SBI: A New Pearl in Avakov’s Crown

Unfounded turned out to be the fears that Iryna Venediktova, a new head of the State Bureau of Investigations, will not be able to cope with her official duties, as she has never in her life dealt with criminal procedure and has no idea about how pre-trial investigation agencies function. Although Iryna Valentynivna, indeed, is to law enforcement what naphthalene is to bakery, she handpicked a team of real professionals whom she put in charge of SBI. The team is led by the home pet of Venediktova—her husband Denys Kolesnyk, the head of the division in the Slobozhansk Office of Cyber Police. Team members include such fine men as Oleksandr Babikov, a former Kharkiv prosecutor and now a lawyer, and Ruslan Biriukov, a police colonel.

In fact, the main burden of reforming SBI has fallen precisely on Ruslan Mykolayovych. And this is not surprising—he’s not a random person, he’s trusted, and since the very founding of the State Bureau of Investigations he’s been chairing the Competition Commission 1 that hires SBI detectives. So, let us talk a little bit more about one of de facto managers of this agency.

Police colonel Ruslan Mykolayovych Biriukov was born on January 7, 1978 in a fine city of Odesa, and, having graduated in 2000 from the Odesa State Academy of Food Technologies, decided to commit himself to economic crime. Having joined the force, four years hence he even got himself a diploma from the Kivalov National Odesa Law Academy majoring in “Economy of Enterprise and Jurisprudence.” Over time, he even acquired a diploma of a candidate of juridical science—luckily, financial standing permitted.

Let Ruslan Mykolayovych forgive us, but if now, after all these years, he starts claiming that in the early 2000s, he abandoned food technologies and took a job as an operative officer at the Department of the State Service on Combating Economic Crime in Odesa Region solely to combat corruption in Odesa Region, we will not believe him. And we’ve got every reason: word is he got his police learning under supervision of the legendary Stub Liuba, officially known as Liubov Yevhenivna Ivchenko, born in 1962, a habitual smuggler and professional “casher” who made money off VAT refunds from fictitious export transactions in the shadow of police caps.

Helping madame Ivchenko in her arduous business was not only beneficial but also honorable. Liubov Yevhenivna was close friends with a daughter of Yuriy Kravchenko, the then Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. And even though Yuriy Fedorovych left his ministerial post in the aftermath of “cassette scandal” soon after Biriukov donned the police uniform, connections of the omnipotent ex-minister and Head of the State Tax Administration provided not only immunity to Stub Liuba but also career development to her friends on the force.

Even Kravchenko’s suicide by two shots in the head and appointment of “Maidan’s field commander” Yuriy Lutsenko a Minister of Internal Affairs in February 2005 had initially no bearing on welfare of Odesa policemen who fed on Ivchenko’s business, as Yuriy Vitaliyovych appointed Mykhailo Vershniak, known for his friendship with Stub Liuba, a head of the regional police department. However, soon enough Ivan Pastushok, a former tax police officer and Liubov Yevhenivna’s long-standing adversary, became Vershniak’s deputy oversighting combatting economic crime.

And then such a struggle for cash flows ensued between Pastushok and policemen catering for Stub Liuba’s smuggling schemes, that if it were not for the help of another famous Odessa resident and Stub Liuba’s business partner—Vadim Oleksandrovych Alperin—Ruslan Biriukov would be now on parole, not a chief of the Competition Commission at SBI.

People of Odesa who envy Ruslan Mykolayovych’s material accomplishments gossip that it was precisely “king of smugglers” Alperin who allegedly helped Biriukov to transfer from the Department of the State Service on Combating Economic Crime to the Department on Combating Organized Crime (DCOC) in Odesa Region, where our hero rose to the deputy head. As proof of this, one recalls hostile takeovers by Alperin with Biriukov’s help: of Scientific Research Institute of Special Casting Methods in 2005-2006 and of Stalkanat in 2009-2010. Not to mention Ruslan Mykolayovych’s luxury cars: he cruised around Odesa in a BMW Alpina.

Indeed, the Declaration about property, incomes, expenses, and liabilities of financial character filed in 2014 by Ruslan Biriukov, the Deputy Head of the DCOC in Odesa Region, states that he uses two 2011 cars, a BMW with 3.5-liter engine and a Land Rover Range Rover Sport with 5.0-liter engine. Also, he possesses two land parcels, a 250 sq.m. hut, a quarter of an 88 sq.m. apartment, and two unspecified real estate items, with a total area of 405 sq.m. and 22 sq.m. respectively (obviously a garage). Not bad for a person who never worked outside law enforcement and earned a very modest paycheck at that.

However, in March of 2015, Ruslan Mykolayovych, now a Deputy Head of the Poltava regional police department, got a little rusty on what exactly he wrote in his own declaration a few days beforehand, and told the reporters that he used only one car, let alone a 2008 one. Although, he named the manufacturer correctly—that is, BMW—adding that the car was registered in his father-in-law’s name.

But already in 2018, Ruslan Mykolayovych, having overcome corrupt tendencies, embarked on a path of righteousness and declared only monetary funds—UAH 400 thsd, $12.1 thsd, and €5.4 thsd in cash, as well as a tiny balance on a bank account. The chief of the Competition Commission 1 of SBI no longer possesses neither real estate property nor cars, and practically the most valuable asset for him is “a precious metal figurine of an angel,” from which we can draw a conclusion that Biriukov bought himself not only a diploma of a candidate of juridical science but a high school diploma as well.

Experience gained by Ruslan Mykolayovych in Odessa is truly unique and perhaps will be used by the State Bureau of Investigations in practical work and scientific and methodological developments. For instance, it would be a crime not to recall Biriukov’s involvement in a story of murdering a Chinese who had been trading at the Seventh-Kilometer Market, and his general participation in establishing a system of illegal taxation of Asians in Odesa.

According to criminal case 10200800039 (of course the case is long closed but Maryna Noselenko, a detective who investigated it, is alive and well), Biriukov and Tselikov—trustees of Vasyl Samokish, the then Head of the DCOC in Odesa Region—along with Tabunshchykov, the Head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Suvorov District Police Department, used an agent of DCOC named Yavorskyi to acquire containers with cargo that China and Vietnam citizens received to sell at the Seventh-Kilometer Market. To that end, Yavorskyi offered the victims to clear these containers, collected all the necessary documents, after which he took containers with him, sold all the cargo, and passed part of the received money to Biriukov. When it came to cargo owners, DCOC agents deported them from Ukraine. Albeit not in every case—if, for some reason, deportation was impossible, Asians were simply murdered. For example, a guy named Van Zhun Zhun went down this way to feed the Black Sea fish.

This event, totally prosaic for the DCOC of Odesa Region, would have never made it to criminal records if only one day Biriukov had not ordered Yavorskyi to teach a lesson to a person named Vranchan who had tried to sell a cargo container owned by a previously deported Chinese citizen to a citizen of Vietnam. Yavorskyi not only taught this Vranchan a lesson but maimed him. Police opened a criminal case regarding grievous bodily harm, and such facts saw the daylight afterwards that Samokish barely managed to close that case…

Actually, the DCOC of Odesa Region can be considered a forge of staff for the “reformed” law enforcement agencies in Ukraine. Indeed: while the former Deputy Head of the DCOC of Odesa Region Ruslan Biriukov now selects employees for the SBI, his predecessor Borys Indychenko, the former Deputy Head of the DCOC of Odesa Region, made a rapid career at the NABU, where he oversees undercover staff employees of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and organizes bribery provocations in order to incriminate public servants. But there is a difference. While Biriukov is assumed to be Alperin’s man, Indychenko since the mid-1990s is a representative of a well-known crime boss Oleksandr Angert.

All this begs the question: how a person so experienced in corruption offences such as Biriukov could make a career on the force after 2014, get vetted, and even assume a responsible position at the SBI? — It is precisely the people’s regime that won in February of 2014 that the likes of Biriukov owe to for their career development.

After the hero of Maidan Arsen Avakov had been appointed a Minister of Internal Affairs, Odesa policemen associated with Alperin entered a golden era. In particular, Oleg Bekh, the Head of the DCOC in Odesa Region, was appointed in February of 2015 a Head of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Poltava Region and, leaving Southern Palmyra, brought along his commercial battle tested deputy Ruslan Biriukov. This is how Biriukov ended up being the Deputy Head of the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Poltava Region, from which position, after establishment of the National Police, he moved to the position of the Deputy Head of the Main Department of the National Police in Poltava Region—and this is considering that during testing in June of 2016 he failed to get the minimum passing score.

And when Bekh got appointed to Avakov’s fiefdom—as a Head of the Main Department of the National Police in Kharkiv Region—naturally, Biriukov ended up in the second capital as well, albeit only as Bekh’s assistant, as no free deputy position was available. How can we not recall an amusing official visit Bekh and Biriukov paid to a Kharkiv Turboatom enterprise “in order for the management of the National Police in Kharkiv Region to learn about enterprise’s technological potential.”

Can you imagine two cops, who only know how to shake the Chinese at the Seventh-Kilometer Market, assessing, during business hours, Turboatom’s technological potential? It’s a joke…

Such a longevity of the duo of two former Odesa DCOD agents is explained very easily. Bekh is a godfather of a child of Avakov’s power broker Ihor Kupranets, the former Head of the Economic Protection Department of the National Police, whose whole employment history is replete with scandals, accusations in money extortion from entrepreneurs, and “covering” illegal business. Therefore, it becomes clear that without involvement of the Minister of Internal Affairs in shadow schemes, Biriukov could join the National Police maybe only as a service dog.

Moreover: rumor has it that Kharkiv native Venediktova herself is a protégé of the omnipotent Minister of Internal Affairs, who currently owns not only the National Police of Ukraine and the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, but also the State Bureau of Investigations. And some foes even attribute to Kupranets an honor of planting covert surveillance equipment in the office of Roman Truba, the former Director of SBI. In fact, thanks to records of conversations from that office, it became possible to remove Truba from his position and appoint Avakov’s people to lead the State Bureau of Investigations. And this is a treat since it refutes the claims that no one cares about all these Ukrainian reforms, in particular, establishing of the State Bureau of Investigations. In fact, there are a few people for whom SBI has already brought much benefits and will likely bring even more in the future.

Андрій Пасічник

Step by step to the light...

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