Prosecutor General's office: "Mikhalchenko’s case shouldn't be heard in Leningrad region court"
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, which had previously approved an indictment in a high-profile bootlegging case against billionaire and Forum St Petersburg Group of Companies CEO Dmitry Mikhalchenko, is now demanding the Russian Supreme Court to change the initial jurisdiction.
The Office asked the Supreme Court to change the initial jurisdiction. It is worth noting that neither the Office nor the Supreme Court have grounded the request. However, the media believes it may have been due to the office not trusting St. Petersburg and Leningrad region courts. The situation is similar to the one with Intarsia management; the company was responsible for restoration of the 'house with lions' in St. Petersburg.
The Office has approved the indictment against Forum CEO Dmitry Mikhalchenko, Forum CSO Boris Korevsky, Yugo-Vostochnaya Kompaniya CEO Ilya Pichko, and sommelier Aleksey Mishchenko. All four were charged with violation of article 200.2 (Bootlegging committed by a gang) of the Russian Criminal Code.
The four men illegally imported top shelf alcohol in Russia between 2015 and 2016, according to investigation specialists. One bottle of such alcohol could cost up to 50 thousand rubles ($848). They smuggled the alcohol in by disguising it as sealant. The bootleggers were caught importing a batch worth about $62 million.
Forum CSO Boris Korevsky who had worked for the Russian MIA St Petersburg Department was also charged with violation of Article 159 (Swindling) of the Code. Contrale Logistic Severo-Zapad co-owner Anatoly Kindzersky informed on him. The entrepreneur agreed to a plea bargain and was to hand over $40 thousand to Boris Korevsky. The money was meant for bribing customs officers who had arrested a batch of illegally imported alcohol. It is worth noting that Boris Korevsky denies not only he was involved with the offense he has been charged with but the very fact the whole thing even happened in the first place.
It is worth mentioning that investigation of Anatoly Kindzersky’s case was complete before the cases against the other defendants were even opened. The Leningrad Region City Court heard it using a special procedure; the entrepreneur was found guilty. The Court fined him for 1.6 million rubles ($27.1 thousand) and gave him a suspended sentence. It is also worth noting that Kindzersky has been protected under the Russian witness protection program since December 2017; he claims other defendants tried putting pressure on him.
Dmitry Mikhalchenko’s lawyer Kirill Yashenkov stated he learned about the Office’s demand for change to the original jurisdiction from the media. "I did not see this document and cannot answer your questions. I thought the main case will be heard by the Leningrad Region Kingisepp Town Court just like Kindzersky’s case," the lawyer said.
Boris Korevsky’s lawyer Igor Reshetnikov did not comment on the issue.
The Office also did not clarify why it demanded the change. However, it may be due to the Office doubting the case will be heard objectively and impartially, according to the media. Moreover, the change is necessary for insuring security of the parties.
The opposition leader was detained in the afternoon of February 22 in Moscow while he was walking out of a dental clinic. Navalny is accused of a second participation in an unsanctioned event, for which he faces up to 30 days of jail.
No violations have been revealed in the criminal prosecution of Colonel Zakharchenko’s family members. The appeal of lawyer Emelyanov to the president was forwarded to the Prosecutor General's Office and the ICR.