Case against general Murzaev: link in criminal chain or frame-up? 

Case against general Murzaev: link in criminal chain or frame-up?
The ‘night governor’, being, in fact, a member of the team led by Bocharov, landed up in jail Photo: The CrimeRussia

The Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow has remanded general Mikhail Murzaev, ex-Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) in custody. He and detained Volgograd criminal ‘authority’ Vladimir Zubkov have been charged with a terrorist attack committed by a group of persons by previous concert in the framework of a criminal case pertaining to the attempted assassination of Governor Andrei Bocharov and threats directed against him. In addition, Murzaev supposedly has ties with defendants in the ‘Shakro Molodoy case’ – Mikhail Maksimenko and Aleksander Drymanov detained for bribe-taking and recently released Denis Nikandrov – as well as with Volgograd criminal ‘authority’ Evgeny Remezov. The CrimeRussia performed its own inquest into the criminal situation in the Volgograd region to find out how could ‘night governor’ Murzaev, being, in fact, a member of the team led by Bocharov, land up in jail.

Murzaev denies ‘fantasies’

On November 16, 2016, some unidentified persons have trespassed on the private property of Andrei Bocharov, Governor of the Volgograd Region, located in deluxe Latoshenka community, Traktorozavodsky district, Volgograd. The malefactors set on fire a wooden wall of the Governor’s home and fled. The fire was quickly extinguished; neither Bocharov nor members of his family were hurt. General Mikhail Murzaev instituted a criminal case for attempted assassination of Bocharov. The investigators established that five people were involved in this crime. For 2.5 years, the public had remained unaware of the investigation progress. A video showing the arson was published only on May 23, 2019, after the arrest of one of the suspects – Evgeny Remezov.

Video showing the arson was published only in May 2019

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Governor Andrei Bocharov does not comment on the situation

Over time, it turned out that plenty of prominent figures were involved in this criminal story and related episodes. We are going to examine all of them one by one to reconstruct the general picture and identify their roles in various crimes committed in the Volgograd region. 

The most high-ranked suspect is 60-year-old lieutenant general of justice Mikhail Murzaev; after the arrest, he was delivered to Moscow by a special flight and put in Lefortovo Pretrial Detention Center. The residence and office of Murzaev have been searched.

Murzaev denies all allegations. He dismisses the charges laid against him as ‘fantasies’ and claims that “persons locked up by him in the past are currently used against him”. However, the court has remanded the general in custody until August 10, 2019. 

“On June 11, 2019, the Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow has ruled to remand in custody M.K. Mirzoev charged under paragraph “a” of part 2 of Article 205 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (act of terrorism committed by a group of persons in preliminary conclusion or by an organized group) for two months – i.e. until August 10, 2019,” – Court Press Secretary Ksenia Pervovlasenko said.

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A native of the Kalach district, Volgograd region, and Kalmyk by nationality, Mikhail Murzaev, was the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Volgograd Region of the ICR for seven years. Prior to this, he was in charge of investigative and operative groups for especially grievous violent crimes, chaired an interdepartmental anti-corruption group for combating corruption crimes in law enforcement and governmental authorities, and served in the prosecution authorities.

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General Mikhail Murzaev

Evgeny Ishchenko, ex-Head of the Volgograd Administration, has commented on his arrest as follows: “I was not surprised by this. What goes up must come down. Mikhail Murzaev is a difficult person who has done a lot of bad things. That's a fact. I don’t know what are they going to prosecute him for”. It is necessary to note that, in May 2006, Murzaev, then-Deputy Prosecutor of the Volgograd Region, was the main initiator of the arrest of Ishchenko charged under four Articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. However, in June 2007, the court has sentenced Ishchenko to only one year behind bars – and this term was already served by him during the stay in the pretrial detention facility.

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Evgeny Ishchenko, ex-Mayor of Volgograd, speaks unflatteringly of general Murzaev

«When I was a Vice Mayor of Volgograd, Murzaev told me straight: "Konstantin, you are a good guy – neither bribes nor kickbacks. I have no complaints about your performance. But had you checked the trunk of your car?" Everything became absolutely clear for me with regards to Mikhail Konduevich at that time. He was the informal, shady head of the Volgograd region. A ‘night governor'. I am thankful to him for not locking me up! Because he could easily arrange a discovery of drugs in my car by operatives. Many of his actions demonstrated that he was an omnipotent person," – Volgograd Vice Mayor Konstantin Kalachev recalls.

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Konstantin Kalachev remembers ‘drug-related hints’ of general Murzaev

During the rule of Mikhail Murzaev, a criminal case was instituted against Vladimir Sosnov, Head of the Volgograd Region Directorate of the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM): Sosnov was charged with swindling and abuse of official powers, sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony, and stripped of the rank of a major general. Murzaev has initiated a criminal case against Pavel Karev, Chairman of the Volgograd Municipal Duma; in January 2007, he was sentenced to three years behind bars for bribe-taking. Murzaev had a hand in the criminal case against Mikhail Tsukruk, then-Head of the General Administration for the Volgograd Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation: in July 2008, Tsukruk was charged with abuse of official powers committed out of personal interests and exceedance of official powers. The list of Murzaev’s ‘victims’ includes Florid Salim’yanov, Head of the State Traffic Safety Inspection of the MIA General Administration for the Volgograd Region; Aleksander Tarasov, ex-Minister of Agriculture of the Volgograd Region; Vladimir Vasin, Chairman of the Committee for Youth Affairs of the Volgograd Region; Pavel Krupnov, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Volgograd Region; Mikhail Korotkov, Chairman of the Volgograd Regional Court; Nikolai Parshin, ex-Deputy of the State Duma; and some other high-ranked persons. No surprise that all of them became enemies of the disgraced general. 

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Murzaev initiated numerous VIP-arrests

Apparently, Murzaev holds state and departmental awards and honorary weapons for his ‘uncompromising’ service. 

“Even local FSB officers were afraid of him”

It is known that the detained general had friendly ties with Mikhail Maksimenko, ex-Head of the Main Directorate for Interdepartmental Liaison and Internal Security of the ICR, who was sentenced in April 2019 to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony for accepting a bribe from henchmen of thief-in-law Shakro Molodoy.

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Mikhail Maksimenko, convicted in the framework of the ‘investigators case’, was a friend of Murzaev

‘Proteges’ of Murzaev included Aleksei Mezentsev and Sergei Kapustin, high-ranked investigators of the MIA Main Directorate for Criminal Investigation; they had instituted criminal cases on the basis of materials collected by the MIA General Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption bypassing their boss – major general of justice Yuri Alekseev. Denis Nikandrov, ex-Deputy Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR, and some other ICR investigators were ‘apprentices’ of general Murzaev, too. In August 2018, Nikandrov was convicted to 5.5 years behind bars for accepting a bribe from associates of Shakro Molodoy; recently, he was released on parole.

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Denis Nikandrov, recently released on parole, was an ‘apprentice’ of Murzaev

Two sons of Murzaev had repeatedly attracted the attention of the law enforcement authorities and caused various scandals.

For instance, in 2016, 25-year-old Ivan Murzaev driving a Land Cruiser Prado has slipped into the road shoulder on Srednyaya Akhtuba–Krasnoslobodsk highway and struck and killed 46-year-old Aleksander Cherekaev. No criminal case was instituted in relation to the fatal traffic accident because the State Traffic Safety Inspection has ‘established’ that Cherekaev allegedly was intoxicated and had jaywalked. 

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Fatally struck Aleksander Cherekaev (on the left) with son Nikita

A video with Mikhail Murzaev junior, an investigator of the Koptevsky Interdistrict Investigations Department of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR, went viral. The footage shows him in underpants yelling obscenities and threatening police officers, who have come to his apartment to take testimonies. Shortly before that, he was beaten by some unidentified persons in a Moscow cafe and sustained bruised nose, closed nose fracture, bruised eyes, bruised forehead and left ear, bruised left shoulder joint, and a stab and slash wound of the upper one-third of the left thigh. After the incident, the general’s son was ‘expelled’ to the Investigations Directorate in Astrakhan.

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Mikhail Murzaev junior meets the Moscow police

No doubt, general Murzaev had wielded great power in the Russian investigation system. Furthermore, he was an Advisor to ICR Chairman Alexander Bastyrkin. For more than 11 years, this almighty person had ruled the Volgograd region.

“The guy was so influential that he could solve any issue not only in his region or federal district – but in Moscow as well. Any issue! Even local FSB officers were afraid of him. The general had repeatedly demonstrated his direct contact with Bastyrkin. And now, as of a sudden, he is in Lefortovo. We were told that the general was involved in a criminal frame-up: they had blatantly planted drugs on an uncooperative Stalingrad resident. The spouse of that person escalated this matter to the highest level, and the case file ended up in the central headquarters of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB). Perhaps, there was more than one such file. And the untouchable general was arrested. No one has stood up for him,” – a Telegram channel reports.

Mikhail Murzaev was dismissed by an Order of Russian President Vladimir Putin of December 28, 2018 together with a number of other high-ranked functionaries of the ICR, MIA, EMERCOM, and Federal Penitentiary Service of the Russian Federation. On January 2, 2019, he was removed from office. In fact, rumors about his possible arrest had circulated since the latter half of 2019 – it became known that Murzaev had assisted major general of justice Aleksander Drymanov in getting the lawyer’s status.

Volgograd registration of general Drymanov

Prior to transferring to the ICR, Aleksander Drymanov was an investigator in the MIA General Administration for the Volgograd Region and a senior investigator for special cases in the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation. He was involved in the investigation of the ‘Yukos case’ and a number of other high-profile corruption cases. As a Senior Investigator for Special Cases under the authority of the ICR Chairman, he had supervised the case against Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko and commanders of Donbass, Aidar, and Dnipro-1 penal battalions. On February 9, 2015, Alexander Bastyrkin has personally appointed Drymanov the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR. 

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Alexander Bastyrkin appointed Drymanov the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in the City of Moscow of the ICR

The name of Drymanov was mentioned in the media in relation to the high-profile prosecution of Moscow investigators – who had received a large bribe from Shakro Molodoy for the release of his henchman from the pretrial detention facility. In February 2016, FSB operatives detained above-mentioned Denis Nikandrov, Mikhail Maksimenko, and Aleksander Lamonov. Later, General Nikandrov, who had served for a long time in Volgograd under the command of Murzaev, has testified against his former boss Drymanov. 

The friendship with Murzaev enabled Drymanov to remain at liberty for almost two years – while the other suspects were locked in Lefortovo Pretrial Detention Facility. In June 2018, Murzaev had actively assisted Drymanov in getting out of the FSB jurisdiction by obtaining the lawyer’s status. Murzaev provided to his friend a residential registration in a mansion belonging to some shawarma vendor Ali Kurban ogly Ismailov and located next door to his own residence in the Dzerzhinsky district of Volgograd. 

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Aleksander Drymanov had a residential registration in this home

But all the efforts were in vain: in July 2018, Drymanov was arrested, and since then, the Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow has been extending his detention term on a regular basis. The former high-ranked investigator denies any guilt and claims that his former subordinate Denis Nikandrov has slandered him. Drymanov faces up to 20 years behind bars for bribe-taking on an especially large scale. The Lefortovsky District Court has frozen his assets.

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General Drymanov faces up to 20 years behind bars

Criminal ‘authority’ Zubok and life after the death of Kadin 

Vladimir Zubkov (Zubok), a well-known in Volgograd criminal ‘authority’, was also arrested by the FSB and delivered from Gumrak Airport to Moscow by a special flight in the framework of the inquest into the arson of the residence of the Governor of the Volgograd Region. 

It is necessary to note that ICR operatives had searched residences of Zubkov and his close relatives back in October 2017. A probe was launched on the basis of some documents found there, and the name of Murzaev was mentioned in it.

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Volgograd criminal ‘authority’ Vladimir Zubkov

Vladimir Zubkov had posed as a businessman and had extensive ties with the criminal world. He was running joint projects with local entrepreneur Andrei Doronin, including a winery in Dubrovka, not far from Volgograd. Zubkov is a cofounder of Zamok Na Peskakh (Castle on Sands) Entertainment Complex and co-owner of Sosnovy Bor (Pine Forest) Limited Liability Company. Interestingly, Sosnovy Bor had received governmental contracts from the Regional Duma, Us-34 Federal State Unitary Enterprise of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, and the Executive Office of the Governor of the Volgograd Region.

In addition, Viktor Vasilevsky, a relative of Andrei Bocharov, reportedly was a close friend of Vladimir Zubkov. In the mid-2000s, Vasilevsky was the Head of Department “M” of the FSB Directorate for the Volgograd Region. Later, he was dismissed for repeated fabrication of passports and corruption. Bocharov saved him from criminal liability at that time. Currently, Vasilevsky is a businessman; he owns Nasledie (Heritage) Private Museum. The people of Vasilevsky are known in the region as ‘grave diggers’: they conduct barbaric excavations in the Gorodishchensky district extracting sand and appropriating historical artifacts.

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‘Grave digger’ Vasilevsky is a relative of Bocharov and friend of Zubkov

Zubkov’s son-in-law Denis Krasyukov used to be the Head of the Dzerzhinsky District Administration of Volgograd. Apparently, his appointment was lobbied ‘from above’. Krasyukov was detained together with his father-in-law – but then released. According to some information, the daughter of Zubkov resides in the Czech Republic and owns a farm there.

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Denis Krasyukov, son-in-law of Zubkov

Zubkov was a partner of prominent businessman Vladimir Kadin, Vice President of the Regional Boxing Federation, shot dead in Fa Sol’ Restaurant in August 2011. Kadin was considered the unofficial overseer of the Volgograd region – although there is no hard evidence of this. In the past, Kadin had served in the police and never adhered to the thieves’ code – however, during his lifetime, it was pretty quiet in the region, while after his death, turbulent times and murders of businessmen began.

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Slain Vladimir Kadin had maintained order in the region. This became clear after his death

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Scene of murder of Kadin

For instance, on May 21, 2014, local businessman Sergei Brudny was shot dead near Marusya Cafe located on Geroev Valley in the center of Volgograd.

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Sergei Brudny was assassinated in the center of Volgograd

The killer – Khasu Batalov, a native of the North Caucasus and rebel fighter of terrorist Doku Umarov, – was convicted to 17 years behind bars in 2015. Masterminds behind this crime, Alietdin Makhmudov and Abugali Temerkhanov, – as well as driver Denis Aleksandrov – were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, too. The trial of Aleksander Gebert, another suspect in this case charged with incitement to and complicity in the murder, is currently ongoing in the Volgograd Regional Court; on May 23, 2019, the prosecutor asked the court to convict him to 19 years in a maximum security penal colony.

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Sergei Brudny was shot dead in May 2014 near this cafe

According to sources, the arrest of Vladimir Zubkov is linked with the arrest of Volgograd businessman Vitaly Brudny in June 2017. Vitaly Brudny is suspected of masterminding the attempted assassination of titled kickboxer and businessman Vladimir Potashkin – who was recently convicted to 7 years behind bars for extortion. 

‘Drowning’ general

According to the Volgograd media, after his arrest, Vitaly Brudny made several interesting statements – and was immediately transferred to Moscow, while Volgograd operatives were barred from the investigation. Reportedly, he has shared with the investigators information about unlawful deeds committed by heads of all branches of power in the Volgograd region and supported his testimonies with documents and audio and/or video records. The investigation keeps the information provided by Brudny in secret.

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Vitaly Brudny attracted the attention of the Moscow investigators

It is necessary to note that Vitaly Brudny is the younger brother of Sergei Brudny shot dead in May 2014. The sniper has also wounded Evgeny Remezov, then-Director of Volgograd Central Market, in the face – but the criminal ‘authority’ survived. On May 23, 2019, he was detained in Moscow for masterminding the attempted murder of Governor Bocharov.

Evgeny Remezov was detained in May 2019

It is known that businessman and criminal ‘authority’ Evgeny Remezov has seized the control over Volgograd Central Market in the early 2000s. He has earned millions of rubles using shady sublease schemes. In 2003, Remezov has leased from the municipality 16.5 thousand square meters of retail space on extremely beneficial terms – and sublet the premises to vendors with great profits. The Governor had tried to return the market to the municipal ownership and won all court cases. According to the investigation, after that, Remezov has given instructions to the criminal group controlled by him since 2012, plotted the assassination of the Governor, and left the country to ensure his alibi. 

“Common sense territory”? 

Both Vladimir Zubkov and Evgeny Remezov have been charged with attempted assassination of Governor Bocharov. According to sources close to the investigation, Remezov has testified that general Murzaev was the mastermind behind this crime. The motives of Murzaev are unknown yet. It is known however that Remezov had numerous conflicts with Bocharov and was interested in his neutralization. 

It cannot be ruled out that the charges laid against Murzaev were just a pretext for his arrest. Operatives could watch the ‘shadow ruler’ of Volgograd for a while and collect plenty of evidence against him by the time of the arrest. The ICR intend to identify his role and degree of involvement in many criminal episodes committed in the region.

Volgograd residents believe that Mikhail Murzaev had covered Governor Andrei Bocharov – an ‘outsider’ from Barnaul – for many years. Now Bocharov – a Hero of the Russian Federation, by the way – is actively trying to distance himself from the disgraced general.

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Bocharov and Murzaev had often attended public events together

People from the close circle of Bocharov have apparently forgotten that, back in 2014, Bocharov had instituted a swindling case against Nikolai Parshin, a former Deputy of the Volgograd Municipal Duma and State Duma of the Russian Federation, to ensure the victory of ‘outsider’ Bocharov in the gubernatorial elections. 

“...Murzaev used to put criminal and procedural pressure on local Deputies throughout the region to appoint henchmen of Bocharov–Bloshkin, including those with criminal past, to local administrations. Murzaev has prosecuted a part of collapsing Kadinskie organized criminal group having a conflict with another part that had passed under the ‘patronage' of the Governor. Finally, Murzaev has instituted a criminal case for attempted murder of Governor Bocharov – although it was just a property damage... On the other hand, the Regional ICR Directorate hadn't instituted a single case in these years for numerous dishonest governmental acquisitions, illegitimate implementation of the non-stationary trade scheme, etc. Murzaev had shredded all operative materials against associates of Bocharov, thus, covering him up for years," – Terrotoriya Zdravogo Smysla (Common Sense Territory) (@terzdrsm) Telegram channel reports emphasizing that Murzaev de facto was a member of the team led by the Governor of the Volgograd Region. 

It is possible to suppose that the arrest of Mikhail Murzaev for the ‘terrorist attack’ committed in the residence of Bocharov is a blow targeting ICR Chairman Alexander Bastyrkin. If so, Governor Andrei Bocharov is just a pawn in the political game played by various law enforcement structures. 

In the meantime, some Sanal Goryaev has published an online petition to President Putin asking to release Mikhail Murzaev, “one of the most honest investigators in Russia”: “Liberty to honest officer Mikhail Murzaev! Kalmykia with Murzaev!”    

To remind: back in 2010, Mikhail Murzaev was offered to take charge of the Republic of Kalmykia – but declined that position.


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