How much did the "indulgence" cost for the Russian "thief in law" and what does the tobacco baron of Lviv region and the top of the Ministry of Internal Affairs have to do with it?
On December 2, 2019, President Volodymyr Zelensky submitted a legislative draft No. 2513 "On Amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine on Responsibility for Crimes Committed by the Criminal Community" to the Verkhovna Rada, providing for the criminal responsibility for the stay of persons in the status of so-called "thieves in law".
The initiative of the Head of State is expected to have provoked a lively debate in the legal community, law enforcement and the criminal world.
Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko has already said that the innovations "will make it possible to bring to justice those criminals who head the gangs, using their criminal authority in the criminal world." But they will simplify in court the procedure of proving that it was the particular "thief in law" who organized the crime and received a profit from it.
Still, only time will tell how will this actually be happening and whether or not it will lead to a "witch hunt". The practice shows that even with the already existing arsenal of legal means of counteraction to the "kings of the underworld", domestic law enforcement officers use them very selectively.
The "red line" here is the story of the Russian "thief in law" Viktor Panyushin nicknamed “Vitya Pan”.
This 61-year-old native of Tatarstan, heading one of the most powerful Slavic groups in the former USSR, has been on the international wanted list since at least 2017.
Turns out that this circumstance does not create him any discomfort and does not prevent him from feeling free in the territory of our country, being literally under the very nose of the law enforcement agencies.
Russia's "thief in law" has sought asylum in Ukraine
As already reported on the pages of Detective-Info, in the second decade of last month Panyushin personally visited one of the Odessa branches of the Passport Service Center of the State Migration Service of Ukraine. To the state institution, the man applied for recognition as a refugee or a person in need of additional protection because of ... political motives and persecution in the Russian Federation.
According to the norm of the law, in the case of approval of the decision to grant Panyushin the status of refugee or a person in need of additional protection, he may not be expelled or forcibly returned to Russia.
Thus, up to the time of the decision of the territorial body of the migration service regarding Panyushin's statement (which, by the way, could be appealed), the crowned representative of the criminal world is virtually "legalized" in Ukraine and is walking free.
It should be noted that his adventures in the Passport Service of Odessa last month are far from being the only eloquent testimony that someone's "invisible hand" is doing his best to breathe this "thief in law" on Ukrainian soil.
The level of influence of his relations among the national authorities is at least evidenced by the fact that they have long "closed their eyes" to the fact that Panyushin is searching for Interpol on the request for arrest and extradition from Russian law enforcement.
This is evidenced by the Russian card in the relevant data bank, as well as by the answer to the inquiry of the criminal investigation card under the original No. 7956 dated March 13, 2019, which was received from the Department of International Police Cooperation of the National Police of Ukraine. However, the extradition procedure for him has not even begun!
However, even the eloquent "Odessa incident" is glowing in rays of glory about another resonant event with the participation of Viktor Panyushin. About this history of "Vitia Pan" wandering in the territory of our country competent structures have not yet penetrated even a couple of mouth. And, by the way, for some reason silent, even having lost his post, now ex-deputy head of the National Police Vyacheslav Abroskin, who in recent years tried on the uniform of an uncompromising fighter with the "kings of the underworld" and covered virtually all incidents of detention (even the most insignificant episodes).
We still hope that the reminder of the events from six months ago which happened on the pages of Detective-Info may activate the brain activity of Abroskin and the current law enforcement agencies, which for some reason have completely "forgotten" the delicate case of "detention" of Vitia Pan, which took place at the beginning 2019.
According to an informed Detective-Info interlocutor in the security forces, this was preceded by a long-term working out by the staff headed by Roman Osukhovskyi (who, on the sidelines of the police head, is called the protege of Vyacheslav Abroskin) of the Department of Strategic Investigations of the National Crime. And also to receive operative information on illegal detention of the wanted Panyushin in Ukraine, in particular - in Lviv region.
Subsequently, when Vitia Pan's wife and their minor children began to make frequent voyages to the territory of our country, the puzzle was finally formed. Only time was needed to "catch" the "thief in law", and the proper occasion was not long in coming.
In particular, at the beginning of June, security officials from Kharkiv received a signal that Iryna Paniushyna was heading to Lviv by train, where she was supposed to meet her husband. An entrapment was arranged at the railway station of Lviv, and "Vitia Pan" got into it. He was arrested at 9:30 on June 6.
According to the letter of the law, in the future, the "king of the underworld" had to undergo the proper official procedures, be sent to the prosecutor's office, and then - to court, and later (of course, with the consent of officials) - to be extradited to Russia, who announced the man wanted on the international wanted list. However, from the beginning, the situation began to unfold in a different direction, where everyone in turn spat on the right.
"Administrative play" of the powerful
As the staff of the State Bureau of Investigation later established, Paniushyn's detention in Lviv took place without any procedural document being drafted, that is, it is illegal. Moreover, after receiving a verbal instruction from the leadership of the State investigation bureau, the National Police officers further brought the "thief in law" to the capital, where on the evening of June 6, they were placed in the premises of the Central Interregional Directorate of State migration service in Kyiv and Kyiv region.
Only here a protocol was drawn up against Vitia Pan, but only for administrative detention under the standard procedure for “thieves in law”. But without taking into account the fact that he was wanted by Interpol! Although the relevant information was sent to the Strategic Investigation Department on June 7, 2019 at source No. 17532 ...
That is, instead of starting the extradition of the Russian, he was later transferred to the Chernihiv PTPI (foreigners’ temporary detention point), having filed a petition with the court in order to identify Panyushin and ensure the forced expulsion from the territory of our state.
On June 7, 2019, Ripkin District Court of the Chernihiv region commenced consideration of the respective administrative claim of the Central Interregional Directorate of the State Migration Service in Kyiv and Kyiv region to Panyushin.
The hearing on the case was scheduled for June 10. It was supposed that the "thief in law" himself should take part in it in videoconference mode from the Chernihiv foreigners’ temporary detention point. However, neither party to the proceedings did not appear and did not liaise at the prescribed time. Therefore, the court left the administrative claim to the Russian "thief in law" without consideration, and the proceedings were closed.
This turned out to be possible because earlier, on June 7, a message was sent to Chernihiv foreigners’ temporary detention point by the first deputy chief of the Central administration of the State migration service in Kyiv and Kyiv region Oleksii Pustovit, stating that the capital's migrants "completed" measures to expel Paniushyn out of Ukraine. Therefore, they initiated the issue of the transfer of the "thief in law" at the disposal of the staff of their administration. Thus, the next day, on June 8, 2019, Vitia Pan found himself in Kyiv again, where he was released after “drafting some documents”.
Oleksii Pustovit (on the far left)
Why was such a spectacle deployed involving dozens of law enforcement officers across Ukraine? In a way, one of the detectives in the Panyushin case, Detective-Info interlocutors, answers this question.
Appearance of the “old friends”
"Initially, “Vitia Pan” was actually detained in Lviv by the efforts of the Strategic Investigation Department of the National Police Department. But in the future, instead of sending him to the prosecutor's office to petition him for extradition arrest, the head of the State investigation bureau Roman Osukhovskiy was instructed to bring the "thief" to the capital, and then to Chernihiv and to expel him according to the necessary administrative measures. That is, there was al smoke and mirrors, and they just took the time to allow Paniushyn to “solve the issue”. In the future, his lawyer joined in, the phone calls were made, and eventually “Pan” was simply released. Who could command Osukhovskiy to act in such a way is a rhetorical question. Just remember who promoted him and you will find the answer”, a source recounts the circumstances of those mysterious events.
It is rumored that the resolution of the issue of Paniushyn's release was at the highest level with the involvement of influential businessmen, law enforcement officers and more. And among those who was very much worried about the fate of the "crowned" representative of the criminal world, was the deputy of the Lviv City Council, the president of "Rukh" FC and one of the richest residents of Western Ukraine, Hryhoriy Kozlovskyi.
According to the police operational reports, Kozlovskyi has been the actual owner of the Lviv Tobacco Factory for two decades. This enterprise, as the leading supplier of cigarettes for smuggling of billions of dollars to the European countries (to Romania, Hungary, Slovakia), was once called by the former chairman of Transcarpathian Regional State Administration Hennadii Moskal. Such claims were rejected at the factory, where Kozlovskyi de jure has no direct relation to the company today.
However, as they say in Lviv region, in fact, Hryhorii Petrovych continues to control the tobacco factory in Vinnytsia very closely. At one time, Lviv "authoritative" businessman Volodymyr Didukh, known by the nickname "Vova Morda", attacked his specific business. However, his ambitions were never realized. First of all, the security of Kozlovskyi, using his own status in the criminal world, was provided by "Vitya Pan".
Since then Panyushin and Kozlovskyi have been on friendly terms. Officially, these virtues did not comment on the fact of their friendship or at least acquaintance.
However, it is known that during his stay on the territory of Lviv region, the Russian "thief in law" stopped at the hotel-restaurant complex "Sviatoslav" owned by Hryhorii Petrovych. The latter also showed hospitality to Paniushyn's wife.
When Mrs. Paniushyna came to Lviv at the beginning of the year, she chose Grand Hotel, the owner of which is called the president of FC Rukh, as the owner of the media. In addition, Kozlovskyi's business partners - Armen Sargsyan and Eduard Moskaliov - provided support to a woman in our country. But that's not all.
How Pan was buyed out and the case got hidden
According to one interpretation, it was Kozlovskyi who personally dealt with the mess with law enforcement, which in the middle of 2019, because of the "Lviv detention" of "Vitya Pan".
It is rumored that the tobacco tycoon has chosen as a mediator and negotiator with the top officials of the National Police on this issue ... Yurii Kviatkivsky, who at that time was a prosecutor of the Lviv region. The calculation was very simple: since Kviatkivskyi had previously worked in the Kyiv region when he was serving there and now ex-National Police Chief Serhiy Knyazev, so the dignitaries had strong contacts with each other.
The "negotiations" over Paniushyn's release allegedly began with a 2 USD million price tag, but as a result, the amount was reduced to 1.6 USD million. Later, Kviatkivskyi made a "friendly visit" to Kniaziev and Abroskin, taking some cargo with him.
Shortly thereafter, Vitia Pan was free, and later some strange things happened to Kniaziev - his former wife was detained by Polish law enforcement with a large sum of cash...
Serhii Kniaziev and Viktoriia Kniazieva
According to the retired ex-head of the National Police, the currency had legal origin as a result of the sale of real estate to a friend. Kniaziev's opponents, in response, have hinted that money received for the release of the Pan was "leaked out" at the border.
Strange deeds of the State investigation bureau
Whatever it was, but the final establishment of all the circumstances and actions of law enforcement officers during the detention and subsequent release of Viktor Paniushyn was further guarded by the State Bureau of Investigation in the framework of the respective criminal proceedings.
Back in August, the court obtained permission to take away all the records concerning “Vitia Pan” from the Criminal Investigation Department and the Strategic Investigation Department. It was rumored that the head of the Department of Strategic Investigations Roman Osukhovskyi could fall under suspicion, but it has not been announced to this day. Like to any other “magnates”.
However, at the beginning of this fall, almost all of the characters in the detective events that unfolded around “Vitia Pan” lost their jobs. In particular, Serhiy Knyazev resigned, the new Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka has dismissed Yurii Kviatkivskyi, Vyacheslav Abroskin was dismissed from the National Police with a scandal, and Andrii Rubel is now in charge of the the Department of Strategic Investigations of the National Police instead of Roman Osukhovskyi. According to one version, it was the nuances of Abroskin and Kniaziev's "special relations" with Paniushyn's environment of "thief in law" that made the top officials of the National Police resign…
As for the criminal proceedings for alleged abuse and corruption by law enforcement officers during the arrest and release of a Russian "thief in law", after an active phase of interrogation by the immediate participants of those events, it appears to have been decided not to pursue the matter and put it under wraps. Moreover, for some reason the case was qualified through the prism of articles on the disclosure of data of the pre-trial investigation in the State investigation bureau (Part 2 of Article 387 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and deliberately unlawful detention of "Vitia Pan" (Part 3 of Article 371 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine), without focusing on the provision of probably illegal (or even criminal) instructions, negligence, and shameful abuse of authority by the leadership of the National Police and the State migration service of Ukraine.
Viktor Paniushyn himself is currently awaiting consideration of his application for refugee status while Russian law enforcement officials are vainly hoping to hold a leader of one of the largest Slavic criminal groups to justice.
And the Ukrainian authorities draw colorful pictures of how all those “thieves in law” will be held liable after the law on "thieves in law" comes into force. But they are silent about the fact that, even under the existing procedures for certain kings of the underworld, there still are some exceptions. Especially when the smell of big money with the taste of tobacco appears in the air.