Conspiracy of silence and criminal mayhem in Kursk police
One of the declared goals of the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) triumphantly launched – and spectacularly failed – by Minister Rashid Nurgaliev was the transparency of the police and clampdown on concealment of crimes committed by the servicemen. For fairness' sake, it is necessary to note that the ex-Minister has done a lot in this sphere. Many shameful facts were publicized instead of sweeping them under the rug. But the former officer of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has finally left the office – and the corporate solidarity and conspiracy of silence became the main priorities of the MIA again.
As a result, it is what it is. Law enforcement generals take every effort to hide information compromising their subordinates and potentially affecting their own careers.
For instance, plenty of unpleasant facts about the MIA General Administration for the Kursk Region have popped-up recently. At the first glance, these facts are unrelated – but together, they vividly illustrate the enormous level of corruption plaguing the Kursk police.
The first story occurred in 2013. Its beginning was broadly discussed in the media – but not the details and final. In the course of the reconstruction of an old private home inherited by him, Kursk resident Aleksander Snegirev discovered a hoard of gold coins. After a conversation with officers of the operational and search division of the municipal police, Snegirev brought the coins to a police department of the MIA Administration for the City of Kursk and surrendered to the state – expecting to get the reward stipulated in the legislation. But it was not to be. First, ordinary coins were recognized items of cultural value that must be surrendered for the benefit of the state. It is still unknown how much had received officials of the local history museum for this ‘expert assessment’.
An independent expert assessment ripped the first one to pieces: the coins were of mass minting, there were no unique ones, and the treasury had no historical value. Still, the court has delivered an unprecedented verdict: the second expert assessment does not annul the results of the first one, and the coins must be delivered to the Federal Government Institution "State Institution on Formation of the State Fund of Precious Metals and Precious Stones of the Russian Federation, Storage, Release and Use of Precious Metals and Precious Stones (Gokhran of Russia)” under the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. In fact, such a decision resembles not a legitimate judgment – but an embezzlement on an especially large scale committed by a group of persons exceeding their official powers. The Kursk resident, being not a wealthy person, was severely upset by this verdict. However, Snegirev still expected to receive at least 50% of the cost of the treasure: he was entitled to 25% for its discovery, while his wife was entitled to 25% as the owner of the land where it was found. Too bad, the gold disappeared en route from the Kursk police to Gokhran: the financiers received only screws and wrenches.
No updates on this case were available for a long time, but just recently, it became known that the Kursk resident has recovered 2 million rubles ($31.3 thousand) for the ‘lost' treasury from the Ministry of Finance through court action, while the investigation was put on hold due to the absence of suspects.
Operatives of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) having corruption ties with the supreme command of the MIA Administration for the City of Kursk had initially charged the master sergeant of the police department with theft because he allegedly was responsible for the hard evidence storage room where the gold was kept. Somehow, they forgot that this room is controlled by two persons – and even if the master sergeant were the thief, he could not enter the room without the second keeper. It is highly unlikely that a police officer was able to forge somebody else’s seal on the storage room door and open the compartment with coins – sealed and signed by witnesses – without leaving any traces. The second keeper could not steal the coins, too – because he has only one key to the storage room. No one – including investigators and operatives – would be allowed to play with lock picks in the police department, even during the night duty.
Concurrently, the investigation ignored an interesting aspect: according to information possessed by The CrimeRussia (it cannot be verified – but describes the events in detail), the treasury was taken from the police department not by an investigator or operative – but by lieutenant colonel Sergei Bulgakov, Deputy Head of the Logistics Service of the MIA Administration for the City of Kursk. No one can say why was this task assigned to him. The only explanation is corruption – the Logistics Service has nothing to do with procedural actions. And most importantly: the gold worth over 4 million rubles ($62.7 thousand) and allegedly having cultural value was sent to Moscow neither by the guard mail nor with couriers – but by regular mail as an insured box.
This made it possible to claim that “the coins could be stolen en route”. However, our sources in the Investigations Directorate in the Kursk Region of the ICR suspect the supreme commanders of the Kursk police of the theft – they could order the Deputy Head of the Logistics Service to pick up the coins to make him the scapegoat (and possibly share with him a small portion of the loot). The criminal case was instituted under part 1 of Article 164 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (stealing of objects of exceptional value), which is nonsense – because such a crime could not be committed by one person and falls under part 2 of Article 164 of the Criminal Code (stealing of objects of exceptional value committed by a group of persons by previous concert). It requires careful planning and assistance ‘from inside’.
The task of the investigation team seemed to be pretty simple – an officer of the Logistics Service is not a tough guy; no one would defend him in case of arrest. So, it was necessary just to remand him in custody and offer to tell the truth in exchange for a lesser punishment. After spending some time in a prison cell, Sergei Bulgakov would probably tell everything about the theft and his accomplices. But the Investigations Directorate in the Kursk Region of the ICR and MIA Department for Internal Security have taken a different tactic clearly showing that no one was really interested in the solution of this crime.
The second story is even more outrageous. Its sole participant and perpetrator is Svetlana Mashkina, Head of the Investigation Division of the Seimsky Police Department of the MIA Administration for the City of Kursk. She was one of the favorites of general Grigory Kulik dismissed in disgrace recently; he had even made an example of her to others.
Colonel of justice Mashkina had never made a secret of her passion for money. She has contracted numerous loans in various banking institutions happy to serve such a high-profile customer. Over time, the creditors realized that Mashkina is not going to repay the debts. No one dared to send collectors to the police department. The credit history of the female colonel includes unpaid electronic appliances purchased on credit and loans received from several organizations.
Seimsky Police Department
Furthermore, Mashkina had borrowed money from her subordinates – without an intention to return the debts. At some point, no one was willing to lend her a penny – neither banks, nor colleagues, nor microfinance organizations. As a result, Svetlana Dmitrievna started stealing cash seized as hard evidence. To do so, she was forging cover documents: onsite inspection reports, search records, seizure protocols, etc. She made a blunder on some petty thing – protecting our source, we cannot disclose it. As a result, the FSB launched an inquest against the investigator. In this particular case, the FSB operatives, acting jointly with the MIA Department for Internal Security (that was absolutely helpless after the theft of the gold coins), have collected hard evidence quickly and efficiently. A criminal case was instituted against Mashkina under several Articles of the Criminal Code. One of her bosses in the MIA General Administration for the Kursk Region saved the lady from immediate arrest to protect his own career.
But the most important is that Mashkina, with her service record and pathological greed, had actively ‘traded' criminal cases by instituting framed-up proceedings against innocent people and relieving knowingly guilty persons from criminal liability. Take, for instance, a criminal case against businessman Mikhail Zhemchugov initiated based on administrative reasons, multi-episode case against former owners of Ryshkovsky Brick Factory (some Lomov and other persons), a number of car accidents with fatalities, etc. Mashkina could not act alone and ‘settle' such issues without the assistance of the Head of the Police Department and Chief of the Criminal Police. The moral portrait of one of her bosses, Valentin Bukolov, was described in detail in our earlier material dedicated to the organized criminal group led by Dmitry Volobuev. It is hard to imagine that such a person was not involved in the schemes pulled off by Mashkina.
It is necessary to note that the arrest of Mashkina gives the FSB and ICR an opportunity to finally catch a ‘big fish’ – in exchange for her liberty, the former investigator may share plenty of valuable information with the operatives.
The third story clearly explains why all high-profile arrests of and inquests against police functionaries are carried out in the region either by the FSB or subdivisions of the Department of Criminal Investigation and Department for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption (as it was with the exposure of Kursk Police Chief Nikolai Zaitsev).
The reason is simple; it illustrates the degradation of the MIA Department of Internal Security in the Kursk Region.
Up until recently, police lieutenant colonel Valery Inozemtsev had served in the Operations and Search Division of Internal Security of the MIA General Administration for the Kursk Region. He had a drinking problem. Sometimes, he and his wife – investigator Zhanna Inozemtseva (she was also mentioned in our inquest into operations of the gang led by Volobui) – were drinking beer with drug Aseptolin.
In summer 2018, the couple had a walk, drank too much alcohol, and pierced through a private boat moored on the Seim River near a riverside cafe in the course of a drunken conflict with its owner. Husband and wife Inozemtsev have pierced the boat not accidentally – but on purpose and demonstratively. For a year, the owner of the destroyed vessel had camped on the doorsteps of the regional police and investigations directorate of the ICR encountering the ‘corporate solidarity’ everywhere – even though the incident was registered in the Crime Notification Logbook, a police patrol was dispatched to the scene, and the victim had a video record of the crime.
However, all efforts were in vain. Nobody was willing to institute a criminal case for destruction of property. Only after the victim's visit to Moscow, husband and wife Inozemtsev were fired from the MIA. Zhanna Inozemtseva was permitted to resign voluntarily – and currently, she is trying to get a job in one of the municipal police departments. But still, no one is going to prosecute the offenders.
For many years, the Department for Internal Security of the MIA General Administration for the Kursk Region had not solved any high-profile crimes. Initially, Evgeny Sigarev – convicted for embezzlement of monetary funds from the Federal Migration Service – was in charge of this department. Then Vitaly Kazakov – dependent on local police functionaries Ledovskikh and Minenkov – was appointed its head. Kazakov had turned a blind eye to all deeds of the supreme police commanders; after the termination, he joined the team of the Trubadurov family – local ‘kings of governmental contracts’.
Vitaly Kazakov, ex-Head of the Department for Internal Security of the MIA General Administration for the Kursk Region
His former subordinates occupy all key positions in the Department for Internal Security and cover-up each other in ‘delicate’ situations. The incident involving Inozemtsev was not a single such episode. For instance, police major Andrei Ponomarenko was fired for mishandling of materials and facts (although avoided criminal prosecution under Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (exceeding official powers)). Officers Kokorev (involved in shady stories with public property), Charukhin, and Aleksander Semykin, ‘right hand’ of Vitaly Kazakov, were terminated as well. All of them have luckily escaped punishment. The last operative of the Department for Internal Security prosecuted in Kursk was Andrei Kazakov, a namesake of colonel Kazakov: in 2011, he was convicted for intentionally making false statements in court.
It is no wonder that criminal mayhem is ongoing under the supervision of such ‘specialists'.
It is necessary to note that the crimes involving police officers (for instance, drunken shooting and threats to children by expert Yuri Shevelev) and widely publicized in the media are not necessarily the most interesting cases. In fact, Shevelev is an ordinary hooligan, and the ICR has all required evidence for his prosecution. By contrast, the episodes concealed by ‘rogue cops' from the general public are of utmost interest.