Investigation to clamp down on Vladimir Garyugin?
For three years already, the investigation is trying, without much success, to clamp down on the Head of the St. Petersburg Subway. The last criminal case instituted against Vladimir Garyugin for abuse of official powers has been dismissed in 2017. However, this year, the Investigative Committee decided to gain revenge – Garyugin has been charged with exceeding of official powers.
As soon as the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) has ceased the criminal prosecution of Vladimir Garyugin, the Chamber of Control and Accounts threatened Metropoliten (Subway) State Unitary Enterprise with a new, more thorough, audit. Three years ago, the Chamber of Control and Accounts has launched its inquest into the operations of Garyugin, which was complicated by an original stance of the victim – Smolny Palace. The municipal administration has sustained damages amounting, at a conservative estimate, to 466.5 million rubles ($7.5 million) due to the exceedance of official powers by Garyugin. Officially, it had supported the inquest carried out by the Chamber of Control and Accounts – but in fact, had neither participated in the prosecution of the Head of Metropoliten nor requested to compensate the damages. Especially taking that the investigation has spectacularly lost all its lawsuits in arbitration courts.
This story has begun with an audit carried out by the Accounts Chamber of St. Petersburg in 2014. It was found that during the implementation of a scheme developed to attract private investments for the construction of overground entrance halls of new subway stations (Mezhdunarodnaya, Bukharestskaya, Zvenigorodskaya, and Admiralteiskaya) in 2011–2013, Metropoliten State Unitary Enterprise has let the investors to acquire land lots above the stations at artificially low prices and on privileged privatization terms. As a result, the municipal budget fell short of 9.23 billion rubles ($148.8 million).
Ultimately, the criminal case was dismissed, while the municipal authorities resumed close collaboration with Vladimir Garyugin in relation to the construction of Frunzensky radius of the subway desperately needed by the city. In fact, after such a defaming story, the Head of the St. Petersburg Subway had even intended to seek in court rehabilitation and monetary compensation from the state for illegal criminal prosecution. But destiny had other plans...
The third act
As of a sudden, thundering promises of the Chamber of Control and Accounts started coming true. In October 2017, the Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg of the ICR has annulled the termination of the criminal case, resumed it, and transferred to Moscow. Attorneys for Vladimir Garyugin became aware of this only in two months. In March 2018, Garyugin has been charged under part 1 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (exceeding official powers). The same episode with the construction of the overground entrance hall for Admiralteiskaya subway station has been again incriminated to the Head of Metropoliten. An old song to a new tune – but now the case is handled by the central ICR headquarters. The stance of the municipal administration is confusing again – it does not openly support Garyugin but requires him to commission new subway stations as soon as possible.
Admiralteiskaya subway station
The overground entrance hall of Admiralteiskaya is located in this building
The city can not exist without its subway. Vladimir Garyugin is the only person able to skillfully and quietly manage the construction of new stations and commission those on a timely basis.
The CrimeRussia already wrote that Frunzensky radius of the subway is currently a headache for the municipal authorities. Its construction pace has recently become suspiciously slow. This adversely affects the semi-paralyzed Moskovsky district receiving the majority of people arriving to the city through Pulkovo Airport. The 2018 FIFA World Cup is coming soon, while Metrostroy Open Joint Stock Company does neither hurry nor submit new billion-ruble funding requests to expedite the process. The sources believe that this ‘quiet sabotage’ reflects the stern stance taken by Vladimir Garyugin.
The first criminal case instituted against the Head of Metropoliten had hit the headlines. Searches were performed and some assets belonging to Garyugin seized, including 31 million rubles ($499.8 thousand), large amounts of cash in foreign currencies, 3 land lots in the Leningrad region, residential home, and car. Concurrently, Smolny Palace refused to recognize itself a victim.
The point is that the period of limitation for the current criminal case pertaining to the events dated 2012 has expired on March 5, 2018. On that date, Peterburgsky Metropoliten (St. Petersburg Subway) State Unitary Enterprise and Sovetnik (Advisor) Closed Joint Stock Company had signed an investment agreement to build the overground entrance hall for Admiralteiskaya station. Vladimir L’vov, an attorney for Vladimir Garyugin, considers the new charges as senseless as the old ones. His client seems to be frustrated with such a behavior of the municipal authorities; he was supposed to attend a profile session of the Transport Committee – but did now show up. Obviously, this was a political démarche.
Many people had predicted three years ago that the case against Vladimir Garyugin would end in nothing. Many of them say the same now. No active investigation efforts are taken. The current criminal case would likely be terminated and obliterated. But there is one important detail – the investigation is going to dismiss the case based on non-exonerating grounds, which is unacceptable for Vladimir Garyugin and his defense seeking full acquittal in court.
People close to the Head of Peterburgsky Metropoliten State Unitary Enterprise believe that the sole purpose of all criminal cases instituted against Vladimir Garyugin is to remove him from office. Allegedly, the ICR does not pursue any other goals. This is just a passive show of power in order to discredit Garyugin and force Smolny Palace to sacrifice him.
Vladimir Garyugin is a powerful figure in the administrative and political framework of St. Petersburg; by his powers, Garyugin is comparable with Feliks Karmazinov, Head of Vodokanal State Unitary Enterprise nicknamed Iron Feliks for his unsinkability. Does Feliks Karmazinov have anything to do with this story? Well, according to some information, the episodes with Metropoliten State Unitary Enterprise involve the same friends of ex-Vice Governor Marat Oganesyan – currently detained in Kresty Investigative Isolator – who had attempted to push Iron Feliks out of his chair and paid dearly for that.
For many people, it was never a secret that some powers had tried to appropriate shares of Metrostroy Open Joint Stock Company using the same scheme. Currently nobody needs these shares – neither in Moscow nor in St. Petersburg. This game is lost. But now financial flows pumping huge amounts of money into the subway are at stake. After the deduction of additional revenues (lease of commercial space, printing business, cash terminals, etc.), what remains are only budget subsidies and passenger fares. Plus lucrative renovations and tenders to acquire new railway vehicles and other important items. There are plenty of high-ranked functionaries in Moscow willing to join in the high culture of spending budget funds – like it was during the construction of Zenit Arena.
Some experts had noted as early as three years ago that the St. Petersburg subway is under attack directed from Moscow.
At that time, in addition to the struggle for the shares, another strong reason was provided: allegedly some Moscow powers wanted to put their henchman into the chair of Garyugin to quietly sell out so-called ‘non-core assets’ of the rich state unitary enterprise, including a health resort in Zelenogorsk in the Kurortny district, recreation bases on the Black Sea, well-equipped children’s camp in Roshino settlement, etc. According to the sources, Moscow functionaries had repeatedly attempted to lay hands on these assets. But the Head of the St. Petersburg Subway has adamantly prohibited to repurpose the above facilities. So far, he is winning the game by a score of 2:0. But the third round with unpredictable results is forthcoming.