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Jailed former governor Sergey Furgal has added an eighth lawyer to his defense team. Dmitry Dovgy — a former senior investigator who was sent to prison in 2009 on bribery and abuse of office charges — officially joined the Furgal case during a closed-door remand hearing on July 5. Also during the hearing, the Moscow City Court extended Furgal’s arrest until October 7. Dovgy told Meduza that he had to sign a non-disclosure agreement and will begin studying the case file soon. Here’s what we know about the former Khabarovsk krai governor’s newest lawyer.
Who’s Dmitry Dovgy?
Back in 2007–2008, Dmitry Dovgy was a top investigator. He headed the Main Investigative Directorate of the Russian Attorney General’s Investigative Committee. In 2009, he was sentenced to nine years in a high security prison on charges of bribery and abuse of office. Dovgy, who maintains his innocence, spent four years in prison and was released on parole in 2015.
At the time, the St. Petersburg-based newspaper Fontanka described Dovgy as “the most senior among the convicted security officials of the Putin era.” After starting out as an investigator, Dovgy later served as a judge in St. Petersburg for six years, and worked in the Justice Ministry. He also worked under Alexander Bastrykin when he led the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for the Central Federal District. When Bastrykin later became First Deputy Attorney General, Dovgy became his special assistant. He also co-authored the law on separating oversight and investigations, which led to the creation of the Russian Investigative Committee.
During his time as a senior investigator, Dovgy worked on the murder case of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the fraud case against former Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak, and the embezzlement case against former Yukos vice president Vasily Aleksanyan.
Dovgy was the first official who directly stated that the investigation suspected Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky as the mastermind behind Anna Politkovskaya’s killing — allegedly, the motive was to take out the journalist, while also undermining confidence in Russia’s law enforcement agencies.
In January 2008, President Vladimir Putin conferred the class rank of State Counselor of Justice of the third class on Dovgy. A few months later, the top investigator’s subordinates wrote a memo accusing him of accepting 3 million euros in bribes (that’s about $3.5 million by today’s exchange rate). At the time, Dovgy’s lawyers linked the criminal charges to a conflict between Dovgy and Bastrykin over Vasily Aleksanyan’s incarceration. Aleksanyan’s lawyers had requested the release of the terminally ill top manager, who was suffering from cancer and AIDS. Dovgy supported the petition, asking Bastrykin “not to disgrace the criminal justice system” and ease the preventive measures against Aleksanyan. In response, Bastrykin allegedly told Dovgy that he would only free Aleksanyan after he “testifies against [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky,” the former CEO of Yukos.
Aleksanyan remained in prison, but was released on bail in January 2009 (he ended up spending two years behind bars in total). A year and a half later, the statute of limitations expired and the case against him was closed. Aleksanyan died about a year later, in October 2011.
Dovgy’s subordinate, investigator Yuri Burtovoy, also worked on the Yukos case — he led the investigation team handling the case of Alexey Pichugin, a former manager in the oil company’s security department. Burtovoy also led the team investigating the case against ex-Khabarovsk krai governor Sergey Furgal until it was taken away from him in May 2021 due to his “heavy workload.”
Since his release from prison, Dovgy has maintained that he never accepted bribes and still doesn’t know the real reasons for his arrest.
“Perhaps Bastrykin still thought that I said something about his real estate in the Czech Republic. At the time, [journalist] Alexander Khinshtein published an article about this, perhaps Bastrykin thought that he found this out through me. But I didn’t know anything about his house in the Czech Republic, I only went with him on a business trips to France, where he had friends and acquaintances. I never heard [anything] about the Czech Republic,” Dovgy claimed.
What’s happening with Furgal’s case?
Dmitry Dovgy tried to get involved in Sergey Furgal’s case in December 2020, and even attempted to do so through the courts. During a hearing on extending the preventive measures against Furgal, the former governor confirmed to investigators that he wanted Dovgy on his defense team. There are now eight lawyers representing Furgal in court: in addition to Dovgy, there’s Sergey Groza, Boris Kozhemyakin, Alexander Startsev, Mikhail Karapetyan, Nikolai Postnikov, Alexey Smirnov, and Yelena Bestuzheva.
Furgal was arrested on July 9, 2020. He stands accused of organizing contract killings and attempted murder. The cases date back to 2004–2005. The Investigative Committee reopened these investigations in the spring of 2019, about six months after Furgal — to the Kremlin’s surprise — defeated the ruling party’s candidate during the gubernatorial elections in the Khabarovsk krai. Furgal insists that the case against him is politically motivated and attributes it to the fact that he was elected governor.
Furgal’s arrest sparked mass protests in Khabarovsk that lasted for several months. The demonstrators demanded a fair trial for the ex-governor and called for him to be tried by a jury in Khabarovsk.
Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said that the investigation has “irrefutable proof” that Furgal is guilty, but none of this evidence has been made public so far. The hearings concerning the measures of restraint against Furgal have taken place behind closed doors.
Translation by Eilish Hart
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