Two groups of St. Petersburg law enforcement officers caught planting drugs on civilians in two days
Two Russian National Guard officers planted drugs on a teenager and demanded a 300,000-ruble bribe
On July 18, a St. Petersburg court jailed two Russian National Guard officers, Nikita Lavrentyev and Alexander Boikov, to await trial for extortion and taking bribes. The pair may face fines of up to four million rubles ($63,480) or up to 12 years in prison. Fontanka, a local St. Petersburg news outlet, reported that the incident in question took place on July 16 on Metallurgists Prospect. The two officers stopped a 16-year-old, put a packet containing an unspecified narcotic substance on his person, and proceeded to “seize” it. They demanded a bribe of 300,000 rubles ($4,764) to allow the young man to avoid prosecution.
The teenager responded by giving the two officers 40,000 rubles ($635.20) on the spot (Fontanka reported that he happened to belong to a well-to-do local family). He withdrew the rest from his father’s credit card. Lavrentyev and Boikov allowed the young man to go to an ATM alone so as not to come within range of any security cameras themselves, and their victim used that opportunity to call the police. He reportedly told them, “Your cops planted drugs on me, and now they’re asking me for money,” after which, Fontanka’s source claimed, one police chief on the other end of the line shouted, “God forbid! In Moscow, they’ve been firing generals for this! They’ll use us the same way!” The source was presumably referring to recent firings related to the fabricated drug case against Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov.
The National Guard officers, who did not know their charge had called the police, took the money from him and told him to hide 160,000 rubles ($2,540), the remainder of the bribe they had demanded, in a designated location. At that point, the officers let the young man go. When they arrived at their rendezvous point in a National Guard vehicle several hours later, Boikov and Lavrentyev were met by a group of police. The pair attempted to make an escape but were ultimately caught and arrested.
Three police officers “found” a bag of powder on another young man and demanded 500,000 rubles
According to Fontanka, another, similar incident came to light the following day when two police officers from the Nevsky District’s 75th Division submitted confessions to the local Investigative Committee. Security officer Maxim Gulempinchenko and patroller Sergey Volodchenko were joined in the confession by one of their former colleagues, Anatoly Lebedinsky, who had served in the same district’s 70th Division. He was fired in 2017 after committing a hit-and-run and refusing an examination when emergency responders caught up with him.
Fontanka reported that on July 12, the officers stopped a 24-year-old native of Nizhny Novgorod on Iskrovsky Prospect (another source claimed that the victim was 23). The three officers claimed that they were conducting a search based on an existing criminal case and began examining the young man. When they pulled a small bag containing an unknown powder out of the pocket of his jacket, the policemen immediately told him that the bag contained a narcotic substance. They then led him to the Mercedes in which they had arrived at the scene. “They were pulling me by force. They hit me. I didn’t see pistols on them, but I heard that characteristic click. Like in the movies when they put the cartridge in,” the man told Fontanka.
The police officers threatened to charge the young man with drug possession if he did not give them 500,000 rubles ($7,940). He gave them 396,000 ($6,288) that his mother transferred to him on the spot. That turned out to be enough for the policemen, who let the man go. A few days later, he submitted a complaint to police in St. Petersburg’s Vyborgsky District, and the complaint was transferred to the Nevsky District’s 75th Division.
There, officers took note of the license plate number the young man had seen on the Mercedes. The car turned out to be the property of 75th Division employee Sergey Volodchenko. It then became clear that Volodchenko’s colleague Maxim Gulempichenko and his former colleague Anatoly Lebedinsky were in the car with him. Investigators gave the three men a day to think the matter over, and all three ultimately submitted confessions to the Investigative Committee. An extortion case has been opened against the three, but they were all released to await trial on the condition that they would remain in St. Petersburg.
Fontanka noted that the young man the police attempted to frame for drug possession had previously shown signs of significant wealth on social media, including posts in which he called himself “a valued client of Louis Vuitton.” On the day the police officers “found” drugs in his possession, the man had gone out for a first date with a young woman he had met on the social media site VKontakte. The police were evidently aware of that fact: they reportedly approached the young man with the words, “Criminal search team. Are you waiting for someone?”
According to Fontanka, a young woman with the same name and date of birth the young man listed does live in St. Petersburg. However, the publication was unable to determine whether the account writing under her name on VKontakte was authentic.
Translation by Hilah Kohen