"Go with the suicide theory, we’re not going to find the killer anyway." New evidence in Pshenichny murder case

"Go with the suicide theory, we’re not going to find the killer anyway." New evidence in Pshenichny murder case
Valery Pshenichny and his wife

As it turned out, the entrepreneur who died in jail never touched the string he allegedly hanged himself on.

Recent examinations in the case of the “suicide” of businessman Valery Pshenchny in SIZO-4 of St. Petersburg point out that he must have been killed. According to Novaya Gazeta, all the torture instruments had been brought into the cell where Pshenichny was found hanged. For instance, the metal plates "with traces of a brown substance" "do not belong to industrial products, the so-called instep supports". According to the experts, those "two metal plates had been one thing before; namely, a makeshift knife made from a sheet of thin metal." Meanwhile, the Federal Penitentiary Service said that Pshenchny had taken out the instep supports from his cellmate’s sneakers and cut his veins with them. The string, on which the entrepreneur hanged himself, has no traces of either Pshenchny’s DNA or that of what was taken out of his jacket. Recall that the jail claimed that the deceased had pulled the string out of his jacket, and then hung himself from the headboard. The examination shows, however, that Pshenichny made a loop and got into it without touching the string. Recall that earlier it turned out that the deceased inflicted many electric shock wounds on himself, raped himself and left traces of the DNA of an unknown man on all the evidence.

As evidence that it was suicide and nothing else, the FSIN presented a surveillance camera tape in the hall that showed the cell where Pshenichny had been kept. The tape shows that no one except for the deceased had entered the cell. However, the video was never examined. First, the expert, who was assigned to do the job, quit. Then the North-West Regional Forensic Center sent a paper that said a study of it was impossible since there were no experts with appropriate certification.

Novaya Gazeta has studied the material provided and found that some fragments from the video were shorter than others. The camera records a fragment of 57-58 seconds and saves it as a separate file in a separate folder. Closer to the time of Pshenichny’s death fragments become shorter - from 25 to 40 seconds. In total, about half an hour disappears from the ‘movie.’ No one, apparently, will know what happened at the moment next to the cell door.

The scandal in detention center-4 of St. Petersburg starts from the theft of about 100 million rubles ($1.5 m) from the billion-worth ($15.1 m) contract of the Ministry of Defense for the development of the submarine fleet. In particular, the case is connected with the implementation of the grandiose project 636 titled Varshavyanka by NovIT PRO company. The general contractor of the Ministry of Defense in this order is the St. Petersburg plant Admiralty Shipyard. The contract for the creation of three-dimensional models for the repair of submarines was concluded in 2015. NovIT PR was the only company to take part in the auction.

Valery Pshenichny was the listed as the Financial Director of this company. The role of the General Director was assigned to Andrey Petrov, who became Pshenichny’s partner by chance. One of their mutual acquaintances, as the wife of the deceased told, asked to help and “get a good person a place.” At the same time, 75% of NovIT PRO’s shares remained at Pshenichny’s, while Petrov owned only 25%.

Initially, the contract implied financing of 300.6 million rubles ($4.5 m). However, the project is unique in the world, and it turned out that there was not enough money for its implementation. In agreement with the Deputy Chief Engineer of the Admiralty Shipyard, Gleb Emelchenkov, the contract value increased to 967.6 million rubles ($14.6 m). That said, the contract stipulates that the amount is the maximum, but can be reduced. The price, which has tripled, is called by the investigation overvalued - “economically, technologically, and otherwise not justified.” Pshenichny and Petrov allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy with Emelchenkov to artificially overvalue the cost of work.

The sequence of everyday events resulted in discord between the co-owners of NovIT Pro. Pshenichny demanded that Petrov stand down. When the latter left the company, chief accountant, deputy chief accountant and engineer who headed Varshavyanka works disappeared, as well. What else disappeared is a laptop with all the company’s documentation, paper contracts and SIM-cards with access keys to bank accounts. Pshenichny reported to police. On October 20, the Regional Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Central district opened a criminal case into swindling committed by a group of persons. It was concluded that Pshenichny was a victim. Initially, Pshenichny found out that promissory notes in the name of Petrov worth of 33.5 million had been purchased in Sberbank. Then, the mysterious contract with an unknown Seyd PRO company emerged. The company allegedly took the works at the request of the Ministry of Defense in the amount of 78 million rubles ($1.1 million). 18.3 million of this amount was transferred in money by NovIT Pro; the rest was spent on promissory notes. The contract with Seyd PRO failed to perform from its earliest stage: the newly-born company had neither the Ministry of Defense accreditation, nor authorization. Even if it had performed some works, the military commissioning would have never accepted it.

Then, employees who disappeared with Petrov brought the papers stating Pshenichny ought to pay them golden handshakes in the amounts of 250 thousand rubles ($3.7 thousand) - 1 million rubles ($15 thousand). Later, it was proved in court the papers had been forged. Pshenichny contacted the police and demanded that the criminal case against Petrov be initiated. In April, 2017, the company’s former CEO was arrested. After a few months since Andrey Petrov made his plea deal with the investigation, he was released under the guarantee of his place of residence. On January 16, 2018, Emelchenkov and Pshenichny were detained following Petrov’s testimonies. They were accused of swindling on an especially large scale (item 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The investigators accused him of theft of 100 million rubles ($1.5 million) in the performance of the contract with the Ministry of Defense. 

During the detention, Pshenichny was not allowed to pack his belongings. “All you need is a 1x2-meter hole in the ground.” While in a pre-trial detention center, he wrote his wife a note, in which he asked her not to pay anyone. February 5, Pshenichny’s body with bearing signs of torture was found in his cell. The Federal Penitentiary Service still refuses to acknowledge this strange death as murder and insists on suicide version.

According to Valery Pshenichny’s son, Petrov's ex-wife once came to their place and admitted that her ex-husband was sure that he would not have to go to prison.

“I believe that someone paid a lot of money so that he had reason to be sure that they would pin everything on Valery Anatolyevich,” she said.

Investigators are not interested in finding out the big picture, the entrepreneur’s son believes. “The investigator kept on convincing me all the time: ‘Go with the suicide theory, we’re not going to find the killer anyway.’ At some point, I analyzed his version. Although, we all knew it made no sense. Now it is clear that they were playing with our heads,” he said. According to him, the investigator demanded to testify that he had allegedly seen Valery Pshenichny conspire with a plant representative to appropriate the Defense Ministry’s money. “He promised that in this case, our family won’t have any problems. Otherwise, things might have been different, after what happened to my father, I fear for the rest of my family,” the slain man’s son said.

At the same time, in May 2018, three months after the death of Pshenichny, Andrey Petrov was released from detention, and Investigator Zavrazhnov suspended his prosecution "due to a temporary serious illness of the accused.” At the same time, a person resembling Andrey Petrov was seen riding a motorcycle and attending a fitness club.

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