‘Drugged taxi drivers’ to get Rostov operatives into trouble?
There is some uproar in Rostov in relation to the Oktyabrsky District Police Division: its operatives have detained ‘drugged taxi drivers’ in early February near the Correctional Facility №2. Upon a closer examination, the CrimeRussia has found numerous inconsistencies in that case. Furthermore, the penitentiary institution – where, according to the police, the taxi drivers had intended to throw the drugs – seems to be completely ‘blind’: there is no video evidence in the case file, and the charges are based solely on police reports. See further details in our material.
On February 11, 2017, an open Internet statement made by Tatiana Mysheva has sparked public outcry: she claimed that on February 4, operatives of the Police Division №5 had planted drugs on her father Sergei Zhilnikov, a Rostov taxi driver employed with 306 company. A wave of public uproar has resulted in a petition on Change.org web site entitled “Put an end to the lawlessness of the police of the Oktyabrsky district of Rostov-on-Don”. In addition, 161.ru Internet portal has published an article “Rostov resident accuses police of planting drugs on a cancer patient for statistics”. The press service of the General Administration for the Rostov Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation has assured the journalists that the situation had been reported to the supreme command and promised to verify the information.
In the meantime, CrimeRussia journalists decided not to wait for the results of the police probe into the inconvenient facts and performed their own investigation. See below the findings of our inquiry.
Detained taxi driver Sergei Zhilnikov
On February 4, at approximately 5 pm, taxi driver Sergei Zhilnikov had departed towards the 2nd Five-Year Period district to attend a client’s call – and until February 5, his relatives remained totally unaware of his whereabouts. On the next morning, Zhilnikov was found in the Police Division №5 – he had been detained under an Article of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (use of narcotic drugs).
The police reports about the arrest of the ‘drugged’ taxi driver have discrepancies. One report states that Sergei Zhilnikov was arrested near building 1b on Volokolamskaya street under Article 6.8 (illegal traffic of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances or of their analogues) and Article 6.9 (use of drugs or psychotropic substances without doctor's orders) of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation as a person “demonstrating unsteady gait, moving slowly, nervous, with no smell of alcohol in his breath”. Another report produced later refers to Articles 228 and 229 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: the citizen was arrested near the fence of the Correctional Facility №2 Federal Budgetary Institution of the General Administration for the Rostov Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia close to building 1b on Volokolamskaya street “during an attempt to sell, with the purpose to throw narcotic drugs onto the territory of the Correctional Facility №2”.
Correctional Facility №2 of the General Administration for the Rostov Region of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia
This seems nonsense: a 60-year-old ‘drugged’ (according to the report) taxi driver approaches the fence of the Correctional Facility №2 in a rainy evening to throw drugs over the fence (where? to whom?). Such a rubbish had not confused lieutenant Lysenko, investigator of the Police Division №5, who has initiated a criminal case and without any evidence – neither under the administrative articles nor under criminal ones – submitted a petition to the court requesting to detain Zhilnikov. It is necessary to note that even the prosecutor of the Oktyabrsky Court was against the detention of the taxi driver – but judge Zakharkina has endorsed the investigator’s request.
According to the testimony of Zhilnikov, he had driven into the yard of building 1b on Volokolamskaya street, backed up, and immediately four men in civil clothes opened all the doors of his car; then one of them twisted his arm, grabbed his neck, and pulled him out of the car. Later, during the personal search in the Police Division №5, a pack of cigarettes with drugs inside has been ‘found’ in the left pocket of his jacket. The keys to Zhilnikov’s car were also “found” (recorded in the protocol) in the same left pocket – while his Lada Largus had been driven to the Police Division №5 by an operative (!) and the taxi driver was transported in another car – the dashboard camera has recorded this. The daughter of Zhilnikov had brought this discrepancy to the attention of Lysenko, but the female investigator dismissed it. According to CrimeRussia sources, later the case has been withdrawn from investigator Lysenko due to her complete incompetence and transferred to investigator Sokolova serving in the same Police Division №5. Currently the defense attorney for Zhilnikov has brought a motion to question the operatives and perform face-to-face confrontations with them.
“Four operatives had arrested Zhilnikov. We have already questioned one of them, but I won’t provide the details to you, sorry,” – attorney Yuriev told us. Later it became known that the “four operatives” were the following criminal investigators of the Police Division №5: Molko, Daudov, Kalistratov, and Kartashov.
Criminal investigator of the Police Division №5 Maksim Molko
On February 3, a day before the arrest of Zhilnikov, operatives of the Police Division №5 had detained in a similar way – ‘on the same place, at the same time’ – Rafail Kim, another taxi driver employed with 306 company. The same policemen had participated in the arrest. The case against Kim also includes police reports describing the arrest under an Article of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation (use of narcotics) later supplemented with reports referring to Articles of the Criminal Code (sale, attempt to throw over the fence of the Correctional Facility №2).
Criminal investigator of the Police Division №5 Kartashov
The testimony of taxi driver Kim tells a completely different story. On February 3, he was driving to attend a client’s call; the client has contacted the driver by cell phone and asked to perform an additional service for 600 rubles ($10.5): pick up a package at a certain address (first, from a girl; then somehow from a tire near a flowerbed) and bring it to him.
“Upon approaching the tire, I did not see the package and told this to the man by phone; he responded that there is a package there (he did not tell me what was inside it), and it must be picked up. I picked up the package, turned around, and approached the car. After walking a couple of meters, I threw the package away towards the house, after which I was arrested by police officers. I would like to explain that I did not have on me the above-mentioned package picked up by me, neither was it among my belongings; police officers have put it there. Then I was escorted to the front desk of the Police Division №5”.
Criminal investigator of the Police Division №5 Daudov
This criminal case is handled by Ziborov, an investigator in the Police Division №5; questioning of the operatives and face-to-face confrontations with them are to be performed soon. But even now it is possible to say that the investigators handling these two cases do not fulfill their duties stipulated in Article 73 of the Criminal–Procedural Code of the Russian Federation and requiring them to look not only for evidence of guilt, but for proof of innocence as well. After the public uproar, the four brave operatives had attempted to cover up traces and changed their real names on social networks to fictitious ones.
It turned out that the same ‘client’ had called to cell phones of Zhilnikov and Kim from the number 8988****779. To perform their job properly, the investigators must take this information into consideration.
A proverb says: “One occasion is an accident, two occasions are a coincidence, while three occasions are a pattern”. One more ‘drug case’ was required to confirm this, and it was found. On January 21, operatives of the Police Division №5 had detained general laborer Viktor Afanasiev, 22 years old, in a car near Pit’ Kofe (Drink Coffee) café located on Tekucheva street on suspicion of drug dealing. He was escorted not to the police front desk, but to an office on the second floor where an unidentified operative had seized off the record (!) belongings from his pockets: keys, telephone, and tube of Naphthyzin nasal drops.
Criminal investigator of the Police Division №5 Dmitry Kalistratov
The unidentified operative was away for some two hours. Later amphetamine was found in the tube with nasal drops. Afanasiev told the Oktyabrsky District Court during a session held to extend his detention term that he was tortured in the Police Division №5, chained, and beaten and kicked to the groin – but he hadn’t confessed to drug dealing. This criminal case is handled by investigator Bichuk of the Investigations Administration of the MIA for Rostov-on-Don; questioning of the operatives and face-to-face confrontations with them are to be performed in the framework of that case as well, but the investigator is currently on vacation.
The criminal case against Afanasiev is different from the cases instituted against ‘drugged taxi drivers’. Pot smokers drop Naphthyzin into their eyes to prevent so-called ‘red eye’ symptoms. However, not only hadn’t the policemen proven the use of marihuana by Afanasiev through a medical examination, but they did not even try to do this because were focused on illegal (off the record) hacking of the telephone belonging to Afanasiev in a search for information pertaining to ‘hidden drug caches’. Now the defense attorney for Afanasiev insists on a computer examination of the telephone to prove the innocence of his client.
“I can’t rule out that my son might smoke pot occasionally, but I state that he had never dealt it. He works in construction and earns 2 thousand rubles ($35) per shift. He had enough money to support himself,” – Anderi Borisovich, father of Afanasiev, has commented the situation.
Concluding our inquest, it is necessary to go back to the cases initiated against the taxi drivers. We have already mentioned that these cases are based solely on operatives’ reports. An examination of cell phone connections – that would allow to locate the ‘client’ with mobile number 8988****779 – hasn’t been performed yet. There is one more important detail. The Correctional Facility №2, near which the taxi drivers were arrested – allegedly, while attempting to throw the drugs over the fence (in fact – in their cars) – is a strictly guarded institution with video cameras installed along its perimeter. A Plague Control Station of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare of the Russian Federation is located nearby – and its perimeter is equipped with video cameras as well.
Records from these cameras can conclusively and irrevocably answer where were the taxi drivers arrested and whether they had approached the fence surrounding the Correctional Facility №2 at all? But the case files are lacking this information and, for some reason, the policemen are not interested in it.
Hopefully, operatives of the MIA Administration of Internal Security and Directorate for the Rostov Region of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation would be able to help their colleagues from the Investigations Administration of the MIA for Rostov-on-Don and Police Division №5 to answer these sensitive questions.