Brusnichnoe’s bootleg flavor
While law enforcement agencies are busy collecting dirt on generals, ordinary customs officers are fighting corruption and crime. As best they can. Not so long ago, customs officers at the Brusnichnoe checkpoint of the Vyborg customs complained about newly appointed Deputy Head of the Customs Office, Pavel Nevidanov. According to them, their leader organized a smuggling channel in a matter of weeks.
The authors of the letter were almost the entire inspection team of the customs post of the Brusnichnoe border crossing. In their letter, the employees tried to tell Head of the Department, Aleksandr Povoda, that new Deputy Head Pavel Nevidanov was supplying “consumer goods from Finland to Russia using light vehicles.”
According to the customs workers, Nevidanov found an approach to another deputy named Baranov and is forcing ordinary workers to skip entire batches of trucks loaded with “consumer goods, electronics, sanctions products and other commercial consignments,” the statement said. All this happens right under the nose of employees of the investigation and intelligence unit of the Vyborg Customs who are present at the checkpoint. The authors say this was made possible because Nevidanov allegedly managed to reach an understanding with former Deputy of the previously mentioned investigation and intelligence unit of the Vyborg Customs, and now Security Officer of the North-Western Customs Department, Dmitry Gontarev. According to the inspectors, they are forced to pass cars loaded with sanctioned products and smuggled goods, or “turn dashboard cameras in the other direction.”
Customs officers also argue that new Deputy Pavel Nevidanov does not even hide his criminal activities, and also boasts of patrons at the Vyborg Customs.
“We, honest inspectors of the customs checkpoint of the Brusnichnoe border crossing are afraid to commit illegal actions. We ask you to deal with this situation and the unscrupulous rogue cops. We don’t feel like calling Vladimir Putin via live broadcast nationwide phone-in,” customs officials said in the statement.
Lingonberry is one of three multilateral automobile checkpoints across the Russian-Finnish border on the territory of the Vyborg district of the Leningrad region. It is located on the highway running along the Saimaa Canal and connecting Vyborg and Lappeenranta. The checkpoint on the Finnish side of the border is called Nuyamaa.
As The CrimeRussia found out, employees of the checkpoint are ready to collectively give in their notices. It is said that Head of the North-West Customs Administration Aleksandr Povod is already aware of the appeal and ordered that appropriate measures be taken. It is not specified what those measures they are. The inheritance that he got after Aleksandr Get’man had left, is engulfed in corruption, extortion, and outright theft of the state budget. This is evidenced by numerous detentions, arrests, and scandalous criminal cases of the last three years.
But this is not the only case of collective struggle of the Brusnichnoe border crossing employees with their bosses who have gone too far. This is the third case in the past three years. In 2018, Head of the Brusnichnoe customs checkpoint Aleksandr Muzylev lost his post. The head of shift was engaged in “illegal activities, providing protection to persons who illegally imported undeclared goods into the territory of the Russian Federation” under his very nose, the official statement of the ICR Northwest Investigation Department says. It turned out that it concerned large quantities of smuggled smartphones.
In 2017, it was even worse. An open war broke out between a criminal authority and customs officers at the checkpoint. The case once again went as far as an open letter to the authorities and the first person of the state. “We ask you, as the last hope of the foundations of democracy in our state...” Brusnichnoe border crossing officers wrote. The appeal to high officials was provoked by a confrontation with Head of the checkpoint, Sergey Lenin, and his associates. In addition to countless extortions from ordinary employees, he ordered around with the illegal passage of various goods, and pulled various kinds of gray schemes in the direction of cargo imports. Inspectors were regularly provided with the so-called “Lenin’s list.” The necessary vehicles were provided with some “interesting” TNVED codes in order to deceive the state. Sometimes Sergey Lenin would personally run up to open up the gate for important cars.
At first, rumors were circulating around the customs checkpoint that Lenin was acting in the interests of a certain criminal group led by a crime lord named Musheg. Once, as the customs officers wrote, someone resented and refused to carry out orders. Then Musheg appeared in person. In addition to threats to the lives and health of the Brusnichnoe border crossing employees, the crime lord boasted of his connections with law enforcement agencies. “...he flaunts his links to the Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor General’s Office, drops the names of FSB officers Iskhakov and Ruchyev, says that he is familiar with Georgy Poltavchenko...” To top it off, Musheg told one of the employees that she “may not return home,” threatening her with the people of Ded Hasan or Usoyan...”
As indignant employees of the checkpoint said, Lenin gave Musheg 150-200 euros from each passenger car with smuggled goods and from 3,000 to 10,000 dollars from trucks.
Musheg turned out to be 56-year-old Musheg Tovmasyan, who is well known in the customs world. He is an important person with connections. But apparently, the letters did have their effect, since in 2018, the same Tovmasyan was arrested as part of a criminal case against Roman Rusakov, Lieutenant-Colonel of the North-West Transport Directorate, who was arrested in St. Petersburg in the case of a 5-million-ruble ($77,325) bribe. Musheg Tovmasyan acted as a mediator in this case.
According to the investigation, Rusakov had long been familiar with Tovmasyan and did not refuse to provide the service upon occasion. A Mercedes Sprinter minibus was stopped for inspection at the Torfyanovka customs checkpoint. The Vyborg customs officer got into the vehicle. The driver, a citizen of Finland, Christian Vinikainen, and passenger Nikolay Shulyar refused to allow their car to be searched, rammed the barrier and disappeared, and threw the customs officer on the go. The story was pretty scandalous.
The investigative department, where Roman Rusakov worked, opened a criminal case under part 2 of Art. 318 of the Russian Criminal Code (Use of Life-Threatening Violence Against a Representative of the Power). Finnish citizen and Shulyar were arrested. Serious efforts to free Shulyar or change his preventive measures and charges were made. It turned out that Musheg Tovmasyan was very interested in his release.
In early July 2018, an agreement was reached on the transfer of money with guarantors, Acting Head of the Anti-Corruption Department of the Vyborg customs of the Northwestern Customs Administration Zakharov and a certain customs officer Nevidanov. During the transfer of money, they all were detained. Investigator Rusakov was charged and Tovmasyan was arrested. Customs officers Zakharov and Nevidanov participated in the operation under the guise of the FSB. By a strange coincidence, the same surname appears as the deputy head of the Brusnichnoe border crossing today. It is possible that there are a lot of customs officers with similar surnames in the Northwestern Customs Administration. However, another thing is troubling. It would seem that with the arrest of Musheg Tovmasyan, employees of the checkpoint breathed a sigh of relief. But time showed that although he was arrested, his business lives and thrives.