понедельник, 21 марта 2011 г.

Head of the city police turns St. Petersburg into the criminal capital of Russia


In the middle of February  Mikhail Glushchenko, an arrested ex-deputy of the State Duma, in his testimony to the Russian Investigating Committee disclosed the name of the person behind the 1999 contract-murder of  Pavel Kapysh, chairman of the board of directors of  Baltic Financial and Industrial Group. He claims that it was Vladimir Kumarin, leader of the Tambovskaya criminal group. Charges to the former behind-the-scenes governor of St. Petersburg may be filed in the nearest future. Indictments for a number of murders and illegal takeovers have already been brought against him.

However, Vladimir Kumarin had a chance to avoid all these charges of the law enforcement agencies. Rumafia journalists fount out that at a certain moment St. Petersburg Central Internal Affair Directorate (GUVD) attempted to protect the leader of the Tambovskaya criminal group and other crime bosses from being indicted for high-profile criminal cases. The crimes were supposed to be pinned on other gangsters but Federal Security Service (FSB) intervened and prevented it.

As a result, tensions between the agencies developed into a full scale confrontation on the federal level, including mutual telephone interceptions, continuous spying, mudslinging, and even fabrication of criminal cases.

The current head of the St. Petersburg police (GUVD) Vladislav Piotrovsky was questioned twice during the investigation. Previously the FSB collected massive evidence about his ties with the mafia. But none of this resulted in his removal from office or prosecution.  Poitrowski is still out there “fighting” crime and mafia thanks to the intervention and protection from high-profile Kremlin inhabitants.

A Rumafia journalist was able to meet with an officer involved in the confrontation. This FSB officer agreed to give an insight into the agencies war, provided that his identity will not be disclosed. The following is near full citation of his word with minor updates. Rumafia journalists in St. Petersburg found evidence proving all the information cited to be true.

                            St. Petersburg criminal police

The story is told in the first person:

«In 2008 we came to St. Petersburg to investigate a number of contract murders and illegal takeovers. It was very surprising to see how influential GUVD (the city police) was.  In other regions the FSB is the most heavily weighted law enforcement agency. But in St. Petersburg before we arrived it was the militia (starting March 1st 2011 the name of the agency is officially changed to police) who conducted high-profile cases operational assistance, checks on activities of the officials, behind the scenes communication with criminal group leaders, and high-profile cases witness protection.

It was especially surprising because all high rank FSB officers come from St. Petersburg. The city prosecution office and General Prosecutor’s Office also backed the police.

In Moscow we had been told that the GUVD officers would obstruct our work in any possible way. And it actually turned out that all investigators and FSB agents arriving from the capital to St. Petersburg were closely monitored by the police.

We were constantly watched by agents in disguise. They even tried to come up and talk to us several times. All in all, it became clear to us that we had left the capital with federal laws and entered a totally different world where federal rules and regulations did not apply.

The main goal of the police was if not to ruin the criminal cases under investigation, then to at least make sure the cases were progressing the way they wanted them to.

         For a long time four major criminal raid groups dominated in St. Petersburg.  Vladimir Kumarin (who later changed his last name to Barsukov and has been known under the new name for the last decade) was well-connected in the government which prompted his long-term immunity. The second group was headed by  Badri Shengelia. He was thought to be Kumarin’s business partner but the later more than once said that he would give Shengelia out without thinking twice. The man was of little significance to him.



The third group’s leader,  Mikhail Sliozberg also known as Misha Kupchinsky, is a unique person, flesh of the flesh of St. Petersburg police, so to say. At the moment he is hiding out in Israel. Local GUVD high ranking officers and he elaborated a brand new scheme of illegal raids.  This is how it worked.

Vladimir Sych and mafia

At first  Sliozberg’s men brought to a local tax office forged sale contracts, certifying their purchase of part of businesses and buildings thus bring them into ownership of their confidants. Tax inspectors took bribes and checked nothing when introducing changes to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities.  Victims filed complaints to the GUVD. Some of the complaints were addressed to the head of the agency,  Vladislav Piotrovsky.

The head of the police sent them all to his subordinate, deputy head of the Department for Organized Crime Control, that is to the very GUVD department assigned to combat mafia.  Vladimir Sych, the department deputy head, would give the victims a red-carpet treatment, to the astonishment of claimants. He would promise to solve the case, inflict a strict punishment on the criminals, and restore the ownership within a shortest possible time.  Basically, he tried to be as charming as possible.

Victims, satisfied and calm, were waiting for the promised good news. Soon  Sych’s subordinates informed them that a graphological examination had been scheduled to check the paperwork that the mafia used to gain ownership by registering the stolen property as that belonging to their people or enterprises they controlled. The officers explained that the examination aims at proving the paperwork legal or forged.

The police officers then asked the victims to sign the bottom of two blank pieces of paper and put their full name there, for the examination. These pieces of paper were then handed to a lawyer who worked for Sliozberg-Kupchinsky and he used the papers to print out sale contracts for the very property taken away from the victims. The tax office would then get rid off the forged paperwork and replace it with the newly acquired legal one, leaving no traces of the forge.

This new paperwork signed by the victims in person was then taken for the examination to the local police investigators whose job was to solve cases of such illegal takeovers. Investigators following the orders of their bosses would only conduct a handwriting comparison. And the result was obvious. The signatures were proven to be authentic since the victims in their trust to the police had signed the pieces of paper themselves.

The point is that a wider examination would prove that the contract texts were printed after the papers had been signed. But the police did not check for that. The results stated in the certificates given to Sliozberg’s confidants only said that the signatures were authentic as well as the paperwork on the property sale. None of the cases of illegal takeover had the original forged paperwork.

When the Investigating Committee officers (since March 1st 2011 it has no affiliation with the Prosecutor’s Office) who had come from Moscow to combat St. Petersburg mafia, conducted interrogations and questioned GUVD investigators, all they could hear from the local investigators was “We had no that there is a wider examination” and “We returned the paperwork to the owners instead of having  it in the case evidence because these documents are important and we were afraid to lose the originals proved authentic”.  

This way all the written evidence of the crime, that is the forged contract documentation, was blotted out leaving Sliozberg confidants with paperwork signed by the victims in person and even proven to be authentic by a police examination. An ideal crime. Later during an Investigating Committee interrogation Vyacheslav Drokov, Sliozberg’s right-hand man, told about an incident, when he once asked  Sliozberg “Misha, how do you manage to get the genuine signatures?”   Sliozberg laughed and said “You can do anything with assistance from police” and offered to help with getting signed papers for the Tambovskaya group. This is the group that many of the arrested over the illegal takeover and murder cases (Kumarin,  Drokov,  Glushchenko and some others) are said to belong to. And of course he would do that for his fare share. 

The fourth group’s leader was Andrey Leukhin also known as Medvied, or the Bear. There was an ever existing tension between his group and groups of  Kumarin and  Sliozberg.

Looking for someone to blame

The number of unsolved contract murders and illegal takeovers in St. Petersburg did not only catch the eye of the FSB but also became yet more and more bold. St. Petersburg constantly matched up to its title of the criminal capital of Russia that had been gained during the 1990s gangster wars. That is when GUVD high ranking officers and the criminal gang leaders came up with a scheme. There were two stages in the plan. The first one pinned explosions and murders committed by the Tambovskaya group on  Oleg Makovoz, a gang leader from Siberia. The second stage was to pin all the illegal takeovers on  Leukhin.

The details of the scheme were discussed by   Sych, a state employee whose job was to curb mafia activity in the city;   Piotrovsky, head of the city police, Misha Kupchinsky (  Sliozberg), and   Kumarin. Moreover,  Kumarin told the police that he was ready to let them arrest  Badri Shengelia so that the scheme was not that obvious.

As a result just a few years ago all the crimes that  Kumarin is currently indicted of could have been indicted to   Makovoz and   Leukhin. The scheme was all planned out, with dozens of witnesses leading the investigation astray, biased articles appearing in mass media controlled by the head of police, GUVD and city prosecutor’s office taking action in accordance with the plan. But suddenly in summer 2007  Yuri Chaika,  Attorney General of the Russian Federation, ordered to arrest  Kumarin. Investigators and FSB officers from Moscow came to St. Petersburg to take up high-profile cases investigation.

«We do not need Moscow supervisors»

The conflict between FSB and GUVD was especially acute over  Oleg Makovoz, who had close ties with a kingpin,  Vladimir Tyurin also know as Tyurik. At some point  Makovoz organized armed operations for  Tyurin’s Desyatka criminal group. Later he turned into a full- blooded gangster and a mafia boss. Tyurik closely communicated with one of the most influential kingpins,  Alsan Usoyan also know as   Grandpa Hasan.

 Usoyan delegated the responsibility to promote his gang’s interests in St. Petersburg to  Tyurin.   Makovoz became his watchdog in the city. There was also a number of contract killers, lead by  Dolgushin. He knew the details of most high-profile contract murders in St. Petersburg because he either did the work himself or participated in the preparations, or else knew the details from his acquaintances among the killers.  Dolgushin was  an untapped source of information.

It was  Dolgushin who drew up the murder of a gang leader  Konstantin Yakovlev also know as Kostya the Tomb. In 2003 there was a major difference in opinions between  Grandpa Hasan  and Kostya the Tomb  over some business projects. Grandpa Hasan several times sent  Tyurin to St. Petersburg from Moscow so that he could closely monitor the situation. During one of such trips the supervisor from the pinking had an argument with  Yakovlev right at the airport.

The conversation turned into a quarrel right off. This is what  Yakovlev said to  Tyurin, “Tell Grandpa Hasan that we do not need any supervisors here in St. Petersburg. We can manage on our own.” Tyurik repeated his words to the boss. On May, 25, 2003 while being in Moscow  Yakovlev was shot by people on motorbikes.

Soon after this incident  Dolgushin chose to rid off his boss, Mt. Oleg Makovoz. He had several reasons. First of all, somebody told  Dolgushin that  Makovoz had put a hit on him. Second,  Dolgushin was fed up with being just a contract killer by that time. He was hoping to take  Makovoz’s place after killing him. He was ready to take advantage of the situation when he could pin the murder on Kostya the Tomb’s gang seeking revenge. On October, 14, 2003 contract killers peppered the car of  Makovoz in St. Petersburg leaving up to 90 bullet holes in the car. But the man survived. After that  Dolgushin realized that his life was then worth nothing. He was handed over to St. Petersburg GUVD officers, with some assistance from the Tambovskaya group, of course. According to some sources,  Kumarin spoke with  Dolgushin in person.

As a result  Dolgushin, this major information source, disclosed everything he knew about the murders that  Makovoz was involved in. And then in accordance with the scheme drawn up by the police and mafia he presented all the murders committed by the Tambovskaya gang as if  Makovoz was the consumer.  Makovoz was accused of murder after murder and it came to a point where he almost cracked and would be ready to plead guilty. The scheme was operating smoothly.  

It was the St. Petersburg GUVD officers who under the effective control of head of the police  Vladislav Piotrovsky conducted operational assistance. But suddenly FSB agents and investigators from Moscow showed up.  If it had not been for our intervention, there would have been literally no charges against  Kumarin as all the crimes in the criminal capital would have been indicted upon  Makovoz and  Leukhin. Our main goal was to stop wrongful accusations and crimes of the Tambovskaya group being pinned on Makovoz and to lift GUVD control from  Dolgushin. This is where the war broke out.

Sex with the prosecutor 

As commonplace as it may sound, the further events were much alike with the US action movies or TV series like Mentovskie Voiny. FSB increased their security measures to protect  Makovoz and GUVD did the same for  Dolgushin. The agencies closely watched the actions of each other, tapped telephone conversations, and collected information for mudslinging. For instance, we found out that GUVD and prosecution office officers had a sort of affection for  Denis Dolgushin, literally speaking.

In their conversations police officers and investigators referred to him as Deniska and treated him as the apple of their eyes. They gave him everything he would care for. As a result, our agents shadowed them to the best city hotels, saunas, restaurants, and night clubs. The police did literally everything for this contract killer of the blackest dye.

We installed a camera in one of the saunas that Deniska liked to go to with the GUVD officers. We watched them drink alcohol together there. Then a female officer from the prosecutor’s office came to the sauna. She was the state prosecutor in many of the cases heard by St. Petersburg courts. Some time later  Dolgushin and she were given some privacy. They had sex right in that room of the sauna. Later we found out that the contract killer and the prosecutor had been lovers for a long time.

It is worth mentioning that the prosecution demanded probation on all charges against  Dolgushin who had killed so many people. This did not come out all at once. At first in 2005 the prosecutor demanded 15 years of incarceration. But the hearings were urgently suspended. The head of St. Petersburg police,  Vladislav Piotrovsky, went to Moscow to the General Prosecutor’s Office. After the trip the hearing was resumed. But this time prosecution demanded eight years of probation for the contract killer. After that up to 2009 Dolgushin was only sentenced with probation.”

Head of police obeyed former mayor security guard

         Meanwhile,  Makovoz who was under protection of the FSB also started to cooperate. He told us about the murders that  Kumarin was involved in and about the ties linking the current head of police,  Vladislav Piotrovsky, and himself. They got acquainted in the 1990s when  Makovoz was head of a private security agency and  Piotrovsky was head of the Criminal police at the GUVD.

 Piotrovsky offered  Makovoz an alliance with him and  Roman Tsepov, another prominent figure of St. Petersburg criminal environment.  Tsepov was the head of security for  Anatoly Sobchak, former city mayor, who held this position since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and up to 1996. In 1996 he was not reelected and the title of the city government head was changed to “governor”. In fact in the 1990s the deputy mayor for  Sobchak was a Committee for State Security (KGB) officer,  Vladimir Putin (who was elected president of the Russian Federation in 2000, which made him the second president of Russia).

After  Sobchak left office  Tsepov became head of a private security agency Baltic-Escort. He was involved with the most prominent St. Petersburg Mafiosi,  Kumarin, and yet de facto he was watching the city unofficially for  Putin and had the widest authority. This authority was delegated to him by a former security guard of mayor Sobchak, General Victor Zolotov, who became head of the security of president Putin in 2000. In 2004  Tsepov was poisoned with the same substance as  Litvinenko, a former FSB agent who was hiding out in London, in 2006. Both men’s murderers have not been arrested and prosecuted.

         Anyhow, there were some slips. In exchange for his testimony  Makovoz asked to go out once in a while, convoyed by FSB agents. He would want to go to a restaurant or hook up with someone. They usually did it this way: an investigator gave permission for  Makovoz to be taken from the remand prison to a hospital for a check-up while in reality they would take him out to restaurants and so on. FSB was very careful about this. But several times GUVD agents saw these “trips to the hospital” and informed mass media controlled by a gangster boss about it. A scandal followed.

In fact the much discussed scandal concerning  Piotrovsky still has not resulted in his removal from office. On the contrary, due to a professional PR campaign his most obvious mistakes were presented as accomplishments and virtues.  President Dmitry Medvedev, elected in 2008 for four years, is taking measures to curb corruption among officials and law enforcement agents. Or at least that is what he says. But the first move, income monitoring, has already been made. Now all civil servants, intelligence officers and police are obliged to file tax returns every year. It turned out that St. Petersburg police head’s income was more than president Medvedev’s and prime-minister Putin’s incomes combined.  Piotrovsky stated an income of 28 million rubles (about 1 million dollars) in his tax return. But this did not alarm the government.  Victor Zolotov, head of the security, lulled the vigilance of everyone.

         There is no winner in the battle over  Makovoz.   On the one hand we managed to lift murder charges for crimes committed by the Tambovskaya group. On the other hand most of the information he disclosed during interrogations including that about  Poitrowski did not result in any action from law enforcement agencies. In June 2009 the court sentenced  Makovoz on charges of murders contracted by him to 23 years of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony.  Dolgushin, the contract killer who actually performed the murders, was only sentenced to 5 years and 3 months of incarceration. And it is likely that he will be back on the street again much earlier than that. We have found out recently that St. Petersburg GUVD and the prosecutor’s office are working to have  Dolgushin made free on parole. Most likely it will happen in summer 2011 because St. Petersburg police is concerned that  Dolgushin may crack in prison and tell the actual facts about  Makovoz and  Kumarin conspiracy, as well as about the role that GUVD officials and  Piotrovsky played in it.

                    Kumarin’s men cracked 

One of the major opponents GUVD and prosecutors had to face was an Investigating Committee investigator, Oleg Pipchenkov. He led all the investigations in St. Petersburg.  He is quite a peculiar man.  Pipchenkov devoted most of his time to solving cases of racketeering, murders, and organized crime activities. He always says that his favourite character is a detective novel character Gleb Zheglov, head of the department that fights organized crime.

 Pipchenkov accepts no compromises. This is why there were way too many suspects and accused people in some cases. The largest number of accused we had in a case was 25 people. That was the case about an illegal takeover of the Frunzenskaya Wholesale Fruit & Vegetable Warehouse. Of course, later charges were lifted from most of the initially accused.

Russia’s Investigation Committee paid exceptional attention to the story with the warehouse, because investigation into it could reveal some damaging information both about Vladislav Piotrovsky himself and a potentially interested party – Petersburg’s leading banker Alekasandr Savelyev who owns “Saint Petersburg” bank.

The warehouse owner was an elderly businessman Semen Abramovich Shubik. Sliozberg’s people raided his property. Through his connections the businessman manage to organize a private meeting with police chief Piotrovsky and told him everything. The GUVD head sent aggrieved Shubik to the main ‘anti-mafia crusader’ Sych, promising he would help. Then Sych used the above-described scheme.

Sych’s subordinates took two samples of Shubin’s signature for a “handwriting analysis”. Later the lawyers hired by Misha Kupchinsky filled the signed papers with the texts of the contracts. However there was a serious flaw on the police side. When Shubik was writing his full name, he got very nervous and as a result misspelled a few letters which he corrected. The policemen did not ask him to re-write full name, and eventually the corrections appeared below the paper with contract. For the investigation it is a serious clue.

‘Anti-mafia crusader’ Sych could not stop lying during the interrogations. It is difficult to find person more stumbling over his words and more mendacious. Piotrovsky was questioned twice. He admitted he had met with Shubin, but said he had sent him to Sych because thought Sych was a real professional. The police chief characterized Sych very positively and said he was one of the best officers and had nothing to do with the criminal raids.

Speaking about Misha Kupchinsky the police chief was very accurate. As a result only Sych and his subordinates were indicted. Despite our numerous requests, the authorities did not give the go-ahead for “putting the squeeze” on Piorovsky. Although the evidence against him is huge in number, the police chief has not been brought to justice yet.

As for other cases of raiding, at the beginning the investigation moved slowly but then the arrested people one after another began to cooperate with the investigators. Pipchenkov’s invented his own way to get the information. It was certain for him he could not bargain because the Prosecutor General’s office was friendly with city’s GUVD and was backing Kumarin and would not ask for suspended terms for those who cooperated with the Investigative Committee. But there was no other way to induce low-level mafia foot soldiers to speak out.

Pipchenkov offered him a bargain. He would not bring more charges (including the charges which stipulated longer terms). In exchange for it they had to cooperate. The first who gave evidence was Shengelia (arrested in autumn 2006). Even before the arrest he began to realize that he had been betrayed by Kumarin but feared to speak. When Kumarin himself was arrested (in summer 2007), Pipchenkov put a question point-blank: either he would be indicted with a serious of forcible takeovers and murders or he would testify.

And Shengelia began to grass. He gave evidence about Kumarin, Drokov, Sych, Tsvetkov brothers (active members of the Tambov gang) and many others. More difficult the situation was with Kumarin’s right hand man Drokov. He did not want to cooperation so he was provided with a good lesson. In 2009 the court sentenced him to 15 years in prison (compare with Kumarin’s 14 years). After that Pipchenkov finally broke him down.

The investigator told Drokov that his choice was limited. If he carries on refusing to cooperate he will face the same charges as Kumarin (including charges of homicide). This mean he will never have a chance to be free. If he agrees to cooperate new charges will not be brought. Dukov cracked and turned out to be even more garrulous grass than Shengelia. He told the investigators about Kumarin, Slioazberg, his associate Leukhin and Piotrovsky. He told how they planned to accuse Leukhin of all raid takeovers.

If we can speak about any decency among this people Leukhin was one who surprised the investigation most. Arrested in 2006 he refused cooperating whatsoever and had never said a word against Kumarin, the very person who did his best to put Leukhin the Bear behind the bars.

The war must go on                          

When Pipchenkov’s team was still working in St. Petersburg, some officials from the city’s police and prosecution threatened that the consequence of the war would be sensible for them. It turns out they have kept their word.

For instance, Makovoz’s protection was supported by former deputy prosecutor of Moscow’s central district and now lawyer Ruslan Parkin. And the investigation into Sych’s affairs was carried out by Parkin’s close friend Andrey Grivtsov, an investigator from Russia’s Investigative Committee. When they came back to Moscow, they were put under surveillance by the inherent security department of Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. The ministry was petitioned by a report about $20 million bribe extortion from businessman Vladimir Palikhata.

Incidentally Palikhata had been a business partner of the above mentioned Roman Tsepov (poisoned in 2004) and also a good friend of Sobchak’s widow – member of the Federation Council of the RF Lyudmila Narusova. As a result Parkin was put on a wanted list, because there was some evidence against him. And in January 2010 the officers from the inherent security department arrested Grivtsov, who worked in our operational investigative group, although his involvement in the extortion could not be proved whatsoever.

Nevertheless the Prosecutor General’s office demanded that the court issue the arrest warrant to Grivtsov. And that initially took place. An officer from the Ministry of Internal Affairs came to the prison box and offered Grivtsov to give evidence in exchange of “just 2-3 years of prison”. He was offered to tell the court that the bribe had been destined for the head of the operational investigative group Pipchenkov.

Grivtsov was also offered to speak about numerous cases of misconduct and offences in the process of investigation in St. Petersburg. Moscow city court has recently released Grivtsov on parole, but the case is still open and the Prosecutor General’s office does not plan to close it. The prosecution refuses to approve the indictments which should be formulated for the homicide cases of the night governor of Petersburg Kumarin.

The war is going on. Now the battle scene has moved to Moscow”.

Dan Rossignol,
Well Miller

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