Vice Governor of St. Petersburg for Construction. In fact, he was controlling operations of the Committee for Construction, Committee for Transport Infrastructure Development, Committee for State Control, Use, and Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments, Committee for Investments, Governmental Construction Supervision and Expertise Service, and Committee for Urban Planning and Architecture. After the scandal with the video recorded in Bochka (Barrel) restaurant in 2015 (a person resembling Oganesyan was spotted on a thieves’ congregation in the center of Moscow), Oganesyan had to leave this post. Later he was a Vice President of Rossiisky Capital Bank and supervised construction projects of SU-155 company.
The names of people to be questioned by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation in the nearest future have been recently announced. Media reported that Marat Oganesyan has testified against Aleksander Yanchik, the ex-First Deputy Chairman of the St. Petersburg Committee for Construction, and Grigory Popov, Director of Alexandrinsky Theatre. According to some information, the investigators have also obtained testimonies against Vitaly Mutko and Vice Governor Igor Albin. There is nothing surprising in the name of Aleksander Yanchik, but the two last figures make this story truly intriguing.
In fact, rumors about Vitaly Mutko’s venality had circulated among football fans for a while, but the appearance of Vice Governor Igor Albin in this criminal case was absolutely unexpected. After the resignation of Oganesyan, he has undertaken the overwhelming task to complete long-delayed Zenit Arena. As a result, all the negative emotions pertaining to the notorious construction projects have fallen on him – not on the true perpetrator. It is premature though to write him off. According to the sources, the investigators have been reviewing his staffing structure and personnel for a few months already. This inquest has resulted in a visit to Aleksei Zolotov, his chief of staff, searches, and institution of a criminal case. Some experts see criminal background in that case, while others consider it politically charged.
The investigation has got testimonies against Vitaly Mutko and Igor Albin...
...as well as against Grigory Popov and Aleksander Yanchik
As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, in 2016, Albin had reported corrupt practices of his boss – Governor Georgy Poltavhchenko – to the Kremlin on a regular basis. Not only does Igor Albin like publicity, but he also wants to run for the governor’s seat as a hero of the masses. Political experts believe, however, that his chances to become the governor are negligible after the story with cormorants. Furthermore, at some point, the amount of denunciations has likely exceeded the certain level and the national leadership decided that Albin should not attend some important events. Therefore, the testimonies of Oganesyan would be very useful to punish Albin for silly denunciations. Oganesyan has nothing to lose – he has been charged under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the plea deal is his only chance to avoid spending up to 10 years behind bars. In addition, the ICR has ‘in the sleeve’ another criminal case against him – the one pertaining to a bribe in the amount of 20 million rubles ($337.9 thousand). Overall, the perspective to end up in a penal colony for a long period of time, seems pretty real for Oganesyan. It is quite possible that the testimony against Albin was a part of his plea deal. Only searches and arrests would lift the veil on this story. In any event, the situation should clarify before the elections in 2018.
Minister of the Chechen Republic for National Policy, Dzhambulat Umarov, noted that there are a huge number of cases all over Russia, when people, wearing camouflage uniforms, do "not very plausible things."
Today, St. Petersburg tensely awaits two important political events for the city. Election of the governor and the rotation of the heads of power structures. The prosecutor of the city Sergey Litvinenko is again named the first in the line of generals. The CrimeRussia is trying to find out whether there are any compelling reasons for this.