How to Spend Your Corruption Windfall


I’ve been getting a real kick out of this “Russian Untouchables” video series put out by Sergei Magnitsky’s legal team – not so much on the facts of the case, which most people around here are already familiar with, but rather the amusing details of what the alleged corrupt bureaucrats deemed to spend their stolen millions on (they really love flashy cars and luxury real estate).  But somebody in the procuracy did not like this video quite as much as I did.  In fact, our translator has sent over a recent original translation from RBK Daily from about a week ago relating to a defamation suit filed by Karpov against Browder … but it seems that the lawsuit wasn’t so much his own personal idea as was imposed from above. 

A counter-strike against the reputation

The law-enforcement system is attempting to whitewash itself in the «Magnitsky affair»

The decision of investigator Pavel Karpov, famous from the scandalous «Magnitsky affair», to accuse the head of the British investfund Hermitage, William Browder, of false denunciation and slander may have been adopted at the direction of the Kremlin. As RBK daily’s sources familiar with the details of the case assert, in the presidential administration they are dissatisfied with the negative image of the Russian law-enforcement organs and have decided to deliver a PR counter-strike.

Jurist Sergey Magnitsky, representing the interests of Hermitage CapitalManagement (HCM), expired in an investigative isolator in November ofthe year 2009. Since that time his colleagues have been providingjournalists with kompromat, denouncing the investigators and operativesfor premeditatedly placing the jurist behind bars and for budget thefts.The first reaction from the policemen «besmirched» by the colleaguesof the lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, who expired in the investigativeisolator, followed only after eight months after his death.

«The complaint of investigator Karpov to the name of theprocurator-general has appeared not by chance, — recounted a source inthe Procuracy-General to RBK daily. — The motive became a phone callfrom the administration of the president. The caller expresseddissatisfaction with the fact that they are pouring dirt on the Russianlaw-enforcement system out of London without a response and withimpunity».

The source does not elaborate who specifically has remained dissatisfiedby the public resonance around the «Magnitsky affair» — was this thepresident personally or someone of the employees of the administration.The only thing that is known is that the last drop of indignation inthe Kremlin became the video clip «Caste of untouchables. Part 1»,posted on YouTube. In it is narrated about the spending oflieutenant-colonel Kuznetsov, one of the policemen who is an accessory,according to the assertions of the HCM fund, to the death of Magnitskyand the theft of the budget funds. It is asserted that over three yearsKuznetsov’s family has spent around 3 mln doll. on apartments, plots ofland and automobiles.

It was decided to deliver a counter-strike from the side of theinvestigator most often mentioned negatively in the mass informationmedia, Pavel Karpov. He wrote a complaint to the Procuracy-General, inwhich he laid all the fault for the theft of the 5.4 bln rub. from thebudget on representatives of HCM and its head Browder personally.

As became known to RBK daily, the initiative for the writing of thiscomplaint proceeded not from Karpov himself, but out of theProcuracy-General. They factually assigned the investigator to writesuch a «complaint-vindication», which the oversight agency immediatelyoperatively leaked to journalists, recounts the RBK daily sourcefamiliar with the situation. And on the eve material came out in thenewspaper «MK» recounting about what a sly dog during the conducting ofbusiness that same Browder is. It is curious that in the material whichcame out on 11 June were contained excerpts from Karpov’s complaint tothe Procuracy-General, dated 12 June.

Yesterday after Karpov’s complaint had become public there appeared avideo clip, dedicated already to his latest purchases for $1.3 million.Karpov’s family (in the main the property was registered to his59-year-old mother-pensioneress) over the past three years has acquiredan apartment in the elite housing complex «Shuvalovsky» on Michurinskyprospect with a market value of $930,000, two plots of land inPodmoskovye [i.e. outside Moscow] with an area of around 3 thsd. sq. m(market value — more than $120,000), four automobiles — aMercedes-Benz E280, a Porsche 911, an Audi A3, a Porsche Cayenne — withan overall value of $287,000.

Besides that, with a reference to the data of the border service, it isreported that in a year Karpov had visited eight countries — from Cyprusto Oman to the USA and Great Britain. In so doing the official salaryof the major, according to the data of HCM, comprises the equivalent of533 doll. per month. And in order to earn enough just for the 100-meterapartment on Michurinsky alone, the investigator would have to toil for145 years, and his mother — 153 years, Magnitsky’s colleagues havecalculated.

To obtain official commentary in the Procuracy-General yesterday provedimpossible.

IVAN PETROV, 14.07.2010