Witnesses in case of Chechen siloviki-debt collectors refuse to appear in court 

Witnesses in case of Chechen siloviki-debt collectors refuse to appear in court
Lechi Bolatbaev, Chechen MIA officer and Adam Delimkhanov’s guard

With a few months left to complete the proceedings, the defendants were released from a pre-trial detention center and, according to witnesses, were standing well with the judge.

The Zamoskvoretsky Court of Moscow is to deliver the judgment in the case of Chechen siloviki-debt collectors, who are said to have rendered legal services and extorted hundreds of millions of rubles from businessmen. After two years of custody, MIA Colonel Sayid Akhmaev, Senior Lieutenant Lechi Bolatbaev, representatives of the Ingush diaspora - brothers Movladi and Akhmed Bulguchev - as well as co-owner of STG Media LLC, Evgeny Katkov, were released from the pre-trial detention center. They are charged with Extortion as part of an Organized Crime Group (part 3 of Art. 163 of the Russian Criminal Code). The Prosecutor's Office has not filed a motion to extend the preventive measure for the people charged with grave articles of the criminal code.

No witnesses have appeared in court, the court has taken no measures to ensure the summoning of a secret witness, Novaya Gazeta reports. The defendants behave very confidently and feel at ease. Sayid Akhmaev told Federal Prosecutor Olga Strekalova, who has been providing state protection: “Why are you asking questions? We’ll deal with you through the prosecutor general.” He reminded the victim, entrepreneur Konstantin Zhukov, that it was “thanks to him” that they have spent so much time in jail.” 

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Businessman Konstantin Zhukov is at the picture to the left, and to the right is the defendant entrepreneur Evgeny Katkov

To recall, the defendants were detained after Zhukov contacted law enforcement bodies when Akhmaev and Bolatbaev demanded a receipt for 100 million rubles ($1.52 million) in the Voronezh cafe in Moscow, and then in President-Hotel. They had been hired by their former business partner Evgeny Katkov when he failed to agree on the division of companies’ assets with Zhukov. “If you don't give me the money, I will screw in framing nails into your head and the heads of your children,” Sayid Akhmaev told Zhukov. When the businessman tried to argue against the inflated amount of money required, Bolatbaev kicked Zhukov with his foot on the knee, and Akhmed Bulguchev promised to "tear down his head.” 

“Don’t you even consider fleeing, or we will send you cut off fingers of your children,” Akhmaev warned him. 

Zhukov took his family abroad and contacted law enforcement bodies, which quickly tracked down the extortionists. They were officers of the human rights organization Za Spravedlivost that provided private collector services. During the search in the so-called human rights organization’s office on Shelepikhinskoe Avenue, officers of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department and Main Investigations Directorate found about 200 IOUs for amounts from 50 million rubles; in addition, they found weapon arsenals and packs of money with different currencies, as well as false certificates of security forces agents, in the houses of the suspects. At the time when the offense was committed, Sayid Akhmaev and Lechi Bolatbaev were personal guards of deputy Adam Delimkhanov. 

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Sayid Akhmaev, Chechen MIA officer and Adam Delimkhanov’s guard

Investigators also found other victims of the extortionists. For example, the defendants asked one of the victims to write a receipt for 5 million rubles ($76,250), and then increased the amount by ten times. When he was taken to President-Hotel, Bolatbaev promised to drown him in a pool. When the businessman refused to obey, someone hit him on the back, and then Bolatbaev said: “We will rape your wife, sell your children, and kill your parents, got it?” 

While Akhmaev and Bolatbaev were in detention, the first people of Chechnya tried to ensure their release from custody. Earlier, the Chechen police officers used to serve in the Sever battalion. According to The CrimeRussia, the defendants are members of Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov’s inner circle. Moreover, Kadyrov and State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov personally asked to change the preventive measure for the siloviki, but the court refused to release them against personal guarantee. However, with a few months left to complete the proceedings, the defendants have been released from the pre-trial detention center and, according to witnesses, stand well with the judge.

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