Gang named after oligarch Mikhalchenko
According to our sources, a few days ago, once-powerful oligarch Dmitry Mikhalchenko has been charged with creation of a criminal community and leadership in it. The businessman is suspected of embezzlement of 1.5 billion rubles ($23.6 million) committed jointly with major general Igor Vasiliev, Head of the Engineering Support Service of the Federal Protection Service, and his subordinates during the construction of facilities for the Federal Protection Service. According to an alternative version, the two criminal cases have been instituted one by one to intimidate the billionaire and tie his tongue.
Now Dmitry Mikhalchenko may rightfully call himself ‘governor 24’ – as Vladimir Kumarin-Barsukov, a former legend of criminal St. Petersburg and its ‘night governor’, did. Similarly with his predecessor, Mikhalchenko is now considered a gang leader. Their procedural ordeals are similar as well, including lodging of more severe charges in the framework of the investigation of totally unrelated criminal cases. But unlike Barsukov-Kumarin, the cases against Mikhalchenko are classified because he had dealt with structures close to the national leadership.
As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, pursuant to Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, any business communities created under the aegis of Dmitry Mikhalchenko or subordinate to his Forum Holding may be automatically recognized “an acting organized group”, while all its contracts fall under “the establishment of stable relations and development of plans for the purpose of committing crimes” category.
A criminal community (criminal organization) is an organized criminal group established for the purpose of committing most grievous crimes or a conglomerate of organized criminal groups. The criminal organization is the most dangerous type of complicity; the creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) is a punishable criminal act – even if this organization hasn't committed any crime yet. Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation stipulates liability for this crime. A criminal community is a form of the organized crime.
Well-aware sources believe that the inclusion of Mikhalchenko into an existing criminal case as a gang leader is either a trick of the investigation team with the purpose to conceal the true scale of embezzlements or an attempt to make the disgraced oligarch a scapegoat.
From that perspective, the secrecy label secures all the procedural actions of the investigative team undertaken in the framework of the criminal case pertaining to the Presidential residence construction in Novo-Ogarevo. The sources claim that “the investigation now may perform magic tricks without being David Copperfield”.
Residence in Novo-Ogarevo
There is another similarity between this case and the past prosecution of Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin. Every time yet another indictment against the ‘night governor’ had collapsed, the investigation presented a new ‘ace’ – charges with new, more grievous, crimes. Former ‘governor 24’ is now in the same situation. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, the alcohol smuggling case has come to a standstill because of Mikhalchenko’s deputy Boris Korevsky who refuses to testify against his boss.
First arrests in the framework of the smuggling case were made in March 2016. According to the law enforcement authorities, Mikhalchenko, being the General Director of Forum Holding, had smuggled expensive wines and other deluxe spirits. The goods were purchased in EU countries, delivered to the Port of Hamburg, and then shipped to Russian in containers under the disguise of sealing cement.
Without his testimonies, the investigation can not link Mikhalchenko with ‘cognac smugglers’. Korevsky adamantly sticks to his line of conduct. In the meantime, the trial is ongoing, and the verdict may be pronounced as early as this fall.
The new case pertains to a period having nothing to do with cognac and contraband. According to the investigation, in December 2012, the Federal Protection Service has retained Ateks Federal State Unitary Enterprise to build a reception house (Presidential residence) in Novo-Ogarevo. Over 5.7 billion rubles ($89.7 million) were allocated for that project. Subcontractors subsidiary to SK Balt-Stroy belonging to billionaire Mikhalchenko were involved in the construction. Nobody had doubts in that period that the oligarch’s company wins this contract because its ‘high patron’ was Evgeny Murov, then-almighty Head of the Federal Protection Service.
Residence in Novo-Ogarevo
The investigation believes that a portion of the budget funds allocated for the residence construction was distributed among dummy companies and embezzled by henchmen of Dmitry Mikhalchenko – Andrei Kaminov, Head of Ateks Federal State Unitary Enterprise; his former deputy Stanislav Kyuner; and businessmen Dmitry Torchinsky, Sergei Litvinov, Sergei Perevalov, and Aleksander Rodionov. Later, Dmitry Sergeev has been detained as well. Перевалов и Александр Родионов. Позже под стражу взяли Дмитрия Сергеева.
Allegedly, this is the organized criminal group created by Dima Krikun (Dima the Loud Mouth). The investigation does not care that some of its members are not familiar with each other. According to the media, upon becoming aware of his new role – the gang leader – the billionaire had requested face-to-face questioning – but in vain. At this stage, the operatives are not interested in face-to-face questioning – but only in testimonies. And they have got those. The case against Ateks Federal State Unitary Enterprise and alcohol smuggling case are investigated concurrently. Only Andrei Kaminov managed to resist the pressure – but the three other suspects (Stanislav Kyuner, Dmitry Torchinsky, and Sergei Perevalov) – made plea deals with the investigation after the lodging of charges. This explains the origin of the allegations brought against Mikhalchenko.
Interestingly, the amount of embezzled money has grown since the beginning of the investigation. Initially, the detained businessmen were charged with several embezzlements of funds allocated for the construction of the Presidential Reception House in Novo-Ogarevo in 2013 – 2015 totaling 225 million rubles ($3.5 million). By 2018, the total amount of damages has increased to 1.5 billion rubles ($23.6 million). The accusations have also changed. Initially, the businessmen were charged under Article 159 (swindling), but now they are charged under Article 160 (misappropriation or embezzlement) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
The thick volumes of the case file hide many important details, including the balance of powers. According to our sources in the business circles, the company of Mikhalchenko was likely an ‘insertion’ designed to siphon off budget funds. Of course, the names of final beneficiaries of this criminal scheme will never be disclosed. It is highly unlikely that a billionaire owning the largest assortment of businesses in St. Petersburg and considered the unofficial economic leader of the city was so eager to rob the Presidential residence and created a specialized organized criminal group consisting of businessmen for that purpose.
The sources describe the situation as follows: “He had been feeding this pack of dogs in uniform for 20 years – and now they are drowning him. They have robbed him and now taunt him”.
Blow to oligarch
In this particular case, the reclassification of charges does not really matter for ordinary suspects. The both articles stipulate the same punishment – up to 10 years behind bars. The investigation has changed its stance because of the involvement of supreme officials of the Federal Protection Service. A day before, the operatives have laid charges against major general Igor Vasiliev, Head of the Engineering Support Service of the Federal Protection Service. The investigators believe that the general had endorsed and accepted works allegedly performed by subcontractors affiliated with SK Balt-Stroy. Mr. Ulitin, a department head at the Engineering Support Service of the Federal Protection Service, has also been criminally charged in the framework of this high-profile case.
Evgeny Murov, ex-Head of the Federal Protection Service
The above persons were directly subordinate to Evgeny Murov, ex-Head of the Federal Protection Service and the ‘high patron’ of Dima Krikun. Currently, his relatives control the majority of Mikhalchenko’s businesses.
As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, since the beginning of the inquest against Ateks Federal State Unitary Enterprise, no one had doubts that this case was directly linked with the resignation of Murov. The general seems invincible – so the sources believe that the investigation is trying to obtain compromising materials against his son Andrei. The prosecution of the generals subordinate to Murov senior is absolutely logical. In exchange for freedom, they may provide required testimonies, thus, giving the interested party some leverage over the ex-Head of the Federal Protection Service. The disgraced businessmen became a bargaining chip in this complicated struggle between various law enforcement clans.
Some experts call the fiasco of oligarch Dmitry Mikhalchenko “cautionary”. The billionaire had run much more interesting and large-scale schemes – but for some reason, it was decided to incriminate to him the construction of the Presidential residence.
Many people had suggested that the price of freedom for Mikhalchenko was his main project – Port Bronka. Similarly with all other businesses and real estate of Mikhalchenko, Bronka is currently controlled by the Murov family and retired KGB general Nikolai Negodov. In fact, the General Director of Forum Holding has lost almost all his assets by now – but still hasn’t got liberty. The political will with regards to his fate remains unchanged. It is not a coincidence that in the very beginning of his trial for alcohol smuggling, the oligarch has attempted to make a confessionary statement, thus, shocking his defense team.
According to the sources, this was a message: “I am ready to confess and go to jail; leave me alone”. But his improvisation was not duly appreciated and today it is obvious that nobody needs the confessions of ‘governor 24’. Instead, the interested parties are eager to lock him up forever and prevent from exposing the embezzlement schemes and, most importantly, their final beneficiaries.
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