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Passport for a terrorist
Written by   
, 30 2010

It is known who provided documents to the militants who seized Nord-Ost. Andthis channel is still open

1While Interior Ministry chief Rashid Nurgaliyev creates his theory on how to modernize the police force through a changing its philosophy, Iwould like to tell him about a case of police practice. Thiscase is by no means private, and even seems to be of historical significance to Russia. Andit would be useful for the minister to know about such matters in his department.

It is unlikely that the Minister Nurgaliyev remembers the name Andrei Lisitsyn, though he has spoken with him, and many times at that. SoI will remind you: Colonel Andrei Lisitsyn served in Rostov at the headquarters of the Russian Interior Ministry for the South Federal District. Hewas a manager, but not a major one. Hisjob title was chief inspector for the special assignments department for control and management of coordinating coordination and analysis of research for the Interior Ministry in the Southern Federal District. The service, though difficult, was quiet, without car chases and shootouts.

In late 2002, fate handed Lisitsyn a case, which could have been the culmination of his police career. Minister Nurgaliyev knows this case, beyond a doubt.

In October of 2002, one of the greatest tragedies in modern Russian history occurred: Nord-Ost. A group of terrorists under Movsar Barayev seized Dubrovka. During the assault 130were killed, according to official figures. Inthe course of clarifying how the terrorists got into Moscow, during the first few days following the tragedy, an investigation found that many of the terrorists were carrying fake passports bearing the names of deceased persons. These documents had been issued in Karachay-Cherkessia. Soon December 31st, 2002, Boris Gryzlov, then head of the Interior Ministry, issued the following order: “In order to organize continuous inspection of passports and visas for the Karachay-Cherkessia Interior Ministry, a working group of officers from the Southern Federal District is to inspect passport and visa services.”

The order came into effect and the Southern Federal District issued a new order: “To conduct continuous audits in the K-C Republic in connection with identifying data superfluous to passport documentation.” The working group consisted of various experts: employees of the passport offices, investigators, economists, and members of the security department in short, anyone who could help to expose criminals in the ranks of the Karachay police.

Put in charge of supervising the operation was the hitherto unblemished Colonel Lisitsyn. He appointed as his deputy Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Mayantsev, senior inspector of the department of control and coordination in the southern district. On January 22nd, 2003, the working group drove to Karachay-Cherkessia.

The operation to identify the origins of counterfeit passports took three weeks, and yielded stunning results. Itcame to light that in Karachay-Cherkessia there was an entire criminal network based at the passport office. Dozens of Russian passports had been issued without sufficient justification. Immigrants from Turkey and Afghanistan received citizenship within a single day and left for parts unknown. So-called “rubber apartments” were discovered throughout the country, where dozens of residents were registered, despite the fact that the owners of the apartments never heard of any of them. There were fake marriages to provide citizenship to various “customers”. This was recorded in a special report that Lisitsyn prepared on the basis of his inspection.

Minister Nurgaliyev, if he deems it necessary, can easily pick up the investigation material. Yes, and Lisitsyn would gladly provide him with all the documents.

Everything that happened next did not enter into Lisitsyn’s report, so you may assume that Iam quoting from idle tales. Yet, in view of the unprecedented nature of what happened, Iwould like for Minister Nurgaliyev to turn his attention to these.

A meeting at the republic’s Interior Ministry had been scheduled for officials to sign the final version of the report, in order to send it to the Minister Gryzlov. At that meeting Col. Lisitsyn realized that not every one of his colleagues considered his work to be impeccable.

Erkenov, chief of public security for the republic’s police force, told him straight out: “You understand that you have gotten into someone else’s business?” Lisitsyn recalled the interesting conversation on the eve of the meeting at the Karachay Interior Ministry: “He refused to sign my version of the report, while Isaid that Iwould not change a word. Thenhe warned us that, well; he’d call Sasha Chekalin, he decides everything and that we wouldn’t be working in the police force. Later, when my men and me summed it up, we laughed: what a kook, trying to use Chekalin to scare us, as if Chekalin would even do it. Yes, and our boss is Pankov’s own deputy, with the rank of department administrator! Why should we worry about Chekalin?”

Despite the logic of these arguments, there is still a difference between Deputy Minister Chekalin and the Pankov’s deputy minister. Chekalin at that time was head of the Russian Immigration Ministry, and had significant leverage. Moreover, according to the Ministry of Interior for the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, Chekalin was also a close friend of Erkenov in Karachay, and it so happened that he came to visit his southern counterpart and vacation in that fairy-tale land.

And Pankov? Well, what about Pankov? A chief of the Southern Federal District, sitting in Rostov, is not the same as a deputy minister in Moscow.

And Erkenov was not a kook. Andrei Lisitsyn says that he soon got a call from a man who introduced himself as a reviewer for Alexander Chekalin. Theman insisted that, due to the fact that Minister Gryzlov’s order had already lost its relevance, it was now necessary to prepare a new “smoother” version of the report of the Karachay inspection. Eventhen, Col. Lisitsyn did not realize the power of the colossus rushing towards him. Hetold the man: “If that's the case, then come here yourself and write whatever you want. Today it’s Nord-Ost and tomorrow something somewhere else blows up. Andthat’s my signature for your smoother version.”

It would be useful for Minister Nurgaliyev to know that Lisitsyn’s report to the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic’s Interior Ministry had still not been agreed upon. ButLisitsyn left Karachay-Cherkessia, knowing that he had acted fairly, properly and in general like a policeman. Backin Rostov he immediately reported the results of the investigation to Internal Affairs Chief of Research for the Southern Federal District, Pankov. Atthe scheduled weekly meeting with Pankov, however, no one was interested in these results anymore. Themeeting was held without Mayantsev and Lisitsyn, but a colleague who was there said afterwards that right in the middle of the meeting there was a call from Moscow. Supposedly Chekalin himself called and asked them to deal with some “unruly officers” who behaved badly during an official trip.

And so, on March 2nd, Vasily Zhurahov, a division chief in the department’s security branch at the southern district, initiated a review into “misbehavior” by the seconded officers. Actually, the reason for it came a month later: the director of the hotel where the police officers stayed wrote a statement that the policemen got drunk, kicked up a row and then would not pay for their accommodations. Thisstatement was signed on April 18.

The charges of hooliganism against the colonel soon crumbled, as did the claim of a financial nature from the hotel. However, the investigation stumbled upon information that Lisitsyn and Mayantsev had allegedly bamboozled the Interior Ministry: they spent less than anticipated at the hotel, saving 150rubles (about$6) a day, which they ate up.

Other members of the group who did not sign the controversial report also ate up their 150rubles, but there was no investigation against them. Thecase against Lisitsyn and Mayantsev went to trial and Judge Elena Pareva of the district court in Rostov-on-Don convicted them of fraud and sentenced them to a year on probation according to Article 159, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code. Byreason of their conviction, of course, both were dismissed from the police force. The central office of Interior Ministry prepared a report that the southern district had uncovered two corrupt cops within its ranks.

It is clear that, due to this, the investigation into Karachay suddenly lost value. A“smoothed” report was sent to Smirnov, chief of passport and visa services for the Interior Ministry’s southern district, all of nine pages, signed by Eduard Vyushkin, chief of research coordination and analysis for the district. Minister Gryzlov did not send anything at all, but then he did not have to; obviously he forgot.

But Minister Nurgaliyev, if he deems it necessary, can compare the original version of the report to the final. Still, Ithink the story has not lost its relevance today it is known for certain that the police helped the terrorists in their dreadful act, and no one was punished for it.

In 2005, Lisitsyn, even after being marked as a crooked cop, pushed his scandalous investigation through deputy of parliament for the ‘Fair Russia’ party, Rogozin. Rogozin forwarded it to the Prosecutor General's Office for re-examination. Areview of the case was held, which confirmed all of Lisitsyn’s conclusions. Acriminal case was even opened, which was soon closed because of the death of one of the heads of the passport offices. Noone else was charged. Beslan and Nalchik had already happened, so no one was asking about the Nord-Ost anymore.

In 2008, Alexander Chekalin was formally dismissed from the police ranks on reaching the age limit. Nowhe is the senator from Udmurtia, and they say, has not visited Karachay-Cherkessia ever again. Perhaps due to this alone he has all but forgotten everything. In 2009the investigations of Lisitsyn and Mayantsev suddenly got a second life when the Interior Ministry of Karachay-Cherkessia initiated an investigation into a case of rampant illegal certification in the republic. Thetext of report in some places literally coincides with the report prepared by Lisitsyn and Mayantsev seven years ago. Onlythe operative part is different: “Investigations of 145criminal cases are suspended while the search for the persons who committed the crimes are ongoing, 12criminal cases have been stopped for an indefinite time, and a criminal case was suspended because of a suspect’s illness. Thirty-one cases were sent to court, but at this time no verdict has been reached. TheInterior Ministry of the republic, together with the current leadership of the visa and passport services of the republic, continue to work on cleaning up the migration service in order to prevent further violations of the law.”

It is noteworthy that for such a conclusion not one of the participants in the new investigation has been fired. Onthe other hand, Deputy Interior Minister of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic also remains on the job, and now directs the anti-terrorist service.

I understand that Minister Nurgaliyev, on reading this story, can perhaps answer me in absentia: who knows how many offended officers have slandered senior management? One thing is clear, however, that after all these years, even on the third attempt, the results of Lisitsyn’s inspection have been confirmed. Consequently, there is reason to think that his story about the involvement of major officials in criminal fraud also did not appeared out of thin air, and Ithink the Interior Ministry dare not respond with silence.

I tried, of course, to double-check all the circumstances of that, which Iwas told by colonels Lisitsyn and Mayantsev. I wrote a letter to Senator Chekalin. Unfortunately, he never found the opportunity to respond, even though Iinsisted on the exceptional public importance of the events raised in the article.

I also turned to Boris Erkenov, Deputy Interior Minister of the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, and he responded. Boris Erkenov categorically denies that pressure was brought upon Lisitsyn and Mayantsev. Moreover, it turns out that Boris Khamidovich (Erkenov) does not even recall the results of the controversial inspection that took place there, despite the fact that, at the time of the investigation, Erkenov was the chief of public security and passport-visa services, and despite the fact that he was physically present at the meeting where the signing was of Lisitsyn’s report had been scheduled. He does not remember, and that is that.

But he remembers well how Lisitsyn got his criminal record, and how Lisitsyn protested it back then.

Indeed, in 2007, upon his case reaching the Supreme Court, Lisitsyn achieved abolition of the sentence for lack of evidence. After which, together with Mayantsev, they were to be reinstated to their jobs on the police force. Personnel chief Dyachenko and head of the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District Nesterova, a lawyer, among other things, sent an email to the two colonels. Theletter said that there could be no question about returning to the ranks of the police force, since “the absence of a crime is not an exonerating circumstance.”

Back in court, once again, Lisitsyn proved to Nesterova the lawyer and personnel officer Dyachenko that they were wrong, but Dyachenko and Nesterova ignored the court’s decision. Lisitsyn and Mayantsev were restored to the police force, but their posts were withdrawn by the state. Mayantsev soon retired, and Lisitsyn, over and over, sued for his right to work on the police force out of principle. Hehas systematically won in court, but the bosses pretend not to understand the Russian language, and against the decisions of the courts, offer him positions that are not relevant to his qualifications.

He has become such an expert the law that many now turn to him for advice.

In conjunction, he is requiring that the central Ministry punish those guilty of ruining his life and career. Hehas already written a bunch of letters, to the effect that if the court acquitted him and he has been cleared, why did someone tolerate the illegal decisions in the first place? Andthat someone is still working at the Ministry!

To that end he received a response from Moscow, which was that they justifiably destroyed the colonel and that comments on judicial decisions were not within the purview of the police, and that, in general, this correspondence should cease.

Minister Nurgaliyev, if he deems it to be interesting, can easily find these materials.

Question & answer

Boris Erkenov, deputy head of the Interior Minister for the Karachay-Cherkessia Republic: “It makes me angry. Howmuch pressure could Ibring to bear, when they weren’t my subordinates and so on? Back then the passport and visa service was raised to a higher grade and Ididn’t have a thing to do with it*. Indeed, the commission was, Iremember, carrying out inspections, but Idon’t know the results of these, Ididn’t make any decisions.”

But you did know the results of investigation?

“No, Ididn’t. Frankly, Idon’t even remember if it was in 2003.”

Boris Khamidovich, perhaps you remember better the events in 2009, when the directorate’s security service filed a number of criminal cases concerning precisely the circumstances that occurred in 2003, and which were mentioned by the Southern Federal District’s investigative group?

“I can’t even discuss those cases with you. I haven’t any information on what cases were initiated. I don’t know who there initiated them. That’s outside our area of responsibility.”

It seems to me that this is a serious problem for the republic's Interior Ministry, if its own security department finds corruption in one of its components.

“But in 2009I was engaged in other issues and, frankly, hadn’t even delved into it, I’m far from the case. Whoinitiated it, and what they turned up”

And you never heard that there were unholy things happening in the passport and visa service? I’m sure that you, as an expert, know they issued passports to the Nord-Ost terrorists.

“Why? Iknow they came and did an inspection, and not one, there were two. ThisI know, Iknow.”

And the groups performing the inspection, you never communicated with them?

“Well, how to contact them? Ihad no relationship there; I'm not with them. Theychecked me out and no one informed me about it.”

So these issues lie outside the responsibilities of the head of public security?

“Yes, they only are reported to the Minister himself. Ithink that probably there were references, some materials, performance inspections.”

As a matter of fact, even Ihave seen this report, and Imust say it makes quite an impression.

“And Ihaven’t even seen the report! Iremember that there was a commission that came from the main directorate of the Southern Federal District.”

And the meeting of the commission, when they were supposed to receive the report, you were not present at it?

“Of course. Idon’t even remember this report. Somuch time has passed. IfI even had it, if Imade some decisions on it, and so on Or maybe it’s related to the head of this group? Iremember there were some problems. Ourofficers had to go to court; there was a trial, the security department worked on it. Thenit seems he appealed. Thenhe was reinstated and then they fired him (if it was during Pankov). That’s my memory of it. Ifsomeone today benefits from these questions, if he devotes himself to something, this is but one aspect of the issue. Andsomeone makes a decision and the officers, that is, those who must deal with these issues don’t obey And it’s very frustrating when they say that Ireferred to Chekalin. Thishigh official, a Hero of Russia, this is not a man who could be involved in such a delusion. Where does this information come from? It’s even unpleasant to read or hear about it.”

* Boris Khamidovich was wrong. Thepassport and visa service was not transferred until a year and half later.


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