Grigory Pasko: Is Mikhail Trepashkin’s Life in Danger?

There May Be More Victims of the Regime Is Trepashkin’s Life in Danger? By Grigory Pasko, journalist trepashkin.jpg A few weeks ago, Trepashkin wrote the attached letter to Pasko A Letter from “There”

“To journalist Grigory Pasko from Mikhail Ivanovich Trepashkin, lawyer of the Moscow collegium of advocates “Mezhregion”, colonel (reserves), veteran and pensioner of the FSB RF, unlawfully convicted on fabricated charges of having committed acts of medium severity – Art. 222 part 1 and Art. 283 part 1 of the Criminal Code of the RF – and sentenced to 4 years in a penal colony-settlement, held under guard in Federal State Institution IK-13 of the city of Nizhny Tagil. I am writing to you for help in getting press coverage of the essence of my case. They were in such a hurry to get me behind bars that they simply made up nearly all of the charges. …All of my appeals always end up in the hands of those same persons who had fabricated the case. I have only one hope now for a review of the case, and this is broad coverage of the situation in the mass media. …I am confident that through the mass media, it will be possible to attain not only a review of the case, but that certain military procurators and judges might get their epaulets ripped off as well! Why? Because the fabrication is very obvious even to an ordinary citizen who doesn’t have any legal training. Why were they in such a hurry to lock me up? The trial in the case of Dekkushev and Krymshamkhanov was starting. Where I was supposed to be representing the interests of the sisters E.A. and T.A. Morozova, victims of the bombing of a house on Guryanov street in Moscow in September 1999. There was an FSB directive to do whatever necessary to remove me from the case. How many charges were there against me? Two under Art. 222 part 1 and two under Art. 283 part 1 of the CC RF. To whom had I divulged a state secret? I was charged with divulging a state secret to FSB colonel V.V. Shebalin, serving in a secret unit of the URPO FSB RF [the FSB’s organised crime unit – Trans.]. What is omitted is the fact that I met with Shebalin in August 2002 in order to warn him about a terrorist act that was in preparation in Moscow (Nord-Ost). What FSB secrets did I divulge to an FSB colonel in 2002 if I haven’t been serving in the FSB since 1997? Why is it that a criminal case was initiated in 2002 concerning an event that took place on May 3, 1955, To wit, I’m sitting behind barbed wire for a case for which an amnesty has been issued! With your help, I’m hoping to break through the informational blockade system that has been created around me and through publications to attain a review of the case. Please note that I’m not asking for a dismissal of the case, but for a review! Because I know that everything’s just “pasted together”, and that there are no grounds for me to fear any “other turns” in the case. Respectfully, and hoping for a reaction, Mikhail Trepashkin November 22, 2006

The text of this letter was scanned from a handwritten original and sent to me by email. There was no need to doubt the authenticity of the letter – the original of Trepashkin’s letter to Litvinenko can be found on many websites, so even a non-specialist can see that the handwriting is identical. Some first thoughts about this missive: the man must be in dire straits indeed if he is ready to believe even in the power of the printed word in these days. And more: Mikhail Ivanovich doesn’t trust me, and perhaps doesn’t trust anyone at all. And this is right, because he has been in a situation for quite a long time now where excessive trust could mean big trouble for him. Not from a journalist, of course, but from his former friends in that big jar of spiders that goes by the name “KGB.” The Trepashkin case What do we know about the so-called Trepashkin case? Here’s what Mikhail himself said in a 2003 interview with Grani.Ru:

“The goal of this accusation is to not allow me to render assistance to the Public Commission. After I started in January of this year (2003 – author’s note) to investigate the circumstances of the terrorist acts of 1999 and the tragedy on Dubrovka [Nord-Ost – Trans.] at the request of the Commission, all kinds of charges started to be brought against me. I’m being charged under three Articles. The first: Art. 22 part 1 of the Criminal Code of the RF (‘Unlawful acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation or bearing of a weapon, its principal parts, munitions, explosive substances and exlosive devices’). The case was already initiated in those times when the declarations of Achemez Gochiyayev were publicised during a July 25, 2002 Moscow-London “space bridge” television show. At that time, cartridges were planted on me, and the investigation attempted to prove that they belong to me. Another Article – 283 (‘Divulging a state secret’). It was not established than there had been anything divulged. Then the prosecution brought up the Article about abuse of official position – 285. They recollected the year 1995, when I, being an FSB officer, started to “expunge” caches of Chechen weapons in Moscow. I took several caches, for which I received a medal ‘For valour’. And suddenly a command comes from above, from Patrushev (director of the FSB – author’s note): not to work any further. I was shocked: what did that mean, ‘not to work’? After all, the Raduyevites are operating in Moscow, a cache has been established in Zagoryanka, eyewitnesses of deaths at the hand of Chechen bandits have appeared. I did not reconcile myself to this order, after which a judicial inquiry began, which determined that I had supposedly abused my official position by detaining a band of Chechens. I had to resign. I sued. The court ruled that I was right. I had the warrants. I took the band that was subsequently convicted by the Tverskoy court. After this began a new round of persecutions, now associated with the terrorist acts of 1999 and ‘Nord-Ost’. Now, a new charge will be filed, which, I think, will hardly be the last.”

In May 2004, Mr. Trepashkin was sentenced to deprivation of liberty for four years for divulging a state secret. On August 19, the Tagilstroyevsky district court satisfied Mikhail Trepashkin’s petition on early release on parole. The procuracy did not appeal this decision in the time period established by law, and on August 29, Mr. Trepashkin returned to Moscow. However, on September 16, the procuracy of Sverdlovsk Oblast reinstated the time period for submitting a cassation [appeal – Trans.] and protested the decision on early release on parole. On September 18, 2004, Mikhail Trepashkin was arrested anew and delivered to IK-13 of Nizhny Tagil, where he is to this day. Trepashkin2.jpg In his interview, trepashkin did not mention an important detail for understanding everything that started to happen with him (and not only him) – the famous press conference in 1998. At that time, Trepashkin took part in a press conference at which FSB officers Litvinenko, Gusak, Ponkin, and Shcheglov accused the FSB of criminal activity. Trepashkin was present at the press conference in the capacity of a victim. Other Important Matters It is known that Mikhail Trepashkin’s military service began in the atomic submarine fleet. After his required tour of duty, he entered the Higher School of the KGB. Since 1976, he was an investigator in the investigation administration of the KGB, specialising in cases of smuggling cultural valuables and works of art. In the 90s, he worked in the internal security administration of the FSB. His commanding officer was Nikolai Patrushev, today’s KGB boss. Among Trepashkin’s successful cases was the unmasking in 1995 of a criminal group in the FSB and GRU [military intelligence – Trans.], which was engaged in the sale of weapons into Chechnya. However, the case was ordered to be closed. A conflict with the command arose. In that same year, he was dismissed from the organs. In early 1996, he sued the FSB for unlawful dismissal, and the court satisfied his claim. But the decision of the court never was carried out. In early 1997, Trepashkin was attacked on the street and he was beaten. By this time, he had given several interviews about corruption in the FSB. The former special services officer had also sent a letter to president of the RF Boris Yeltsin on this same subject. In the middle of 1997, Alexander Litvinenko, who at that time worked in the administration for surveillance of criminal organisations (URPO), got an order to organise an attack on Trepashkin. Subsequently, Trepashkin was mentioned together with Boris Berezovsky and Umar Djabrailov in the complaint to the procuracy that Litvinenko filed against the URPO as a criminal organisation. The latter two were likewise under surveillance by the URPO: they were supposed to kill Berezovsky, and kidnap Djabrailov. (It was after this that he decided to take part in the press conference). What happened next? It is known that Mikhail Trepashkin next engaged in private law practice for two years. In September 2001, he gave an interview to French journalists who were shooting the film “An Attempt on Russia”, in which he told about the activities of the FSB in the context of the bombing of the houses in Moscow and Volgodonsk. Right after this, a search was made of his premises. A criminal case was started up against Trepashkin for divulging a state secret and unlawfully storing a weapon. The second charge was ultimately dropped, but the first one remained. In early 2002, Trepashkin made the acquaintance of Sergey Yushenkov and started to work actively with him within the framework of the commission for the investigation of the bombing of residential houses in cities of Russia in the year 1999 [Yushenkov was assassinated in 2003, hours after registering his new opposition political party for upcoming parliamentary elections – Trans.]. In that same year, he became the attorney for the Morozova sisters, who lived in the USA (they passed through as victims in the case of the house bombings). In August 2003, Tatiana Morozova visited Moscow, and together with Trepashkin sought to gain access to documents on the bombing case. This was the only attempt on the part of the 1999 bombing victims to obtain at least some kind of information on the case. Trepashkin’s Life in Danger On December 4, 2006, the latest press conference dedicated to the imprisonment of former FSB RF officers Mikhail Trepashkin took place in Moscow. At the conference, which was entitled “The public committee in defence of Mikhail Trepashkin begins work,” new details about the situation with the political prisoner lawyer were sounded, and his open letters and appeals were presented. Telling journalists about the activities of the new committee were executive director of the All-Russia Public Movement “For human rights” Lev Ponomarev, coordinator of the committee in defence of Trepashkin Mikhail Krieger, human rights advocate Elena Sannikova, as well as M. Trepashkin’s lawyer Elena Liptser. Here is an excerpt from the appeal by the committee members:

“We have seen how simply, with calm cynicism, paying no regard whatsoever to the huge public resonance, people who uncovered the dark secrets of the war in Chechnya and the crimes of the siloviki were selected to be a victim of terror… We have serious grounds to assume that Trepashkin may become the next victim in a series of summary executions. Therefore, we are establishing a public committee in his defence. The aim of the Committee is activities to ensure the rights of Trepashkin to hospitalisation effective treatment, to repeal of an unfair sentence and rehabilitation.”

In the words of the lawyer of the former FSB colonel, her client suffers from an extremely dangerous form of bronchial asthma – third or fourth degree. With such degrees of asthma, a person must be hospitalised straight away. However, an examination and a formal recording of a diagnosis are necessary for the adoption of such a decision. “If Mikhail Ivanovich’s illness were formally recorded, then he would be released from prison. But they are hindering an examination of Trepashkin all the time. Attacks [of the asthma – Trans.] occur nearly every night, and every time a person’s life depends on the speed with which medical assistance arrives”, Trepashkin’s lawyer Elena Liptser told the journalists. According to the information of human rights advocates, narcotic injections are given to the political prisoner in the jail, ostensibly restoring the health of the defendant, but which in actuality, in the words of Lev Ponomarev, are “slowly killing him.” “When Alexander Litvinenko was killed, we understood that now an imminent danger threatens Mikhail Trepashkin as well,” said Lev Ponomarev. It is known that Trepashkin, together with service colleagues, in particular the URPO FSB RF lieutenant-colonel A. Litvinenko among others, took part in the famous press conference by officers of the named administration, which took place on November 17, 2008 at “Interfax.” At it, the FSB officers told about how the FSB RF leadership had assigned them kidnappings and murders of people. After some time, all the “whistle-blowers” without exception were dismissed from the FSB. And here is an excerpt from Mikhail Trepashkin’s open letter of November 24, 2006: “Together with A.V. Litvinenko, I was a participant in the press conference of 17 November 1998. I was already no longer an officer of the organs of state security. I was invited as a victim of a murder being arranged by FSB RF officers because earlier I had brought attention to crimes being committed by FSB RF officers with the knowledge of management. For this they fired me from the organs, organized attempts on my life many a time, including with the forces of the URPO FSB RF… I am being held in a SIZO [Investigative Isolator, a pre-trial prison – Trans.], IVS [Temporary Holding Isolator – Trans.], and zone [prison camp – Trans.] for a fourth year already, not having committed anything unlawful against people. My charges are concocted! This can be seen even with the eye of a non-lawyer …Litvinenko, I – we’re not the last in the chain of those being pursued. Think about it.” Likewise, in his letters, Mikhail Trepashkin says that he had warned Alexander Litvinenko as far back as 2002 about the creation of a group for his annihilation. Convicted ex-colonel of the FSB Mikhail Trepashkin, through his lawyers Elena Liptser and Lev Ponomarev, has conveyed a request to the investigative team from Scotland Yard (which is flying out to Moscow today) to question him about the case of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko. In addition to this, Trepashkin’s lawyers have expressed the desire that the British investigators question their client precisely now in connection with the fact that Trepashkin is in serious condition in the infirmary of the Nizhny Tagil penal colony. At the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishments (FSIN) of Russia [the prisons administration – Trans.], they are not planning to organise a meeting of representatives of Scotland Yard with former officer of the FSB of Russia Mikhail Trepashkin, who has been convicted of divulging a state secret and is serving a sentence in a correctional colony in Nizhny Tagil. That “the FSIN of Russia will not tolerate a person convicted of divulging a state secret continuing to appear in the role of a source of information for representatives of the special services of foreign states” was announced by the official representative of the FSIN, Alexander Sidorov. sidorov.jpg Alexander Sidorov of FSIN Latest Events Recently, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that it had managed, through an intermediary, to contact Trepashkin and that he had provided the name of a colonel in the Russian special services who, he asserts, had played a key role in the poisoning of Litvinenko. In Trepashkin’s words, this is one of the four FSB officers who had appeared together with Litvinenko at the press conference in 1998 and had announced about the attempt being organised on Boris Berezovsky’s life. As the Sunday Telegraph notes, it knows the name of this colonel, but it can not report it. (As a reminder, there were four participants other than Trepashkin himself: Litvinenko, Gusak, Ponkin, and Shcheglov – author’s note). It is known that in connection with new data that has appeared about threats to Trepashkin’s life, the committee in his defence has decided to conduct yet another meeting this week. The decision was adopted within the framework of the conference “In defence of human rights” which took place on December 10 in Moscow. Getting Back to the Letter

“…They simply made up nearly all of the charges. …All of my appeals always end up in the hands of those same persons who had fabricated the case. I have only one hope now for a review of the case, and this is broad coverage of the situation in the mass media. …I am confident that through the bass media, it will be possible to attain not only a review of the case, but that epaulets might get ripped off as well…”

I re-read these lines several times. Perhaps like few other people, I am familiar with the sense of desperation and the feeling of helplessness against the FSB/procuracy/court triad. But even I, a semi-civilian person, was not so naïve as to have such a religious faith in a review of the case through publications in the press. The times have changed, Mikhail Ivanovich! Surely you must know the whole extent of the nefariousness and cynicism of your colleagues, who change laws to fit their needs whenever it suits them and have unlimited influence on the procuracy and the courts? It goes without saying that I will do my duty as a journalist – I will write everything I want to write about your case. But by right of having been a prisoner myself, I’ll offer some advice: conserve your energy and your nerves; you’ll still need them. Try to be cautious and to survive. And more: you have many true friends, who are thinking about you and about how to help you. (It is another matter that the times these days are evil and lawless, so there aren’t all that many ways to help). In time, everything will fall into its place. And although it is unlikely that we will be able to witness the just punishment of all those who throw innocent people into the prison camps, they will still get what they deserve. If not tomorrow, then the day after.