Video by anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny links household of general attorney Yuri Chaika with spouse of mobster behind notorious massacre
What could possibly connected an ultra-luxury spa hotel on the Aegean Sea in Greece, the most violent felon gang in Russias living memory, and a web of prosecutors in the country, resulting right up to the family of the general prosecutor?
According to the latest investigation by Russias anti-corruption campaigner, Alexei Navalny, and his squad, the sons of the countrys general attorney, Yuri Chaika, have amassed a huge business empire, thanks at least in part to their parents posture and their ability to keep regional prosecutors onside.
It also alleges that the sons business associates have ties to the Tsapok gang, which terrorised the town of Kushchevskaya in southern Russia until apprehends were made following a murder that shocked the country.
Navalnys 45 -minute video begins with a five-star hotel in Halkidiki, Greece. The hotels lavish opening featured a speech by Russias culture minister, Vladimir Medinsky, and performances by resulting Russian pop stars.
Navalnys researchers discovered that the owners of the hotel were Artem Chaika and Olga Lopatina, the former wife of Gennady Lopatin, the deputy prosecutor general and Yuri Chaikas number two.
Navalny has made a habit of uncovering the undeclared property, suspicious foreign assets and criminal links of Russian upper-class, usually to a stony wall of stillnes as an official reaction, but the Chaika video is the most damning yet, if the allegations are all true. Chaikas other son, Igor, is also accused of using his family connections to build a huge business, and of benefiting from apparently rigged state auctions.
Navalny said his team first uncovered the Chaika story when they were doing their regular monitoring of property purchases in territories where Russian officials like to stash their fund Greece, Cyprus, Spain and London. They noticed the lavish Greek hotel opening and the Chaika connection.
We put it to one side for a while, because actually theres nothing all that surprising in our officials having dubious property. But then, when the Tsapok links seemed, I couldnt believe it initially.
We checked it and checked it, and it just got worse and worse, he told the Observer .
Navalnys anti-corruption foundation find company records showing Lopatina was one of the joint owners of a sugar business with Anzhela Tsapok, the wife of Sergei Tsapok, who died in prison last year. He had been given a life sentence for one of the worst crimes in recent Russian history.
Even in Russia, in which the crime pages of newspapers are often filled with gruesome deeds, the Kushchevskaya massacre resonated for its sheer barbarism. Twelve people were killed, including four children, chiefly by stabbing or strangulation, and then the house was set on fire with the bodies inside. The ensuing investigation uncovered a chain of killings, kidnappings, rape and corruption. Tsapok, who had formerly been a local legislator, was named the gang leader and sentenced to life in prison, while his mother was given three years in prison for fraud.
The prosecutors in the case at the time said Tsapoks gang had its tentacles all over the town, with local police on the payroll. Tsapok himself was a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and a member of the local parliament.
The gang controlled all local business, and were also accused of picking young women at random off the street, raping them and then keeping them silent with menaces. They were accused of 19 demises over a decade, including the 12 which brought Moscow police to the town and finally uncovered the chain of wrongdoings that local police had been unable or unwilling to prosecute.
Navalnys film includes documents which appear to show that earlier lawsuits against the Tsapok gang were dropped after interference from local attorneys. Navalnys video has received more than 3 million views on YouTube in the week since it was launched, but the official reaction has been muted.
Vladimir Putins spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the allegations did not provoke our interest because they were not related to the general prosecutor but to his sons, who have their own business activities.
Chaika himself, in his only commentaries on the video, told Interfax on 3 December that the video was a hatchet job , not paid for by those who built it, hinting that some outside power was attempting to smear him. The datum presented is intentionally falsified and has no basis in fact, he said.
Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev was asked about the allegations during an annual interview with Russian journalists last week, and became angry, is recommended that tabling the accusations was risking a return to Stalin-era repression. You said a certain person has been accused. If were going to operate in such a way, well be going back a long way back to the 1930 s. Merely law enforcement can lodge accusations, he said.
The influential business daily Vedomosti wrote an editorial calling on the government to investigate the allegations severely. The materials that were published need to be confirmed, but they are not baseless the investigation is well documented, the paper wrote. In a normal country, these kinds of public accusations should be publicly dealt with, and not only by the people involved but by their superiors.
Navalny said the authorities were in a difficult position, as they did not want to be seen to be reacting to any of police investigations. He is also an opponent legislator and a trenchant Kremlin critic. He has faced a number of court cases and two brothers has been jailed, in what has been described as an attempt to put pressure on him.
There will not be any investigation here, but the Latvian authorities have already started one on money laundering and we want the Swiss authorities to start one too. We want to construct the cost of keeping Chaika very high for the Kremlin, Navalny said.
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