Okay, after yesterday’s intro and backstory — a backstory so complex that it cannot really be told coherently, and perhaps I should have taken Lyttenburgh’s suggestion and just called this story “Fifty Shades of White”. [See, that’s a pun, ’cause the name “Belykh” means “white” in Russian.] That’s just how complicated this story is.
On the other hand, it’s not really complicated at all. Belykh, along with Navalny and other members of his tribe (and no, that’s not an ethnic slur) belong to the eternal and perennial Russian caste known as “the white collar criminal”. That’s why I personally find it so much fun to tell their stories. Because there is no physical violence. Neither Navalny nor Belykh ever killed anybody. (That we know of.) They live and thrive through fraud and grifting. This is why so much humor can be found in their escapades.
Be that as it may, it is time to delve into current events and work through what happened to Kirov Governor Nikita Belykh. Once again, here is my source.
So, two days ago (Friday, June 23), Russian Federal Investigators, along with officers of the FSB (the direct successor to Stalin’s KGB – gasp!) arrested Kirov Governor Nikita Belykh inside a Moscow restaurant, where he had just received a big cash bribe.
Chief Investigator Vladimir Markin subsequently announced that Belykh was to be charged with the statute “Receiving a bribe of an exceedingly high amount”. The official Russian reads as: «Получение взятки в особо крупном размере».
Markin attempted to soothe shattered liberal nerves [Belykh is a political hero of the Russian liberals] by declaiming: “Trying to avert hysteria, which frequently occurs in supporters and colleagues in similar circumstances, I want to dampen their ardor right away: There is no political tinge to this case of criminal corruption. And I hope this will be confirmed by Citizens Khoroshavin* and Gaizer**….”
*Alexander Khoroshavin: former governor of Sakhalin, who was also recently arrested for taking bribes.
**Vyacheslav Gaizer: former governor of Komi, who was also recently arrested on charges of heading an entire criminal gang which terrorized the province for many years.
In other words, Markin is making the point that he and his intrepid Feds have been busy beavers cleaning up corrupt Governors all over the place. Nikita Belykh is just another falling domino. Not some kind of crusader for liberal ideals who is being persecuted for his political opinions.
Markin continues, sounding a tad racist: “To quote the popular proverb: A bribe doesn’t stink, but it does sometimes light up. A bribe is a bribe, even in Africa.”
A Shadow Of Past Glories
According to Markin, Belykh took a bribe of 400,000 Euros in two installments. Part I he took through an intermediary. The bribe-giver is a man who manages two companies: the “Novovyatsky Ski Emporium” (a private company traded on the stock market); and the “Lumber Controlling Company, LLC”. Part II of the bribe Belykh received in person, this being Friday, which was when the Gov got nicked by the coppers.
In return for the bribe, Belykh had allegedly promised the owner/manager of these companies an important role in regional economic development. Apparently there are several ambitious projects in the works to develop a region which, in truth, sorely needs developing. The companies in question allegedly offered some energetic and enterprising ideas. And we all know that Governor Belykh is a big fan of private enterprise and big visionary ideas.
This part is not in the VZGLIAD piece, I am just wondering, since a Ski Company was involved, I have to wonder if any of these ideas for regional development involves the building of ski resorts? which would truly be a lovely thing. I did a quick google and found only one existing ski resort in Kirov Oblast, it is called Pobeda (“Victory”) Ski and Snowboard Center. Here is the one online review I could find of this ski area:
В своё время лыжный трамплин К-90 был основной базой тренировок… В настоящее время элементы К-90 используются для проведении соревнований по скалолазанию. Что еще осталось от трамплинов ??? Кафе , место для ходьбы на лыжах, склоны для спуска на тюбингах (“ватрушках”). В планах местной администрации, каждый год появляется пунктик – “строительство горно-лыжного комплекса а-ля Куршавель” ,и на этом всё!
In its time the K-90 ski jump [trampoline] was the main feature of the trainings…. Currently pieces of the K-90 are being used to train in rock climbing. Where has the rest of the trampoline gone??? There is a cafe, which is ski-accessible, and there are slopes for tubing. The local administration has plans, every year in the prospectus they write “we plan to build an alpine ski complex à la Courchevel — ” — but it just remains words on paper!
Based on above, it seems that there truly are some great opportunities for regional development. In skiing, tourism, lumber, river rafting, the works. One can only speculate why Governor Belykh felt that he had to take bribes from local businessmen in order to undertake such projects. More like, he should have been bribing them to participate in these grandiose schemes!
Be that as it may, Nikita Belykh will be charged with Part 6 Article 290 of the legal codex of the Russian Federation (“Taking a bribe of an exceptionally large quantity”). Sentence is up to 15 years in the slammer.
On his Investigative Committee website, Inspector Markin helpfully posted three photos taken at the arrest, namely:
- Belykh, looking skulky and furtive, is sitting behind a table on which the money is laid out, in packets of 100 Euros each.
- Belykh watches as the cops shine an ultraviolet light on the bills, to show that they are marked. This is what Markin was joking about when he said that a bribe can “light up the room”.
- Belykh is forced to write out (on an official form called A4) an accounting of exactly how he obtained this money.
Experts and criminologists are expressing their amazement that such an experienced
crook politician as Belykh, was caught in such a lame sting operation. Criminologists say that there are much better and safer ways for a politician to take a bribe while maintaining plausible deniability.
A source within the law enforcement agencies leaked to the press, that Belykh was the product of a scientific experiment to test out the secret marking of 100-Euro bills. Sources also say that Belykh will be the only person charged in this. The bribe-GIVER is not going to be charged with anything. This would seem to any moron that the bribe-giver has been working with the police all along. On the other hand, as the VZGLIAD piece points out: “A person who gave a bribe can be freed of criminal liability if that person was subjected to pressure from a person in position of authority, or if that person voluntarily communicated the incident to law enforcement, and subsequently assisted law enforcement.” And one is reminded that Nikita Belykh has been the Governator of Kirov Oblast for many years. Since January 2009, in fact.
[to be continued]