Suspect in the Ilya Bogdanov "kidnapping" case: I still do not understand what I am accused of

Suspect in the Ilya Bogdanov "kidnapping" case: I still do not understand what I am accused of

In November 2016 the Security Service of Ukraine staged the kidnapping of Ilya Bogdanov - who was presented to the media as an "FSB officer" who had switched to the side of Ukraine - allegedly by the special services of the Russian Federation. Similar to the case with the "murder" of the journalist Arkady Babchenko in May 2018, the case of Bogdanov's "kidnapping" received a considerable public response after a press conference of the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasily Gritsak and the Prosecutor-General Yury Lutsenko. Inconsistences in the case of Bogdanov immediately arose suspicion that the abduction was staged. Later he, in numerous interviews and also while testifying in court, confirmed the fake nature of the kidnapping.

Now Ilya Bogdanov is a Kiev restaurateur. He found the money to open his own business immediately after the staged kidnapping, although he had previously worked as a driver and an employee of a car wash. And the Kharkov citizen Andrey Guryev - a person who is accused of participating in the abduction under the article "human trafficking" – has spent more than 2.5 years in a pre-trial detention center without a court verdict.

"Uspishna Varta" visited the court hearing on the case of Andrey Guryev on May 13th in Kharkov and communicated with his lawyer Valery Yarichevsky in more detail in order to understand this case.

WHO IS THE "FSB OFFICER" ILYA BOGDANOV

"FSB officer" Ilya Bogdanov obtained Ukrainian citizenship in 2015

Up to 2014 the citizen of Russia Ilya Bogdanov worked as a state control inspector in the sphere of protecting marine biological resources in Vladivostok (Russia). According to other information (the website "Meduza"), he worked for the leadership of the FSB Border Service at Primorsky Krai and had the rank of Lieutenant.

In July 2014 Bogdanov deserted to Ukraine. This was declared by the Head of the Information Department of the National Guard (and later – the head of the Ministry of Information Policy) Yury Stets. Information about the "FSB officer who came over to the side of Ukraine" Bogdanov was widely relayed in the Ukrainian media against the background of the intensifying conflict in Donbass and forced anti-Russian sentiment in Ukrainian society.

In order to meet the request of this agenda, which is officially supported by the new Ukrainian government, back then Bogdanov explained in his video message featuring his interviews that he could not watch from his house in Vladivostok any more the "lies of Russian propaganda media that poured onto Ukraine", and that he came here as an ordinary volunteer to render feasible help in the "termination of civil war".

According to the information of the "BBC Ukrainian service", Bogdanov joined the ranks of the voluntary “Donbass” and the nationalist “Right Sector” battalions. In one interview he emphasised that he is a convinced ultra-nationalist and therefore decided to ask to volunteer for the Azov battalion: "because this ultra-right battalion is his own company".

The Ukrainian website "Radio Svoboda" specified that Ilya Bogdanov, a convinced Russian nationalist, crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border ("I just gave 500 rubles to the border guard, and I was allowed to pass"), arrived to Kiev and addressed to the Security Service of Ukraine with a proposal to "render feasible help in the termination of civil war that the anti-people Putin regime tries to start".

According to the Russian media, in Russia a criminal case was initiated against Ilya Bogdanov under the articles "making appeals to carry out extremist activity", "organising the activity of an extremist organization", and "desertion".

In March 2015 the president Petro Poroshenko granted Ilya Bogdanov Ukrainian citizenship.

GRITSAK-LUTSENKO'S PRESS CONFERENCE IN NOVEMBER 2016

On November 14th 2016 the police of Kiev declared that Ilya Bogdanov had disappeared without a trace. It was reported that the friends and acquaintances of Bogdanov had contacted the police of Kiev and said that the last time they communicated with him was on November 12th, and since then there has been no contact and his whereabouts is unknown.

It is necessary to emphasize that the SBU in January 2015 already reported that an attempt to assassinate Bogdanov was allegedly being prepared. Back then the killer who was allegedly recruited by Russian FSB officers was detained. A sentence was pronounced to him by the Kievsky district court of Kharkov in October 2015. This person (their name was not specified) was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment.

On November 18th 2016, six days after Ilya Bogdanov's "disappearance", the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasily Gritsak and the Prosecutor-General Yury Lutsenko at a joint briefing said that the Security Service of Ukraine and other law enforcement bodies prevented an attempt to assassinate the Russian blogger and former Russian FSB officer Ilya Bogdanov.

"The operation that we performed is connected to the activity of an organized group that was led from other country, I will say nothing surprising - from Russia, and intended to kill the person," reported Gritsak. According to the SBU, the killer who planned the assassination attempt is an employee of the FSB.

Bogdanov (like Arkady Babchenko two years later) personally came to a briefing of Gritsak and Lutsenko.

On November 18th 2016 there was a briefing of the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasily Gritsak and the head of the Prosecutor-General’s Office Yury Lutsenko with Ilya Bogdanov's participation after his "kidnapping"

At a briefing Vasily Gritsak also said that the SBU has uncovered the entire chain of the criminal scheme: the collaborators of the kidnapping who were supposed to transport Bogdanov across the border are two Ukrainian citizens. The clients of the kidnapping are the Main Department of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and the FSB of Russia. The organiser of the kidnapping is a businessman recruited two years ago - the former deputy of the Kharkov Regional Council Vladimir Rossokha. According to Gritsak's statement, "The Security Service of Ukraine brought together all the necessary evidential base concerning the preparation and commission of a kidnapping, including recordings of negotiations between all participants of the crime - from the clients to the performers".

At a briefing a video showing the detention of the "kidnappers" of Ilya Bogdanov was also shown.

The video published by the SBU shows a recorded confession of Vladimir Rossokha and also one of his "accomplices" with a censored face. The video of the "detentions" has an obvious staged character, which was confirmed later by Bogdanov in a later interview.

How and why the kidnapping of ILYA BOGDANOV was staged

From the numerous later interviews of Ilya Bogdanov with journalists, it became known that the special services of the Russian Federation, in addition to him, allegedly "were supposed to kidnap about 30 more people" (direct analogy with the performance put on by Babchenko).

The first who reported about his disappearance was his friend Anton (like in the case with Babchenko, whose "murder" was reported by his friend Ayder Mudzhabayev) – in comment to the “1+1” TV channel (see the program), he said that it was necessary to cause noise in order to "lure other people, from that side".

According to Ilya Bogdanov (see his interview with Ukrinform), a girl contacted him and reported that her father (relative) Vladimir Rossokha wants to help Bogdanov with business development (selling Korean pies). This is allegedly how he earned Bogdanov’s trust for the purpose of later kidnapping him at the request of the special services of the Russian Federation. According to Bogdanov's words, he initially knew that it was a staged kidnapping.

"Once I was summoned by the leadership of the National Police, they showed me a photo: ‘There is information that this person received an order from Russia for your kidnapping’. I recognised him immediately: not so long ago this man contacted me himself and suggested to help with the organisation of a restaurant business — already back then my project ‘Pigodi Bar’ was born. He seemed like a very progressive person. Frankly speaking, I couldn’t even believe [in my kidnapping]. ‘You can turn around and leave now, but it can happen that you will be just killed in a dark corner. But you are generally needed by them alive’ — police officers informed me. They then suggested participating in a special operation for the detention of the kidnappers. Live bait, so to say," said Ilya Bogdanov in another interview, describing the situation.

After the detention in Kiev of Vladimir Rossokha during an alleged attempt to kidnap Bogdanov, they were taken together via a military airplane to Kharkov where Bogdanov's alleged "transfer" to the Russian side was supposed to take place.

"At night we found ourselves in a private house near Kharkov, where he was supposed to keep me in the basement and reach an agreement on a transfer. Rossokha agreed to cooperate surprisingly quickly — he was tempted by the possibility of a mitigation of the punishment. He entered the role offered by SBU members: he continued to hold negotiations as if nothing had happened, insisting that I was taken away as soon as possible, as if supposedly it is necessary to continue work. These negotiations resulted in the existence of a whole list of candidates for export to the neighbouring country - about 30-40 persons. He said that the performers are reliable, and that it is possible to continue to use them. I heard more than a half of conversations over a public address system. Once I for sure recognised by voice that a high-ranking Russian soldier was talking, maybe, even my chief from the FSB," reported Bogdanov in an interview.

Proceeding from Bogdanov’s description of the situation, Rossokha also could quite be a participant of the SBU’s staged performance.

"However he [Rossokha - ed] was kept almost all the time without handcuffs. For example, he could say ‘Do not cuff me to a bed, it is uncomfortable for me to sleep like this’, and his whims were carried out! Only for the third day it was succeeded to achieve that he was cuffed at least for the night. And the house was full of weapons, rifles, and pistols. Of course, someone from the security guards was on duty. But I all the same could not sleep peacefully," said Bogdanov in the same interview.

In Kharkov two "smugglers" - who allegedly were supposed to bring Bogdanov to Russia and transfer him to FSB agents – came to the house where Bogdanov and Rossokha were, (according to the words of the “kidnapped"). They were detained at the time of the meeting with Bogdanov in this house.

At the same time, Ilya Bogdanov himself confirmed in an interview that the video of the detention of his "kidnappers" published by the SBU was staged "during the carrying out of an investigative examination".

VERSION OF "kidnappers": THE CASE OF ANDREY GURYEV

According to the statement of the SBU concerning the case of Bogdanov's "kidnapping" in November 2016, three citizens of Ukraine - Vladimir Rossokha and also two of his "accomplices" whose names were not revealed - were detained.

One of the defendants in this case - the resident of Kharkov Andrey Guryev - contacted the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta" in order to describe his version of events and the circumstances of this "kidnapping". The coordinator of "Uspishna Varta" also communicated with the lawyer Valery Yarichevsky, who is representing Guryev's interests. We publish their version of this "kidnapping".

THE SUSPECT OF ILYA BOGDANOV'S "KIDNAPPING" GAVE HIS VERSION OF EVENTS

The resident of Kharkov Andrey Guryev was detained on November 16th 2016 in Kharkov by the staff of the prosecutor's office of the city of Kiev, the SBU of the Kharkov region, and also the Security Service of Ukraine.

According to Guryev, he did not see nor know either Ilya Bogdanov or Vladimir Rossokha until this day. Guryev claims that his acquaintance contacted him with a proposal to earn money, by accompanying people in his own car to one of the settlements of the Kharkov region. According to Guryev, this acquaintance was also presumably earlier recruited by the SBU.

"I have no relation to Bogdanov's case. The investigation didn’t determine either the time or the place of the commission of any offenses by me. I was attracted to this case by my acquaintance, who called me and asked to help his friends. As it later turned out, this acquaintance was detained by the prosecutor's office of the city of Kiev (or the police). In reality, the circumstances of the case didn’t exist. There was a staged performance for the purpose of creating a public response," said Andrey Guryev in comment to human rights activists during the court hearing on May 13th 2019.

Guryev came to the hearing, where he was expected by Vladimir Rossokha and an employee of the SBU, via the car of another acquaintance – Eduard Savelyev.

"These people [Rossokha and the employee of the SBU – ed] suggested to Guryev to transfer the incapacitated person (“killed”, according to them), which Guryev refused to do and left. According to the case papers, the staff of the SBU at that moment did not even identify him. Later his acquaintance again called him with pretentions, and once again asked to take these people away. According to Guryev, at that moment he did not work anywhere. He has a wife and 4 children, and he was offered a transportation side job. For him it was a way of earning money, and he agreed," said the lawyer Valery Yarichevsky, explaining Guryev's motives.

Having met for the second time Rossokha and the employee of the SBU, they went to a certain house in the settlement of Solonitsevka in the Dergachevsky district of the Kharkov region. Savelyev remained in the car, and Guryev was brought to the second floor, where Ilya Bogdanov was sat with a rag (sack) on his face. Having seen him with a sack, Guryev was going to leave, but was detained by the staff of the SBU.

After Guryev's detention, his friend Eduard Savelyev (via whose car they came) was also dragged upwards. Ilya Bogdanov ran up to him and started to kick Eduard Savelyev in the head and break his fingers. The employees of the SBU dragged Bogdanov away. When asked what they are doing, Bogdanov answered: "What sort of detention is this if there is no bloodshed" (according to Guryev and Savelyev).

There is no video from this house in the case papers. The lawyer Valery Yarichevsky confirms that in court on November 21st, when a measure of restraint was chosen, Savelyev's face was completely black with numerous haematomas, and bruises hid his eyes. Later he was operated on.

After detention, Guryev and Savelyev stayed for 24 hours in this house in Kharkov. They were kept in the basement and chained to a radiator. After this they were transported to Kiev, also to an unknown apartment.

On November 19th 2016 Guryev's wife contacted the lawyer Valery Yarichevsky and reported about the disappearance of her husband. She recognized him by his clothes and voice in the video published at a briefing on November 18th by Gritsak and Lutsenko.

Later the representative of the prosecutor's office of Kiev contacted Guryev's relatives, having reported about the appointed court hearing for the election of a measure of restraint. However, he refused to give information about the location of Guryev. The investigator of the prosecutor's office of Kiev (with the surname Rybka) told the lawyer that concerning Guryev, events for ensuring his safety are being carried out. Therefore no information about his location can be reported.

On November 21st 2016 the Goloseevsky court of Kiev chose a measure of restraint for Eduard Savelyev in the form of around-the-clock house arrest. The court took Andrey Guryev into custody for a month, constantly prolonging his term of stay under guard, contrary to the motions of the lawyer. Guryev's actions were qualified by the prosecutor's office as human trafficking (Part 2 of Article 149 of the Criminal Code - by a group of persons).

Guryev was in the Lukyanovsky pre-trial detention center for about 9 months, and then was transferred to the pre-trial detention center of Kharkov. Guryev has been in prison for more than 2.5 years without a verdict.

The pre-judicial investigation vis-a-vis Vladimir Rossokha was completed in July 2017. According to the statement of the prosecutor's office, actions according to Part 2 of Article 146 (illegal imprisonment or kidnapping), Part 2 of Article 149 (human trafficking or other illegal agreements concerning a person), and Part 4 of Article 358 (use of a counterfeit document) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine are imputed to him.

THE POSITION OF THE DEFENCE OF ANDREY GURYEV

The lawyer Valery Yarichevsky said that when electing a measure of restraint for Andrey Guryev in November 2016, the charges of the prosecutor's office did not contain any signs of a crime. According to the wording, unidentified persons (citizens of the Russian Federation) at an unspecified time and at an unspecified place reached an agreement with Guryev, according to which he undertook to move Bogdanov from the territory of Ukraine to the territory of Russia. "Such a formulation is the actions of any driver of a shuttle bus, airplane, or ship. There wasn’t any proof of violence committed by Guryev in the charges. The prosecutor's office didn’t in general give any proof that Guryev had any relation to Ilya Bogdanov," claims Yarichevsky.

There were similar formulations in the indictment, which was handed down on May 30th 2017. The lawyer had no access to the case papers until the end of the pre-judicial investigation. According to him, the prosecutor's office didn’t present any video or audio proof concerning this case. The video that was broadcasted at a briefing by the head of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General is also absent from the case papers.

The settlement of Solonitsevka in the Dergachevsky district of the Kharkov region was defined as the place that the crime was committed. During consideration of the case, the court returned the indictment to the prosecutor twice since it didn’t contain all signs of crime stipulated by the incriminated article.

The case "migrated" between the Pechersky Court of Kiev and the Kharkov courts, and then ended up in the Leninsky court of Kharkov. This court did not find a reason to return the indictment to the prosecutor's office and started consideration of the case in essence. Guryev was transferred from the Lukyanovsky pre-trial detention center to the Kharkov pre-trial detention center.

According to the lawyer Valery Yarichevsky, the court has been studying the prosecution’s proof for 3 years. In total only five witnesses have been heard – three were employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and two were acting employees of the SBU. They took part in the pre-judicial investigation – they had agreements on confidential cooperation with the prosecutor's office of the city of Kiev and acted under the leadership of the investigator within these agreements. Three employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not see and did not hear at all about whom Guryev is – their part of work took place in Kiev.

Concerning Guryev, there are the testimonies of two workers of the SBU of the Kharkov region, where they reported that in November 2016 they were called by the prosecutor's office of the city of Kiev and told that there is an interesting situation that concerns their office activity (it concerned Rossokha). Concerning Guryev, in court they reported that they couldn’t testify to his relation to the crime.

Ilya Bogdanov appeared in court only on November 22nd 2016 – when a measure of restraint was imposed on Guryev and Savelyev. During this court hearing he said that during the events, which he carried out voluntarily and on a confidential basis under the leadership of the prosecutor's office of the city of Kiev, he and a number of employees of the SBU were brought to Kharkov from Kiev by via a military airplane, then they came to the settlement of Solonitsevka by car – to a private house that was leased to unknown persons. They waited for several days in this house to see who will undertake to transport him abroad. It follows from Bogdanov's testimonies that employees of the SBU obtained all of his data concerning this case.

Several days later, according to Bogdanov, he was told to pretend to be tied up. At this moment Guryev entered and was then detained. In court Bogdanov reported that he had never seen Guryev before.

According to Guryev, he was also forced to sign an agreement on confidential cooperation with the prosecutor's office. According to him, he acted according to the instructions of the investigators of the prosecutor's office and the SBU. He carried out negotiations - the staff of the SBU gave the script to him - over the phone. The scenarios for this conversation were developed in advance.

"At 1:25-1:30 in the video it is clearly heard how a conversation between me and someone else is being faked. This is not in the case papers because it was carried out over the phone of the SBU employee. They said what to say and to whom, and gave pieces of paper. And at 1:25 it is heard – ‘speak to him about money’, which is proof of coercion," said Andrey Guryev in comment to the human rights activists of "Uspishna Varta".

Guryev confirms that after detention he was taken out to a field where the staff of the SBU filmed a video showing them allegedly stopping the car that was allegedly used to transport and kidnap Bogdanov. According to Guryev, in this car there were employees of the SBU, Bogdanov, and him. Savelyev and Rossokha were not in this car.

"This car was being used by staff of the prosecutor's office for 4.5 months, and during this time they clocked up 35,000 km, although it’s not clear for what purposes. In the case it is specified that the car was allegedly confiscated on the basis of a court decision for carrying out a search. I received an answer from the court, which said that the court did not grant permission for carrying out any searches or the withdrawal of a car," said Andrey Guryev to the coordinator of "Uspishna Varta".

Andrey Guryev's case continues to be heard in Kharkov. He is in a pre-trial detention center for the third year without a verdict.

"We still do not understand what we are accused of. In the charges it is specified that the case is being considered in relation to officials, but neither I, nor Savelyev, nor Rossokha are officials. Only the organizers of this staged performance are officials. The indictment against us was returned to the prosecutor's office twice because the investigation didn’t establish either the place, time, or the motive of the commission of any crime by me," stressed Guryev while communicating with human rights activists.

Ilya Bogdanov - who’s staged "kidnapping" has resulted in Andrey Guryev being in a pre-trial detention center for the third year - probably completed his "patriotic volunteer battalion" career after this incident. Now he is the owner of a Korean restaurant in one of the elite districts of Kiev and willingly communicates with journalists on this topic. In one of his last interviews Bogdanov reported that he after moving to Kiev, "he hardly made ends meet, recorded a video for his personal YouTube channel, worked at a car wash, and nearly went to work for the press service of the SBU". According to Bogdanov, in order to open the “Pigodi Bar” restaurant, he spent all his personal savings and also "attracted an investor". The starting sum for opening the "Pigodi Bar" restaurant was $30,000.

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