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A top Moscow investigator's former staff say he was part of a major bribery scandal, but he's in no danger of losing his job

Alexander Drymanov, the head of the Investigative Committee's Moscow department
Alexander Drymanov, the head of the Investigative Committee's Moscow department

Alexander Drymanov, the head of the Investigative Committee's Moscow department, was among the investigators who received bribes from the crime boss Zakhary Kalashov (better known as “Young Shakro”). That is what a state prosecutor said on January 23 in court, citing testimony by another former Investigative Committee officer who’s already confessed to taking the mobster’s money. Drymanov is only a witness in the case, however, and Federal Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin has interceded on his behalf.

The “Young Shakro” case

At a cafe in Moscow in December 2015, several of Zakhary Kalashov’s associates got into a shootout with Eduard Budantsev, a former police officer. Two of Kalashov’s men were killed and law enforcement later detained everyone involved in the incident. In the summer, police detained Kalashov, along with three high-ranking Moscow investigators on charges that he paid them $500,000 to facilitate the release of Andrey “The Italian” Kochuikov, one of the cafe gunmen.

How Drymanov’s name came up

Denis Nikandrov, the first deputy head of the Investigative Committee’s Moscow department, was one of the officers arrested in the bribery scandal. In September 2017, he reached a deal with prosecutors, who promptly summoned his boss, Alexander Drymanov, for questioning.

On January 23, 2018, proceedings got underway in the case against Mikhail Maksimenko, the former head of security at the Federal Investigative Committee. As the only suspect who’s refused to confess, Maksimenko is being tried separately. At his hearing, prosecutor Boris Loktionov stated immediately that Drymanov played a role in the scheme to secure Andrey Kochuikov’s early release. "Drymanov approved the proposal [to transfer Kochuikov to house arrest] and ordered Nikandrov to continue overseeing the investigation,” Loktionov explained.

On January 24, Maksimenko's former deputy, Aleksandr Lamonov (who is also cooperating with the investigation), testified in court that Drymanov took a personal interest in the Shakro case immediately. Moscow investigators subsequently decided to drop the homicide charges against Kochuikov, reducing his crime to “arbitrary behavior involving the use of violence” — a misdemeanor that made it possible to release him under house arrest.

Finally, Denis Nikandrov took the stand and testified that he himself and his former supervisor (Drymanov) were "under the thumb of Maksimenko."

No charges against Drymanov

Drymanov was only named a witness in the case, though he’s claimed to reporters that he has no procedural status whatsoever in the trial. The indictment against Maksimenko doesn’t specify Drymanov's status, either. Meanwhile, Maksimenko's defense attorney, Andrey Grivtsov, says the Federal Security Service (FSB) has been asking for separate proceedings against Drymanov since November 2017.

According to the newspaper Kommersant, the FSB hasn’t supplied evidence against Drymanov to the Investigative Committee because its agents couldn’t find any incriminating evidence when it searched his home and cabin, and it was actually Drymanov who alerted Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin about the “special op against one of the country's best investigators." Sergey Smirnov, the chief editor of Mediazona, which reports on Russia’s criminal justice system, says Kommersant’s report was based on a source promoting the Investigative Committee’s version of events regarding Drymanov.

As a result, the officials working the case against Moscow’s investigators were all replaced (how exactly, Kommersant’s source doesn't say), and prosecutors never filed charges against Drymanov, who’s still on the job and has no plans to step down. According to the news agency RIA Novosti, Drymanov won’t even be called to testify as a witness.

Text by Pavel Merzlikin, translation by Peter Marshall