Bring the Car, Kirillov!

May 1, 2013
The “mansion” of “supercrook” Vladimir Kirillov

The little person in this case is Yan Kirillov, aged 3 years and 4 months. A  year and a half ago, he stopped talking. Doctors confirm that reason for  this pathology is the psychological trauma received as a result of his father’s arrest.

On Monday in Khoroshevsky District Court in Moscow, the criminal case of Maksim Kagansky continued to be heard. On the defendants’ bench,  in a cage, was Kagansky himself and his “organized criminal group” —  Kagansky’s bodyguard Roman Emelyanov, driver Vladimir Kirillov and  Kagansky’s wife’s driver, Roman Yemelyanov. Another person under trial was in the court room, Nelli Dmitrieva, a former investigator for the Main Investigative Department of the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Moscow. (She has signed a statement promising not to leave town).

Kagansky obtained nationwide fame at the end of September 2011, when he was caught during a joint operation of the FSB and Interior Ministry in possession of “bribes totaling $1.5 million.”

Kagansky obtained national notoriety in late September, when his drivers and bodyguard were detained during a joint operation between the FSB and Interior Ministry and caught “red-handed accepting a bribe of $1.5 million.” Kagansky managed to go into hiding at that point. The press service of the Interior Ministry reported that Kagansky, a businessman and former officer of the Ministry’s Department of Economic Security, was suspected of serving as the middleman in a transfer of bribes to highly-placed law-enforcement officials. In other words, Kagansky was a “fixer” who, “for a decent compensation,” could guarantee the closing of a criminal investigation for any businessman.

During the search of Kagansky’s home, documents were found confirming his common business interests, commercial and friendly ties with Lt. Gen. Andrei Khorev, who at that time was the head of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Economic Security. For example, a deal to acquire a hotel in Chernogor was discovered, registered to the wives of Kagan and Khorev; a luxury apartment given to the general’s father to use; and photographs of their vacations together were found.

Two weeks after the arrests of Kagansky’s drivers and body guard, on October 4, 2011, reporters at the main federal TV channels were already talking about the detention of investigator Nelli Dmitrieva on suspicions of corruption. She was the one who was supposed to receive the $1.5 million from Maxim Kagansky.

The case was held up as an enormous achievement by the intelligence agencies in exposing highly-placed “werewolves in epaulets” at the Interior Ministry.

In January 2012, Kagansky was found and detained in Novosibirsk and transferred to Moscow. Interestingly, the tone of the press secretaries in epaulets and the direction of the drama changed. Now Kagansky and his “accomplices” were not charged with acting as couriers for bribes to colonels and generals at the Interior Ministry, but were portrayed a banal swindlers who had “set up” their trusting employers.

Now the interest of the press in the trial is minimal. Only a correspondent from a specialized legal site and me were present in the court room. I will remind you: when the flywheel of this criminal case was first being spun, all the federal channels were vying with each other to report on Maksim Kagansky and his “accomplices”.

But now, attorneys for Kagansky and his “accomplices” insist — very persuasively — that their clients have become victims of a provocation by the silovki [representatives of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies].  Now it turns out that the “plaintiffs” in this case became plaintiffs “at the request” of agents, and the money for the transfer by the indicted individuals were issued from the coffers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) ($50,000; the remaining sum was cut from newspapers).

The main witness for the prosecution is Andrei Kazbanov, a former Interior Ministry officer and partner of Kagansky (they had a joint business, a small oil refinery and a chain of gas stations in the Volgograd region). Kazbanov describes how he made an agreement with Kagansky to “close the criminal prosecution” of three businessmen, how he received the “dummy” depicting the $1.5 million, and how he transferred the package to the car where Roman Emelyanov was at the wheel, and Vladimir Kirillov was in the passenger seat.

Kazbanov was visibly nervous, wiping the end of his nose, rubbing the lapels of his jacket, and periodically wiping his sweaty palms on his pants. The questions of the defense put the witness into a blind alley; he would often ask to repeat the question and now and then repeat that he didn’t remember certain circumstances, complaining of “individual peculiarities of memory”. Yet he spoke unambiguously of the role of the “accomplices,” that the drivers and bodyguard did not know about the negotiations that Kazbanov held with Kagansky, when on September 23, 2011 he met him in order to take him to Kagansky.  (Kirillov went to the meeting “as a passenger” only because he was the only employee of Kagansky who knew Kazbanov’s face).

The outcome of the “Kagansky Affair” is more or less clear to me — loud exposes of corruption in the Interior Ministry will not be forthcoming. The threads have been torn. I came to the Khoroshevsky District Court to take a look at the driver, Vladimir Kirillov, who for a year and a half has been held in a pre-trial detention center, and who is said by the investigation to have been an active member in an organized criminal group. His wife, Ekaterina, called Novaya Gazeta and invited us to see how a “member of an organized criminal group” handling millions of dollars actually lives. So I made a trip to a village 15 kilometers outside of Moscow at the Domodedovskaya metro station.

The area didn’t even have a name. It is shown on maps as merely “31st kilometer.” It has one street with the not very original name of Puteynaya  [Road]. On one side of the village there is a railroad, and on the other side the Don Expressway.

This is where the driver Kirillov was born and lived “in a barracks-type house” until his arrest.

“Six years ago Volodya was employed by Kagansky,” Ekaterina Kirilova recounts about her husband.  “He would work for a week, then have a week off. I would get ready seven shirts, two suits, and two pairs of shoes for him, and he would go off. He would spend the night either in the car, or in an outbuilding for servants at Kagansky’s cottage.”

Kirillov was paid 60,000 rubles a month for his work.

“Then, for one day, he would catch up on his sleep, and then would go out and work as a taxi driver,” Ekaterina said. “I didn’t work and sat home with my child, and Volodya also had to pay alimony.”

When the investigators barged in to search their home at 6:00 am. On May 24, 2011, they only seized Volodya’s draft card and his foreign passport, said Ekaterina. There wasn’t a single visa in the foreign passport, as Kirillov had been abroad only twice, at the end of the 1980s, when he has served as an emergency recruit to the Soviet Group of Forces in Germany, and to the shore in Gagra, Abkhazia with his wife.

On that fateful day, Kagansky told Kirillov to pick up a guest and take him to a restaurant where Kagansky was celebrating something. Kazbanov threw a package into the car (as it turned out later, it was the cash “dummy”), and then disappeared.

I think that quite a few forces were involved in the FSB’s and Interior Ministry’s special operation. And when Kagansky managed to go into hiding, the immediate executors of the operation didn’t dare to report his disappearance to their superiors. As is customary, those who were easily at hand were the ones to be detained. Once arrested, they began to beat out of them “a heart-felt admission, a confession, and cooperation with the investigation”.  In fact, none of the detainees even wrote a confession.

The prosecutor’s office repeatedly objected to the extension of the arrest of  Yemelyanov, Chuprin and Kirillov, not finding sufficient grounds for holding them at the pre-trial detention center. Yet the court extended the detention each time. As a result, if the drivers and the body guard are let out of detention now, the reasonable question will arise: why were they held there for 18 months? And I therefore I think that the sentence regarding Kirillov, Yemelyanov and Chuprin will be “guilty”.

So now it seems that today,  the main victim of this scandalous affair about corruption in the highest echelons of the Interior Ministry is the son of Vladimir and Ekaterina Kirillova, the boy Yan, who began talking very early, but fell silent when his father was arrested.