Supreme Court overturns arrest of businessman Mark Bronovsky accused of creating criminal group
The decision was made after the intervention of the ECHR, which received a complaint about violations committed against the entrepreneur.
The Supreme Court of Russia overturned the decisions of the courts of St. Petersburg on the confinement of businessman Mark Bronovsky, who has dual citizenship of the Russian Federation and the United States and is accused of embezzling 900 million rubles ($13.5 m) from the budget, Kommersant reports. Bronovsky’s arrest has been extended since 2014. The defense of the entrepreneur was able to achieve the abolition of his arrest due to the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights, where a complaint about violations of Art. 5 of the European Convention (Right to liberty and security) was filed in late 2015.
Bronovsky was detained in February 2014 in St. Petersburg on charges of Swindling on an especially large scale (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code). Then the court refused to satisfy the petition for the arrest of the entrepreneur. Then, according to the lawyer of the businessman Konstantin Kuzminykh, a criminal case was initiated on Creation of a Criminal Community (part 1 of Art. 210 of the Criminal Code), in the framework of which the investigation again asked the court to arrest the businessman. This time the petition was granted. Following this, the cases of swindling and creation of a criminal community were merged into one proceeding.
According to the investigation, the businessman's crime group was engaged in illegal VAT refunds through about 40 shell firms. The nominal managers of these companies filed VAT refunds on fictitious transactions with the tax offices. In addition to creating a criminal community, the defendants are charged with fraud worth about 430 million rubles ($6.4 m) and attempted fraud of a similar amount. At present, this case is being considered by the Primorsky District Court of St. Petersburg. Bronovsky himself denies his guilt.
In the complaint to the ECHR, the businessman pointed out the groundlessness of his lengthy (more than four years) incarceration and the illegality of the court’s decision to arrest him after the court initially denied it to the investigation. Bronovsky also referred to violations of Art. 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, which obliges the investigation to present the accused with all the materials of the criminal case 30 days before the expiration of the maximum term of custody. According to the lawyer of the entrepreneur, this requirement of the law was not fulfilled by the investigation.
In February 2018, the ECHR found a violation of Art. 5 and Art. 3 (Prohibition of torture) of the European Convention and collected 17.9 thousand euros in favor of Bronovsky from the Russian Federation. Based on this decision, the Supreme Court of Russia the other day overturned the decisions of the courts of St. Petersburg on keeping the businessman in custody since 2014 as unfounded. The motivational part of the decision is not currently made, so it is not known on what arguments such conclusions are based.
Lawyer Konstantin Kuzminykh called the case of his client an example of the fact that the judicial system has an accusatory bias in choosing a measure of restraint in the form of arrest and its extension. According to the statistics of the judicial department at the Supreme Court, 90% of the requests for arrests and 98% of the applications for the extension of their periods are granted annually in Russia, the lawyer said.
Kuzminykh added that his client can count not only on compensation by the decision of the ECHR, which was paid to him in the autumn of 2018. “He was unreasonably kept in the detention center for more than four years, was deprived of the opportunity to manage his business, suffered significant losses that exceed the compensation assigned by the ECHR.” The businessman himself, who is currently under house arrest, has not yet decided whether to go to court.
Every big Russian city has ‘untouchable' people who are beyond the reach of the law enforcement authorities – generals, judges, mayors, etc. Despite overwhelming evidence sufficient to prosecute them, such persons cannot be busted without authorization from the federal center. There is also another type of corrupt officials: their deeds are well-known – but these people are so generous, hospitable, and understanding that no one is willing to arrest them.