Another juicy scandal in the wonderful world of Russian corruption. Here is my source. And today’s contestant is none other than Nikita Belykh, the powerful Governor of Kirov Oblast! The headline is that Governor Belykh was detained by the security organs (the Investigative Committee and the FSB) when they caught him on film taking a bribe. And yet, oddly enough, the men who offered the bribe have not even been detained!
(hm…. smells like a sting operation to me!)
Kirov Oblast is right there in the center of the “real Russia”, the Russia of endless forests and rivers; the Russia where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.
Kirov is the place where, in July 2013 “Intrepid Anti-corruption Blogger” (IACB) and “Hero of the Liberal Media” (HOTLM) Alexei Navalny was convicted of large-scale embezzlement of product from the State-owned Lumber Company, KirovLes. Yours truly “covered” some of the processes and evidence which led up to the conviction of that slippery Ostap; namely here on Mark Chapman’s Kremlin Stooge blog.
Navalny was convicted by local Vyatka Judge Sergei Blinov, possibly the only remaining honest man in all of Russia. Absorbing all the tomes of evidence against Navalny and his gang, Blinov, who, despite his relative youthfulness, had convicted many local crooks and burglars and who was wise to the ways of the criminal class, without even blinking or any pause in his machine-gun-quick regional patois, sentenced Navalny to five years in a labor colony. As they say: He looked, he took the measure of the man, and he drew the suitable conclusions. Needless to say, Navalny’s “krysha” intervened very shortly and popped their client out of the deep well. Blinov had clearly gone off the reservation: Navalny was never intended by his handlers to spend even one night in the box.
I said it back then, and I say it now: KirovLes was perhaps the greatest “story” in modern Russian literature. It had everything: a colorful cast of true Russian characters; the vast Russian forests and boundless nature; a backwater town; a regional dimension. All that was lacking is a modern writer of the calibre of, say, a Leonid Leonov not to mention Ilf/Petrov, to tell this classic story in all its dimensions.
But I digress from today’s story, a much smaller and less titanic one, which is about the fall from grace of Governor Nikita Belykh. Whose codename, by the way, in the Navalny emails, was “Barman”. So named because Belykh liked to tend bar and make cocktails for his friends at parties.
Now, the main connection is that Belykh testified at Navalny’s KirovLes trial. And not for Navalny, even though the two men used to be best friends. By that time, there had been a falling out among the
thieves business colleagues. This was detailed in Navalny’s email trail, that’s the juicy part where Navalny practically accuses Belykh of embezzling the Urzhumski Distillery. In Navalny’s defense, he was just punching back at Nikita, because he felt that the latter owed him some money and never paid it back. Well, that for sure is bound to kill any friendship.
If I may be allowed to quote from my own translation of yesteryore, and, please note, these are purloined text messages and/or emails; it’s not very ethical, but it is all explained in the linked piece:
Going Down Memory Lane to the year 2010
B = Governor Nikita Belykh
N = Aleksei Navalny
19-24 November 2010
B: L’okha, speak to me.
B: I have some business with you. I texted you several times, you never replied. There is something I need to take care of before end of year, I need to close out those “dubious accounts”, you know which ones I am talking about.
N: Nu, okay, okay. Please just send [the money] to M[aria Gaidar], and I’ll get it from her.
B: Okay. But why haven’t you called me or responded to my messages?
B: Aleksei! Why don’t you answer me?
B: L’okha, can you explain why the fuck you are acting this way? Why don’t you answer me?
N: I get 200 e-mails a day. I’m way behind in answering all of them. I simply have no time.
B: Well, I used to write to you before you became famous.
N: I never received any emails at this address.
B: And text messages?
N: I haven’t used my old phone since the middle of July.
B: Okay. Are we good, then?
B: And again, silence…
N: (1) You are spamming me, (2) I am good with everybody, (3) Maybe instead of writing to me you should write to Arzamaztsev’s[?] auditors, yeah, write to him and all those other crooks who, under your protection, are fabricating evidence against me and disseminating it all over the place. You never fulfilled a single one of your obligations (to me). Not one.
B: (1) I’m not spamming you, you’re an idiot, (2) You know that’s not true, and (3) I fulfilled all my obligations both then and now, and you’re throwing hysterical fits like a pregnant blonde.
I thought you’d be able to handle it and discuss this in a rational manner.
I have no reason whatsoever to consider myself guilty of anything or to be obligated to you in any way. With one exception: I admit I was wrong when, in the course of my routine quarrel with Marie [Gaidar, Belykh’s mistress], I mentioned your name, you know, that situation that occurred when Ella [presumably Belykh’s wife?] arrived. [Translator surmise: Belykh to Ella: I swear I’m not sleeping with Masha any more, she’s dating L’osha now…]?
That is the sole thing for which I feel guilty and for which I am even prepared to apologize. Everything else is just bullshit that you, with your fevered brain, blew up way out of proportion. I always considered, and still consider, you to be my friend, and it is unpleasant for me that you conduct yourself like this.
B: And again silence…
B: Are you still alive?
B: Are you familiar with the name Shkurkov, or maybe Oshkurkov, or maybe Ashkurkov?
Navalny [awaking from his stupor]: Maybe. Why?
B: Certain high-ranking personages are convinced that he [Ashkurkov] (was the one who got you shares in) Rosneft. And today they fucked over Friedman, who they think is somehow connected with him [Ashkurkov].
N: This all sounds highly dubious to me. Especially without a source of information. I hope this info can be vetted? By Votinov. [Andrei Votinov, another advisor to Belykh, now serving a 3-year sentence for trying to export a bribe]. He has fucking connections in the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Volga Federal Okrug]. Or by [Sergei] Karnaukhov. After all, he has a fucking medal on his chest!
B: What you talking about? I was there!
N: I don’t understand.
B: Stop fucking around. The attack against Friedman happened right in front of me, it was because of Ashkurkov (I think that’s how his name is pronounced) getting Rosneft shares for you.
N: Masha told me that she didn’t receive anything yet.
B: I haven’t given her anything (yet). I already told you (if you would only read something other than text messages) that I can close this thing out before the end of the Fiscal Year.
N: She’s been waiting. It’s already the end of the year.
B: For YOU it’s the end of the year. For us, not all the adjustments have been input yet into the budget. End of the year – December, second half (of the month). After I balance the ledger I’ll see what we have (left) and hand it over (to you).
But Enough Digressions And Backstory….
So, now it is time to jump forward to the modern times, and find out exactly how and why our good friend Governor Nikita Belykh was caught on film taking a bribe.
[to be continued]