The cityís attorney Vladimir Yeryomenko sent Sobchak a representation about ďincorrectly formulated CER agreements and some licensesĒ. The CER chairman Aven did not protest the licenses given out by Saint Petersburgís CER. Possibly this episode is the one explaining president Putinís perfect relations with the financing group Alpha headed by Petr Aven. Sobchak did not permit to discharge Putin. Nevertheless, Putinís deputy Anikin was forced to resign. And a part of the concluded agreements was canceled. According to the Novaya Gazeta the firms, which received licenses for selling raw materials from Putin have only received $34 million as commissions (Novaya Gazeta March 13-19th 2000).
In 1992 Putin was appointed deputy mayor while keeping his post as the CER chairman. In other words he was raised and not discharged. And he kept a lucrative business: the Committee of the city hallsí external relations. In these years Putin received the nickname of ďGrey CardinalĒ. He advised Sobchak on all ďexternalĒ matters, he was his very close person. All serious documents were first approved by Putin and only then by Sobchak.
From 1993 Sobchak begins to lead an ďinternationalĒ life style and goes often abroad. In his absence it is Putin who fulfills the mayorís functions. The circle of his competence was surprisingly large Ė diplomatic representations, hotels, gambling business, public associations, supervising the special services and cooperating with the army, the police, the FSK, the Prosecutor General, the customs. Putin also managed large investment projects. In March 1994 he was appointed first deputy chairman of the cityís administration. And still he keeps his post as the chairman of the external relations Committee. It is as if this Committee was smeared in honey.
The Saint Petersburgís period of Putinís life is filled with scandals, through which he managed to come unscathed. One of the most interesting in my opinion was the episode when in 1991 at Sobchakís and Putinís demand the Moscow police illegally searched the house of Sobchakís former assistant Yuri Shutov in order to confiscate a tape record of Sobchakís conversation with a fixed-spot spy of the French intelligence service. In 1992, Shutov, author of the book ďA Dogís HeartĒ was attacked, however nobody risked linking this incident with the names of Sobchak or Putin. When Vladimir Vladimirovich came to power Shutov was arrested and charged with many crimes, including almost all ordered murders in the city of Saint Petersburg and it has been six years now that he is detained in prison. According to the Versia newspaper (August 17-23rd 1999) the materials about the unsanctioned search at Shutovís house in 1991 are kept (or at least were kept) by the senior investigator of the Prosecutor Generalís Department of special cases U. M. Vanyushin. The fixed-spot spy of the French intelligence service apparently spoke with Sobchak about such things that it is too scary to bring Shutov to court. This is why he stays in prison untried. The Iron Mask.
A lot of people were discontent with Sobchakís first deputy. The following directions of Putinís work have caused concrete admonishments:
1). Cooperation with foreigners, as suspected this was not disinterested;
2). Violations during the privatization of large objects of municipal property;
3). Illegal trade using his official position and other abuses;
4). Execution of Anatoly Sobchakís confidential instructions.
About the first article. Putin assisted a series of large German firms and banks to move in the city. In particular, he assisted the opening of the filial of the BNP-Drezdner Bank (Rossija). (Putinís relations with Dresdner Bank continue today. The head of the bankís Russian department Mattias Wornig has joined Gazpromís Council of directors in February. According to the Wall Street Journal, Worning was a Stasi major until 1989 and was a friend of major Putin. He is still his friend now, which explains his extraordinary career in Russia). Putin has helped the bank to move in the building of the former German embassy on Isakievskaya Square. He has also helped the Credit Lyonnais Bank to obtain a house on Nevski Street. The office of the Coca-Cola Company was moved to the building of the House of Political education of Leningradís CPSU committee. For some merits the company was even freed from local taxes. The Proctor-and-Gamble and Gillette companies also benefited from the future presidentís patronage.
About the second article of accusations. According to the Kommersant newspaper (1999 issue 32) Putin has taken part in the selling of the Astoria hotel. In fact, a tender on selling 40% of this hotelís actions was held in Saint Petersburg and supposedly Putin tried to increase his share holding by buying it, but he failed. The actions went to the owner of the alcohol beverages factory A.F.B.-2 A. Sabadash. In response Putin supposedly (according to the Stringer Newspaper November 2000) has threatened to demolish the factory but by the end of 1998, still according to the newspaper, the conflict was finally solved and Putin was paid compensation Ė $800 thousand. Putin has participated a few other times in the hotel business: he invited foreigners to the hotels Evropa and Nevski Palace.
Apart from this, the deputies of the Petrosovet had questions about Putinís participation in the privatization of the Baltic Sea steamship line, whose control permitted to organize the selling of ships to the West at dumping prices. According to the Versia newspaper (1999, issue 31) and the Stringer newspaper this operation was conducted through a certain I. I. Truber, supposedly a ďcriminal authorityĒ. The newspapers also mentioned Putinís participation in the privatization of the alcohol beverages factory Samtrest again supposedly through the ďcriminal authorityĒ M. M. Mirilashvili, Misha Kutaissky.
About the third article of the accusations. In 1992, as it was mentioned earlier, an investigation of Putinís Committee activities was organized. Public hearings were held about the results of the investigation. Putin has then acknowledged the errors, part of the contracts was canceled and it was the deputy Anikin who paid for it all, as you remember he was fired.
Apart from this, the cityís Prosecutor General accused Putin of illegally giving a special permission for a gambling business to the firm Lennatraktzion. According to rumors, Putin who was responsible for the licensing of Saint Petersburgís casinos was involved in unofficial fund raising as well.
About the fourth article of accusations. Stubborn rumors were circulating that Putin was acquiring real estate in France on Sobchakís instructions. This information appeared in 1999 when Putin was appointed prime minister. However, supposedly, no evidence was found.
After Sobchak lost the Saint Petersburgís governor elections, Putin was accused of organizing a week campaign (and even of betraying his boss). As a proof information was given that two days before the elections Putin has met on close terms with Vladimir Yakovlev Ė Sobchakís opponent during two hours on March 17th. The mysterious fire at Putinís dacha in Roshin in 1996 is worthy of mentioning since it was the elections year in Saint Petersburg. Who did this? And what for?
In 2000 the Stringer newspaper was rather harshly attacking the newly elected president, defaming and discrediting him. For instance, the following information shed light on the reason behind Putinís hostility towards the oligarch Gusinsky. The newspaper has said that Putin took part in the privatization of Saint Petersburgís 11th Channel and his sale to the Russian video Channel. Supposedly during this privatization a law was violated. A criminal case was opened. It was led by the senior investigator of the RF Prosecutor General U. M. Vanyushin mentioned earlier. Supposedly during the investigation it was discovered that D. Rozhdestvensky (the owner of Russian Video) has financed Putinís wifeís trips abroad. We remind that later the main actor of this case Mikhail Mirilashvili fell under investigation in relation to this and the history of Most-Bankís and Vladimir Gusinksyís destruction began with the Russian Video. In fact some sources affirm that it was Gusinsky who initiated this episode of information war against Putin. Stringer wrote that at that time Putin tried to pressure the investigation in order to mask his involvement. Then it makes sense to largely cite the text of an informative-analytical note of the harshest anti-Putin content published by Stringer in November 2000:
ďÖWhen he was still Saint Petersburgís vice-mayor Putin was responsible for licensing a series of casinos, receiving from $100 to $300 thousand for each license. Besides he is the founder of all elite clubs of the city.
Putinís closest tie in commercial business is R. N. Tzepov, head of the security firm Baltic-Escort (it was founded by a certain Zolotov formerly head of A. Sobchakís personal guard, now head of Putinís personal guard). In 1994 Tzepov was charged with article 222 of the RF Criminal Code (illegal carrying and keeping of fire arms). Despite this Tzepov is a 7th section officer of Saint Petersburgís Department of fight with organized crime. It was Tzepov who raised money during the licensing of the cityís gambling business. As an example we can name the Konti Casino, whose head Mirilashvili monthly pays a bribe to Putin through Tzepov. The firm Farmavit pays Putin $20 thousand a month. In 1995 Tzepov offered an emerald to Putinís wife that he had won in a card game to the criminal authority Botzman. The latter has stolen the emerald in 1994 in South Korea. The emerald is wanted by the Interpol (1995-96 catalogue). Tzepov offers services to Putin on the condition that the latter will ďcoverĒ his activities. Through Putin Tzepov received five cover documents, among those RF Federal Security Service, RF Foreign Intelligence Service and RF Ministry of Internal Affairs. In March 1998 the deputy of the Prosecutor General Katishev reopened a criminal case on Tzepov. Presently Tzepov is hiding from criminal prosecution in the Czech Republic where he arrived with falsified documents (his papers were drawn up for a false name in Saint Petersburgís FSB Department).
The main Special services that Putin relies on are the RF FSB and the Department of Fight against Organized Crime (RUBOP). RUBOPís former heads Shakhanov and Milin together with Putin and the head of Saint Petersburgís FSB department Grigoriev have organized A. Sobchakís removal to France. On the eve of Sobchakís interrogation by the Prosecutor General RUBOPís SWAT team has brought Sobchak to the hospital on Putinís demand, where the head of the Military Medical Academy Shevchenko established a sham diagnosis. Later the same sham diagnosis was established for Ruslan Linkov (witness of the attack on G. Staravoytova).
The criminal case of the investigator U. M. Vanyushin contains materials saying that in 1991 on the demand of Sobchak and Putin Shakhanov and Milin illegally searched Sobchakís former assistant U. T. Shutov in order to confiscate Sobchakís tape-recorded conversation with a fixed-spot spy of the French intelligence service. In 1992 an attack was organized on U. T. Shutov, which resulted in a brain injury. The victim was hospitalized.
The prosecutionís investigation brigade (U. M. Vanyushin) has materials saying that the former head of the specialized bureau of ritual services Makutov was monthly paying $30 thousand to Putin.
With the help of Saint Petersburgís vice-governor Grishanov (former commander of the Baltic Fleet) Putin was selling ships from the military naval base through the Lomonosov Harbor.
This port situated on the territory of the former military naval base and created by Sobchak, Putin and Cherkesov is a transit point for smuggling raw materials from Russia and importing goods in our country. This work was done in particular by the Sea department of Russian Video.
In spring 1996 about $30 million were transferred to Sobchakís pre-electoral campaign from the Tzarskoselsky Bank into a Swiss bank. The transfer was controlled by Putin, Cherkesov and Grigoriev. (The materials were kept by the head of the SKROSO FSB service B. O. Desyatnikov.)
The head of the Vasileostrovski District administration V. Golubev has known Putin from the times of his service in the 1st service of the USSR KGB Department in Leningrad. His former colleagues organized a series of firms, through which budget money is laundered and then appropriated. /Ö/
When he was a vice-mayor Putin has organized the sell of submarines abroad through Leningradís admirals association. In 1994 the deputy general director of the association was killed (one of the versions Ė for refusing to illegally sell military property abroad).
The BFG Ė the Baltic Finance Group (whose general director is Kapish) provides monthly financial assistance to Putin and Cherkesov. In 1994-95 Kapish had a conflict with one of the founders of the oil terminal of the Sea Harbor. Kapish ordered the murder of this founder. For $30 million Putin convinced the founder to solve the conflict after what the latter left to Israel. According to the existing information Kapish gave $6 million to Putin supposedly for the 1996 presidential campaign. The money went through one of the district banks, which was closed soon after. /Ö/
The XX Trest Corporation created by Putin together with the legislative assembly deputies Nikeshin and Goldman transferred the money it received for construction, including the construction of the Peter the Great business-center to Spain where a hotel was bought in the city of Torviejo. Part of the stolen money went to buy a villa for the Putins in the Spanish city of Benidor (the materials are kept by Saint Petersburgís Control Department of the Finance ministry). /Ö/Ē
I have cited the ďinformative-analytical noteĒ with small abridgements. And I started to ponder. Whatever the accusations are all true (and now it is impossible to investigate these accusations because Putin is the first person of the State) one has to acknowledge that Putin was occupying a lucrative post. A post, on which he could have done all of this. Moreover, during these years from 1991 to 1996 all of this was not considered a crime. Many functionaries, if not all, enriched themselves and used their official post shamelessly. And it was customary in these days to employ criminal methods. You will agree with me that after what you have read you think that Putin did not have the moral right to try Khodorkovsky.
What was I doing during these years? I worked as a military journalist in hot spots: in 1991-93 I was on three Serbia wars, in Transdniestr and Abkhazia. I shared the sorrow and the joy of peoples who defended their independence with arms: the Serbs, the Moldavians, the Russians, and the Abkhaz. In October 1993 I fell under the Ostankino fire on the side of the Supreme Council, I was in the White House. I founded the National-Bolshevik Party. I founded the Limonka newspaper. I remember that until March 1995 I was renting an apartment without telephone. I had no money at all. I earned the reputation of a red-brown. Editors in France and in Russia refused to publish my books because I was politically incorrect. The NBP ideology was developing; the Party was growing slowly but steadily.