The scheme of the “Three pillars”: the new conflict between the security forces recalled the case of the 2000s

“The first thing I thought of when starting a business, Mikhalchenko was “business “Three whales,” said political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko, commenting on a new round of investigation of the St. Petersburg smuggling that led to the searches on July 26, the head of the Federal customs service Andrei Belyaninov. Custom is the intersection of the interests of several law enforcement agencies and one of the points of potential conflict by the FSB, the interior Ministry and the Federal customs service, experts say.

Shake-up 2006

Exactly ten years ago, in June 2006, resumed the sensational case about contraband of furniture for shops “Grand” and “Tri kita” and began one of the most ambitious in the new century of changes in the power Department. In June 2006, ahead of schedule resigned authority of the Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, his post was taken by the then Minister of justice Yuri Chaika. In the same month the owner “Three whales” Sergey Zuev and the other defendants were arrested. A month earlier, the new leadership of the FCS: it was headed by Andrei Belyaninov, who was the Director of the Federal service for defence order.

“Business “Three whales” began in 2000 and affected in addition to customs almost all law enforcement agencies and the courts.

The state customs Committee (predecessor FCS) opened a criminal case about contraband of furniture through to large shopping centres. According to customs officials, suppliers of furniture greatly underestimated the weight of the items that was influenced by its cost, which was reduced several times. Then, under suspicion of smuggling a few million dollars got Sergey Zuev.

The investigation customs was transferred to the Investigative Committee of the interior Ministry. But after six month the criminal case has requested the Prosecutor General’s office itself. After receiving the materials, the Agency closed the case and was already charged to the investigator of the Investigative Committee of the interior Ministry Pavel Zaitsev, and two employees of the Customs Committee Alexander Volkov and Marat Fayzulina: they are suspected in abuse of power.

In 2002, the situation again changed drastically. In Moscow city court acquitted Zaitsev, and a case of smuggling was resumed. A year later the Supreme court overturned the acquittal, and the retrial at the Moscow city court over the scandal — judge Olga Kudeshkina, which heard the case, recused himself and stated that it puts pressure on the Chairman of Moscow city court Olga Egorova, which, according to Kudeshkina, demanded to condemn Zaitsev (Egorova charges denied). Kudeshkina was dismissed, and the case transferred to another judge, who sentenced the investigator to probation.

In 2003, investigating the same “case “Three whales” was assigned to investigator Vladimir Loskutov, who was specially seconded to Moscow from Leningrad region (subsequently he became the head of the investigative Department of the Investigative Committee for the Leningrad region). But until 2006, no action on the case, in addition to conducting searches, were not implemented.

The progress of the case was given only in 2006 immediately after it was replaced by the attorney General. Less than two weeks under arrest were five people, including Zuev himself. In 2008 the criminal case was sent to Naro-Fominsk city court, which in 2010 handed down a guilty verdict. Zuev was sentenced to eight years in prison. Birds of the same in 2009 reinstated but then dismissed on the ground of redundancy (later received the status of lawyer).

In September 2006, a month after the resumption of “business “Three whales”, was dismissed from 19 high-ranking officials: the head of the Federal Agency for special economic zones Yuri Zhdanov, several FSB officers, including major General and Lieutenant General, five senior customs officers from the Central customs Department, Central excise and customs Odintsovo, Advisor of the administrative Department of the government, adviser of the Department of presidential administration on personnel questions and state awards, Deputy chief of FGUP “Administration of the President.”

Illegal wiretapping in the case of “Three whales” with the participation of FSKN has led in 2008 to the resignation of the head of the service Viktor Cherkesov, formerly of the inner circle of Vladimir Putin.

10 years later

The difference between the current history from the “business “Three whales” that the case was an attack on the FSB and at the time there was another system of checks: the FSO was against the FSB, FSO and now weakened, says Tatiana Stanovaya, head of analytical Department of the Center for political technologies. In the current trial, the case Mikhalchenko, the FSB is the attacker. Searches in the FCS, as earlier arrests in the TFR are a consequence of the continued strengthening of Management of own safety of the FSB, says Stanovaya, which is a common trend of the last two to three years to strengthen the security forces, during which wins the most powerful structure.

Stanovaya communicate the business Mikhalchenko with the attack on the leadership of the FSO, the traditional opponent of the FSB. Through one of their subordinate FSO companies won contracts people who were arrested in the framework of the criminal case on embezzlement of budget funds allocated for the restoration of cultural sites, said the interlocutors in law enforcement bodies. According to them, arrested two top managers of “Baltstroy” Alexander Kochenov Dmitry Sergeev is considered to be close to Mikhalchenko. This year, after the commencement of the case promised by the head of the FSO Yevgeny Murov retired.

This case, as the case ULS Global, gave rise to changes in the FSB, after which the new level the investigation of smuggling. The FSB has long had claims to Belyaninovo, says a source close to the leadership of the security services. According to him, investigators of Management of own safety of FSB have checked the head of the FCS in connection with the case, not only promised, but ULS Global. In addition, customs was always in charge of the economic security Service of FSB. After the change of leadership and middle level staff from the new bosses there is a need to restore order in the FCS, insists the source .

Who goes to the aggravation

The sides of the FSB said that it has initiated the customs. However, the interlocutors close to presidential administration, claim that we are talking about a much larger and more complex the process, the struggle of the heads of the various departments.

The power structure is preparing for a large-scale reshuffle in the leadership of the country, which is expected in the period after the elections of the state Duma this year and before the presidential elections in 2018, say two people close to the Kremlin. According to them, each office, it is important to approach this period, demonstrating his own strength and capabilities. FSB has detained the head of Management of own safety of SK Michael Maksimenko, who is considered close to the head of Department Alexander Bastrykin and the Prosecutor General’s office ordered the Investigative Committee to close the case against Dmitry Mason, gives examples of one of the interlocutors . “Probably soon will be followed by a response from the Investigative Committee, but it is obvious that the lobbying power Bastrykin has weakened,” — said the source .

It is clear that power structures use the case Mikhalchenko in their own interests, but for the state it is important through this case to give a signal that in the current environment of budgetary funds it is necessary to dispose neater than before, says another source close to the Kremlin administration. According to a source close to the government, the President two years ago gave the signal to officials that in terms of sanctions and declining budgets have to be careful. “Except that now the elections are coming and it is important that people understand that the government is fighting against corruption,” he said.

A signal that means we need to use, said customs and the Deputy-Eser of the state Duma Mikhail Bryachak, which is part of a working group on calculation of customs payments to the budget. “2.5 trillion rubles a year, the budget has received less from customs duties. I spoke to him [Belyaninovo] personally, that he drew attention to this fact, he ignored it, indicating the possibility of its participation in all processes,” — said the Deputy. In his view, the impetus for a new round of investigation was that the Federal budget has a huge problem on receipts and even in such a corrupt system like ours, had to pay attention to it”.

The current standoff comes amid talk of a possible consolidation of services, particularly the unification of customs and tax services, indicates Minchenko. The current story might lead to large-scale personnel changes and reorganization in the security forces, said the expert — the realignment of power structures now in full swing and will continue until the end of the year.

With the participation of Polina Khimshiashvili and Elizabeth Antonova