27 Feb 2020 22:22

Russian Investigative Committee reports details of new charge brought against ex-police colonel Zakharchenko

MOSCOW. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Former police colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko faces a new charge of taking bribes totaling more than 1.4 billion rubles from businesspeople for patronage between 2007 and 2016, Russian Investigative Committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko said.

"Investigators said that in December 2015, Zakharchenko received a bribe from a businessman in the form of payment for his accommodation at hotels in the city of Sochi costing over 800,000 rubles for 12 days," Petrenko told Interfax on Thursday.

Additionally, between 2007 and 2016, Zakharchenko "took bribes every month from a group of businesspeople exceeding 1.4 billion rubles on aggregate," she said.

"Zakharchenko received the illegal reward for general patronage of the commercial activity of businesspeople, which he provided to them up to his detention in September 2016," Petrenko said.

Zakharchenko's lawyer Alexander Gorbatenko told Interfax earlier on Thursday that former employee of the Russian Interior Ministry Anti-Corruption Directorate Zakharchenko, who is now serving a sentence in a similar case, faced a new charge of gross bribery.

"Dmitry was charged again in the penitentiary yesterday on the basis of Part 6 Article 290 of the Russian Criminal Code - a bribe taken between 2007 and 2016," Gorbatenko said.

According to investigators, Zakharchenko took the bribe from an organized group of businessmen Valery Markelov, Boris Usherovich, Dmitry Motorin, and Ivan Stankevich via two suspected proxies, Viktor Belevtsov and Vasily Kretinin.

According to the indictment, the bribe amounted to 1,413,318,222 rubles and 27 kopecks.

Gorbatenko said that Zakharchenko pleaded not guilty but expressed readiness to answer investigators' questions. "When he said so while being questioned as a defendant, he was told they had no questions and announced the completion of investigative procedures," Gorbatenko said.

Zakharchenko will study the materials in the new proceeding, which is comprised of 55 volumes, and will be transferred to Moscow from the penitentiary in Mordovia.

The indictment of Zakharchenko on counts of taking a bribe of more than 1 billion rubles was reported in 2018, following the arrest of LLC Group 1520 co-owner Markelov, who was charged with giving a bribe to the police officer, and Rostov lawyer Belevtsov, who was suspected of mediating the transaction.

Later on, three suspected bribers - Usherovich, Motorin, and Stankevich - were arrested in absentia. Kretinin was taken into custody in Moscow in spring 2019 as a suspected mediator of the bribe.

All the defendants arrested in Russia - Markelov, Belevtsov, and Kretinin - pleaded not guilty.

Zakharchenko was apprehended in the fall of 2016. He was sentenced to 12.5 years in a high-security penitentiary, fined 118 million rubles, and stripped of his rank as colonel in 2019 for taking a discount card as a bribe, saving 3 million rubles on restaurant bills by using the discount card, and obstructing justice. The former officer was acquitted on counts of the illegal acquisition of $800,000, and the charge was expunged.