Degree of interest. ‘Rogue cops’ involved into case of ‘drunk’ boy?
The scandal with a forensic medical examination that had found 2.7 per mille of alcohol in the blood of a kid killed in a traffic accident continues escalating. According to CrimeRussia sources, in addition to the investigation of the incident and criminal case initiated by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) for neglect of duty, the General Administration of Internal Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of and Directorate “M” of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation are currently examining the corruption element in it. In the meantime, medical examiner Mikhail Kleimenov who had signed the forensic medical report has left the country.
The CrimeRussia had already covered in detail the tragic incident in the city of Balashikha of the Moscow region that has resulted in the death of 6-year-old Alesha Shimko. The boy was killed by a car near the entrance of his own home. In the first month after the incident, the MIA had attempted several times to refuse to institute a criminal case. Then the parents received results of the forensic medical examination stating that their son was drunk at the time of the accident.
1.5 month after the death of the child, a series of events has caused a nationwide public outcry and triggered a number of major processes in the society.
The following high-ranked functionaries have taken the case under their personal control: Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the ICR; Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of Internal Affairs; Elena Kuznetsova, Commissioner for Children's Rights, and Senator Elena Mizulina. Following an initiative of Deputies Irina Yarovaya and Olga Okuneva representing Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party and Yaroslav Nilov and Irog Lebedev representing the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia, the State Duma of the Russian Federation has issued an instruction to its profile committees for security and combating the corruption to request information on that case from law enforcement structures and ask the Prosecutor General’s Office and MIA “to take a comprehensive set of measures to protect rights and legitimate interests of the victims”.
April 23. Scene of the tragedy
Such a close attention ‘from above’ has caused lots of buzz at the local level. The authorities of the Moscow region started hastily equipping yards with road signs and ‘sleeping cops’, while the Minister of Internal Affairs ordered to institute criminal cases within 24 hours after traffic accidents resulting in deaths of minors. The public uproar has also affected some persons responsible for the delays with the institution of the criminal case due to the death of Alesha Shimko. In particular, the Prosecutor General’s Office made a submission to Viktor Paukov, Head of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region, and a service audit has been initiated against investigator Dmitry Arinushkin.
In the end of the last week, the ICR has made an official statement with regards to the repeated forensic medical examination. The chemical assessment has confirmed the presence of alcohol in the blood found in the car of Olga Alisova that had hit the child (the boy was put on the back seat of the car for some time).
The press service of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR has stated as follows: “In the framework of the criminal case investigation, the investigators intend to clarify the circumstances of the lifetime alcohol consumption by the child”.
On the next day, results of the repeated examination performed by the MIA have been published: alcohol was not found in the provided samples “due to its volatility”. However, the official stance of the ICR has considerably affected the coverage of the high-profile case in the media. Cautious questions started popping-up: Could somebody offer alcohol to the kid without the parents’ knowledge? Could he accidentally drink something from the table?
Natalia Kurakina, attorney for Olga Alisova who had earlier claimed that “the alcohol in the boy’s blood can’t affect the outcome of the case in any way”, has immediately capitalized on the public confusion.&
A technical vehicle examination performed by the General Administration of Criminal Investigation of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region has found that Alisova could prevent the accident. Then Kurakina said that the death of the child was caused not by the collision but by “subsequent circumstances that she can’t disclose”. Claiming that the “car did not run down the kid” (although a dozen of witnesses had seen this), she suggested that “the kid could hit his head against the pavement and get a basal skull fracture prior to his fall under the vehicle”.
This is a bright example of “the identification of weak points in the preliminary investigation and successful use of those in the defense attorney practice” – the web site of Fomin and Partners Law Firm states that Natalia Kurakina is very skilled in this ‘art’.
Lawyer Natalia Kurakina
Lawyer and human rights activist Leonid Olshansky has recently debunked the myth that the forensic medical examination results can’t affect the outcome of the case in any way (“because Alisova has already been recognized the guilty party in the traffic accident, so this won’t help her”) disseminated in the media by Kurakina and Kleimenov.
Part 3 of Article 264 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (violation of traffic rules and rules for operation of transport vehicles, which has, by negligence, entailed a human death) incriminated to Olga Alisova stipulates a punishment of up to 5 years behind bars. However, according to the human rights activist, the crime was unintentional – so even if the driver gets a maximal sentence stipulated in the Article of the Criminal Code, she faces not a maximal security or general regime penal colony, but just a colony settlement. Furthermore, the court would definitely take into consideration alleviating circumstances, including the fact that Alisova has a minor child. Taking that she has no criminal record, Olshansky believes that the court would limit the sentence to “three years conditionally”.
The aggressive tactics of lawyer Natalia Kurakina leave no doubts: she would use any opportunity to achieve the goal. Because all the experts confirm the presence of alcohol in the child’s blood, while the attorney claims that the boy died not from the collision with the car, any outcome is now possible in this case.
Grave of Alesha Shimko
On the other hand, the parents of the killed boy – officers of the National Guard of Russia and nondrinkers – are not going to accept ‘any outcome’. Suggestions that the child could consume alcohol in his lifetime outrage them. Such accusations might ultimately lead to charges under Article 156 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (failure to discharge the duties of bringing up a minor) and their deprivation of parental rights – while the mourning family has another child.
Father Roman Shimko insists that Alesha could not drink anything containing alcohol even accidentally. All the day prior to the tragedy, the child was under the supervision of parents, grandfather, and grandmother. If – theoretically – he had consumed anything, he would immediately vomit. “He could not even drink soda water,” – says the father holding back tears. Roman Shimko has no doubts: the alcohol has been administered into the body of Alesha after his death. It could be injected by a syringe directly into the liver that functions for some time after the death. The absence of alcohol in the stomach and bladder, as well as trachea and lungs not burnt by alcohol confirm this.
Nikolai Shimko, the boy's grandfather
All the third-party experts unanimously state that alcohol could not be consumed by the boy in his lifetime. Most of them are skeptical of the arguments provided by Mikhail Kleimenov.
Yuri Pigolkin, Chairman of the Department of Forensic Medicine of Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, notes that acetaldehyde (an alcohol cleavage product; Mikhail Kleimenov uses its presence in the specimens as an irrefutable argument) may have a different origin. Unlike Kleimenov, Pigolkin believes that the irregularities of this case are caused by the human factor. He considers necessary to find out where the blood samples were stored and who had access to them.
Forensic specialist Mikhail Ignatov, a former operative of a Regional Directorate for Combating Organized Crime who had seen everything during the decades of his service, believes that it is pretty easy to falsify the test results. It could be done during the biomaterial sampling or transportation. Neither does Ignatov rule out the ‘syringe version’.
Sergei Mironov, Chairman of Spavedlivaya Rossia (the Just Russia) Party whose Deputy’s inquiry had initiated the investigation of this high-profile case, does not believe that the child could consume the alcohol in his lifetime. 238 thousand people who have signed a petition to Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the ICR, on Change.org do not believe in this as well.
Ironically, but operatives of the ICR, whose examination had confirmed the presence of alcohol in the blood of Alesha Shimko, apparently do not believe in the version with the ‘drunk boy’, too.
Secrets of the investigation
The conclusion made by the most qualified body in Russia – the Main Directorate of Forensic Science of the ICR – was supposed to draw a line under the investigation of the ‘neglect of duty’ criminal case instituted on June 16. But somehow the investigators do not rush to close the case.
The CrimeRussia keeps in touch with Roman Shimko who monitors the fast-paced progression of events and thinks that the case might be reclassified under another Article of the Criminal Code – a crime committed by a group of persons by previous concert.
A CrimeRussia source familiar with the case shares this opinion. According to him, the investigators are now checking ungrounded refusals of the Administration of the Criminal Investigation of the Inter-Municipal MIA Administration for Balashikha to institute a criminal case.&
The source says that the law enforcement structures had already been notified in the past that some high-ranked officers of the inter-municipal police administration can ‘settle issues’ with the investigation for a monetary reward. Furthermore, colonel of legal service Ilya Komarov, Head of the Inter-Municipal MIA Administration for Balashikha, must be aware of such ‘schemes’.
Colonel Ilya Komarov, Head of the Inter-Municipal MIA Administration for Balashikha
Another CrimeRussia source notes that other law enforcement agencies – MIA General Administration of Internal Security and FSB – are currently looking for corruption ties in the Balashikha police administration as well.
Apparently, the special services are checking information provided by human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin, founder of Gulagu.net portal: on June 16, he has registered, in accordance with Article 141 of the Criminal-Procedural Code of the Russian Federation, an official submission to the Head of the Directorate “M” of the FSB and Head of the MIA General Administration of Internal Security about the elements of corruption crimes in the investigation of the criminal case instituted due to the traffic accident in Zheleznodorozhny.
According to his information, in the end of April 2017, Olga Alisova has given, via an intermediary, a bribe to investigator Dmitry Arinushkin in the amount of 1.5 million rubles ($25.3 thousand); a portion of that money was paid to expert Mikhail Kleimenov who has falsified the examination results.
The source noted that the information about the crimes in the Balashikha police administration was received from one of the officers serving there. The whistleblower has advised that following a request from the lawyer of Alisova, the investigator had intended to complete the investigation after the creation of an evidential base exonerating the person guilty of the traffic accident.
According to the source, currently the witness is testifying in the framework of the pre-investigation check. It is still unknown who was interested in launching the costly corruption mechanisms to exonerate Olga Alisova. A resident of Zheleznodorozhny had earlier told the CrimeRussia journalist that Alisova has a powerful patron in the municipal administration. It can’t be ruled out that she had called him after hitting the child.
The tragedy of the Shimko family raises serious questions with regards to the validity of expert examinations whose results are used as the primary evidence in the court.
The case of Yuri Movshin, ex-Head of the State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate of the Kemerovo Region who has caused the death of four girls, illustrates how the technical vehicle and complex examinations can relieve the originator of a road accident of liability. One of the examinations did not find a driving offense in the actions of Movshin who had crossed into the oncoming lane despite straight stripe – thus, automatically making the driver of the car rammed by the ex-Head of the State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate of the Kemerovo Region the guilty party. In Rzhev, a teenager hit on the roadside of the oncoming lane by the SUV of Dmitry Suslin, a guard in Gazprom, was recognized the guilty party – although he was walking towards the oncoming traffic in accordance with the road safety regulations. 16-year-old Kirill Zuev has been maimed for life. The results of blood tests of Alesha Shimko recognized drunk post-mortem became a grave accusation against the domestic forensic medical examination system. An accusation of unreliability and possible prejudice.
Contrary to the claims of forensic doctor Mikhail Kleimenov about the impossibility of errors, forgery, or negligence during the transportation of biomaterials and testing procedures, there are plenty of shocking examples confirming the opposite. Not only vials can be mixed up, but entire bodies of dead people – like it happened in the Chita morgue. An expert has performed an autopsy of a different woman and found an illness she never had; when the relatives started talking about a possible mistake, he has irritably stated that “they are not to teach him”. Despite the protests of the relatives, on the next day, they received the body of another woman for the funeral – but ultimately the scandal has been hushed up.
Questionable professional conclusions made in the past by expert Mikhail Kleimenov – who managed to find 2.7 per mille of alcohol in the blood of the killed kid – had also been hushed up. There were several such incidents resulting in illegitimate court verdicts or refusals to institute criminal cases.
Skeletons in the closet
The name of Mikhail Kleimenov hit the headlines in relation to the case of Alesha Shimko. Then other cases where his expert conclusions had played a key role went public as well.
In 2015, Vera Velichko, a 60-year-old teacher from Zheleznodorozhny, was sentenced to 1 year behind bars conditionally for “use of violence against a representative of the power” on the basis of his expert findings. According to the criminal case initiated against her under Article 318 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the teacher has beaten major Sergei Kupriyanov, a district police inspector, in his office.&
On that day, the policemen had illegally detained her son and used violence against her when Velichko, together with her son, came to the police station to figure out why Moldavian workers renovating her apartment were arrested in it. The district police inspector had pushed the teacher out of his office and slammed her hand with a metal door, thus, inflicting an injury. Velichko had submitted a complaint against him to the Department of Internal Security. But the events took a sudden turn.
Expert Mikhail Kleimenov wrote in his report that Vera Velichko was injured a day before the incident and recorded a bruise on the policeman’s head allegedly hit by the teacher with her bag. The woman had submitted complaints to the Prosecutor’s Office, MIA, Ministry of Health, and Federal Service for Surveillance in Healthcare (Roszdravnadzor) – but no one had ever questioned the findings of Kleimenov. The expert is absolutely confident in his righteousness in that case – as well as in the consumption of alcohol by Alesha Shimko in his lifetime.
Neither does he concede an error in his forensic examination of the death of businessman Maksim Mushtruev. According to the findings of Kleimenov, the young man has fallen from the standing position, hit the back of his head, and died from brain swelling. Father of Maksim Mushtruev, retired FSB major Andrei Mushtruev, believes that his son was beaten in the police station – he had been taken there several times and beaten every time by operatives trying to force him to confess to swindling. Mushtruev had submitted a complaint to the MIA Administration of Internal Security – but the response stated that the policemen could not beat his son and, based on the expert examination performed by Kleimenov, the request to institute a criminal case was declined.&
According to the forensic medical report, the expert did not find “damages that could originate from the attempts of the victim to protect himself from blows with his hands” – although Kleimenov has noted “numerous bruises on the man’s head and body from impacts of hard blunt items”. However, Kleimenov is confident that the deadly wound was inflicted by a single impact blow of a flat item to the back of the head; the expert notes that this happens when a person falls from the standing position. But the father of the victim trusts his son more than the findings of the forensic report and believes that these are false. According to Andrei Mushtruev, he intends to obtain an order to perform an independent forensic examination to appeal against the refusal to institute a criminal case.
Another traffic accident in Zheleznodorozhny, when a driver going through a red light had hit a 9-year-old girl, has led to the initiation of a criminal case in 2013 due to the fact of the incident. But later, the criminal case was dismissed due to expiration of limitation period on the basis of the expert examination performed by Kleimenov – he has refused to characterize the closed craniocerebral injury inflicted to the girl, her broken teeth, bruises, and scratches as “bodily harm”. While the parents were seeking a repeated medical examination at the regional level and undergoing it, the limitation period has expired.
The CrimeRussia source believes that the case of Alesha Shimko was doomed to the same fate – but the unprecedented public uproar has changed everything. The scheme allowing to avoid the criminal liability had been tested by officials able to affect the procedural decisions and the course of the investigation long before the tragedy in Zheleznodorozhny in April 2017. It is necessary to find out how many such episodes have been committed to the moment. But forensic medical expert Mikhail Kleimenov apparently decided not to sit on a barrel of gunpowder and went abroad on vacation.
The parents of Alesha Shimko believe that only an independent expert examination can reveal the truth in their case. Roman Shimko has suggested to send the blood sample stored in a vial to Germany to test it for acetaldehyde.
The family of the killed boy had tried to avoid extremities by all means, but now his father is determined to go all the way to obtain justice. Valery Zubov, attorney for Roman Shimko, told the CrimeRussia that specialists from the Federation of Court Experts believe that the exhumation and subsequent testing of the muscular tissues would allow to draw a line under this story.
Video: Traffic accident with a ‘drunk’ boy in the Moscow region
Attorney Dmitry Yakubovskiy got his nickname (General Dima) in the 1990s, when at age 28 he nearly became a General. Then he led the commission of the USSR Ministry of Defense in the Western Group of Forces in Germany. As a lawyer, he defended the interests of Solntsevskaya gang entrepreneurs Sergey Mikhailov (Mikhas) and Arnold Tamm (Spivakovsky), and today he is considered one of the richest people in Switzerland with a fortune of about $1 billion.