Chekhov ‘authorities’ lost to racketeers in uniform? Is it truth or fantasy of fugitive suspect in ‘land case’?
One of the main suspects in a case pertaining to embezzlements of municipal and federal lands in the Moscow region has provided his vision of the situation. Oleg Strekalov, who is currently hiding abroad, claims that all the problems have begun after an incursion of law enforcement structures against him.
The story of major embezzlements of lands and real properties in the Chekhov district of the Moscow region has recently made a new twist. Since the arrest of the first suspect – businessman Nikolai Pavlinov well-known in Chekhov – in August 2017, the number of defendants increased to 12 people, including former Heads of the Chekhov District – Sergei Yudin, who has resigned in September 2017, and Anatoly Chibeskov, current Head of the Miloslavskoe District in the Ryazan region.
A Chekhov-based news portal became aware that searches have been carried out in residence and offices of Yudin and Chibeskov. Ryazan media outlets report that Chibeskov has been arrested. The operatives arrived to his home early in the morning, then visited his office, and the handcuffed official has been escorted to Moscow.
To refresh background: Chibeskov had worked in the Chekhov District Administration for some ten years; he was appointed the Head of the District Administration in 2005, after the death of the former district head Gennady Nedoseka. Anatoly Chibeskov was in charge of the Chekhov District until 2010 and then returned to his native Miloslavskoe district of the Ryazan region. This year, he has been elected the district head again. The CrimeRussia had already mentioned Nedoseka, also known as Gena Bolshoy (Gena the Big), in its earlier publications.
Sergei Yudin and Anatoly Chibeskov
In the early 2000s, Sergei Yudin, who has resigned on September 18, was a deputy of Nedoseka and after his death, became an aide to then-Deputy Ivanyuzhenkov. In 2013, Yudin returned to the Chekhov district as its head. With his background and connections, he has perfectly fitted in the system created by that time by the shadow bosses of the region – Pavlinov and Strekalov. According to other sources, they have appointed Yudin to that post.
Nedoseka (Gena Bolshoy), Ivanyuzhenkov (Rotan (Chinese sleeper)) and Pavlinov (Kolya/Pavlin (Peacock)) are former members of the Podolsk–Chekhov criminal society. Serged Lalakin (Luchok (Onion)), leader of Podolskie organized criminal group, was their common friend.
According to the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), the land embezzlement case has been instituted under part 4 of Article 159 (swindling on an especially large scale), Article 174.1 (legalization (laundering) of monetary funds), and parts 1, 2, and 3 of Article 210 (creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Since the end of 2011 and until August 2016, the members of the organized criminal community have committed seven crimes, appropriated assets worth at least 281 million rubles ($4.9 million), and legalized land lots and buildings worth in total 60 million rubles ($1 million). The scheme used by the fraudsters involved submission of false information to relevant branches of the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr) and Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushestvo). Based on that information, lands and real properties belonging to the Ministry of Defense, Federal Forestry Agency, and other governmental agencies were transferred to other legal entities and then sold.
The following persons have also been charged in the framework of this criminal case: Yulia Ivanova, Deputy Head of the Federal Tax Service Inspectorate for the Town of Chekhov; businessman Danis Nizametdinov, Andrei Vasilenko, military unit commander in Chekhov-3, and realtor Igor Rodchenkov.
Marins Group Union was also involved into the land fraud. Its Moscow office has been searched and Albert Sarkisyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors, detained. This lawyer from Nizhny Novgorod used to work in the company as a legal consultant. After the death of Aleksander Kulikov, main shareholder of the group, in 2016, Sarkisyan has taken charge of the company.
According to the investigation, another key suspect is currently in hiding. This refers to Oleg Srekalov, a long-term business partner of Pavlinov, owner of Chekhov Vid (a local media holding consisting of a TV channel, newspaper, and Internet portal) and a number of trade and construction companies, and former co-owner of Vityaz (Knight) Hockey Club.
After the publication of our large material dedicated to Strekalov’s operations in the Moscow region and his settlement in the U.S., Novye Izvestia newspaper has published his interview where Strekalov claims that the criminal cases instituted against him are a revenge for his refusal to pay ‘levies’ to racketeers in uniform.
According to the businessman, his troubles began in 2012, after the sale of Karnaval (Carnival) Trade Center built by him in the center of Chekhov to foreign investors. Allegedly, a messenger from high-ranked police functionaries had approached him and demanded $2 million. Strekalov says that he has decided not to pay the bribe on principle – especially taking that he needed this money to build Chekhov City Park residential complex. In response to such an impudence, the racketeers had promised him troubles.
Karnaval (Carnival) Trade and Entertainment Center in Chekhov
In 2013, Chekhov media outlets wrote about the ambitious development project of Strekalov. It was intended to build up 45 ha of land and erect a modern neighborhood with all the required infrastructure (residential homes, trade centers, sports facilities, office buildings, parks, etc.). Residential homes, social infrastructure facilities (including a school for more than 1 thousand students), sports and health complex with a swimming pool, etc. had to occupy more that half of the multifunctional complex area. Another selling point of the project was the park with a pond, Valley of Love, sports and children’s grounds, and an entertainment zone with a panoramic wheel.
Three companies established by Strekalov were supposed to build the residential complex: Viktori Limited Liability Company (incorporated in 2012 and later transferred to Pavlinov), Viktory Stroy Limited Liability Company (its formal founder was Roman Buinov involved with other companies belonging to Strekalov, but the Director of both companies was Sergei Morozov; since summer 2017, the company is undergoing liquidation), and City Park Management Company Limited Liability Company (established jointly with Pavlinov and liquidated back in 2015). According to the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr), one of the land lots intended for development was purchased by Viktori Limited Liability Company in 2013 from businessman Aleksander Medvedev who has liquidated Inter-Trade Limited Liability Company belonging to Strekalov two years earlier.
However, the project was never commenced – based on satellite imagery, not a single foundation ditch has been dug on the lands allocated for the residential complex.
Satellite image of lands allocated for the development (Google Maps, 2017)
Only Strekalov knows for sure what was wrong with the development project – but in that period (2013–2014), all his companies had incurred significant losses. He claims that his business was “fended off” but does not provide any details.
Immediately after the arrest of Pavlinov, Oper Slil (Detective Leaked) Telegram Channel wrote that Strekalov has attracted the attention of the Russian special services when he started withdrawing his assets abroad. Strekalov reportedly started actively developing his business in Ukraine where he has old ties with Vladimir Groysman, Prime Minister of Ukraine, and Arsen Avakov, Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs. He also has two hotels in the center of Kiev; during Euromaidan, one of those was used as the headquarters of Right Sector, a Ukrainian nationalist organization prohibited in Russia (apparently, this refers to Dnepr Hotel located at the intersection of Kreshchatik and Grushevskogo streets – The CrimeRussia).
Strekalov also mentions this version – conveyed to him in 2014, after his return from a trip to Ukraine – in the interview. According to the businessman, he has suffered for his political views.
Dnepr Hotel in Kiev
In February 2014, Strekalov, a native of the Ukrainan town of Khmelnik, went to Ukraine with his family to celebrate the 95th anniversary of his grandfather. On the way to Khmelnik, they have visited Kiev engulfed in Euromaidan in that period. Upon return, Strekalov shared his impressions of these events with his friends and noted that “the people went on the streets not against Russia but against the thefts and corruption of officials and further impoverishment of the country”. According to Strekalov, he said the same to his acquaintance Andrei Bolshakov, local police chief nicknamed Polkovnik Vikhr (Colonel Whirlwind). Shortly after that, the businessman became aware that the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation has taken interest in his person and some audio record was involved in that case. Strekalov claims that this record was made by Bolshakov.
In addition, in summer 2014, the administrator of his estate in Crimea – reintegrated with Russia by that time – called him and said that people from special services had visited him and asked about Strekalov’s ties with Right Sector and Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. It is necessary to add that, according to a source of Oper Slil Telegram Channel, immediately after that, two yachts belonging to Strekalov have sailed away from Yalta to Turkey.
Around the same time, in 2014, Strekalov has fled Russia. We found out that he has visited the U.S. and purchased a huge home in an Atlanta suburb for some $2.5 million not far from the home of his daughter residing there since 2010. In addition, he was spotted in Monaco and Germany and confirmed this to Novye Izvestia.
Oleg Strekalov with granddaughter in the U.S.
In the late 2016–early 2017, all the four lots near the pond constituting a single ensemble of the Strekalov’s estate have been sold to some Dmitry Bautin; according to the Consolidated State Register of Taxpayers he was the General Director of many companies belonging to Strekalov. In other words, Bautin might be just a nominal owner delegated to prevent seizure of the assets.
Strekalov says that after his departure, his newspaper started experiencing problems as well. There could be a plenty of reasons for this – for instance, Sergei Kanev, a famous journalist of Novaya Gazeta, had published his investigations in Chitayut Vse (Everybody Reads) newspaper.
An article published in the end of 2013 was dedicated to Medproektremstroy company incorporated in the Chekhov district and acting as the customer representing the Moscow Health Department in governmental tenders. It turned out that not only dummy companies having the same legal address, but also Swiss offshore companies affiliated with Mikhail Golukhov, Head of the Moscow Health Department, had participated in the billion-ruble tenders. According to the governmental acquisitions web site, in the period referred to by Kanev, Medproektremstroy had indeed acted as the governmental customer in tenders worth 100 to 500 million rubles ($1.7–8.7 million). After the publication, Medproektremstroy has filed a lawsuit against Chekhov Vid with an arbitration court but lost its case. Golukhov has relocated to Switzerland after his resignation in 2014.
Another high-profile material published by Kanev in the Chekhov newspaper was dedicated to the arrest of Andrei Suraikin, Senior Investigator of Chekhov. During the searches, large amounts of drugs were found in his office. In addition, the journalist found out that subordinates of Suraikin had tempered with evidence and extorted money from people put on the wanted list. As a result, one of the investigators was fired.
Strekalov believes that a true provocation was once staged against the newspaper. Some Yana, Elena, and Svetlana, whose identities were hidden, have posted information about a gathering of drug users in their yard on the Chekhov Vid web site. The publication provided details on “who shoots where”, the number of the apartment accommodating the drug den, and kinds of drugs used there. According to Strekalov, the editorial office had operatively conveyed this information to the drug control service and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) – but this could not save the newspaper from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) who has interpreted the publication as an advertisement of restricted narcotic substances and issued three warnings. The newspaper was on the verge of closure, but lawyers of the media holding managed to defend it in the Supreme Court.
Censoring and claims of Roskomnadzor on false pretenses are not very pleasant indeed – but how is this linked with the alleged extortion of $2 million and investigation of the ‘land case’? Especially taking that the media outlets belonging to Strekalov are still operating.
Firefighters and police are searching...
However, Strekalov claims that somebody had contacted him again at that time and offered to settle all the issues for $1.5 million. The businessman told Novye Izvestia that his answer was the same as in the first time.
On the next day, operatives of the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation arrived to the empty home of Strekalov in Yakshino village with a search. Before leaving, the policemen have left a telephone number written on a piece of paper to the guards and noted that Strekalov must contact this important person. According to the businessman, the mobile number belonged to colonel Denis Bednarsky, Head of the 5th Division for Investigation of High-Profile and Extremely Grievous Crimes of the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation.
Denis Bednarsky (in the center) during a tour of duty to the North Caucasus
In addition, the article states that general Viktor Ishchenko, Deputy Head of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region, had personally signed operative directions to launch an inquest against the businessman. According to the newspaper, Ishchenko is an old friend of colonel Andrei Bolshakov (Polkovnik Vikhr) who loves voice recorders so much, while general’s son Nikolai is an officer of the FSB Service for Constitutional System Protection and Combating Terrorism (the 2nd Service) handling the case against Strekalov. It is also reported that Igor Bolloev, ex-Deputy Head of the Operative Department of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region named ‘Gray Eminence of the metropolitan area’ just a while ago, had directly supervised the investigative operations against Strekalov.
Novye Izvestia newspaper provides the name of another supervisor of the case against Strekalov: police colonel Dmitry Filatov also known Boroda (Beard) – a Deputy Head of the Department for Combating Crimes Against Person of the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation,. The source told the newspaper that Boroda “has been settling issues in Chekhov and Serpukhov for a while and has close ties with ‘authoritative’ businessman Yuri Trostyansky (Para)”.
Bolshakov has also confirmed to the newspaper that Filatov, Ishchenko, and Bolloev are involved into the inquest against Strekalov.
Perhaps, this information made Strekalov think that all his troubles are links in a single chain and originate from his refusal to pay. He never mentions any kind of a ‘land case’. His lawyer Oleg Saulyak claims that the case against Strekalov is entirely based on testimonies of third persons pressurized by the investigation. “There is not a single documentary evidence of my client’s involvement into that case. Furthermore, the majority of suspects are not familiar with Strekalov,” – the defense attorney says.
However, according to the official information, the swindling criminal case was initially instituted by the Investigations Department in the Chekhov District of the ICR – and only after first arrests and appearance of new episodes in the case, it has been transferred to the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region. The FSB involvement can not be confirmed at this point – but because the case pertains inter alia to the withdrawal of large amounts of money abroad, the agency may be involved into its investigation as well. It is unlikely though that the troubles of Strekalov originate from his trip to Ukraine.
The businessman’s attempt to explain his distress by operations of some police-criminal syndicate and its incursion against him seems more convincing. In fact, there are certain claims against many of the above mentioned police functionaries, for instance, colonel Bolloev. Novye Izvestia newspaper reported that after numerous scandals involving his subordinates ‘patronizing’ underground gambling establishments and prostitution, Bolloev, then-Head of the Department of Internal Affairs for the Meshchanskoe District, failed to pass the mandatory re-attestation for MIA officers in 2011, but his patrons arranged his appointment the Head of the MIA Line Administration for Transport for the South Urals. Immediately after the appointment of general Viktor Paukov the Head of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region, he has invited Bolloev – familiar with him since their joint service in the MIA Administration for the Central Administrative District of Moscow – to the metropolitan area. The colonel, in turn, has lobbied the appointment of his younger brother Stanislav Bolloev the Police Chief of Podolsk – a town not far from Chekhov. In September 2016, Bolloev senior has retired and Valentin Arkalov, ex-Head of the MIA Department for the Town of Krasnogorsk, took his office.
According to Novye Izvestia, Bolloev had to leave the post after the arrest of his friend and colleague Vadim Shavlokhov, Head of the 4th Operations and Search Division of the Administration of Criminal Investigation of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region. According to the investigation, Shavlokhov had leaked classified information to Aslan Gagiev (Dzhako), the leader of a gang of killers put on the international wanted list.
A few months ago, some information about the MIA General Administration under the command of Paukov has surfaced. According to various news portals, the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region is an illegal financial ‘kraken’ whose main ‘engine’ is the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption: its operations and search divisions act at the regional level, while its operations and search divisions, departments, and groups act at the district level. Each division commander is responsible for collecting the money and conveying it to the superiors. According to the journalistic investigation, there were three main funding sources for that system. The first source was medium business controlled by operatives and district Divisions for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption. Division Commanders in the Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region had ‘taxed’ large enterprises. The third source were regular centralized ‘levies’ paid by big businesses of the Moscow region. The average financial flow from these three sources has been estimated at 15–16 billion rubles ($260.7–278.1 million).
Financial pyramid established in the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region
The article states that general Viktor Paukov, Head of the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region, is on the top of this pyramid. It is noted however, that Paukov is neither the creator nor beneficiary of this financial scheme: he is rather its hostage – although a very high-ranked one.
On the other hand, above mentioned colonel Denis Bednarsky has nothing to do with the Regional MIA General Administration. He has been serving in the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation since November 2016 and is charge of a new division there – the 5th Division for Investigation of High-Profile and Extremely Grievous Crimes. It is known that the division consists of three departments: the first investigates high-profile cases, the second one – contract killings, kidnappings, and crimes committed by large organized groups, while the third department investigates high-profile crimes committed in the North-Caucasian Federal District. No one can say which department became interested in the activities of Strekalov. The businessman does not speculate on that matter; nor does he provide the name of the person who had demanded several million dollars from him via an intermediary.
The phone number left by the operatives in case the suspect decides to share any information does not necessarily mean a demand for bribe. Especially taking that Bednarsky and Filatov are seasoned commanders of the MIA homicide department who have solved plenty of high-profile cases, including the ‘GTA gang case’ in the Moscow region and ‘amazon gang case’ in the Rostov region, and never discredited themselves before.
Dmitry Filatov (in the center) with colleagues
It is also unlikely that Yuri Trostyansky (Para), who has disappeared from the public sight a while ago, could play an important role in this story. This representative of a Serpukhov-based organized criminal group had hit the headlines last time in 2013, after a conflict with thief-in-law Konstantin Borisov (Kostyl (Crutch)) and his acquaintance Sergei Romanov (Graf (Count)). As a result of that conflict, Trostyansky had to hastily flee and ultimately lost his influence after the defection of his henchmen to Kostyl.
So, according to Strekalov, one of the most experienced investigators of the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation has left him the business card; the ‘land case’ where he is a suspect is handled by Ilya Deev, Investigator for Special Cases of the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR named the best ICR investigator in 2016; the MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region performs the criminal intelligence analysis; while the FSB provides the operative support for the investigation. Is he truly such a prominent figure that a number of enforcement agencies of regional and federal level carry out the inquest against him?
Should they really want to ‘punish’ Strekalov, where were no need to mention his Ukrainian trip or arrest a whole bunch of people – from a Niznhy Novgorod lawyer to the leader of a Chekhov-based gang and former district heads.
Perhaps, Strekalov keeps something back? Even if he has nothing to do with the ‘land case’, he might be involved as well with other offences serious enough to be investigated by special divisions of the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation and FSB.