Alexander Litvinenko: The Uzbek File
OP WHIMBREL – X325 – DRH/51 – Book 20.0047 – Page 1 of 39 SHELF C COMPUTER TABLE ROOM 11 \ DRH/51 DOCUMENT TITLED THE UZBEK FILE
The Uzbek File
In the summer of 1996 after I returned to Moscow from Chechnya I was summoned to see my boss, General Vyacheslav Voloch of the Anti-Terrorist Directorate of FSB, the Federal Security Service. “They are putting Khokholkov in charge of URPO, – he said. – That man is a monster. We should do everything to stop him”. URPO was the acronym for a newly established top-secret unit at FSB, and Evgeny Khokholkov was Voloch’s subordinate turned rival, a colonel in the antiterrorist directorate. Earlier that year Khokholkov masterminded the assassination of Johar Dudaev, the President of the rebellious Chechnya. Dudaev was killed by an air-to-ground missile that homed in on his satellite phone signal. That was a sophisticated operation with many different components involved – from an undercover agent in Dudaev’s entourage to the military intelligence aircraft that fired the shot. The project had a hefty budget, and, when the dust settled, it turned out that nearly a million dollars went missing. Voloch refused to sign the money off, demanding full accounting. But Khokholkov had powerful protectors at the very top. Eventually the matter was papered over to Voloch’s embarrassment. And now Khokholkov would be given his own directorate–URPO–to run, and likely be promoted to full general. In fact the very idea of URPO – a special operations unit that would be allowed to break the law – came up as the result of the Chechen experience. In that undeclared war, secret services enjoyed generous operational freedom: they could detain, interrogate and kill without usual legal constraints. No one would think of saying that Dudaev, who, in theory was a Russian citizen, should have been accorded due process before being hit by a missile. But back in Moscow, scores of legalities were to be observed at every step. So the agency bosses decided that it would be handy to have a fully autonomous, super secret unit to carry out occasional “special tasks” unhindered by legal constraints. Khokholkov was the natural choice for the job. And Volokh was upset that a rival operational division with greater powers than his own was being created. So he gave me a secret assignment – to dig out all the dirt I could find on Khokholkov. I first came across Khokholkov’s name back in 1993 when, as a young operativnik, I had helped unmask a group of corrupt officers. The case involved Deputy Head of my own division Colonel Kostiukov and my immediate boss Lt. Colonel Vaganov
One day I was called to the Reception to meet a complainant, Georgy Okroashvily. He was an oil trader, which by definition meant not a starving man. Georgy told me how a few days earlier, several armed men had tried to abduct him as he was parking his BMW- 850. He pushed the gas pedal, knocked down the garage doors and sped to safety. Vaganov told me to see to it that Georgy was safe. I spent a lot of time with Georgy. We became friendly. He began to trust me, even asked my opinion on business matters. And one day he let it slip that he was an objekt of an FSB case, code name “Mountainman”. ” What do you mean — an objekt?” – I asked. “Well, – he said, – they opened the case on me when it was still KGB”. And he told me, matter-of-factly, as if he was describing his own security team, who were the agents watching him, the informants reporting on him, where the surveillance equipment was placed, and so on. And he did not care one bit. Because, he said, he was “sharing” the proceeds of his considerable business with somebody at the top of the FSB. The money went passes on through my bosses, Kostiukov and Vaganov, he said. I was stunned. I ran to the office and checked out Georgy’s file at the registry. True, he was “Mountainman”. The objekt knows that he is an objekt! That was a major breach. I did not know what to do. In the end I decided to report my discovery to General Anatoly Trofimov. In the whole FSB, he was probably the only person to whom I could go without fear of bumping into a very same conspiracy — Georgy said that the money went “to the top”. Gen. Trofimov was a walking legend. He had cracked the most famous economic and corruption cases dating back to the KGB times. He was regarded uncorrupt able and highly professional, and he enjoyed tremendous respect among the operativniks. So I went to Trofimov and said: “Anatoly Vasilievich, it looks as if a “roof” [a protection ring] is operating in our department. And I am a part of it – unwittingly.” After hearing me out he observed: “What you say is your word against theirs. Can you get a hard proof?.” Some time later Georgy said to me: “Since you have been around I feel secure. You deserve a reward.” I began to protest. “Sure, sure, – he said. They told me not to pay you; they would take care of this. Look, tonight I will be passing some dough, and I will tell them to increase your cut.” I reported the conversation to Trofimov, and he said: “Oh, that’s something. Good work. Take a team and have it recorded”.
17 Nov 1998; Russia, Moscow. Alexander Litvinenko during the press conference given by KGB officers up to the might-have-been murderous assault on Boris Berezovsky. The former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko died in an apparent poisoning in London on 24.11.2006. (Photo by Dmitry Dukhanin/Kommersant)
So we filmed a meeting between Kostiukov and Georgy exactly as it was planned at 3 p.m near the Globus at the Arbat street. The money has changed hands. That was a coup! Trofimov called Surveillance: “No typing. A handwritten report, sealed and handdelivered to me personally”. We began watching the suspects. And that was when I first heard of Khokholkov. The whole ring: Kostiukov, Vaganov, another colonel by the name of Anisimov, all ran to Khokholkov for advise even though he held the lowest rank among them. And all of them had originated from the Uzbek KGB. When the Soviet Union collapsed they were among the officers transferred to Moscow. As the result of that investigation Kostiukov was fired, and Vaganov transferred. However, Khokholkov remained in place–there was no evidence against him. At about the same time another strange espied happened. Our unit was trailing an Uzbek crime boss Salim. On that day he was flying in from Tashkent. As my unit was leaving for the airport to arrest, I ran into Vaganov. “Where are you offto?” – he asked. “To get Selim”, – I said. “Who? Who?” – Vaganov turned around and ran back into his office. The plane landed, but Selim was not there. Later we learned that the plane turned around in mid-air, and Selim got out. Obviously there was a last minute tip-off from Moscow. I suspected that it was Vaganov but of course I had no proof. Yet this suggested that the Uzbek ring in the FSB had a much deeper involvement with the mob than merely protecting the oil business of my friend Georgy. Shortly after I began digging into Khokholkov’s background, a source at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) told me that Moscow City RUOP had an explosive material on Khokholkov. RUOP was the acronym for the Regional Organized Crime Unit of the MVD, and at the time, Moscow cops were virtually at war with FSB operativniks: My division, for example, dug up evidence that RUOP was involved in a protection racket. In the atmosphere ofthose days, I was not at all surprised that the cops were gathering kompromat (compromising material) on the FSB people. But in this case, the material was way out of the ordinary: the source reported that Khokholkov had been videotaped together with major Central Asian crime figures as they gathered to carve up the Russian drug market. The Great White Trail of Afghan drugs to Russia and on to the markets of Northern and Western Europe was the scene of extensive rivalry of several crime groups from former
Soviet republics of Central Asia. By mid-nineties, an Uzbek gang headed by a mobster called Gafur managed to take the leading position. Gafur managed to get on top thanks to his ties with the principal supplier, Abdul Rashid Dustum, an Afghan warlord of Uzbek origin who controlled 80% of narcotics crops in North Afghanistan. Later Dustum became a leader ofNorthern Alliance, and took part in the American war against Tailban, but before Sept. 11 he was considered a gangster and a drug baron. Yet Dustum always enjoyed beat of relations with Uzbek authorities, and ran his business from a lavish house in Tashkent. At the meeting taped by Moscow RUOP the Uzbeks demanded from Tajik gangsters a toll on Russian drug sales and on transit traffic through Russia. “We are paying to our protectors at Russian FSB for all groups. If you refuse there will be problems”. It was then that he introduced Khokholkov as a representative of FSB protectors. According to my informant, the tape was safely kept at Moscow RUOP. This explained why Khokholkov was able to buy a posh Restaurant on Kutuzov Avenue and a country house worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And then the Casino scandal broke out. As they say, if you want to catch a pigeon, pour out some wheat. And if you want to catch a thief, pour out some money. FSB has been setting up “money traps” to lure out criminals for a long time. One of such lures was Casino Leningrad. There, operativniks watched who comes, who talks to whom, who has the money, etc. And they tape everything. As it happened, one night Khokholkov’s showed up, got drunk, and before he left he lost some $120,000 gambling. Of everything that I gathered, Voloch was most interested in the RUOP videotape. But we were not sure of its very existence. To find out, one would need to get to the very top. So he said to me: “You are pals with General Trofimov. Wasn’t it with your help that he cracked the Uzbek ring back in 93’? Why don’t you go talk to him?” By then Trofimov was a three-star general, the Head of Moscow Regional FSB and an Associate Director of the Service. And he was very good personal terms with the newly appointed Director Nikolai Kovaliov When I showed him the Khokholkov file, Trofimov said: “Let us go see the Director”. Kovaliov received us right away.
“Kolya, whom are you promoting? To whom you are giving a Directorate?” fumed Trofimov. Kovaliov was on the defensive: “You know, Tolya, Khokholkov is an asset. After Chechnya, he has fans at the top. I am not alone here, this was the decision of the previous director. Yeltsin has already signed the decree–what can I do?” Out of the office, Anatoly Vasilievich gave me a bewildered look, shook his head, sighed, turned around and walked away. Many months later I told about that episode to a friend from Internal Security, who like myself ended up in a conflict with the Service. He knocked on his temple: “It was a totally wrong idea to go to Kovaliov, – he said. – He was protecting Khokholkov. We had an active investigation of him, but as soon as Kovaliov took over he requested the file for review and then ordered to close the case.” While the meeting at the Director’s office failed to affect Khokholkov’s career, it certainly changed mine. The director remembered me, and, before long, in the same office, he asked me to become his personal agent in Khokholkov’s new Directorate -the URPO. On that day I had an incident with my boss Gen. Voloch. My unit arrested a bandit, a murderer, a contract killer involved with drug traffic groups. We were waiting at his home, and when the suspect showed up, one of my officers tried to handcuff him. The man resisted, hit the officer and ran. The officer fired in the air, and then at the man himself, slightly wounding him. The suspect was taken away in an ambulance, and I was summoned to Voloch. “Why did you start a shootout in town? – he yelled. – Tomorrow there will be newspaper stories! Some cowboys!” I was angry, we did not sleep for two days chasing the suspect. My people were exhausted. And Voloch ordered that no one was to go home before we are all questioned separately by Internal A. So I let it go, yelled back at Voloch, slammed the door and went straight to the Directors Suite. When a regular officer asks to see the Director personally, a smart director would always see him because the matter cannot be trivial. And Kovaliov was a smart director. Besides, Kovaliov had known me even before the meeting with Trofimov and I had a feeling that he liked me.
I laid out my case: my people apprehended a gangster, who resisted so we had to use a weapon. Even the prosecutor did not find anything wrong whereas Voloch, who would do better by thanking us for a job well done started an internal inquiry. I never let my people down. If he does not back off, I’ll resign. “Who did the shooting?” – asked Kovaliov. “Lt. Colonel Gorshkov. A most experienced operativnik. Twenty-year veteran in the police before coming to us. Twice wounded. Eight shootings. Never misses. Several kills”. Kovaliov was impressed: “Eight times? That’s something. And this is your team?” “Yes, sir”. “We need such people, – he said. – You will be transferred to URPO. Take the whole team with you.” I was speechless. How shall I go there, I thought, after I have brought to him all the kompromat on Khokholkov. And he was like reading my mind: “Forget about Khokholkov. We checked him out. There is nothing there. But it would not harm if I had my own man keeping an eye on him in URPO. Dou you mind? Agree? Call any time.” What could I do? That was an order. I could not say: “No, comrade Director, I do not want to work with Khokholkov”. He knew perfectly well what I thought of my new boss, and did this on purpose, no doubt. But Khokholkov did not suspect anything: not about my conversation with Director, not the Voloch report, nor my role in the 1993 investigation. Otherwise he would not have given me a delicate assignment, my first at URPO. Khokholkov asked me to “establish”, i.e. collect operative data — the address, telephone numbers, contacts, movements, habits, etc.—on a mid-level criminal figure Nanay who had been spotted at Casino Leningrad. I took the trail and soon enough ran into a character called Bluebird, who, I was told, knew how to locate Nanay. Bluebird was known to everyone as a fashion designer but, it turned out, he was and undercover officer, one oftheir Moscow assets ofthe Army Intelligence GRU. For a while, Bluebird and myself were checking each other out. After a certain level of trust was established, Bluebird said that he could help me find Nanay, who apparently was his informant. But first he wanted to know why I was looking for him, and what were my credentials.
So, before going ahead, I needed to formally register this investigation, assign a case code, etc. But Khokholkov said: “No, no. Just find out where Nanay is and let me know. No records, no documents, no one else should know. Just oral reports to me personally.” I went back to Bluebird. “I do not like the smell of it, – he said. – Nanay is on the run. He is moving constantly. Someone at FSB hunts him for. Maybe you even know him”. “Tell me more”, I said. “A general called Zhenya. A bulky guy.” Well, I thought, Khokholkov’s name is Zhenya, short for Evgeny, and he is big. “And why does Zhenya look for Nanay?” “Because Zhenya, has arranged for Nanay to realize a shipment of dope from Uzbekistan, but Nanay got conned out of it, and now Zhenya wants Nanay to repay $200,000 to his Uzbek friends. And Nanay wants to split it 50/50 with Zhenya because it was a joint venture and they shared the risk.” Of course I did not tell Khokholkov about the dope and the Uzbek connection. I just said: “Nanay cannot be established. He is on the run. What I can do, is to arrange a meeting with him and put watchers on his tail.” “That’s good, – he said. – And how did you find him?” “Through a source”. “Who is the source?” “Well, someone from Casino Laningrad”, – I said. I knew that Khokholkov knew all about the place. “You know what? – said Khokholkov.- Just forget about it. No need to go any further. I’ll take care of it myself. And if you see your source, tell him to tell Nanay that he should close the issue with the Uzbeks. That’s it”. Thus, everything checked: the Uzbeks, the drugs, and the money. Six months later, when the Procurator General looked at the “URPO Affair”, I told about the Nanay episode to the investigator. As I was leaving the Prosecutor offices, I saw Bluebird waiting for me in the street. “Why are you dragging me into this? – he said. – You lost your mind, but I am still sane. You think I don’t know who Zhenya was? I met his Uzbek friends. These are killers. They have eyes of glass. I do not want to end up in River Moscow. You are a nut. And your generals are gangsters. Didn’t you know?”
The Uzbek video of Khokholkov surfaced at the crucial moment of hostilities as a counterblow of RUOP against URPO. The incident started with the racket of merchant Aliokhin, who ran a large store near the Three Rail Stations. Shortly after his store opened for business, a man came and said that he controlled the neighborhood, and all businesses had to pay a fee. Aliokhin refused. The next day several guys dragged him into a car and brought him to an office at Obrucheva St. A man was sitting at the table. He showed him his badge and said: “I am colonel Yurshevich of Moscow RUOP, Chief of Rapid Deployment Squad. And you will pay what you are told, or else you’ll have problems”. Aliokhin agreed: “If you are the police, then of course’. And started giving them $5000 a month. After a while they came again and said: “Your fee has been raised to seven grand”. Aliokhin began giving them seven. Then they raised it to nine. He paid. Then to fifteen. At that point he protested: “This will put me out of business!” But they only got angry: “We have a very similar store, which pays fifteen. You are hiding profits from us. You are a liar, a thief. So, on top ofthe monthly fifteen you are fined forty-five one-time”. Aliokhin: “I can’t”. They said: “You wait”. That evening they broke into his house, turned it inside out looking for money, beat him up, and left taking with them his wife’sjewelry and the deed on his house. At that point Aliokhin ran for help to his shareholder who he knew worked at the FSB. That’s how his case came to me. So we began “establishing” the thugs. It was no trouble to figure out that they belonged to the Ryazan gang, a well-known criminal group. Soon we caught one of them and it turned out that he was a member of Yurshevich’s squad. The man walked around Moscow with a police officer ID and moonlighted as an enforcer of a protection racket! Next we established the vehicle that was used to visit Aliokhin. The car was registered to a commercial company that initially looked as if it was an undercover operational front of RUOP. The car was equipped with police emergency lights, a siren and had a special registration talon making it off limits of the traffic police. When we came to the registration address, a bulky guard opened the door, a Georgian with no Moscow residence permit. In an adjoining room we found the owner with two young girls, one underage. Both had marks of physical abuse and said that they were being raped for the past two days.
We summoned the local police with a search warrant. The men were brought to a police station, the girls filed a rape complaint, and a local investigater began questioning. Then a remarkable thing happened. A prominent Moscow lawyer showed up, but instead of dealing with his client’s situation, he told us that for the past three years Yurshevich has been forcing him to provide legal services to companies he had under protection, without pay. Moreover, he said, Yurshevich intimidated him into participating in illegal activities. But he wanted to take the opportunity to come clean. The lawyer told us about massive involvement of RUOP with the Ryazan gang, cited many instances of specific crimes committed. His evidence implicated General Nikolai Klimkin, the Head of Moscow RUOP and high officials at the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The police investigator was pale as a sheet of paper: “Please take him away from here. I’ 11 sign the transfer. I do not want to hear this, I am afraid.” So I took the lawyer to the Lubyanka FSB headquarters and taped his testimony. Among other things he described a shootout with another gang at the central square of a provincial town about 100 miles west of Moscow. The dispute had to do with privatization of a local porcelain plant. A wounded member of the Yurshevich squad was brought back to Moscow and treated at a location, whose address the lawyer happened to remember. I immediately sent a team to check the place out. It turned out to be an underground brothel. A bar, a small dancing floor, a sauna, several private cabins and a medical room fully equipped for gynecological checkups. We put the place under surveillance and sure enough got a spectacular list of patrons – the top brass of RUOP, the Moscow police headquarters and the Interior ministry. The case was complete. Everything was ready for the prosecutor, but I felt a certain uneasiness about bringing it to Khokholkov for signature. And then suddenly Khokholkov got sick, and I ran to one of his deputies, and he signed off the case. As soon as the prosecutors got the material, we put a tap on RUOP phones. And we learned more… A call to the police station: “Osipov [deputy chief of RUOP] collects money for a birthday gift to Deputy Minister. One grand per station”. For some 100 stations in Moscow that would come up $100,000, we thought. Then a station chief calls back. He cannot make a deadline. “What? – goes RUOP. – You cannot get a thousand from all your kiosks? That’s bull. Squeeze the merchants!” From those wiretaps we figured out that Deputy Chief Osipov had its own racket – a joint venture with a gang of Dagestanis. They protected all Moscow fresh produce markets
in Moscow with all associated drug retail. The dope was imported Central America, disguised as bananas, under credit from Moscow City Government. To sum it up, this investigation revealed a far-flung criminal network, with Moscow RUOP in the center, branching out into several interregional organized crime groups. Our trail started with a common rape, went on to a protection racket operated by Ryazan gangsters, then led to Moscow RUOP, ending up at the office of the Minister of Internal Affairs, It was at that moment that the Uzbek video came into play. Two officers from RUOP showed up at our Reception and asked to speak to Khokholkov. But Khokholkov was at a hospital, so they saw his deputy, General Makarychev. The message was simple: “Stop it. Cool it down. We, too, have stuff on you. Who needs a war?” And they showed him the tape. And another tape where Gafur gives money to Khokholkov. The next day Khokholkov interrupted his treatment and came to the office. He yelled at me: “What did you do? Who authorized this? Why did you go to prosecutors? Get the case back!” And they recalled the case from the prosecutors and, ironically, sent it to RUOP under some weird interagency agreement. I never saw that material again. Most of the criminals still walk. Only one Ryazan bandit was convicted for murder. Yurshevich was allowed to quietly slip out to Turkey, with much of his money. As for me, I never felt more betrayed. For operativnik there can be no harder blow than taking away the quarry when it was just about to be snatched up. But unlike 1993, there was no place where I could turn for help. Kovaliov said “forget Khokholkov”. And Trofimov would not try it for the second time. Nevertheless I continued to quietly watch for Uzbek contacts in Moscow and even kept a file on them, which ! showed to no one. Shortly afterwards, I myself became the center of a scandal. URPO was ordered to start planning for assassination of Boris Berezovsky, the entrepreneur-turned-politician who was close to President Yeltsin. I, five officers of my unit refused to carry out orders. Instead, we went to Berezovsky and warned him about the plot and. This time I did go to Kovaliev seeking his support. But instead of backing me, Kovaliev pressured us to withdraw our complaints and suspended the whole group. But it was too late. Berezovsky was pulling all his strings at the Kremlin. The prosecutors started an investigation. Within a few weeks, URPO was dissolved and Khokholkov transferred. And then Yeltsin fired Kovaliov and appointed Vladimir Putin as the Director of FSB. 10
Putin’s appointment was a shock to everyone. Unlike Kovaliov, who rose through the ranks to a three star general, Putin was a little known colonel of the reserves working for the Kremlin Administration. Everyone considered him a Berezovsky puppet. The consensus among the operativniks was that the new Director would not last long. He will be rejected by the system. One day Berezovsky called me. “Alexander, could you go to Putin, and tell him everything that you have told me? And everything that you have not. He is a new man, you know, and would benefit from an insider’s view”. I was surprised. The Director of FSB surely could find me if he wanted to see me. Nevertheless I called his office. “Litvinenko? – asked his secretary. – We have been looking for you. They tell us there is no such officer.” That was it, I thought, the system resists a newcomer. “I am on suspension”, – I said ” Come tomorrow morning. The Director will see you.” For the better part of that night I was drawing a scheme for Putin. It contained all I knew about organized crime and corruption. Principal mob groups, with their areas of activity. Each had arrows leading to connections in the government, the FSB, the Interior ministry, the Tax Service. More errors pointed to commercial companies used for money laundering. I also brought the Uzbek file listing all their branches and contacts in Russia, Afghanistan, Central Asia, USA and Europe detailing the trail ofdrugs from Gen. Dustum’s fields in Afghanistan. The protection ring in the FSB was highlighted. In addition to the drug traffic, the Uzbek group had a second area of specialization – sport and entertainment. Gaur’s money was behind the careers of many Russian and international stars. Gafur’s two top lieutenants – Alisher in Moscow, and Taivanchik in Western Europe were major patrons of arts and sports. [Three years later Taivanchik will make headlines when he gets arrested for fixing Olympic figure skating competition]. The connection lines led to two former Ministers of Sports, one ofwhom was on the FBI list and could not even enter the US as a member of the Russian Government. The highest-ranking Uzbek contact in the government was Sergey Yasterzhembsky, former Yeltsin’s press secretary. He has been on Gafur’s payroll for years. When he was Ambassador to Prague Yasterzhembsky’s relatively modest Moscow’s apartment was “rented” to Alisher for an
unheard of price of $5000 per month. And later Alisher paid contractors who built Yasterzhembsky’s dacha at the posh area ofSokolinaya Gora. I arrived with two colleagues but Putin wanted to see me alone. It must be incredibly tough for him, I thought. We were of the same rank and I imagined myself in his shoes–a mid-level operativnik suddenly put in charge ofsome hundred senior generals with all their vested interests, connections and dirty secrets. I did not know how to salute him. Should I say “Comrade Colonel” as was required by the code? But that would sound awkward in Kovaliev’s office. Or “Comrade Director”, which sounded even stranger? But he preempted me–came up from his desk, shook my hand. He seemed even shorter than on TV. From the first moment I felt that he was not sincere. He avoided eye contact and behaved as if he was not the Director but an actor playing the Director’s role on stage. He looked at my schematic, made some face movements as if he was studying it for a couple of minutes. Asked a couple of questions: “What is this? What is that?” – pointing at a random points in the scheme. But he obviously could not grasp the details in that short while. ’”’Why is he doing that? – I thought. – Is he trying to impress me?”. “Would you like to keep the scheme?” – I asked. “No, no, thank you. You keep it. It’s your work”. He displayed more interest in the Uzbek file, particularly Yasterzhembsky. “Yes. Yes, he said – I also have stuff on Yasterzhembsky”. I gave him a list of names, and said: “These officers are clean. I know for sure that you can rely on them in your war on corruption”. Number one on the list was Trofimov. “There are honest people in the system, – I said, – We could bring the situation under control.” He nodded, acting full agreement. Took the list, kept the Uzbek file. Said we’ll keep in touch. Took my home number. But he never called. Many months later I got a chance to study my own file and I learned that he ordered Internal Affairs to start a criminal case against me right after that meeting. And he made Yasterzhembsky his close assistant! I also regretted that I gave him Trofimov’s name. He was not asked to, and I am afraid that it sealed his fate. Shortly afterwards, Putin sent him on retirement saying: “General Trofimov does not fit with the new team”. Trofimov sensed that himself. Our last encounter was on the day of Putin’s appointment. He said: “Tell Berezovsky that they lost their minds in the Kremlin! Why did they bring that man? Don’t they understand what is going on in St. Petersburg–they are all gangsters!” I passed his words to Berezovsky and
they met. I did not know what they talked about but fore seeing Putin I asked Berezovsky: “What about Anatoly Vasilyevich’s concerns?” “Never mind,- he said. – We agreed to disagree. I trust Putin, go to him and tell him everything you know”. Shortly afterwards I was fired from the FSB. In one of the last days, my former boss at the Antiterrorist Center, Lt. General Ivan Mironov went to Putin to put in a word in my behalf. After returning from the Director, he looked at me, shook his head and said: “I do not envy you, Alexander. There is common money involved” I did not understand then. Now I do. He was referring to Khokholkov, his dealings with the Uzbek gang and the drugs. This understanding came to me many months later, after I was released from jail. Putin’s connection with the Khokholkov team dated back to the time when he was a Deputy Mayor for Economic Affairs at the St. Petersburg administration ofAnatoly Sobchak. I had my own informer in St. Petes’s city hall, by the name of David Dvali. He watched criminal connections of city officials. When Sobchak lost the elections, Putin lost his job. One day David had a beer with him. Putin was down and out and could not get hold of the money he had stashed away -he was under surveillance by the new Mayor’s people. David took a pity on him and gave him $2000 as “an open-ended” loan. When Putin became president, he replayed David by appointing him an economic advisor. When after spending a year in jail I was released pending trial, David came to see me. “Putin will squash you, – he said. – and no one can help you. He has no choice because he had been working in St.Petes with the Uzbek group. There is lots of common money there”. “Common money”, I thought, the same words used by Gen. Sobolev a year earlier. I could not believe that Putin has been directly linked with the mob. David smiled: “Remember, the metal smuggling in early 90ies. Putin was in charge of export licencing. You worked on organized crime? Tell me, could anyone export a kilo of metal in those days without the mob? They would blow up the whole train. And he was right at the center of it all. All his licensees were mob fronts.” The two of us were talking at a restaurant. Then two of my pals joined in, but David continued: “Volodya fell for power very quickly. Look, when Yeltsin drove to the Kremlin, only one traffic line was cleared. And for Volodya they close down the whole highway. He
is not fit for power. He has no political skills, and a certain …weird way of thinking. He is dangerous.” David got drunk and lost control of himself. I took him out to the lobby. “Are you crazy? – I said. – All of this with be at the FSB tomorrow morning. Don’t you know that I am watched.”But it was too late. Three weeks after that conversation, David was killed by a hit man from a passing bicycle. A direct hit at close range. I learned about it from TV. A presidential aide has been shot. One of many during the past decade …. Concluding this story I foresee an explosion of protests about my unsubstitatiated allegations that President Putin is personally involved at least in a cover-up of organized criminal activities connected with drug traffic in Russia and Europe. They will demand hard proo£ But I am not going to prove anything. I am an operativnik, not a prosecutor. My job is to collect operative information, and analyze it. What is my data so far? First: two independent sources report that the suspect – call him Mr. P – has “common money” with a certain Khokholkov from FSB, a.k.a. General Zhenya. One of the sources gets killed as soon as our connection is compromised. Second: Khokholkov protects the Uzbek drug organization. He lives lavishly, can afford losing $120,000 gambling in one shot. Next: Mr. P. protects Khokholkov. He neutralizes his internal opponents. He also has an aide, Yasterzhembsky, who is on Uzbek gang’s payroll. Further: Mr. P is fully aware that Khokholkov and Yasterzhembsky are involved with narkomafia. Furthermore: when the crimes were committed, Mr. P. held the key position in the city hall of a northern metropolis, known as Russia’s Gateway to Europe. Much of the drug transit went through his town. This gave him a perfect opportunity to be of tremendous value to the Uzbek friends of his friends Khokholkov and Yasterzhembsky. As an operativnik I have every reason to suspect Mr. P. at least in criminal complicity. What is unusual about that? – in my time I had seen hundreds of similar situations. Surely, Mr. P happens to be the President of Russia. But the crimes were committed at the time when he was just a deputy Mayor of St. Petes. Ifa Deputy Mayor of, say, Yekaterinburg is caught with drugs, no one will be surprised. That would not be out of the ordinary.
Of course all the information on Mr. P is indirect and is based on operative investigation, so it cannot be used in a court of law. And of course, if Mr. P were not the President, I would not have publicized it, but would open a case against him, and had him brought in for questioning. And if my suspicions were confirmed, he would end up in jail. But he is the President, and there is no possibility of investigating him. He is accountable by a different standard. So he must respond to my questions before the public. But first, I would like to see what will happen to the newspaper that would put this story in print.
OP WHIMBREL – X325 – DRH/51 – Book 20.0047 – Page 1 of 39 SHELF C COMPUTER TABLE ROOM 11 \ DRH/51 DOCUMENT TITLED THE UZBEK FILE