Inquest against ICR General Ekaterina Gilina to follow to its logical end?
Seasoned jurist Stanislav Belyansky has been put in charge of the troubled Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) a year ago. However, many people are still skeptical about the appointee from the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District – not because of his poor performance, but because all his predecessors were criminally prosecuted. The four previous Heads of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region of the ICR were either under suspicion or investigation.
Fire under the chair
The last scandal involving the head of the regional investigative authority has hit the headlines – investigators, outraged by the behavior of Ekaterina Gilina, have openly rebelled and submitted an open letter to Anton Vaino, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, and Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the ICR. The officers complained of shocking violations and even extortion of money from them. Ekaterina Gilina has been promptly transferred to St. Petersburg; currently, she quietly continues her service in the local investigations directorate without drawing public attention. One can say that she has got off cheaply (for now).
In 2007–2009, bright, charismatic, and attractive Konstantin Karasev was in charge of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region of the ICR. He has attracted the attention of law enforcement structures in 2009, after helping his friend, General Director of Nika Limited Liability Company, to win governmental contracts to renovate buildings of the ICR branches in the Novgorod region and Valdai district.
Later it became known that the works were not performed properly. The departments were not really renovated, while Karasev has forced his accounting office to sign the work acceptance certificates and signed those himself. By the time of the exposure of this fraud, General Director of Nika Limited Liability Company was already dead, but it was found that Karasev has received from him a luxury two-level apartment with a total living space of 126 square meters as a ‘kickback’. The company supposed to perform the large-scale renovations consisted of only 5 persons – director, accounting office, driver, and janitor. Migrant workers were retained to perform the renovations – they rubbed out here, gave a lick of paint there, and that’s it. The government has paid Nika Limited Liability Company 3.499 million rubles ($56.6 thousand) for this slopwork.
According to the investigation, the actual cost of works performed in the Investigations Department in the Valdai District was 600 thousand rubles ($9.7 thousand) – while Nika has received 2.5 million rubles ($40.4 thousand). The cost of works in the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region was 1.191 million rubles ($19.2 thousand), while the winner of the tender has received 3.5 million rubles ($56.6 thousand) from the budget.
The investigators did their best to find out where have the public funds gone. Two dummy companies – recipients of the money – were identified, but the General Director of Nika has already died by that time, and it was impossible to find out whether he had shared the revenues with somebody or not. In the absence of direct evidence against Konstantin Karasev, he was charged under part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (exceeding official powers) and went to a penal colony for former enforcement officers. The court hasn’t deprived Karasev of his generalship and state awards.
The next Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region has nearly shared the fate of his predecessor. He was in charge of the regional investigative agency for only two years – from 2010 to 2011. After becoming the Head of the Detention Center for Foreign Citizens and Persons without Citizenship of the Administration for the Novgorod Region of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, Viktor Smolsky was charged with a similar offense. A prosecutor’s audit of the recent renovation has shown that RemStroyMontazh Limited Liability Company had performed a capital renovation of the detention center at its own expense and then won a governmental tender for the already-completed works. A criminal case was instituted against Viktor Smolsky under part 1 of Article 285 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of official powers). Fortunately for the investigator, he has been included in the amnesty in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, and his criminal case was closed.
Valery Simkin, another Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region, was luckier than his two predecessors. He was just dismissed and avoided further troubles. Simkin was in charge of the agency from 2011 to 2014. After his termination, the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region was audited by the central ICR headquarters. It became known that Simkin was personally dismissed by Alexander Bastyrkin after a brief conversation in the office of the ICR Chairman. The reason behind this staffing decision was a criminal case pertaining to the death of the husband of retiree Vera Belokurova – who managed to step up to Bastyrkin because of the ‘miracles’ happening in the course of that investigation. Later a criminal case has been instituted against Vasily Dan’kov, Senior Investigator of the Investigations Department in the Borovichi District of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region, for official forgery and exceedance of official powers. No more information on that criminal case is available.
But the scandal with Ekaterina Gilina was the most high-profile one and involved most grievous charges. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, the rebellious investigators have submitted a complaint about illegal institution of framed-up criminal cases, despotism, and manipulations with attestations, appointments, and re-attestations. In addition, criminal cases were often handled by people not employed officially with the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region. The female general did not care much about the presence of ‘ghost employees’ in the agency. Furthermore, Gilina was ‘milking’ her subordinates to collect enough money to pay fines imposed on her by Andrei Kikot, Prosecutor of the Novgorod Region. The amount of these ‘levies’ had reached 300 thousand rubles ($4.8 thousand).
Kikot, who is currently a Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, had continuously struggled against the white-collar crime and followed this crusade to its logical end – as a result of the prosecutor’s audits, Governor Sergei Mitin lost the trust of the Presidential Executive Office and was terminated. It is rumored that Ekaterina Gilina, ex-Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region of the ICR, had close ties with Sergei Mitin.
On March 22, 2017, Andrei Kikot, then-Prosecutor of the Novgorod Region, has been appointed one of the 13 deputies of Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, while Ekaterina Gilina became a deputy of Aleksander Klaus, Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg.
The Prosecutor General’s Office tried to follow the inquest to its logical end – Viktor Grin, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, has requested Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the ICR, to institute a criminal case against Gilina. However, she was just transferred to a new position. Some sources believe that the new post of Andrei Kikot enables him to get a win against Ekaterina Gilina – although no indications of continuing struggle can currently be seen.
Not a day of Novgorod
Stanislav Belyansky has been put in charge of the Investigations Directorate in the Novgorod Region of the ICR a year ago. No scandals had marred the troubled agency since then. It is known that prior to his departure, Andrei Kikot has asked Stanislav Belyansky to “follow the procedural audit to its logical end” – i.e. uncover all the deeds of his predecessor Ekaterina Gilina. However, no outcomes of this audit are known so far.
Little is known about Stanislav Belyansky aside from the official information. Our sources in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District believe that his transfer to the Novgorod region was a difficult but very efficient staffing decision. Belyansky reportedly was a henchman of Arkady Syngaevsky, ex-Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District, dismissed by the President in February 2017. His termination was caused by an unstable management situation amid an intradepartmental war. According to some information, the control over regional ICR directorates was at stake and the clan supported by the boss of Stanislav Belyansky has suffered a devastating defeat. Syngaevsky was terminated, and very few of his subordinates, apart from lucky Belyansky, managed to avoid serious troubles.
In fact, the official quietness in the offices of Novgorod investigators is deceptive. It can’t be ruled out old simmering scandals take new twists in the next six months. It is not a secret that all administrative decisions are used in the ongoing standoff between the ICR and Prosecutor General’s Office. Who is going to become the final beneficiary of the high-profile scandal in the Novgorod region?