Dionisiy Zolotov, The Fixer: How Much Does It Cost to Get Out of Jail
In early December, member of the Public Monitoring Commission Denis Nabiullin was detained in Moscow – he is suspected of promising one of the prisoners to release him from the pre-trial detention facility for a certain fee. The facilitator of the negotiations was lawyer Dionisy Zolotov, who has been repeatedly tried for fraud. Zolotov is called a “fixer” – allegedly, through him, it is possible to agree on the termination of a criminal case or improvement of the conditions of detention. Zolotov is associated with the death of top manager of Roskosmos Vladimir Evdokimov in the pre-trial detention center. Now the “fixer” himself is in a detention center – in the “elite cell” of Matrosskaya Tishina prison. Russiangate tells how Zolotov acted as an intermediary in “transactions” to terminate criminal cases and deceived his “clients”.
EXTENSIVE CONNECTIONS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
On March 18, 2017 in one of the cells of the Moscow SIZO (pre-trial detention center) Vodnik, the body of Vladimir Yevdokimov, the former executive director for quality and reliability of Roskosmos, was found. On the body, which was locked in the toilet of the cell from the inside, there were two stab wounds. A month before his death, Yevdokimov was transferred from a special detention facility to an ordinary cell without video surveillance. The Investigative Committee at first considered the incident to be a suicide, but soon initiated a criminal case and even considered the possibility of a contract murder. Now, the status of this case is unknown. After the check in the SIZO, its management was dismissed.
Yevdokimov, who prior to work at Roskosmos was deputy director of a department in the United Aircraft Corporation, was accused of illegally acquiring rights to state property of the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG. Together with the top managers of the Helicopter Service Company, Akim Noskov and Alexei Andreev, and the former director of the Scientific and Technical Center, Alexander Zolin, Yevdokimov was a person of interest in the case of fraud on a particularly large scale.
After Yevdokimov’s death, his wife Valentina Rakitina appealed to the FSB with a statement in which she said that her husband had asked her several times to transfer from 75 to 300 thousand rubles to his e-wallet “to maintain favorable detention conditions (food, mobile communication, alcohol)”. With this request, Yevdokimov first applied after transferring to the cell No. 600 at the end of January, the “overseer” in which was a certain Dionisy, “an influential lawyer in the past” with “extensive connections, including in the law enforcement.”
In February, Yevdokimov told his wife that he urgently needed 50 million rubles – “this will solve all the problems.” From the conversation with her husband, Rakitina realized that Dionisy, with the help of his connections in the FSB, could arrange her husband’s release. In a letter sent to his wife through a lawyer, Yevdokimov explained that he was supposed to be sent under house arrest, and later, his criminal case would be terminated due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The money should be left in a baggage locker at the Kazan Railway Station in Moscow, the key to the locker was supposed to be passed to the contact person.
Less than a week before his death, Yevdokimov wrote to his wife that he was being transferred from the cell to another place with no mobile connection this time – the FSB initiated his transfer to Lefortovo. 30 million rubles could still rectify the situation: with the help of that money Dionisy promised to settle the issue. On March 16, Yevdokimov reported that the agreement was in force, but the next day he warned his wife about searches at home, asked to destroy all evidence and meet with the lawyer. The former top manager did not get in touch any more.
On December 13, a member of the Moscow Public Monitoring Commission, Eva Merkacheva, published an article in the Moskovsky Komsomolets about “elite” cells in the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center. In one of such cells with an LCD TV, modern refrigerator, hanging toilet and a separate exhaust hood, Dionisy Zolotov, a man who offered Yevdokimov help in resolving the issue with the criminal case, is held. In Matrosskaya Tishina, Zolotov is kept under special conditions: he talks freely on his mobile phone in the presence of the isolator's employees, leaves the cell, tells that he renovates the SIZO at his own expense and controls it.
Zolotov is known for offering assistance to businessmen in terminating criminal or civil cases, lifting attachments of property or improving conditions in detention facilities for certain amounts of money.
Previously, Zolotov was known as Denis Tumarkin. Tumarkin, who has a legal education, received his lawyer status in the early 2000s; he specialized in criminal procedure, had connections in law enforcement agencies and was repeatedly tried for embezzlement and fraud. After the convictions, he was deprived of the status of a lawyer. In 2013, Tumarkin founded an international group of law firms called Zaschita (Defense), planning to attract lawyers from different countries, but as a result, jobs were given to former employees of the state bodies.
From 2008 to 2013, Tumarkin, was hiding from justice abroad under the name Shapiro: against him once again a fraud case was initiated for the promise to the owner of the FC Delta and CJSC MFA, Dmitry Danilov, to facilitate the termination of the criminal case for 52 million rubles.
In 2013, the lawyer returned to his homeland, reimbursed the damage caused to Danilov and received a suspended sentence. At the end of the year, Tumarkin changed the documents again and became Dionisy Zolotov. At the same time, the newly-made Zolotov posed as a relative of the then head of the Russian MIA’s internal troops, Viktor Zolotov.
In 2014, the FSB turned to Zolotov: security officers managed to get records from the CCTV in Zolotov's office, where negotiations with law enforcers were recorded, including questions about the initiation and termination of criminal cases.
It turned out that Zolotov recorded all the meetings – both with the businessmen and law enforcement officers – for the purpose of subsequent blackmailing. The lawyer acted as an intermediary in the negotiations on the termination of criminal cases and transfers of bribes.
At that, some cases, which Zolotov promised to terminate, were initiated on his own will. So it was with the case of entrepreneur Iosif Badalov, who was under investigation for non-payment of taxes. Badalov turned to Zolotov for legal assistance, after which he became a person of interest in another case, this time initiated by Zolotov. The case was on the non-payment of debt under a fictitious loan agreement, which he fraudulently forced Badalov to sign. After the FSB had access to video records from Zolotov’s archive, Badalov’s case was terminated.
On one of these records, Zolotov agreed with the deputy chief of the investigation department of the MIA Directorate for the Southern Administrative District Pavel Zimin on forgery in a criminal case. The investigator estimated the forgery at $ 50 thousand. Zolotov was detained within the case of mediation in bribery. The lawyer confessed not only about bribing Zimin but also told about the bribes to the management of the MIA Directorate of the Western Administrative District.
For 5 million rubles and two cars, the chief of the MIA Directorate for the Western District, Vladimir Rozhkov, agreed to stop checking several restaurants, for a renovation in his apartment, he appointed Zolotov’s friend to the post of head of the department for combating economic crimes.
On the basis of Zolotov's testimony, criminal cases were instituted against employees of state bodies, including Pavel Zimin and Vladimir Rozhkov. Zolotov himself was tried in a special order under articles on mediation in bribery, attempted fraud and deliberately false denunciation and was sentenced to six years in a general-regime colony and a fine of 18 million rubles.
Soon, a new case was initiated against Zolotov – this time, about the theft of money from Victor Krulikovsky, the head of the Viktoria group of companies, to whom Zolotov promised to negotiate the termination of the criminal case for 150 million rubles with the MIA officers. The case of fraud in relation to Krulikovsky was also initiated by Zolotov, and later the investigation came to the conclusion that it was unreasonable. At that moment, Zolotov received money from the businessman for terminating the case. Krulikovsky appealed to the court, and Zolotov again found himself on the dock, cooperated with the investigation again and received another six months of imprisonment.
During the investigation, Zolotov was held the Vodnik pre-trial detention center under “privileged conditions” and, according to Novaya Gazeta, was used to work on other prisoners. Employees of the detention center supported the image of Zolotov as a “fixer”: he could walk freely in the cells and offices, offering services to improve the conditions of detention or termination of the prisoners’ cases.
So it happened with Yevdokimov, for whom Zolotov first got a mobile phone, cigars and alcohol, and then promised help in terminating the criminal case. After Yevdokimov's wife handed over the required amount, Zolotov told the top manager that during the transfer the mediators were detained, and his wife now faces a criminal case.
After Yevdokimov’s death, the case was eventually brought against Zolotov himself: he was accused of embezzling 80 million rubles from Valentina Rakitina. In the media, it was assumed that through Zolotov, they tried to persuade Yevdokimov to a plea bargain, promising not to initiate a case against his wife in return, but they did not expect that everything would end with Yevdokimov's death.
20 THOUSAND USD AND CUT PAPER
In early December, it transpired that Dionisy Zolotov was a witness in the criminal case on fraud attempt. The investigation believes that a member of the Moscow PMC, namely Denis Nabiullin, promised to obtain a change in the measure of pre-trial restriction for one of the prisoners of the Matrosskaya Tishina through his connections in law enforcement agencies. The price for that would be $ 1 million, which was supposed to be transferred through an intermediary. It was planned that prisoner Rustam Klebleyev would be first sent to a medical examination, and then completely released from the detention center.
Zolotov mediated in the negotiations: the investigation suggests that Nabiullin and Zolotov negotiated from September to November, when the PMC member visited Zolotov in the SIZO under the pretext of checking the observance of the prisoner’s rights. Zolotov refused to communicate with other members of the PMC.
Now Nabiullin, who was falsely detained in a cafe by the FSB, is under arrest. The detention took place with violations: Nabiullin did not get his lawyer, there was no protocol on the arrest, the chairman of the PMC was not informed. The investigators believe that in a cafe Nabiullin was supposed to meet with Zolotov’s representative in order to give him the money. At the time of detention, an envelope with $ 20 thousand and a cut paper was seized from the human rights activist, which was in advance given to Zolotov’s representative by the FSB.
According to the media, this time Zolotov himself became an object of intra-departmental work: he was offered to help the investigation, and he tried to negotiate with Nabiullin about the transfer of Klebleyev, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted fraud, from the SIZO. Later, Klebleyev wrote a statement to Nabiullin, in which he claimed that the PMC member had extorted $ 1 million from him. According to another version, Nabiullin promised to release Zolotov himself.
DISCREDITATION OF PUBLIC ACTIVISTS
Nabiullin denies all charges. His defense and representatives of Moscow's PMC consider the criminal case to be a provocation aimed at discrediting the PMC. A member of Moscow's Communist Party and journalist of the Moskovsky Komsomolets, Eva Merkacheva, suggested that the criminal prosecution against Nabiullin might be related to his Dismas fund established for helping people under arrest or his requests on behalf of detainees who have been beaten by the police.
After the members of the Moscow PMC found the “elite” cells in Matrosskaya Tishina, Eva Merkacheva suggested that Nabiullin knew about such cells and the privileged position of Zolotov, but did not tell about it, violating the “ethics and regulations” of the Commission. According to Merkacheva, Zolotov repeatedly called Nabiullin with requests. The human rights activist always responded to the “fixer’s” calls and, at his own request, went to the cafe for a meeting.
Members of the PMC and Nabiullin himself argue that the human rights defender simply could not negotiate with the prisoner. Members of the PMC always visit the prisoners together and cannot remain alone with them – they are accompanied by the staff of the isolator with DVRs.
A possible provocation is associated with the upcoming extension of the PMC staff – the day after Nabiullin's detention, the Public Commission cancelled the meeting of the working group on the the extension, where the human rights defenders were supposed to submit their recommendations on candidatures for the regional commissions.
Denis Nabiullin was elected to the PMC at the end of 2016; before, he worked in the human rights organization called Committee for Civil Rights. According to Ivan Melnikov, executive secretary of the Moscow Department of the PMC, Nabiullin is one of the most active members of the PMC, who regularly succeeded in securing the release of people detained at rallies.