Business in uniform. Arrest of corrupt policemen triggers busting of gang involving enforcement officers and criminals
In just one week, three high-profile events occurred in Krasnoyarsk. Lieutenant colonel Andrei Abakovsky, the chief corruption fighter in the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai, has been arrested red-handed by FSB operatives. Then searches have been carried out in the office of Eduard Khavabu, Deputy Head of the MIA General Administration. Shortly after that, it became known that Igor Napalkov, Head of the Regional Investigations Directorate of the ICR, was removed from office. The press-secretary of the Regional FSB Directorate has admitted that a criminal group consisting of corrupt policemen and criminals had operated in the Krasnoyarsk krai for several years. New arrests are forthcoming. Who is next?
On September 15, 2017, Krasnoyarsk was shocked by media reports about searches and seizures of documents in the office and countryside residence of Eduard Khavabu, Acting Deputy Head for Operative Work of the General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation. Representatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation have stated that the high-ranked police officer does not have a procedural status yet – he is neither a suspect nor witness. No charges were laid against Eduard Khavabu so far. They admitted though that the searches have been performed in the framework of a bribe-taking case instituted against two his subordinates.Video: Krasnoyarsk police: scandal after scandal
Eduard Khavabu was born in 1981 in Sugristoe village of the Mansky district of the Krasnoyarsk krai. Graduated from the Siberian Law Institute of the MIA of Russia. Started his service in 2000 as a Criminal Investigator in the Administration of Criminal Investigation of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai. During his service in the Administration of Criminal Investigation, had held various supreme positions. In 2013–2015, was a Deputy Head of Krasnoyarskoe Inter-Municipal MIA Administration (i.e. deputy police chief of Krasnoyarsk). In May 2015, has been appointed Deputy Head for Operative Work of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai.
Three days earlier, on September 12, 2017, it became known that three persons have been arrested by the FSB and MIA Administration of Internal Security during the handover of a bribe in the amount of 1 million rubles ($17.2 thousand): Andrei Abakovsky, Head of the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai; Fedor Belyaev, Criminal Investigator of the Administration of Criminal Investigation; and intermediary Aleksander Sorochenko. The sum of 1 million rubles ($17.2 thousand) was the second ‘installment’ of a 4-million-ruble ($68.8 thousand) bribe. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, the corrupt policemen had requested this sum for reclassification of the criminal case from a severe Article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to a lighter one and discontinuation of the investigation. According to Olga Shamanskaya, Deputy Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Krasnoyarsk Krai of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), “on September 1, 2017, the first bribe installment in the amount of 1 million rubles ($17.2 thousand) was handed over to the recipients. On September 8, 2017, the second part of the 4-million-ruble ($68.8 thousand) bribe in the amount of 1 million rubles ($17.2 thousand) has been delivered and distributed between the three bribe-takers under the operative surveillance of the FSB Directorate operatives”. A criminal case has been instituted against Abakovsky and Belyaev under part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (bribe-taking on an especially large scale). A criminal case under part 4 of Article 291.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (mediation in bribery) has been initiated against the 34-year-old intermediary.
Andrei Abakovsky, Deputy Head of the 5th Department of the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai
After the arrest of Abakovsky, many people have immediately concluded that the operatives are to come to Khavabu as well. In spring 2017, a video entitled “Krasnoyarsk + Criminality = Corruption” has been uploaded on YouTube. The anonymous authors claim that a criminal group of ‘rogue cops’ operates in the Krasnoyarsk krai. The police gang covers up illegal cashiers, bootleggers, gambling, and prostitution and practices raiding takeovers of enterprises. According to the authors, Eduard Khavabu is the gang leader, while corruption fighter Andrei Abakovsky is his ‘right hand’. In addition to the police officers, dozens of people are involved into this criminal business, including athletes, lawyers, and Deputies of the Regional Legislative Assembly.Video: Krasnoyarsk + Criminality = Corruption
After the publication of the video, some people were skeptical of it and called it ‘a smear campaign’. However, after the arrest of Abakovsky during the handover of money, the number of skeptics has drastically dropped. The seizures of documents in the office and residence of Khavabu have dispelled the last doubts. The film about the police gang became much more popular that the previous favorite – a video featuring drunk police colonel Sotnikov bullying trade center owners.
Video: Lawlessness of a police colonel from Krasnoyarsk
Representatives of the Regional FSB Directorate do not deny that they have seen the video about the organized criminal group led by Khavabu and Abakovsky. Furthermore, they intend to check thoroughly the facts presented in the film. After the arrest of Abakovsky, it became clear that this bribe was not the single one. The corrupt police commander and his subordinates have created a smoothly-running criminal scheme to extort money from prominent Krasnoyarsk businessmen. According to Marina Moiseeva, Press Secretary of the FSB Directorate for the Krasnoyarsk Krai, “a number of entrepreneurs in our region became victims of the criminal group consisting of high-ranked policemen and criminals. They had extorted monetary funds on an especially large scale on a regular basis. The amounts had reached millions of rubles. In exchange, they had offered so-called ‘general patronage’”. If the potential ‘clients’ had refused to pay for the police ‘cover’, the extortionists were using more sophisticated schemes. “Various schemes were used to artificially create conditions to institute criminal cases against the businessmen and remand them in custody. Later an intermediary had contacted relatives of the detainees and conveyed the demands of the corrupt policemen. The intermediary had also provided the amount of money that had to be paid in order to solve the artificially created problems,” – Moiseeva explained.
The operatives have already searched the spacious mansion of police lieutenant colonel Abakovsky located in an environmentally pristine district of Krasnoyarsk not far from Stolby State Nature Reserve.
Then investigative actions have been performed in Riviera Hotel in Krasnoyarsk – the likely meeting place of the gang members. According to the investigation, Abakovsky and his associates were dividing the money and discussing their further plans in this hotel.
The FSB operatives have uncovered several extortion episodes committed against Krasnoyarsk-based businessmen and are currently gathering evidence for each of the episodes to bring the ‘rogue cops’ to liability. The police can’t provide the specific number of victims yet and strongly suggest the aggrieved businessmen to submit criminal complaints on extortion to the police.
The investigators believe that the three detained suspects are just the beginning. According to Olga Shamanskaya, “more arrests are forthcoming in the framework of this criminal case, including both law enforcement officers and civilians – so-called ‘fixers’”. A dozen of suspected members of the criminal group have been put on the wanted list, and this case may become the most high-profile regional scandal for the last decade.
Arrest of Andrei Abakovsky
Home of Andrei Abakovsky has been searched
After the arrest of Abakovsky and searches of Khavabu, many Krasnoyarsk residents said that they were aware of the police gang for a long time. Some Facebook users have shared stories of their interaction with the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption and told about the raidership and protection racketeering episodes committed by the police. For instance, Vladimir Vladimirov, Deputy of the Krasnoyarsk City Council, has noted that subordinates of Abakovsky had used the same scheme against Krasnoyarsk and Chinese businessmen: dispatching masked operatives first and then sending an intermediary to settle the problem for a reward.
Eduard Khavabu, Deputy Head for Operative Work of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai
Aleksander Klyukin, Deputy of the 5th Convocation of the State Duma, has named the corrupt Krasnoyarsk policemen “exceptional scum” based on his personal experience with them. The parliamentarian has also suggested the law enforcement authorities to “identify the role of general Antonov, former boss of Abakovsky [in the story involving Abakovsky]. (Vadim Antonov was the Head of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai in 2011–2016 — The CrimeRussia.) He had gone wild in the region – eating, drinking, partying, and patronizing with the help of that scum”.
Evgeny Mal’chikov, member of the Coordination Council of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia and Director of Kontora (Office) Law Firm, has emotionally shared the following story: “Some mean wretches serve there; they ruin criminal cases for millions of rubles and cover up all the illegal cash-out in the region. Under command of the former Head of the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption, my business was seized; they have withdrawn over 100 million rubles ($1.7 million) from the group of companies. All the thefts have already been proven by dozens of Arbitration court verdicts – but the only result was a swift retirement of Zhukov. (Colonel Zhukov was the Head of the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai until 2015 — The CrimeRussia.) I have been fighting for three years already, but the criminal cases haven’t been instituted yet – they, stinking rats, do not turn in their own kin...” Mal’chikov believes that the criminal community involves not just a few policemen but “almost the entire Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk Krai – an effective scheme created to collect money from the business has been running there for years, since the reign of Zhukov”.
Fedor Mar’yasov, an environmental activist, member of Zelenaya Liga (Green League) public organization, and author of several civil initiatives, said that he had repeatedly attempted to bring the attention of the law enforcement authorities to the organized criminal group in the police: “For two years already, the majority of my applications begin with the statement that an organized criminal community operates in the Krasnoyarsk krai. Many high-status figures managed to get into the mess, including regional prosecutors and cops”.
These are just a few stories from users who do not hide their names. The number of anonymous comments is much higher. Some people have recalled how a high-profile cashing-out case involving many major enterprises in the city was hushed up with the assistance of Abakovsky. The investigation against Andrei Baranov suspected of laundering 2 billion rubles ($34.4 million) was never completed.
The case against Andrei Baranov was reportedly hushed up with the involvement of Andrei Abakovsky
Victims directly affected by actions of the police lieutenant colonel have also started sharing their stories on social networks. For instance a female Krasnoyarsk resident wrote that her son is a victim of the corruption fighter. The public activist had protested against illegal installation of advertisement billboards along the Krasnoyarsk roads. Some individual entrepreneur V.Yu. Romanov reportedly patronized by Abakovsky was gaining revenues from that business. Therefore, when the activist had requested to dismantle the illegal billboards, the police lieutenant colonel has framed up a criminal case against him. Then an intermediary had approached his elderly parents and suggested to pay 3 million rubles ($51.6 thousand) for discontinuation of the prosecution or reclassification of the criminal case to a lighter Article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The retirees were unable to raise the required amount of money, and their son has been left in detention. “I had addressed the Prosecutor’s Office of the Krasnoyarsk Krai and described the situation with the dirty tricks and ‘covering up’ – but the Prosecutor’s Office responded that my arguments are not taken into consideration because I am not involved into the criminal case and the court would allegedly figure out the facts. I had a meeting with Prosecutor Roman Avdeev who had remanded by son in custody – but he has kicked me out of his office and said that he does not remember what was my son detained for and the investigation would clarify the situation. My son was under investigation for two years; he was forced to confess to crimes he had never committed; the operatives had scared him and persuaded into confessing. I had submitted letters to the pretrial detention facility warning that his life was in danger. I have got a response that I slander and compromise the authority of the institution where he is incarcerated,” – the retired teacher complains. Her son was sentenced to 5.5 years in a maximum security penal colony.
Most participants of the discussion about Abakovsky and Khavabu come to the same conclusion: it is necessary to search for uniformed members of the organized criminal group at all levels, up to the top. The high-profile arrests have just begun. Many high-ranked law enforcement officers in the Krasnoyarsk krai are about to lose their posts.
Coincidentally or not, but on September 15, 2017, regional media outlets have reported the suspension of Igor Napalkov, Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Krasnoyarsk Krai of the ICR. Elena Penzina, Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, was the first to announce this on her Facebook page. According to the parliamentarian, a commission has been dispatched to the region from Moscow to audit the investigative authorities of the Krasnoyarsk krai.
On September 16, federal media outlets have confirmed the suspension of Napalkov. However, a source in the law enforcement structures claims that this decision has nothing to do with the arrests and searches in the police. Allegedly, Napalkov has been temporarily removed from office after a complaint submitted by a local resident displeased with the progress in the investigation of a criminal case.
The suspension of Igor Napalkov, Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Krasnoyarsk Krai of the ICR, has been immediately linked with the arrests in the police
The ICR has confirmed the suspension but declined to provide a comment. Therefore, rumors are circulating that the removal of Napalkov is directly related to the corruption scandal in the police. No one believes that the Head of a Regional Investigations Directorate has lost his post over an ordinary complaint.