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The defendants in a high-profile criminal case over property misappropriation in the Defence Ministry, namely former head of the department of proprietary relations of the Defence Ministry Yevgeniya Vasilyeva and former general director of the legal support centre Expert Yekaterina Smetanova won right two major legal victories on Wednesday. The first defendant insisted in the Moscow City Court on the improvement of comfortable conditions of home arrest, and she was actually permitted to visit and receive a close friend – former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The second defendant concluded a plea bargain on Thursday and is about to leave the detention centre in a few days. The detectives put it clearly that resounding results cannot be expected from the investigation.
The court ruling on a two-month home arrest for Vasilyeva remains in force, but the conditions of keeping the defendants upon the ruling of the criminal penal of the Moscow City Court were changed substantially, the Kommersant daily noted. She was permitted to choose people for telephone conversations and internet messages and postings at her own discretion. The Moscow City Court imposed a restriction only on the contacts with the defendants in the Oboronservis criminal case. In other words, Vasilyeva can communicate virtually and have telephone talks with anyone she wants, because the guards from the Federal Penitentiary Service cannot trace down the electronic correspondence of the arrested woman.
Yevgeniya Vasilyeva was also permitted to go out from her flat and invite the guests with the only restriction that the visits should be coordinated with the detective. Meanwhile, only the defendants were put on the list of banned contacts, but the ban does not spread on a neighbour in her residential house and a close friend of the defendant, former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The Kommersant daily recalled that the Khamovnichesky District Court has earlier denied to arrest Vasilyeva in Serdyukov’s flat and Serdyukov was not interrogated at all during the Oboronservis criminal case. Moreover, the detectives made it clearly repeatedly that there were no questions to Serdyukov from the participants in the investigation yet and they will hardly arise in the future.
The second defendant in the property misappropriation criminal case – former general director of the legal support centre Expert and Yevgeniya Vasilyeva’s former friend Yekaterina Smetanova also achieved serious legal successes on Wednesday. Businesswoman Smetanova, who faced similar accusations, has been kept under arrest at the detention centre since November 1 and has been conducting negotiations over the change of a measure of restraint to a more lenient one with the detective all this time.
Smetanova has just pleaded guilty on three episodes of frauds, in which she is accused together with Yevgeniya Vasilyeva. This is the misappropriation of property and shares of the 31st State Design Institute of Special Construction and the funds from the logistic depot in the Moscow military district of the Air Force and the Air Defence Troops to the tune of about 276 million roubles. Total damages in the Oboronservis criminal case reaches billions of roubles, the detectives claimed.
On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Arutyunyan signed with Yekaterina Smetanova a pre-trial bargain, actually accepting the conditions she offered. Still the defendant is being kept at the detention centre, but soon she will be released from it for keeping under home arrest or putting on recognizance not to leave the city.
The Russian Investigation Committee refrained from official comments, only confirming the deal with Smetanova. Meanwhile, sources in the investigating team already put it clearly that some concrete political decisions were taken in the criminal case, therefore, resounding results cannot be expected from the investigation.
The situation with defendant Vasilyeva is turning in a blatant parody with each new day. Her ‘home arrest’ is turning in the window dressing, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily believes. The woman, who is accused of a massive fraud (this crime envisages up to ten years in prison), is lying on a comfortable sofa, and her accomplices accused of much more petty offences have been imprisoned already for the second month.