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EXCLUSIVE: The Sergei Storchak Letter

storchak072508.jpgYesterday we reported on the return of former Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak, whose unlawful pre-trial imprisonment on fraud charges is a focal point of the Kremlin clan wars between the liberal St. Petersburg economists and the hard-line siloviki. Today we offer an exclusive English translation of the letter published by Gazeta from Storchak, defending his innocence and pleading for his release. “The charges themselves serve as evidence of the crime” Sergey Storchak has written a letter to a “Gazeta” correspondent For eight months deputy minister of finance of Russia Sergey Storchak, charged with attempting to steal $43.3 mln from the budget, is found in detention. At first – in the “Lefortovo” isolator. Now – in “Matrosskaya Tishina”. It is from there that he wrote a letter to “Gazeta” special correspondent Maria Rogacheva, on the 10 pages of which he attempted to analyze the causes and effects of his criminal case, as well as telling about how he spends time in confinement and what he plans to be doing after release. Storchak writes that until now, he has not found an answer to the most main question for him: who is standing behind the criminal prosecution?

“This is a planned campaign, and I have all grounds to assume that it was directed against the interests of the state” – thus does the inmate asses what has occurred.“Gazeta” publishes the letter with insignificant reductions.“I had not heard that Russian investigators were psychics”Alas, even upon the expiration of eight months of detention I can not precisely suppose when they will start to work with me for real, that is to ask questions and record my answers. This is the most main thing. After all, it is far from by chance that in the Gospel of John is directly said: “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?”.You, of course, could object: “Nobody is judging you, the investigation is going on”. But that is exactly the point, that I have run up against a situation when the charges themselves serve as evidence of the crime. An absurdity, but this is the reality, given in feelings not only to me, but also to my wife and sons. Is this the Christian way, is this according to the law – in eight months not to hear out the accused? Is this just – to limit oneself only to acquaintances with expert studies, made by those who are closely connected with the investigation?Alas, the hopes that after public declarations in the Basmanny Court and after the coming to the leadership of the investigation of a new professional (in April, Anatoly Iskantsev replaced head of the investigative brigade in the Storchak case Valery Khomitsky. –“Gazeta”) the situation with interrogations, surveys of documents, confrontations and so forth would change in a direction better for me have not justified themselves. Very interesting: the investigation of the attempted fraud, that is, an event in which an exclusive role should be played by interpersonal relations, is taking place without the participation of that same person. I had not heard that Russian investigators were psychics.I do not understand for whom such an investigation is advantageous? For the sake of what and why is it being conducted according to such a strange script?“I have long not had an opportunity to observe what is going on from the side”The further from the date of the arrest – 15 November of the year 2007, the more absurd do the charges filed look, inasmuch as they are reproaching me for not having sent the representatives of ZAO “Sodexim” packing, but having begun to cooperate with them, penetrating into the situation that had developed, preparing a proposal on ways of resolving the problem that had arisen. Note, a proposal, and not the actual decision, inasmuch as not one of the deputy ministers has the authority to first take on budgetary obligations, and then carry them out. I want to ask the people who started this post-flight analysis on what grounds I was supposed, according to their logic, to have denied the applicant in his right to the protection of his economic (financial) interests? By the way, remaining without an answer is an even more fundamental question about who is standing behind the whole campaign, which has gotten the name of either “The Storchak Affair”, or “The Sodexim Affair”? Only one thing is clear: this is a planned campaign, conducted notwithstanding the fact that it was knowingly leading to a disruption of negotiations with Libya. But what interested the authors of the construction was not the consequences of this disruption, but the opportunity to “work” with me during the course of those days, when my boss A. L. Kudrin was not in the country. However it may have been in reality, I am sure you will agree that I have all grounds to assume that the campaign was directed against the interests of the state.And it is not just about negotiations with Libya. Ending up frozen was work with respect to a series of projects, like, for example, with respect to the early recovery of debt by the Republic of Korea. To be honest, what I really regret is that I did not carry these two projects through to the end. They are being realized, even without me. But the tempo of the negotiations is lost, right before our eyes is the delay with coming out to incremental understandings, and this is additional expenditures of the budget for the payment of the projects. For whom is this advantageous? Of course, for the lenders, but not at all for the debtor, that is for Russia. I am happy for my colleagues, who have managed to resolve a series of big problems. Specifically by following the work of comrades on the projects that we led together, I am also following the development of the economic situation in the country. I have long not had an opportunity to observe what is going on from the side. In jail it turns out to be highly interesting.“I have a vivid enough imagination, but even it does not suffice”In some 40 days we will yet again be fighting for freedom. Indubitably, the investigation will be asking about extending the measure of restraint. I do not even know whether I should be happy or sad from this strange internal feeling that has started to somehow react poorly to this threat. The first hearings – in November, February, April – evoked worry, but the approaching one – emptiness and also shame. Shame for the absence of will of the judicial power, which does not desire to manifest and apply this power, walks on the leash of the investigation. We will pull through.Generally speaking, it is interesting what kinds of arguments the I. (the investigation. – “Gazeta”) is going to use this time. The old ones – he will run away, will hide, will pressure witnesses, will destroy documents – have exhausted themselves. Even the expert studies are ready. What else? I have a vivid enough imagination, but even it does not suffice. By the way, imagination does not suffice with respect to the merits of the case, either: for what exactly are they planning to put me on trial? It is funny, but still lying on the table are accusations that I was doing my job, which in substance does not differ from payments in behalf of creditors – members of the Paris Club. If all this will be researched by the court, then the investigation does not have a chance.“Being in a cell is akin to being in an airplane cockpit”A bit about living conditions. They have significantly improved (in June, Storchak was transferred from the “Lefortovo” isolator to “Matrosskaya Tishina”. – “Gazeta”). At the new place, the cell is brighter, bigger, tidier. It is very important that there is a table and a bench. One can both work and take a rest in some kind of approximation of the usual conditions of an ordinary government official. Maybe this will seem strange, but being in a cell is akin to being in an airplane cockpit, only this is a more comfortable and less dangerous being. The absence of so-called service does not irritate, at least not me. I think I have a moral right to make such a comparison, if one considers that in the last three years, I spent no less than 100 days per year on business trips, while the flights were extra-lengthy: the USA, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, China, the Republic of Korea, the RSA. In general, the conditions of detention are worthy.This is a fact. Also worthy is the attitude of the personnel to people like me, to poor stiffs.The discipline, according to the army principles of which the order of the day is arranged, fully suits me. The only thing that looks somewhat uncustomary is that any action not provided for by the rules is carried out with the permission of the leadership. Here in full measure functions the principle of an even attitude towards the inmates, reminding me of the principle of the comparability of the conditions of adjusting various categories of indebtedness. It’s fair.Letter therapyIt is precisely in jail (and an isolator – this is a jail of far from the strictest regime) you understand how important is the support from the side of those with whom you lived and worked side by side. In this sense, I have truly been lucky: both my family and colleagues from the Ministry of Finance not only have not forgotten me, they also write so actively that I have to even strain so as not to forget to reply. I will say more. I have gotten messages from those whom I have not seen for a long time already, have not even spoken with them by telephone, and, naturally, have not communicated with. And even your letter – is this too not support?My wife, Alyosha and Andrey (Sergey Storchak’s children. – “Gazeta”) stably select a quota for visits. This signifies two visits per month. Every visit is for an hour. Of course, this is not much, but it is better than nothing. Letters help. And this means of communication depends only on us ourselves. I make use of it often. I consider that a new, at least for me, type of treatment has a right to exist – letter therapy. Whoever has been behind bars understands me.“In the present – jail. In the future – hard to say”Everything is stored in the memory as if though it was yesterday. Possibly because everything (the moment of the arrest. – “Gazeta”) took place in an ordinary way: people in civilian clothing came up, introduced themselves, showed a paper, sat in a car, drove off. The snow was falling very heavily. Everybody was silent. Even the driver was not swearing at the road. I imagine how they frightened my wife. Now these actions can not be forgiven. Forgotten either. But this is all in the past.In the present – jail. In the future – hard to say. Of course, if A.L. (Alexey Kudrin. – “Gazeta”) will suffer such a deputy, then I would stay with him. Such interesting work is impossible to find, it does not exist. Otherwise, I will engage in teaching. I already have 12 lectures (topics). I am trying to fulfill an obligation to the Financial Academy about a course of lectures for students. Six lectures are already, it seems, ready. It goes without saying that among their number are two stories that are most important for me – stories about adjusting the debt of the former USSR and about our attempts to return loans granted by a sovereign borrower to both the former USSR, and to Russia itself. Also on the list is the Stabfund [Stabilization Fund – Trans.], and the financial “eight” [G8 – Trans.], and a whole lot more.Successes to you, luck. Your Storchak22.07.2008 / MARIA ROGACHEVAMaterials published in “Gazeta” №136 of 23.07.2008