"Police arrived – no equipment, seals are broken, doors open". Collapse of criminal case against Deputy Lilia Derzhavina 

"Police arrived – no equipment, seals are broken, doors open". Collapse of criminal case against Deputy Lilia Derzhavina
The ‘cigarette case' instituted against the Deputy and her spouse was terminated Photo: The CrimeRussia

Some topics raised by The CrimeRussia start living their own lives after the publication. For instance, this happened with our material published in February 2019 and entitled "Hush up criminal corpse, to trade in counterfeit goods. How do defendants in criminal cases get into power?".

That article was dedicated inter alia to criminal operations of Lilia Derzhavina, a Deputy of the Kursk Legislative Assembly.

To refresh background: in August 2013, the Seimsky Police Department has instituted against Derzhavina a criminal case No. 9616 under part 2 of Article 327 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (forgery, manufacture, or sale of falsified documents, government awards, stamps, seals, and forms). The Deputy was caught in the use of fake excises for counterfeit tobacco production. After the institution of this criminal case, operatives of the Department for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the Administration for the Kursk Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation have caught Lilia Derzhavina-Rashidova and her husband, Boris Rashidov, in the production of counterfeit cigarettes several more times. These facts are evidenced by entries No. 15866 and 15864 made on October 30, 2013 and October 31, 2013 in the Crime Reports Registration Book of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region (The CrimeRussia possesses these documents). The institution of criminal proceedings against Derzhavina is recorded under No. 326511 in the operative card catalogue of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region.

According to The CrimeRussia source in the law enforcement authorities, the spouses managed to escape criminal liability.

The evidence collected in the framework of this criminal case disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Our source provided details of this story.

"After nearly six months of hesitation, I decided to tell about this case – I had witnessed the events described in your article about Kursk officials and Deputies. I was glad to read about Lilia Derzhavina-Rashidova – currently, she is a Deputy from Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia) Party. I was not aware of this prior to reading your journalistic investigation. I could not imagine such an impudence. I felt insulted – for the country in general and for the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region in particular. I know what ‘wonder' has enabled that lady and her husband to get off the hook. To be clear, I am going to describe the situation from the very beginning.

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Spouses Rashidov had been making money on tobacco in our region for a while. They launched this ‘business' in 2011 and established a true tobacco factory behind the territory of a former bakery plant on Engelsa street. They had counterfeited cheap sorts of cigarettes – Prima, Astra, etc. It is easier to falsify those – less control from the producers. In addition, people using such brands are unpretentious. They were making good money on that.

I don't know who had covered them up in that period. They have attracted the attention of the police in early 2013. The region was overflowed with counterfeit cigarettes. It was not difficult to identify their producers – because the volumes of the counterfeit stuff were very high.

The counterfeiters have placed the work on a broad footing. To minimize the costs, they have purchased a special vacuum pump to process pressed tobacco veins – i.e. peeled ‘skeletons' of leaves. This raw material is very cheap. They were loading the vacuum pump with it – and tobacco veins burst from inside. As a result, their particles resembled finely chopped ‘real' tobacco. This shit was used to make cigarettes. The workshop was located on Engelsa street, not far from the Kursk Plant of Tractor Parts. It was heavily guarded by a private security company belonging to Mikhail Kolaev, ex-Head of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region. As said above, they had produced cheap sorts of cigarettes – but planned to expand the assortment. They have installed equipment to counterfeit Parliament, Winston, and other expensive brands. In other words, they got out of line. So, this ‘manufacture' attracted the attention of operatives of the Department for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption. The probe was carried out properly. Plenty of important facts were documented and recorded. The operational and search bureau was engaged. The arriving and departing trucks were photographed. Their approximate loads were estimated by the height of the vehicles. License plates and faces were recorded. The routes, sales channels, and outlets were tracked. The operatives have even established that there was a technologist in the workshop – a woman from Ukraine overseeing the production process. The ‘arrest of the century' was in preparation; police general Potapov, then-Head of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, had personally controlled that case.

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The operation failed for two reasons. The first one was hastiness – for the sake of better statistics, it was carried out in a hurry. The second reason, in my opinion, was trivial corruption. Without it, everything could be done properly, in accordance with the law.

Operative Sergeev was in charge of the operation. He engaged SWAT troopers and completely blocked all escape routes. Some 20 illegal migrant workers from Uzbekistan were detained during the storm. Equipment worth millions of rubles was seized. Many important details were omitted due to the hastiness – but the obtained evidence was still sufficient. The missing details could be collected afterwards. Police colonel A.V. Sidnevets, a deputy of Potapov, was happy with such a success. The vacuum camera for tobacco veins bursting alone was like a room in size. The equipment was removed in pieces. But then the second reason has interfered.

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The investigation put the seized equipment to the warehouse belonging to the customs service and located on Magistralny road in Kursk for storage. Everything was sealed, disassembled for transportation, and ready for expert assessments and presentation to the court as hard evidence. The production of the mini-plant was stored in the Police Department No. 6 of the City of Kursk – several garage boxes were loaded with boxes full of cigarettes. Then weird things started happening.

First, the machinery disappeared from the customs warehouse. Police arrived – no equipment, seals are broken, doors open. A probe was launched to find out who is responsible for this – and no guilty parties were identified. It turned out that the warehouse hadn't belonged to the customs service – it was just located nearby. No safe custody contracts were signed. The equipment just vanished in thin air. The police addressed the investigators who had instituted the criminal case immediately after the storm. The investigators started playing fools and making helpless gestures. Although it is clear that they were involved in that disappearance. They have chosen the storage place for the seized evidence. It was a complete mess. The cigarettes were destroyed on a waste landfill in Chaplygino village, Kursk district, Kursk region. During the bulldozing, Vadim Shklyar, Director of the Special Motor Transport Base for Waste Disposal in the City of Kursk, was visibly upset with the destruction of the counterfeit tobacco.

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Our
notes

Vadim Shklyar is a Kursk Deputy and ‘garbage king'. He is in charge of the Special Motor Transport Base for Waste Disposal in the City of Kursk. This organization, being one of the two garbage disposal operators, issues garbage removal invoices on a regular basis. According to The CrimeRussia sources, it uses shady schemes to derive profits from the waste landfill in Chaplygino village, Kursk district.

After the incident, the criminal prosecution got stalled. No instruments of crime, no cigarettes, witnesses are unwilling to testify. Without that, the operative and search materials are just sheets of paper – although very informative ones. So, who was the mastermind behind this? According to my information, it was Albert Sushkov, ex-Head of the Investigations Department of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, and his subordinate Elena Bychkova. Sushkov had reportedly used Bychkova as an investigator ‘for very special cases'. After the resignation from the MIA, Sushkov became a lawyer – and she followed him. During their service, she had handled cases where it was necessary to lock up somebody or, alternatively, get somebody off the hook...

Bychkova had several apartments. One of those was inherited by her. The origin of others is unknown to me. Her cars are of utmost interest as well – take, for instance, deluxe Mercedes Benz GLK 300 4 Matiz worth some 5 million rubles ($76.9 thousand). She purchased it in November 2016 – i.e. prior to the resignation from the MIA. According to my information, a similar sum of 5 million rubles ($76.9 thousand) was involved in the story with the termination of criminal proceedings against the Rashidov family. Of course, this was not the only ‘reward' received by her! Her boss had also wasted no time. According to an article published by MK Chernozem'e newspaper and entitled "Monte Cristo Ogurtsov vs. secret Kursk Camorra", he received over 10 million rubles ($153.8 thousand) from Sergei Ogurtsov alone. Ogurtsov had reported this to all instances – but with no result. The connections of Sushkov were too powerful.

But it is still possible to resume the ‘counterfeit tobacco case', compare it with the operative monitoring case, find out the fate of the material evidence, question operatives and investigators, and check the circumstances of its termination. Based on the results, it is possible to institute a criminal case for exceedance of official powers or bribe-taking – because the archived materials should be intact."

This is the end of the story told by our source. Apparently, it is possible in Russia to steal hard evidence – and then terminate the criminal proceedings as if nothing had happened. However, The CrimeRussia possesses some evidence indicating that Lilia Derzhavina and her husband were suspects in a criminal case.

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