Murder of Roman Tsepov – ‘third echelon’ in criminal case of oligarch Mikhalchenko
In a month and half, the trial of billionaire Dmitry Mikhalchenko charged with smuggling of elite alcohol is to commence. The upcoming process promises to be anything but trivial.
Oligarch Dmitry Mikhalchenko and his deputy Boris Korevsky are to be escorted to their native St. Petersburg. The former ‘governor 24’ will be able to see a patch of the rainy St. Petersburg sky and listen to the wash of the waves because the pretrial detention facility on Shpalernaya street is located by the side of the Neva River.
In the meantime, the investigation of the criminal case is steadily progressing. In the end of July, all the suspects have completed reviewing materials of the elite alcohol smuggling case instituted under Article 200.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Smuggling of Alcoholic Production by an organized group). The case is to be submitted soon to the Prosecutor’s Office for approval of the indictment. Because the suspects are remanded in custody, the state prosecution must approve it until August 17. Then the case will be delivered to the Kingisepp Town Court, assigned to a judge, and scheduled for hearing. Overall, the investigation had lasted slightly more than a year.
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) has been investigating the case instituted under Article 200.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Smuggling of Alcoholic Production by an organized group) for illegal carrying of a large shipment of alcohol across the border and non-payment of mandatory customs dues since March 2016. At that time, billionaire Dmitry Mikhalchenko, Boris Korevsky, and their business partners Anatoly Kindzersky and Ilya Pichko (Contrail Logistic Northwest) have been arrested one by one. Sommelier Aleksei Mishenko has also been charged with smuggling. The case file consists of 118 volumes.
Today there are no doubts in a judgment of conviction for both defendants. The investigation has an indisputable argument – the testimony of Anatoly Kindzersky whose trial has been held in the prejudicial format. It is already known that in exchange for his assistance to the investigation, the remorseful businessman has got 5 years behind bars conditionally with a 4-year probation period. Such evidence is considered reliable by the court and can’t be disputed by the defense.
Surprisingly for the defense attorneys who were preparing to a fierce legal battle, the St. Petersburg oligarch hasn’t been charged under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein). The CrimeRussia already wrote that the trial must be very interesting because the suspects testifying against Mikhalchenko were not familiar with him personally and had dealt only with Korevsky who does not collaborate with the investigation and refuses to testify citing Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
It is unclear therefore what can these suspects tell to the court. In addition to the smuggling, Korevsky has also been charged with swindling. The investigators believe that he has fraudulently received $40 thousand for the release of a seized alcohol shipment. As we are aware, Korevsky denies any guilt.
Some time ago, the experts had supposed that should Mikhalchenko be charged with creation of a criminal community, the defendants are to be tried by jurors. But this hasn’t happened – and the ‘smuggling’ Article of the Criminal Code is not subject to the jury court.
According to preliminary estimations, the hearings are to commence in mid-September at the earliest. No additional information is available in relation to this trial, and even the defense attorneys have to accept certain ‘information vacuum’.
A supreme political will has authorized the incarceration of the oligarch, but the semi-criminal business is now concerned not about his fate, but about the inevitable ‘succession issue’.
The CrimeRussia became aware that Kommersant journalists are currently preparing an official complaint about violations of their professional rights and actions of the judge and Chairman of the Kingisepp Town Court. According to the insider information, in order to attend the verdict pronouncement in the case against Anatoly Kindzersky, the journalists had to submit an application to the chairman asking to be present at the court sessions. Furthermore, in addition to the standard search performed by court marshals at the security gatehouse on the second floor, the newsmen had to undergo one more search. In response to their reasonable objections, the marshals said that they are going to search “as much as needed”. In the courtroom, judge Osipov had requested the Kommersant photographer to submit all the pictures taken during the hearing to him for approval. The servant of Themis failed, however, to provide legal grounds for the requirement to get approval for photos taken during the trial. Then the process has been closed following a motion brought by the state prosecutor. The newsmen consider such attitude a professional discrimination.
It can’t be ruled out that the unprecedented measures were caused by the recent events in the Moscow Regional Court where members of GTA Gang had attempted to escape. But taking that the case against Mikhalchenko is overseen by operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, its informational transparency is highly unlikely. Neither the investigation nor FSB are interested in this.
However, this is not the only trial Mikhalchenko has to stand. The investigation is currently considering the possibility to charge the billionaire with masterminding a major embezzlement of funds allocated for the construction of the Presidential residence. In addition, three more defendants have followed the example of Anatoly Kindzersky by making plea deals and testifying against ‘governor 24’: Stanislav Kyuner, Deputy General Director of Ateks Federal State Unitary Enterprise of the Federal Protection Service of the Russian Federation; Dmitry Torchinsky, ex-Director of Stroykomplekt company; and businessman Sergei Perevalov. Dmitry Sergeev, General Director of Baltstroy (a restoration company created by Mikhalchenko) is also actively testifying against the Head of Forum Holding – as The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, Sergeev is a suspect in another criminal case pertaining to embezzlements of funds allocated for restoration of cultural heritage.
By the way, a member of the ex-governor 24’s family possesses extensive farming acreage. He owns Agrofirma Rassvet (Dawn Farming Company) Closed Joint Stock Company controlling 1.5 thousand ha of agricultural lands. According to the investigation, a portion of the funds has been transferred to dummy companies in accordance with fake contracts and then embezzled. The total amount of damages exceeds 225 million rubles ($3.8 million). The price of the contract signed with Ateks Federal State Unitary Enterprise is 5.7 billion rubles ($95.2 million).
The ‘trump card’ of the investigation – Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – is to be played in the ‘Ateks case’. And the upcoming trial in the Kingisepp Town Court is beneficial for the law enforcement structures. Neither the duration of this trial nor the sentence to the oligarch would affect the pending charges pertaining to the creation of a criminal community. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, ultimately the oligarch may share the fate of another St. Petersburg ‘governor’ – Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin charged with four indictment counts and having no chances to get out of jail.
Dmitry Mikhalchenko may share the fate of another St. Petersburg ‘governor’
An old story with the murder of Roman Tsepov is currently discussed in a similar vein. Although the businessman was killed more than 10 years ago, this case may be easily revived, if necessary. After the strange death of Tsepov, Mikhalchenko has laid hands on many of his commercial structures and, in fact, succeeded him as an informal intermediary between the law enforcement structures and semi-criminal business. Mikhalchenko has also ‘inherited’ all connections of late Tsepov in the top echelons of power. After the death of Tsepov, Mikhalchenko was introduced to Evgeny Murov, then-Head of the Federal Protection Service of the Russian Federation.
The murder of Roman Tsepov is currently discussed in the context of the criminal case against Mikhalchenko
Yuri Chaika had mentioned the ties between Mikhalchenko and ‘Tambovskie’ criminal community 10 years ago – in 2007, he wrote in his report to the President that ‘Dima Krikun’ (Dima the Crier) is an intermediary between criminal groups and enforcement services and lines his pockets on ‘settling issues’. Well-aware sources name dishonest business practices used by Mikhalchenko the main reason behind his current troubles. Up until recently, these practices had amused his high-ranked patrons – but then his ambitions went beyond the limit. No one would intercede for Mikhalchenko today – all his ‘protectors’ have got the ‘last Chinese warning’ and quietly live on pension. The CrimeRussia sources name the Tsepov murder case the ‘third echelon’ in the criminal case against the disgraced oligarch. Should it be revived, the Head of Forum Holding is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars. It is clear that a supreme political will has authorized the incarceration of the oligarch, but the semi-criminal business is now concerned not about his fate, but about the inevitable ‘succession issue’.