Past Accusations against the Same Corrupt Officers
The Mikheev Case:
The fraud against the Hermitage Fund, the theft of 5.4 billion rubles ($230 million) from the Russian Government, the torture and murder of 37-year old Sergei Magnitsky, and the illegal persecution and false criminal cases against 7 other Hermitage lawyers do not appear to be the first crimes committed together by officers Artem Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov with the convicted killer Viktor Markelov. Russian court records of a previous case, the “Mikheev Case”, describe in detail these officers’ alleged involvement with Markelov in kidnapping, ransom demands, and use of retaliatory imprisonment as a means to silence their victims.
The Mikheev Case occurred in 2006, one year before the same group of Interior Ministry officers helped steal $230 million from the Russian state. Three years after the Mikheev Case, the same group of officers falsely imprisoned and killed Sergei Magnitsky, who had testified about their theft from the government.
Mikheev Case Summary
The Mikheev Case brought together a group of Interior Ministry officers, who would later steal $230 million dollars from the Russian budget. It showed that these officers were allegedly working jointly with “private sector” criminals, including Viktor Markelov, in 2006, i.e. one year before they jointly orchestrated the theft of budget funds in 2007.
In 2006, three Russian Interior Ministry officers Pavel Karpov, Artem Kuznetsov (who one year later seized the documents used in the $230 million theft from the government exposed by Sergei Magnitsky) and Anton Golyshev opened a criminal case against Mr. Alexander Bessonov, the owner and director of Ukragrokhimprom (a Russian fertilizer and chemical products trading company). The case alleged that a $100 million loan had not been repaid to a large Russian bank, Vneshtorgbank. The case was absurd because it was opened in July 2006, despite the fact that the loan did not require repayments to start for another four months. The testimony in the case alleges that officers Kuznetsov, Karpov and Golyshev used this case as a pretext to extort $20 million from Mr Bessonov. To make their threats more tangible, the officers arrested and allegedly later kidnapped Mr. Fedor Mikheev, the 31-year old Deputy Director of Ukragrokhimprom and father of two small children.
In his subsequent testimony, Mr Mikheev described how after being arresting under what appears to be a fraudulent case, the Interior Ministry officers then “released” him by physically handing him over at the entrance of Petrovka 38 (the main Moscow Interior Ministry building) into the custody of Victor Markelov, a convicted killer, and Sergei Orlov, previously charged by officer Golyshev for drug possession. Mr. Mikheev testified as to how Markelov and Orlov held him hostage at a house outside of Moscow and demanded US$20 million from Mr. Bessonov for Mr. Mikheev’s release.
On August 28, 2006, Mr. Mikheev was freed from captivity by the special forces of the Internal Affairs Department of the Interior Ministry who had been notified by his wife. The criminals Markelov and Orlov were arrested and Criminal Case 352470 was opened against them.
During the investigation of Mr. Mikheev’s kidnapping, Orlov testified that he was asked by his friend “Dmitry CH” to take Mr. Mikheev from officers Kuznetsov and Karpov and hold him as a hostage outside of Moscow. The investigation determined that “Dmitry CH” was Dmitry Kluyev who was also a criminal (convicted in 2006 in relation to a widely reported $1.6 billion securities fraud case) who was known to many as “Dima Chelter,” after the name of his company, “Chelter LLC.”
As part of the investigation, Dmitry Kluyev and officers Kuznetsov, Golyshev, Karpov were investigated and questioned. However, soon Mr Mikheev was arrested again by officers Kuznetsov and Karpov and placed into a cell with Sergei Orlov, the man who had kidnapped him two months earlier. Mr. Mikheev testified that he was told to withdraw his testimony against officers Kuznetsov, Karpov and Golyshev. Mr. Mikheev refused to withdraw his testimony. Several months later, he was convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison. The charges against officers Kuznetsov, Karpov and Golyshev for Mikheev’s kidnapping were then dropped and Orlov and Markelov were released.
According to the official case documents, Mr. Mikheev testified that while he was kidnapped the violent criminal Orlov stated, “they, ‘Tema’ [Artem Kuznetsov] and ‘Tosha’ [Anton Golyshev] were allowed to take any bribes; the main thing was for them to be able to sort out matters. Another man was mentioned, ‘Pasha’ [Pavel Karpov].” Mr. Mikheev’s testimony continues and he recounts how Orlov later said that these officers were, “The vengeful sword of the Presidential Administration and they are allowed to take any bribes and the Prosecutor of the City of Moscow would sign any document they submit to him.”
Mikheev himself concluded in his testimony, “I was totally demoralized having learned that the investigator, the operative agents of the Tax Crimes Department, and bandits comprised a single criminal group… I am absolutely convinced that the real reasons for my detention and the initiation of the criminal case were not the crime which I was accused of, but a simple extortion of money.”
Shortly after the release from arrest and prosecution for the kidnapping of Mikheev, Viktor Markelov would, with the help of officers Kuznetsov and Karpov, fraudulently re-register in his name three Hermitage Fund companies and claim $230 million as “overpaid” taxes from the Russian state. Markelov’s tax refund claim, the largest fraudulent refund in modern Russian history, was approved by tax authorities in one day.
Dmitri Kluyev, who in the Mikheev Case was named as assisting the kidnapping, was reported to be the beneficial owner of the bank, Universal Savings Bank, where the fraudulent refunds embezzled by Russian officials went to.
Today, Mr. Mikheev is still in prison and the officers he testified against for his kidnapping and who two years later falsely arrested, imprisoned and killed Sergei Magnitsky after he testified against them in the $230 theft, are free.
Below is an article from Russian magazine “Ogonek” summarizing the Mikheev case.