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Reckoning delayed Russian investigators have been unable to move forward with their key case against ex-Governor Furgal because of a 16-year-old police report

Source: Meduza
Alexander Shcherbak / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

Federal officials in Russia have been unable to launch a criminal investigation against Sergey Furgal regarding the key offense in their case against the former Khabarovsk governor: the murder of businessman Evgeny Zorya in 2004. According to the newspaper Kommersant, the Investigative Committee has hit a snag because a detective in the Khabarovsk Prosecutor’s Office issued an order in October 2004 terminating all prosecution of Furgal in Zorya’s killing, citing a lack of evidence that he was involved. (Kommersant has not named the detective who filed this decision.)

On July 31, 2020, a district court in Moscow granted the investigators’ request to revoke the 16-year-old decision, but Furgal’s lawyers challenged the ruling and the next hearing on the matter has been delayed until September 21.

In 2004, Sergey Furgal and his business partner, Nikolai Mistryukov, were arrested in connection with Evgeny Zorya’s murder, but both were released within two days and police dropped all charges for a lack of evidence. Investigators now argue that Furgal leveraged his high-ranking contacts within law enforcement for insider information about the murder investigation, which he allegedly used to hide evidence and intimate witnesses.

Sources with knowledge of the case told Kommersant that Furgal wielded such influence among senior police officers in Khabarovsk because he effectively paid their salaries. Several former cops have now reportedly testified against Furgal about these illicit schemes. 

According to the news outlet Baza, Furgal owes the fact that he wasn’t prosecuted in 2004 for Zorya’s murder to a police officer named Alexander Korolev (then a second-year, says Sopki News). 

While serving as a detective in Khabarovsk, Korolev also helped investigate the 2006 murder of Oleg Bulatov, another former business partner Sergey Furgal is now suspected of having killed. Bulatov’s case remains unsolved.

In October 2018, Russia’s Interior Ministry fired Alexander Korolev (now a lieutenant colonel) for violating anti-corruption laws. Three months later, he became an adviser to Governor Furgal. 

Sergey Furgal denies his involvement in the murders of Evgeny Zorya and Oleg Bulatov.

Text by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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