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Meme or the way of swindler rehabilitation

daily digest
Published December,12, 2013

During the last decade lots of Russian officials and businessmen settled abroad. Moreover, most of them had to do it forcedly: making money, these people used all the ways available to them, including fraud and theft. So they had to leave Russia, escaping from prosecution and prison. However, feeling quite safe in their foreign refuges, many of these "Russians" decided not only to be rehabilitated, at least in the eyes of the foreign countries, but also to avoid and even to quash sentences in Russia. So step by step the saving scheme was created. Its main point is an active mass media campaign based on the assigned meme, precisely, on the information which is, to put it mildly, untrue. According to it, these escapees are almost victims of the Russian political system. Among others we see two old and bosom friends – Sergey Polonskiy (the former owner of the "Miraks group") and Georgy Trefilov (the former co-owner of the "MARTA" holding), who successfully demonstrate such a scheme at work.

The two friends have a lot in common: mutual interests and ways of enrichment, such as "blowing" economic "bubbles". Moreover, they have the same problems, such as Russian Federation Criminal Rule 159 part 4 (large scale fraud). Their ways of problem solving are also not dissimilar – running away from Russia. Trefilov has chosen an habitual route for swindlers of all stripes – London, where one can reliably hide from justice. His infamous and scandalous friend Polonskiy has flown to the Kingdom of Cambodia. Still the lamsters didn't manage to enjoy their "dirty" money – they were put on the international wanted list. However, possessing millions, it's much easier to cope with such problems. Legal support, lawyers, advisers and even an own island - everything is bought. All this means, that it's possible to avoid a criminal and civil liability in a so called "lawful way", having actually deceived all the laws. With the unstinting support of his lawyers Trefilov almost legally wins his extradition lawsuit in the UK. Obviously, he follows his general rehabilitation plan according to which he has declared himself the victim of the political regime of raiding and corruption.

His friend Polonskiy, being true to himself, thinks out a scandalous act: on the New Year's Eve on his yacht together with his friends he throws several Cambodian seamen overboard and appears in a local, toy prison. Apparently, his aim is achieved and he avoids the real prison – the Russian one. However, it's quite difficult to get rid of such a habit as "law ignoring". Trefilov, having absolutely forgotten about prudence, makes himself fake ID and under the name of Andreas Natatinos, the citizen of Greece, he flies to Spain on his business. We can only guess what he reckoned on - whether on the nonprofessionalism of frontier guards, or on his own transformation genius and Garun al Rasheed's gift, but the result is logical – court and sentence. However that is already in England, which offered harborage to him. The two friends leave their prisons almost at the same time, shaken but unhurt. However, it must be said, Trefilov was put on probation. Nevertheless, both of them are steadily turning into reality the idea of their rehabilitation. So they start giving infinite interviews with the prepared and thought-over meme, presenting to the world not swindlers and scoundrels, but martyrs, victims of the regime and almost political prisoners.

Moreover, they decided to seek help from the human rights activists. Lucky things, their Rule 159 was decriminalized in Russia… So they appealed to the ombudsman, B. Titov, the amnesty bill author. To our astonishment, B.Titov believed in Trefilov's innocence and even publicly declared that his trial investigation had been lasting for 10 years already. Meanwhile, the fact that Trefilov's fraud case was initiated only in 2009, and that in 2010 he ran away from the country, isn't non-public information and is available to everyone. However, not everything is clear as a whistle, and in their performances friends aren't really convincing, and the attempt to put the screws on the public opinion is absolutely evident. Trefilov's speech is sometimes similar to children's babble: he loses his nerve, often says "well, I don't know..." and behaves as an infantile sophomore. Still he demands guarantees from the President as "his, Trefilov's transaction with the German partner was at a high level". Polonskiy on the contrary, gives lip and demands special attention. For example, he asks to send to his island the ambassador, deputies and others. He also agrees to bear testimony! By the way, the friends are constantly lowering the sum of their debts. Thus Trefilov speaks about 1 billion rubles to the BBC while he's charged with 1,9 billion rubles, and Polonskiy is admitting only 2 billion while officially his debt is 5,7 billion rubles. The point of Trefilov's excuses is aimed at some kind of extreme naivety, like, once upon a time there was a business, then outlandish partners came, put the eye on it, bamboozled its owner (naturally, Trefilov) and made him bankrupt. However all this would be such fun, hadn't it been so sad. The truth is that in Trefilov's life there was an "illegal takeover" and he wasn't a victim at all.

A high-profile scandal between Trefilov and the ex-deputy M. Vasilyev broke in 2005. This scandal was a result of the commercial transaction according to which Trefilov became an owner of the "Prodmak" traiding chain that previously belonged to M. Vasilyev. This transaction ended with the initiation of a criminal case in relation to M. Vasilyev and others. This criminal case was initiated after Trefilov had sent his petition to the Invistigation Committee and after the deputy G. Gudkov had addressed to R. Nurgaliyev, who was at that time the Minister of Internal Affairs. Mr.Gudkov personally and repeatedly demanded "to handle" this case. What we remember this process for is the statement of the defendant M. Vasilyev and his lawyers about the repeated attempts of extortion made by Trefilov and the "MARTA" representatives. Trefilov wanted 25 million dollars from the accused for "the possible termination of the criminal case". Vasilyev also mentioned numerous contraventions during the investigation. It's particularly remarkable that human rights activists' attention, including L. Alekseeva's Moscow Helsinki group, which supported M. Vasilyev and other accused, was attracted to a course of investigation and to the process itself. Also there were several petitions to the ECtHR based on the legal defence position that the suit, which was extremely civil and had been judged ealrier, was obviously framed-up. Moreover, in the defence's opinioin, the case was absurd in its essence and created a dangerous legal precedent of the law enforcement agencies intervention to the sphere of civil and commercial relations. After Trefilov's bankruptcy and the initiation of the criminal case in relation to him, Mr. Gudkov publicly recognized that, according to him, he "didn't see the situation clearly, knew little and supposed it was necessary to interfere because "MARTA"'s cooperation with the German giant company REWE, which took place in 2005, was an important and strategic way in the Russian economy development and also it could have strengthened the Russia - Germany partnership". What we have to do now is to hope sincerely that our dear business ombudsman will handle "this case" much earlier than the ex-deputy Gudkov did - before Trefilov makes again something "of economic importance" for Russia.

As one of the main arguments for his innocence Trefilov mentions an episode with the procuracy officer Gvozdev. Allegedly, in 2011 that officer pinched one million dollars out of Trefilov as a bribe and even managed to receive 50 thousand dollars. However, the video of conversation, made by precautious Trefilov, gives reasons to believe that this video is staged and is just his "best card" in this game. The most interesting thing happens when Polonskiy decides to use his friend's scheme. His plot is the exact copy of Trefilov's. However, to be completely original and true to himself, Polonskiy found the so called "bent cop" right where he was staying, in Cambodia. This role was played - believe it or not - by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Cambodia Mr. Buntkhal. As well as Trefilov, Polonskiy carefully films the conversation, but he obviously overacts, makes faces, speaks wide and bumbles to the words of the Cambodian. It's worth saying that during their conversation Mr. Buntkhal didn't confirm the sum of a bribe and even didn't pronounce the word "money". Regardless of this fact in the end of the dialogue Polonskiy confidently speaks about allegedly reached agreements for a bribe. Its sum is also Trefilov's (!) - one million dollars. Having announced the sum, Polonskiy put the phone down on his interlocutor so fast that the latter didn't even have chance to react. Needless to say that the record instantly appeared in the public domain. Numerous interviews followed it, as well as the "explanations" of the Polonskiy's lawyer, concerning the "extortion". It all ended with an obviously provocative "escape" on the neighboring island where he was arrested by the Cambodian police and sent to prison of Phnom Penh.

In their interviews Trefilov and Polonskiy consistently keep returning to the thought that they are "the salt of the nation", alpha males of the Russian economy, that it's impossible to act without them, that, to be precise, without them the Russian economy is simply doomed. Trefilov, probably meaning himself, says in the interview: "It's really necessary to change something in the "conservatory" otherwise the best people of the country will have to leave Russia and go here, to London or elsewhere worldwide…". Polonskiy, showing again his "fair manners", shouts in the camera that he should be nourished and cherished, instead of being chased worldwide. In addition to all that and in accordance with the chosen trend Trefilov says that he was almost declared an "enemy of the people". He reassures that all Russian refugees in London are charged with the Criminal Rule 159, that it is some kind of prosecution organized by the Russian authorities, just as it was in the Stalin era. Waiting in a local prison for an extradition, Polonskiy writes his "Letters to God" where he asks to stop this lawlessness of investigators and mentions Magnitsky's list. Then he habitually posts his next "intellectual product" in the Internet … Meanwhile, the strong desire of both friends to be in a political trend is easily explainable. At first, in the recent past of the XX century, especially after Stalinist purges and punishment camps, when GULAG concepts "criminal" and "political" were antagonists, for the wide audience in Russia to be "political" meant to be "ideological", decent, to suffer innocently and sometimes to defend fearlessly the civil rights and freedoms. "Politicals" also gained recognition of a certain part of society in Russia (then the USSR), and also of political quarters of the foreign countries. Moreover, it was often western support that was quite powerful, including financial one… In people's opinion, to be an open "political" actually means to be high-toned and honest, and in the western countries it also means to be a progressive member of society, a part of elite - whether it's economic, scientific or cultural and at the same time to be a representative of an officially "forbidden" but, as a rule, socially valuable idea. To get rid of a "criminal face" and to try on a "political" mask both for Polonsky and Trefilov is, as it can be seen from the above, tempting and useful, first of all for social canonization of the martyrs image. Anyway they both need an honourable status. Besides that, some kind of a "political" shade in the typical criminal prosecution (which is, for sure, unconvincingly for Russia), can create a "foolproof" alibi in the point of view of the western countries in order to get their real support and - moreover - citizenship.

Further, having joined the political schemes, they keep on blackmailing with the methods that have already been mentioned: using mass media to tell the world about the absence of the "legitimate base" in Russia, about the prosecution of rich businessmen from Forbes TOP100 (by the way, Trefilov has never been mentioned in this rating, although he said to the European mass media he belonged to it). According to their words, these TOP 100 Russian businessmen are victimized by "totally corrupted" officials-monsters and raidering security officers, thereby creating this well-known and favorable to certain forces in Russia and in the Western countries tension round the "investment climate" in Russia. That is the exact point of all these infinite publications – both old and new, of all these TV interviews and journalistic stories in which people who primarily have committed an unpunished so far crime in their own country, then discredit it in the face of the whole world. All these actions are more and more similar to a usual blackmail – until the debts are released, until the investigation is over or at least the sentences are reduced Polonskiy and Trefilov won't stop. However Russia already pays for them, for all these people who as well as Trefilov and Polonskiy, to everyone's regret, generate the image of Russia for the whole world and the western countries in particular. What they do is not only giving pathos interviews about the absence of a legitimate base in the homeland, but also running from police naked in the jungle, cruising around with false documents and beating poor sailors. So Russia has to pay. For example, Trefilov's not repaid debt in "Sviaz Bank" cost the state, that redeemed Bank debts, a vast deal of money (and so to us, taxpayers), to be more exact, about 1 billion rubles. Besides that, the judicial inquiry substantiated the fact that it was an a priori uncollectable account. What concerns Polonskiy, is the guarantee and promise of the new housing to his "shareholders" and the state assumes this responsibility. Really, the situation needs no comments.

However hardly the two friends will be able to rob and discredit Russia for a long time and absolutely unpunished. The "traps" of unresolved problems, where they fell into due to their own faults, strongly hold both of them, wherever they are – in England, Cambodia or the USA, which citizenship Polonskiy is trying to obtain recently, still being in the prison of Phnom Penh. By the way, the last program of A. Mamontov devoted to Polonskiy was called "The Cambodian trap" while the name of the recent Trefilov's interview is "Then I fell into a trap". Hopefully, those countries, which have sheltered the friends or are just ready to do it, sooner or later will understand, in case they haven't realized it yet, WHAT they have step in and for certain they will take measures so that IT doesn't cramp their style.