Udmurtia MIA puts pressure on policemen over trade union
Udmurtia law enforcement officers, who exercised their constitutional right to join a trade union, found themselves under severe pressure from their own superiors, the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Udmurt Republic. Threats, insults, and illegal dismissals have become commonplace in the law enforcement system of Udmurtia. Retired Police Captain and co-founder of the trade union Bakhram Radzhabov shed light on the situation in a conversation with The CrimeRussia.
Minions vs unwanted policemen
Non-lyrical digression. On May 22, 2019, at the congress of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, Vladimir Putin emphasized that trade union organizations are the basic public structure, and the state is obliged to assist them in upholding the labor rights of citizens at all levels. In addition, the president reasonably pointed out the need to build a constant and productive dialog, and called the attempts by representatives of the employer to abandon or distance themselves from trade unions and impede their activities arbitrariness. The CrimeRussia previously examined how local presidential initiatives were being implemented on the example of the Udmurtia regional public trade union organization of employees and workers of Militia law enforcement bodies (hereinafter referred to as the trade union), a non-profit organization that does not pursue political goals, established on February 8, 2019 by the current employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Udmurt Republic.
The founders of the union include Senior Criminal Investigator of the unit No. 3 of the MIA Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption in the Udmurt Republic (UEBiPK) Andrey Shamparov, Criminal Investigator of the UEBiPK unit No. 3 Igor Agafonov, former Criminal Investigator of the UEBiPK unit No. 6 Bakhram Radzhabov, and former Criminal Investigator of the MIA Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption in the Pervomaysky district of Izhevsk, Artyom Fertikov.
Retired Police Captain and co-founder of the trade union Bakhram Radzhabov
Bakhram Firuzovich, what prompted you and your colleagues to create the union?
Basically, it was the negative situation in the observance of labor rights of the employees in the internal affairs bodies, which ultimately led to an outflow of personnel, the formation of a significant lack of staff, and a negative moral and psychological climate among employees due to the increased workload. That is precisely why the leadership of the republican Ministry of Internal Affairs carries out systematic discrimination and administrative pressure against the founders and members of the trade union.
How is it manifested?
Since the creation of the trade union, numerous official checks have been carried out against its members on various grounds. For example, publication of materials on the union’s page in the VKontakte social network, far-fetched violations of official discipline, sudden checks of the privacy regime. Officers of the Udmurt MIA Internal Security field investigation unit take active search measures, including wiretapping, against the union founders. Of course, we can’t document the wiretapping, but we came to this conclusion based on examination of the facts.
So this means that investigators are used to fight investigators, am I right?
All resources, including operational units, are used to counter our activities. I will try explain this on the example of Chairman of the union, Andrey Shamparov. Before registering the organization in February 2019, in agreement with the leadership, he applied for a higher vacant position in the internal affairs bodies, namely, criminal investigator for the Major Crimes Unit in the MIA UEBiPK unit No. 3. The application was transferred to Head of this department, Andrey Fomichev. However, after the union was registered, Shamparov's appointment never took place, without any explanation. In April 2019, during a conversation, Andrey Fomichev explained that the transfer did not take place due to the establishment of the trade union. He said the following: “The situation with the position of criminal investigator for the Major Crimes Unit is complex; you should have registered the trade union a little later.”
So he was refused because of the trade union, despite his professional qualities?
Exactly. The UEBiPK management even initiated and conducted a service check against one of the founders, Igor Agafonov, as a result of which he was brought to strict disciplinary liability – a warning of incomplete official compliance – in accordance with the order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Udmurt Republic of April 26, 2019. Allegedly, for improper presentation of the results of active search measures, although the employee never conducted any active search measures.
So, it seems that a warning of incomplete official compliance is one of the most stringent irrational disciplinary sanctions?
Yes. In addition, materials in relation to Igor Agafonov were sent to the Investigative Committee for examination and decision-making in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation. However, on June 6, the Investigative Committee issued a decision not to institute criminal proceedings in connection with the absence of corpus delicti in their actions.
The Investigative Committee did not find corpus delicti in Igor Agafonov’s actions
So the Investigative Committee did not want it on its conscience?
It appears like that. By the way, another employee was mentioned in the ruling on Agafonov. It is an employee from the unit for combating crimes in the areas of housing and utilities and construction. So, by the same decision, he was assigned a similar disciplinary sanction for corruption misconduct, expressed in the receipt of money for performing work in the interests of a management company in the housing and utilities sector. A check was conducted against this employee, during which the facts were confirmed; he was disciplined and transferred to an equivalent position in another unit. At the same time, due to the possible presence of element essential to the offense, procedural audit materials were not separated from the case and were not referred to the Investigative Committee.
The employee did not lose her position for corruption misconduct
Didn’t Agafonov appeal against the sanction?
This is currently being appealed in court. But the management intervenes in civil proceedings. For example, employees of the Internal Security Service’s field investigation unit decided to additionally question Agafonov's witness using a polygraph by sending a corresponding request to the territorial internal affairs body.
Internal Security Service’s field investigation unit is asking to hold repeated questioning of the witness from Agafonov's side
So it appears that the law enforcers involved in the trade union are unfavorable to their bosses?
The discrimination is evident. As you can see, when a loyal and convenient employee is busted on corruption, they are only subject to disciplinary action, and there is no question of looking for corpus delicti in his actions.
How to violate the security mode as a member of the union
Do members of the trade union receive threats and insults?
Of course. For example, in June 2019, after continuous ‘steamrolling’ on the grounds of trade union membership, Criminal Investigator Artyom Fertikov recorded the statements of Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Izhevsk Fato Mgoi, Head of the police department No. 3 of the Izhevsk MIA, Yury Chibyshev, and Head of the OEBiPK in the Pervomaisky district, Nikita Kudrin, that contained insults, foul language and threats of dismissal.
Fato Mgoi, Yury Chibyshev, Nikita Kudrin
In a similar situation, other employees would get a much more serious punishment...
Exactly. But in our case, it’s all the way around. Moreover, in the framework of the internal check into the appeal of Artyom Fertikov on the basis of the order of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Udmurtia, Police Colonel Aleksey Popov, an official investigation was appointed against Fertikov himself. Allegedly, he violated the secrecy mode by recording illegal actions of leaders in their offices! Although, in recorded conversations, no issues that constitute state secrets or contain information of limited distribution were discussed.
So in the minister’s opinion, swearing and threats to subordinates have the status of secrecy?
It appears like that. And this is despite the fact that the previously mentioned Mgoi, Chibyshev, and Kudrin receive citizens in their supposedly sensitive offices, which is a violation of the secrecy mode, as unauthorized persons are not allowed to enter the sensitive premises. However, for some reason, they do not bear any responsibility for violations of official discipline and the secrecy mode, in contrast to the union member Fertikov.
The leaders receive citizens in their sensitive offices
How was an internal investigation conducted against Artyom Fertikov who ‘violated’ the secrecy mode?
On June 25, his workplace was searched; they opened his safe and drew up a corresponding act. On July 2, approved the conclusion, the operative part of which said that violations of the secrecy mode were identified in the actions of Fertikov. He was reprimanded for the violations. On July 3, a meeting of the central expert commission on the secrecy mode was held in the republican Ministry of Internal Affairs, as a result of which, by order of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Fertikov’s access to state secrets was terminated. On August 30, he was removed from his post.
Why wasn't he dismissed right away, and not after two months?
This is real nonsense. In late August, he was fired not for breach of secrecy, but for his absenteeism on June 8. Allegedly, he did not take up daily duty as part of an operational investigative unit. However, no authorized official ordered him to enter the duty on a weekend (it was Saturday), and Fertikov was not informed about it!
Thus, the threats that Fertikov would not be allowed to continue his service have already been implemented?
Yes, and the trade union regards this as revenge on the part of the higher authorities.
My activity angered officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Bakhram Firuzovich, have you made any attempts to get along with the Ministry of Internal Affairs?
We have. On July 5, we sent an appeal addressed to the Minister of the Interior with a proposal to conclude a cooperation agreement. In response, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said that there were no grounds for accepting the proposals of the trade union. Although, in the interview entitled “Self-improvement is a continuous process,” Minister Aleksey Popov said the following when asked whether he planned to develop public outreach: “Definitely. The development of public outreach in the Republic has been active and never stopped. I have already had working meetings with representatives of public organizations. We have found common ground and are ready to continue cooperation in all areas.” But, apparently, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is ready to start a dialog not with all public organizations, but only with ‘convenient’ ones, and the trade union is not one of them. We are witnessing double standards policy.
The response of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the appeal of the trade union indicates the employer's unwillingness to engage in dialog
Probably, the situation became even more tense after the cooperation offer?
Yes, on July 10, unexpected audits were carried out against Andrey Shamparov and Igor Agafonov to check compliance of the secrecy mode; their safes were opened in order to search for any violations. By the way, the checks were carried out after hours, and Shamparov was on vacation!
You are one of the union founders. Have you had any problems?
I left the service in February 2019. But I felt the power and pressure of the system in all its glory back in the summer of 2018. It all started with a regular anti-corruption audit, which police officers undergo regularly. To put it short...
What exactly happened?
They checked the accuracy of the information in the certificates of income and expenses for 2015. It turned out that I made a technical mistake in the certificate, which did not change the essence of the information submitted. In other words, column A contained information that should be located in column B. It is noteworthy that many police officers made a similar ridiculous mistake and many suffered a punishment for this in 2018.
Apparently, you did not agree with the punishment?
The misinterpretation of provisions of law by the officials conducting the audit and my active actions during the audit, as well as my disagreement with the suspicions on the part of the inspectors angered and irritated the officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Udmurtia. What they wanted was to quickly report on the audit to the prosecutor’s office and “routinely” punish employees. However, my legal position forced them to extend the audit. The management and personnel are accustomed to punish employees according to a pattern, they are used to the fact that the latter meekly accept disciplinary punishments and do not assert their labor rights. Heads of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were so hurt by my activity and disagreement that they decided to illegally dismiss me in August 2018, allegedly for the loss of confidence, despite the fact that I was receiving medical treatment and was on a sick leave.
The trade union did not exist back then?
We organized the union six months later. Then, in August 2018, realizing that my dismissal was too severe a punishment and that I could recover my position through the court before the end of the calendar year (and Moscow would punish them for illegal dismissal), the Ministry of Internal Affairs canceled the order for my dismissal and imposed another punishment, namely “incomplete official compliance.” After entering the service, I was discriminated on ethnic grounds and insulted by one of the leaders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who promised me that he would put me in jail for throwing weight about.
And then you decided to quit?
Having realized that it was not possible to achieve legitimacy in labor and official matters in the system of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and that all orders and regulatory legal acts giving the right and opportunity for employees to assert their rights were in name only, I voluntarily quit in February 2019.
Fictitious penalties in bulk
Tell me, does the pressure apply only to founders of the trade union, or do ordinary members suffer as well?
It is applied to everyone who has to do with the union. For example, on August 28, Maksim Kochurov, shift manager on duty at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Izhevsk, the father of five minor children and the only breadwinner in the family (his wife is on maternity leave) was dismissed. He was dismissed in violation of applicable law, since he was not assigned a pension.
Maksim Kochurov was dismissed in violation of applicable law
However, after a few days, on September 3, a repeated dismissal order was issued; this time, with the right to receive a pension. The employer realized their mistake, which was made in haste, and tried to fix it.
Why was Maksim Kochurov fired?
You know, he did not have any disciplinary sanctions until the end of 2018. When he became a member of the trade union, a warning and as many as 5 reprimands were issued against him. For example, for leaving the service at 10:30, despite the fact that his shift ended at 08:00. Or for “violation of the access control regime.” Supposedly, he missed the inspector, although Kochurov’s workplace is 10 meters from the checkpoint and he himself did not directly implement the access control regime. And the list goes on and on. He currently appeals all contrived penalties in court.
Their aim was to dismiss him, so they did...
Exactly. In connection with the disciplinary practice adopted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, many managers and executors have several active disciplinary sanctions (3-5 each, including strict ones), but not everyone is dismissed. Only the “unwanted” ones. Here is an example. On August 13, 2019, a drunk employee entered the duty at the Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Izhevsk. He was sent for a medical examination, which showed that he had 1.46 ppm of alcohol in his blood. And guess what. He was given a severe reprimand and continues to serve to date.
Summing up, it can be said that the facts indicated by our interlocutor, retired police captain Bakhram Radzhabov, are a systemic reaction of the leadership of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs aimed at suppressing the activities of the trade union in the system of internal affairs bodies; they indicate discrimination in the world of work. These actions unlawfully restrict the right to join trade unions, which is enshrined in the Constitution of the Russian Federation and legislation, and also openly contradict the order of Vladimir Putin.
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