Reshuffle in Krasnoyarsk — the meaning behind possible resignation of regional police chief

Reshuffle in Krasnoyarsk — the meaning behind possible resignation of regional police chief
Krasnoyarsk Region police chief Vadim Antonov

Right after Moscow had inspected the Interior Ministry, the police Chief of Krasnoyarsk Region resigned. What had the inspectors found and whether the resignation of the police general was connected with a major corruption scandal in the region? Or is it all about the upcoming reshuffle in the security forces?

A little over a week ago, the Krasnoyarsk media reported that the head of the regional MIA Vadim Antonov was leaving his post. Some journalists, with reference to their sources in the security agencies, even supposed that the police chief of Krasnoyarsk had been fired. However, they did not mention the reason. The press service of regional police refuted the claims, stating that Lt. Gen. Antonov continued to perform his duties and was at his workplace. That news was widely discussed for a couple of days and then it was lost among other events.

At the same time, no official refutation had been published on the website of the MIA Department for Krasnoyarsk Region. Moreover, since August 17, the Reception of Citizens category on the same website now features acting MIA Head in the region Tamara Belkina instead of Vadim Antonov. Before that, she served as the Deputy Head of the regional police. This can be regarded as the proof that something is rotten in the Danish kingdom, despite the reassurances made 10 days ago.

This tactic - the denial of the real picture – is nothing new for the press service of law enforcement agencies in such circumstances, so we will proceed with the fact that Lt. Gen. Antonov is indeed leaving his office. The question is whether at his own volition, or forcibly. The first theory is hard to believe, because in our country nobody leaves such offices voluntarily. And so, the version of "I'm leaving, because I understand that I cannot beat the crime in this particular place" sounds more like a fairy tale.

This especially true for the Krasnoyarsk Region, because it occupies one of leading places in the Siberian Federal District in fight against crime, according to official statistics. However, statistics do not always correspond to reality, and the victims of crimes in the Krasnoyarsk Region care little about them. One thing is clear - if the daily crime reports resemble lead from the front, then local police does poor job handling criminals. In this situation, if the Head of the security agency resigns, it means that he is also to blame.

Therefore, we will consider the second version of Antonov’s resignation, the forcible one. According to unofficial sources, in July, Krasnoyarsk police was subject to a departmental ministerial inspection. Its reason and results have not been disclosed yet. But sources claim that it led to Vadim Antonov going on vacation with subsequent dismissal. Moreover, a number of local analysts linked that move with the reshuffle in the ranks of anti-corruption officials. The day before rumors of Antonov’s resignation started spreading, head of the Krasnoyarsk governor’s department for security and prevention of corruption and other offenses Alexander Bukarin had also been released from office. For the last 8 years, he had been in charge of interaction between the governor's administration and the security forces. The agency headed by Bukarin was engaged in anti-corruption monitoring and suggestions on combatting corruption. Earlier this year, Igor Chernokov left the office of deputy governor in charge of relations with the security forces, and was replaced with FSB General Pavel Solodkov.

Александр Буракин

Photo: Alexander Burakin (by Vladimir Koretsky)

It is possible that these reshuffles are the first sign of a high-profile corruption case, which has not been disclosed to the general public yet. The current Head of the regional police may be directly connected with it. Krasnoyarsk skeptics draw analogies with other Siberian police chief, Igor Mitrofanov. In early summer, the police chief of Tomsk suddenly retired from his post. Later in August, according to data released by the Prosecutor's Office in Tomsk, he became a witness in the case of corruption among the police - in the beginning of 2016 his subordinate, the head of the regional administration for economic security Konstantin Savchenko, was caught red-handed for taking major bribe.

It is worth noting that during the reign of Vadim Antonov, Krasnoyarsk police was already involved a major corruption scandal. It happened four years ago. In 2012, a criminal was initiated against the chief accountant of Krasnoyarskoe inter-municipal management Nadezhda Nikolayeva - the woman was charged with fraud on a considerable scale and forgery. According to investigators, in three years the chief accountant had stolen 130 million rubles allocated from the regional and federal budgets and earmarked for the payment of money allowances for policeman. The fraudster skillfully turned their scales in her favor during the reform in the MIA – the funding of the office was carried out in full, but the staff was being reduced. Nikolaeva’s criminal scheme involved almost all of her subordinates – after the inspection, a total of 13 people were dismissed from their posts. It should be noted that the Chief Accountant was often visiting restaurants, bought a collection of furs, several apartments in Krasnoyarsk, and even some apartments in Moscow on the Rublevskoe highway. In the end, she refused to plead guilty and return the money. If the ex-accountant is proven guilty, she will spend the next 10 years in jail. But it is still not clear if the court will be able to make a decision any time soon – the hearings have been conducted for two years already and are purposefully delayed by the defense.

However, it would be unfair to hold Vadim Antonov fully responsible for that scandal. The Accountant had started implementing her scheme a few years before Antonov joined the central board. On the other hand, for almost a year of Antonov’s leadership, the chief accountant of the police department was manipulating budgetary funds, and only a random inspection revealed that fact.

Vadim Antonov was born in 1960 in Cheboksary. In 1983, he graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Chuvash State University and worked as a design engineer at Cheboksary PO Elektropribor. In the period from 1984 to 1995, he served in the KGB-FSB departments on various officer positions. In 1995, he was appointed First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs – at first, the Head of public security police, and then the regional criminal police. Between January and March 1996, he was in the combat zone on the territory of the Chechen Republic. In August 1997, he was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Chuvashia. He graduated from the Higher Courses of the KGB of the USSR and the Academy of the Ministry of Interior of Russia with a law degree; Candidate of Jurisprudence. He was awarded with multiple medals and orders, has the badge "Honorary police officer" and premium weapon. In April 2011, Antonov became the Head of the MIA in Krasnoyarsk Region and the Police Major General, a year later he was promoted to Lieutenant General of Police.

Antonov’s appointment was met with optimism by a lot of people. At that time, for almost half a year the regional had police remained without a leader - the previous chief, Alexander Gorovoy, was transferred to Stavropol. Before coming to Krasnoyarsk, Antonov had already made a name for an undisguised informational war with the head of Chuvashia Mikhail Ignatiev. Antonov initiated an investigation into the Podderzhka insurance company, which had been under the personal patronage of the Head of the region until its bankruptcy. Observers thought that Antonov’s transfer to Krasnoyarsk was the only possible way to cover up the situation and to stop the conflict between the security official who had been heading the ministry for 13 years and the new president of Chuvashia.

Михаил Игнатьев

Photo: Mikhail Ignatiev (by Argumenti y Fakti)

In the five years of Vadim Antonov’s leadership, local residents had become considerable less optimistic about the outcome of the fight against crime. In May 2016, a rally of no confidence to law enforcement agencies was announced, with social activist demanding from the police chief to resign. The reason was supposed to be the death of a 14-year-old girl from counterfeit whiskey and frequent cases of alcohol poisoning, which, in public opinion, were not investigated. As a reminder, a great number of fatal poisonings from forged elite alcohol happened in Russia since the end of last November. In April, a Krasnoyarsk schoolgirl consumed whiskey with friends and added to the overall number of fatalities. However, the protest rally ended up derailed and discredited.

A few years before, Antonov was already offered to resign voluntarily. In 2012, it was suggested by the chief editor of Krasnoyarsky Rabochiy, Vladimir Pavlovsky. Such was the outcome of the heinous crime committed by a senior sergeant of police Vladimir Ten. The police officer attacked his colleague with a knife, and after arrest confessed to murdering two homeless people. Just a few months before the incident, 24-year-old Anton Shaferov died in the same district department. His relatives claimed that he had been beaten by policemen (two years later, this version was refuted by the investigators, who proved that the death was caused by an overdose of amphetamines). After analyzing the most high-profile crimes that had occurred in the region over the last year, the journalist lashed out at Antonov in his article with the title "Have the honor, General!"

"Every day is like front-line reports about police misconducts! In my opinion, the police is working much worse with this general as their head." No response from the general followed at that time.

However, none of these facts can explain the reasons for the ill-fated inspection - all of those events occurred a long time ago, or were of minor importance to ouster the high-ranking official in connection with any compromise of his authority. This suggests that the resignation of the Siberian general did not hit the top news lists of Russian portals by chance. Someone fed the media this information. Besides, it was published right at the time of reshuffles among key anti-corruption officials in the Krasnoyarsk Region.

It is possible that the rumors about the end of Antonov’s career in police are greatly exaggerated. This resignation may well mean a transfer to another position. Given the fact that Vadim Antonov has already served 5 years as the Head of the Krasnoyarsk police, and the MIA has a tradition of rotating its staff (after 4-5 years, the heads of regional central boards are usually transferred to other areas, thus eliminating opportunities for corruption), the rumors about resignation become more tangible. In addition, Antonov may be invited to work in the regional government. As well as in any commercial structure - experience tells that ex-police officers of his level are quick to find spots of deputies for economic or personal safety in large holding companies. For example, the ex-police chief of the adjacent Kemerovo Region Alexander Yelin, who retired in the manner in 2012 (went on vacation and then was dismissed, which was carefully hidden by the press service), has been working for several years now as a deputy director for security in a large coal company. The only difference is that Yelin wrote a statement after two cases of murder committed by local policemen had emerged in the course of a single month. Therefore, Kuzbass journalists did not need to wonder about the reasons for the resignation.

The decision to dismiss or transfer to another post a high-ranking police chief can be made only by the Decree of the Russian President. But no such data is available on the official website of the President, which could confirm the reshuffle.

There is no information regarding the person who will replace the chief of the Krasnoyarsk regional police (if this position will indeed become vacant). But most likely, taking into account the rotation policy of the MIA, it will be a person from another region, who has neither sibling, nor financial ties with the local government and businesses.

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