The Insider presents another collection of intercepted phone conversations of Gennady Petrov, head of the Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya crime syndicate, obtained by the Spanish investigators with regard to the money laundering case. Our previous installment was dedicated to the gang's ties to Head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, Viktor Zubkov (the then prime minister), Anatoly Serdyukov (the then defense minister), and CEO of Sberbank Herman Gref. The new portion of intercepts attests to the following:
— Gennady Petrov, head of the Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya gang, has been doing business with Sergei Korolev, Brigadier General of the FSB and one of the most influential ex-KGB officers, who currently heads the economic Security Service of the FSB.
— Petrov is also a friend and associate of St. Petersburg's Prosecutor, Sergei Litvinenko.
— Petrov has been receiving assistance from a number of officials, including Maxim Shmarenkov, deputy head of the Tax Crime Department of St. Petersburg Directorate of Internal Affairs.
The morning of December 20, 2007, caught Gennady Petrov at home, in his St. Petersburg apartment. At 8:42 a.m. he received a call from Leonid Khristoforov, another leader of the Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya gang, who has escaped the Spanish prosecutors in Russia (at the Russian trial, Khristoforov admitted to providing Galina Starovoitova’s murderers with the murder weapon). Arranging to meet, the two friends banter and wish each other a «happy Chekist Day»:
Khristoforov: «Vasilich!» <Short for Petrov's patronymic>
Petrov: "Yeah, guten Morgen."
Khristoforov: "My congratulations!"
Petrov: "You're the one to be congratulated! They promised you a medal. Why am I not seeing one?"
Khristoforov: "Vasilich! It's Cheka's 90th anniversary. <VChK, the All-Russian Extraordinary Commission, was a Soviet secret police agency.> Come on!"
Petrov: "Ninety years I've worked for them, Leonid, 90 years, no less. Started as a grunt and still am a grunt — no medals for me."
Khristoforov: "Well, I'll see what I can do for you today, Vasilich."
Petrov: "I already told you — I've already pulled all the strings. No one's called me yet, though. So I tell them, 'You bastards, if you can't give me a rank, give me a medal at least!'"
At 10:46 a.m., a Boris calls Petrov. From their conversation we learn that Petrov had been having trouble reaching «Maxim Vladimirovich» at his Spanish and Russian numbers alike. The man in question is Maxim Vladimirovich Shmarenkov, the current vice president of the Leningrad Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry. At the time, he was deputy head of the Tax Crime Department of the Directorate of Internal Affairs for St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region.
Boris explains to Petrov why Shmarenkov is out of reach: "He is congratulating the chekists with their professional holiday. I called the top man, and he said everything's alright. It's just that the moron has gone to Liteyny Avenue. <The Insider's note: The Directorate of the FSB for St. Petersburg is located in Liteyny Avenue.> He's probably walking from office to office with his phone switched off. He will be informed that he ab-so-lu-te-ly must answer a call from a number starting with +3."
At 11:23, Petrov dials Boris once again: "Boris, I've reached him. At first, he says, 'Alright, come to my office.'"
Petrov: "We arranged to meet at a coffee shop nearby. Is he out of his f***ing mind?
Boris: "That he is. God forbid you have any misunderstanding at the meeting. Make sure to call me if that happens."
Petrov: "In his presence?"
Boris: "Why the f*** not? Seriously, why not?"
Petrov: "I will."
At 12:39, Shmarenkov dials Petrov and apologizes for running late for their meeting. Petrov replies he is waiting.
Shmarenkov is a former tax crime officer. To remind you, this department was later transformed into the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), where the notorious General Nikolai Aulov worked as deputy head. Spain put Aulov on the wanted list as one of Petrov's chief accomplices. He used to contact Petrov on an almost daily basis on various matters and, according to the Spanish investigators, was on Petrov's payroll.
Along with Shmarenkov, who is mingling with the chekists in Liteyny Avenue, Petrov mentions the mysterious «Boltai-Noga»:
At 11:58 a.m., Gennady Petrov calls his son, Anton Petrov: "I took Sashenka to the circus... There's no snow in the country. It would be good to leave town — to visit Number One <The Insider: he is referring to Anatoly Serdyukov> or Boltai-Noga."
Anton Petrov: "I called Number One. Yesterday I asked to tell him I called, and dialed him today again — while I'm here in Moscow.”
Gennady Petrov: "Keep calling, Antosha, you have to stick to it."
Anton Petrov: "Well, yeah. Because Slava <The Insider's note: most likely, Vladislav Reznik> passed along that letter and that's all we needed from him, basically."
Gennady Petrov: "Keep calling, follow through. If you are having trouble, give me a call, and I'll lend you a hand... Call Boltai-Noga and remember to congratulate him."
Anton Petrov: "Oh, right, today's the day. All right, dad."
Later that day, Gennady and Anton exchange their concerns about certain high-ranking officers facing the risk of arrest.
16:53 a.m. Gennady Petrov: "Yes, Antosha.
Anton Petrov: "Hey, daddy, what's up?"
Gennady Petrov: "Having lunch with Sergei. He says hi."
Anton Petrov: "Oh, yeah, say hi to him as well. Dad, I've seen Nikolaich. <The Insider's note: Nikolai Nikolayevich Aulov> He says this namesake of ours has good connections in St. Pete's. Some of the high-ranking officers he mingles with have undergone scrutiny lately. He must have been doing business with them directly, on the phone, and this investigation has traced it back to him in Moscow."
Gennady Petrov: "He and Sasha <The Insider's note: presumably, Alexander Bastrykin> are coming to see me tomorrow morning. I'll give them the lay of the land. All the more so because he's going to Moscow anyway — let him handle this. I've got it."
Anton Petrov: "They're turning the place upside down. They may put behind bars everyone he had an in with. This namesake of ours. He’s burned a lot of guys... He was making a lot of phone calls, and all the phones had been bugged. They found something against those officers; maybe something against us too."
Sergei, the man Gennady Petrov was having lunch with, is none other than Boltai-Noga — Sergei Borisovich Korolev, current Major General of the FSB and head of its Economic Security Department. At the time, he was an aide to Anatoly Serdyukov, minister of defense, tasked with curating GRU (Russia's military intelligence agency). After Serdyukov's resignation in 2012, Korolev headed the Internal Security Division of the FSB, becoming one of the most influential generals in the agency.
The intercepts reveal that it was through Sergei Korolev that Gennady Petrov tried to lobby Alexander Bastrykin's appointment as head of the Investigative Committee. A few months prior to the Chekist Day, on July 2, 2007, Petrov Jr. intended to meet Boltai-Noga. Gennady Petrov asks his son to give him a call before the meeting and afterwards. At 10:10 a.m. on July 2, Gennady Petrov calls Anton himself: "First, update him about Sasha <The Insider's note: Alexander Bastrykin>. Ask him for a straight answer, yes or no. Sasha wants to meet him. Ask if he can give a call to Number One <The Insider's note: Anatoly Serdyukov> and invite him there. Boltai-Noga has already said he is coming with his wife. Make sure to tell Number One that he is invited with his spouse too."
On the evening of July 4, Anton visits Boltai-Noga. He dials his father and passes the phone to Boltai-Noga. (This is the only available recording of his voice.)
Gennady Petrov: "Hello to you, Sergei. I've got a favor to ask of you: I'm having a birthday party, my 60th anniversary, and you absolutely must attend it."
Interlocutor (Sergei Korolev): "I'll make sure to come. As for our man, it's still being discussed."
Gennady Petrov: "I see. Anyway, tell him and have Anton tell him that if he can make it, he and Yulia will be very welcome. <The Insider's note: Yulia Zubkova was Serdyukov's wife at the time. Later he divorced her because of his affair with Yevgeniya Vasilyeva from Oboronservis.> It's a respectable age, 60 years."
Interlocutor (Sergei Korolev): "I'll be there."
On July 16, 2007, Gennady Petrov asks Anton Petrov to reach Boltai-Noga, who had previously received a call from Nikolai Aulov. Eventually Petrov says: "All right, Antosha, f*** it — don't call him. He’ll come to the birthday party anyway."
However, Sergei «Boltai-Noga» never showed at Petrov's birthday party. On July 22, Boltai-Noga's aide (Alexander) calls Petrov: "Boltai-Noga sends his best. He says he can't make it because Number One has sent him on a business trip. He also says he'd love to congratulate you and has a present ready for you. He asks when you'll be around."
Gennady Petrov: "Definitely before the weekend."
Aide Alexander: "He's celebrating his own birthday on Wednesday, the 25th. <Korolev was born on July 25, 1962.> If Number One lets him, he'll drop by at least for a day, for his birthday, so he's asking about your plans. Alternatively, there's Saturday. He might not be able to take Wednesday off — you know how Number One can be."
Gennady Petrov: "I see. Anyway, we'll see each other."
Aide Alexander: "I'll hand the gift to you. You're also in for a church medal, so this guy's asking if he should come to your office for that.”
Gennady Petrov: "Suit yourselves."
According to the intercepts, Gennady Petrov gets his «church medal» on the following day at his St. Petersburg office. Notably, Anatoly Serdyukov is the co-founder of the "parish of the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior of Petrogradsky District of St. Petersburg."
The brief mentioning of Boltai-Noga's birthday in the previous conversation has enabled us to identify the man. There is only one person matching all the facts we know about Boltai-Noga (an FSB officer called Sergei, Serdyukov's aide, born on July 25) — General Sergei Korolev. St. Petersburg address database has only one entry matching the criteria: Sergei Borisovich Korolev, born July 25, 1962, in Bishkek, permanent resident of St. Petersburg since 1993. His military service record says «Special Registration.» This category (primary reservists in case of war) applies to officers of security agencies.
How did Serdyukov, Zubkov, and Korolev get involved with the Tambovskaya gang? From 1993 to 2000, Anatoly Serdyukov was deputy CEO of AO Mebel-Market, a joint-stock company based in St. Petersburg. According to The Insider's source at St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the furniture store was taken over illegitimately. As for Serdyukov, he belonged to the «Malyshevskoye Movement» and worked out at the gang's gym. Later on, he sought employment with Zubkov, who was in charge of the State Tax Inspectorate for St. Petersburg in 1993–1999. Korolev, in turn, worked at a private security agency that was handling security for Mebel-Market, which was how the two met.
The Oboronservis scandal and the Spanish case of the Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya gang did nothing to impede Korolev's career. He is known as one of the FSB's most unassailable generals and hardly ever gives interviews. Here are more intercepts on Korolev. He assists Petrov with appointments of the right people — sometimes behind the back of his boss, Serdyukov.
On July 24, Petrov confesses to his son Anton: «A man from the system came to see me. Like Boltai-Noga, he tells a lot of fascinating things.» On July 30, 2007, father and son discuss what business they can start thanks to Korolev's connections.
Gennady Petrov: "I've discussed the possibility of this appointment with Boltai-Noga. He says, 'I can do it, and Tolik <The Insider's note: Anatoly Serdyukov> won't even know.’ But Tolik has left for Yalta for ten days, and he's followed him there. The only thing he needs is a name."
Anton Petrov: "I'll give him the paper. I've got it ready."
Gennady Petrov: "He says, 'I'll have him appointed.' As for the rest, all is well. The Professor is all set… <The Insider's note: Alexander Abramov, co-owner of the Evraz Group.> We also need to make clearing payments for Sochi and for Slavka <Vladislav Reznik>. Make sure to remind him. Apart from that, we discussed supplies, capital development, and shipbuilding. He hasn't looked into shipbuilding yet."
Anton Petrov: "He hasn't been appointed, though. They say someone else might get the post."
Gennady Petrov: "True. As for capital development, it's crystal clear. One of his cronies works there, some general, so he says we can appoint whoever we like. A man above the man. That's something we can work with. He says all he needs is an objective. As soon as he knows what needs to be done, he'll do it. In other words, it's been set in motion... What can we do about the oil? We can't just pick a random man. Say, we pick one, have him appointed, and grease his palm. What next?"
Anton Petrov: "Well, that's what we need him for — to get a better hold of what's going on there... As for procurement... Anything will do."
Gennady Petrov: "How's that, I wonder? That's rambling. We need specifics and prices: the selling price and the buying price."
Anton Petrov: "I'll ask Perets <the Insider's note: Serdyukov's aide> to take a look at how it's done from the inside."
The FSB general is not Petrov's only contact in Russian federal security agencies. Neither is the Chekist Day their only cause for common celebration. On June 12, 2008, Gennady Petrov receives Russia Day greetings from none other than Sergei Ivanovich Litvinenko, the chief prosecutor of St. Petersburg. Litvinenko says he's happy with the appointment of their common friend to the position of aide. Gennady says he will be in St. Petersburg on June 14, so they can pay a visit to their common friend together and offer congratulations on his promotion.
The Chekist Day was very eventful for the Tambovskaya gang. Gennady Petrov was tackling certain issues with the customs «at the very top because no one local would take the responsibility» and received calls from Nail Malyutin and Ilya Traber (read more about the two in our story "They claimed to act in Medvedev's interests»: How mafia laundered money at German shipyards" about the embezzlement of public funds allocated for the development of shipbuilding and the disappearance of said funds in Luxembourg). But that's a whole other story.
To be continued...