ТОП 10:

New Law Gets Test Run With Chichvarkin

By Kristina Mikulova

Moscow – A law allowing defendants to plea bargain for lighter sentences appears to have been applied for the first time in the high-profile case against fugitive cell phone tycoon Yevgeny Chichvarkin – much to the consternation of its co-author, Alexander Lebedev.

“It’s like a scalpel,” former State Duma Deputy Lebedev wrote of the law on his blog Friday. “It can save people from death, but it can also kill them. I’m sorry, Yevgeny.”

Investigators used the law, which was passed in June and designed to fight organized crime, to bolster their case against former Yevroset chief Chichvarkin, who is on the most-wanted lists of both the Russian police and Interpol on charges of kidnapping and extortion.

Sergei Katorgin, one of eight Yevroset employees accused in what seems to be the Kremlin’s latest manhunt for a leading businessman, purportedly made a deal with investigators to supply evidence against Chichvarkin in exchange for having his sentence reduced by a third. Two more suspects, who have not been identified, have also agreed to testify for lighter sentences, Kommersant reported.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said by telephone that he would not confirm or deny the plea bargains. The committee closed its investigation into the Yevroset case on Friday.

The law on plea bargains was passed amid pledges by Russian authorities to use it to fight organized crime, as is common in Western Europe and the United States.

“This law was needed to bring to light those ordering assassinations, dealing drugs or breeding corruption,” Lebedev wrote on his LiveJournal blog.

Instead, the authorities swiftly applied the law to the Chichvarkin case.

“I never imagined such a precedent for my law,” said Lebedev, a former United Russia member and wealthy businessman who has become a vocal critic of the establishment. His assets include a third of state airline Aeroflot and 90 percent of Novaya Gazeta, the opposition newspaper.

Calls to Lebedev for additional comment went unanswered.

Murad Musayev, a defense lawyer in the case of slain Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, does not share Lebedev worries. “I don’t see anything dangerous in the application of this law in a kidnapping case, even if the suspect is a businessman,” he told The St. Petersburg Times. “It would be a problem if the prosecutors tried to bribe the witness to testify.”

Musayev noted that plea bargain deals have been offered before, only informally. “The fact that they have been legally defined is only positive,” he said.

Chichvarkin, the 34-year-old cofounder of Yevroset, Russia’s largest mobile phone retailer, faces charges that he participated in the 2003 abduction of the firm’s shipping agent, Andrei Vlaskin, who had purportedly stolen large quantities of mobile phones, as well as the extortion of money from him. In July, prosecutors added a charge of lying to investigators. If tried and convicted, Chichvarkin faces up to 20 years in prison.

“I am absolutely innocent, and I will be proving it to the court.”


Words to be memorized:


Allowing – позволяющий

Defendant – обвиняемый

To plea bargain – просить снисхождения

Against – против

Fugitive – скрывающийся

Tycoon –магнат

Consternation – ужас, испуг

Former – бывший

Investigator – следователь

To be designed – быть предназначенным

To bolster – поддерживать

List – список

On charge – по обвинению

Extortion – вымогательство

Manhunt – преследование

Purportedly – намеренно

Evidence – улики

To reduce – сокращать

Suspect – подозреваемый

To testify – свидетельствовать

To confirm – подтверждать

To deny – отрицать

Pledge – обещание

Assassination – заказное убийство

Instead – вместо этого

Asset – имущество, доход

Slain – убитый

To share – разделять

To bribe – подкупать

Abduction -похищение



I. Answer the questions:


1) When was a law allowing defendants to plea bargain for lighter sentences applied for the first time?

2) Why is former Yevroset chief Chichvarkin on the most wanted lists of the Russian police and Interpol?

3) How did Russian authorities use the law on plea bargains passed amid pledges?

4. What is Lebedev whose assets include a third of state airline Aeroflot and 90 percent of Novaya Gazeta?

5) What did the firm’s shipping agent, Andrei Vlaskin, steal purportedly from Chichvarkin, a co-founder of Yevroset?


II. Translate from Russian into English:


1) Сергей Каторгин намеренно вел дела со следователями, чтобы собирать для них улики против Чичваркина в обмен на сокращение срока своего приговора на треть.

2) Еще два подозреваемых также согласились свидетельствовать ради смягчения приговора, как сообщила газета «Коммерсант».

3) В Западной Европе и Соединенных Штатах используется право просьбы о снисхождении для борьбы с организованной преступностью.

4) Лебедев, бывший член Объединенной России и зажиточный бизнесмен, представить себе не мог о существовании такого права.

5) Адвокат защиты по делу убитой журналистки Анны Политковской из Новой Газеты не разделяет опасений Лебедева.




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