‘Provocation masters’: what will come out of new conflict between MIA and FSB of Russian Federation?

‘Provocation masters’: what will come out of new conflict between MIA and FSB of Russian Federation?
Vladimir Spiridonov

A fight between the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of the MIA of the Russian Federation and FSB Department for Economic Security has now entered the final stage, according to the RBK Informational Agency’s interlocutor. Should the intelligence agency win, some FSB employees will be ‘transferred’ to the MIA.⁠

A fight between the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of the MIA of the Russian Federation and FSB Department for Economic Security has now entered the final stage, according to the RBK Informational Agency’s interlocutor. Should the intelligence agency win, some FSB employees will be ‘transferred’ to the MIA.

It was the conflict between the ‘not-anymore-influential’ General Administration and FSB that led to several General Administration employees being arrested last week, according to RBK’s 3 sources from law enforcement agencies who are familiar with development of criminal investigations against the police officers.

The security agency is trying to take control of the General Administration that would fight against illegal cash-out, according to the RBK’s interlocutors. The current General Administration employees will have to leave and ‘lose their positions’ to FSB officers should the security agency succeed.

MIA investigators are accused of forging investigative documents and solicitation of bribes from public servants and entrepreneurs under investigation. The General Administration had a long-established system for tampering with evidence and a wide network of agent provocateurs, according to suspects in investigations conducted by General Administration employees.

General Administration against billionaire

Investigators of the M Department of the FSB Department for Economic Security detained General Administration T Department officer Sergey Astafurov on February 14, 2017. The M Department tacitly supervises the Ministry. The Basmanny District Court arrested Astafurov the next day. He was accused of breaking the article 286, part 3 (“Exceeding Official Powers”) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Chelyabinsky Truboprokatny Zavod Pipe Plant co-owner Andrey Komarov and his attorney Aleksandr Shibanov fell within Astafurov’s professional scope back in 2014 when Astafurov still worked at the General Administration M Department, according to the investigation.

It is worth mentioning that Astafurov forged a portion of the criminal intelligence analysis and ‘enabled’ commercial bribery, accordion the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation. Promresurs Federal State Unitary Enterprise Director Vladimir Spiridonov was his accessory. The General Administration began investigating Komarov and Shibanov’s activities after Spiridonov filed a police report.

Spiridonov filed the report due to the Plant having participated in a mobilization training program. The program idea is that private for-profit companies repair defense infrastructure facilities and the (Russian) government compensates them up to 20% of costs later. Komarov reported having repaired one such facility for 9.3 billion rubles; the government paid him 1.8 billion rubles back using budget funds.

The law requires such agreements are audited. It was Promresurs that audited this one. Promresurs employees concluded that Komarov forged the repair documentation; the compensation was illegal. Komarov tried to persuade Promresurs to conceal the information about the fraud by offering its management a $300 000 bribe, according to the General Administration. By that time, Spiridonov’s report had already been processed; Komarov was under surveillance when giving the bribe.

However, the case against Komarov and Shibanov was closed after almost 2 years. It may have been closed due to Spiridonov and the investigators allegedly having been provocative, as suggested by the RBK’s interlocutors familiar with development of the investigation.

Committee against MIA

Spiridonov finally testified against Astafurov. Spiridonov claimed the General Administration employee “instigated him”, according to the record of interrogation of Spiridonov to which a Committee representative referred to during the trial.

Astafurov was not the only one who investigated the Plant co-owner’s case. His colleagues Oleg Sablin and Aleksandr Blankov did the same, according to 2 RBK’s interlocutors familiar with development of the investigation. When talking to RBK, Komarov’s attorney Rustam Kurmaev confirmed that Sablin and Blankov were mentioned in the case file with respect to his client.

The attorney pointed out that Blankov is famous for having supervised an investigation against Rosbank Bank former Head Vladimir Golubkov. In 2013, Golubkov was accused of solicitation of a bribe. However, the case against him was also closed last January, almost at the same time as Komarov and Shibanov’s one. Sablin was dismissed a year ago, according to Kurmaev.

“The case was opened against Astafurov and several unknown people. The suspects’ testimonies may very well result in new suspects”, Kurmaev said.

FSB against MIA

The Astafurov’s case is not the 1st case against an General Administration employee supervised by the FSB. The case against General Administration Head General Denis Sugrobov and his deputy Boris Kolesnikov was the most high-profile of such cases. Law enforcement officers began performing searches and arrests with respect to the case in February 2014. Subordinates of Sugrobov and Kolesnikov forged documents in about 20 cases against public servants and entrepreneurs, according to the Committee.

It was a conflict between the generals and the FSB Internal Investigations Division Administration that resulted in them getting arrested, as earlier reported by RBK. 2/3 of the General Administration employees were laid off in the wake of Sugrobov’s case, according to RBK’s high-ranking interlocutor from the MIA Administration.

Astafurov who was arrested this week used to work at the General Administration T Department. The Department does not exist anymore. Dmitry Zakharchenko was the Department Head. Zakharchenko is accused of receiving 7 million rubles from former Rusinzhiniring Company Head and co-owner Anatoly Pshegornitsky in exchange for “endorsing his interests”.

Finally, some more General Administration investigators were accused of breaking the law; Aleksandr Sobol and Sergey Abramov were charged with exceeding official powers.

‘Provocation masters’

Activities of the General Administration have been based on forgery and provocation since at least 2009. Attorney Mikhail Trepashkin is sure that it was not Sugrobov who put the system in place. “They are provocation masters. I think they forged documents for dozens of cases”, the lawyers representing the victims in the case against Sobol and Abramov said. The General Administration had a network of agents who instigated public officers and entrepreneurs to commit corruption crimes, according to him.

“The General Administration launched investigations against FSB representatives. That was when they got themselves into problems. I think that this case is all about a collision of 2 large agencies, not crimes. As usual, the FSB won. It is the main Russian law enforcement agency, after all”, attorney Anna Stavitskaya who represented Sugrobov and Kolesnikov told RBK. She claimed the officers were prosecuted due to struggle for influence between the 2 agencies.

The General Administration should be disbanded, but “some influential people obstruct development of the situation”, according to Moscow Police Officers’ Union Head Mikhail Pashkin. “Someone told the investigation not to inquire into the higher level activities. Such issues are dealt with by high-ranking officials. In theory, it is the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation’s job to investigate such crimes. It would have then refer all the gathered information to the Committee. Today, the General Administration is a corrupt agency”, he said.

The fight between the MIA and FSB has now entered the final stage, according to 2 RBK’s interlocutors from law enforcement agencies. The security agency is seeking to appoint people affiliated with it to the General Administration, according to another source in law enforcement agencies.

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