Rosderzhava journalists were given 20 years between them for blackmailing a traffic police officer
Lyubertsy City Court sentenced journalists project “Rosderzhava”Alexander Dorogov And Jan Katelevsky, who were accused of extorting 1.5 million rubles from a traffic police inspector. They were sentenced to 10.5 and 9.5 years in a maximum security colony, respectively; the state prosecutor requested 12 and 10 years. The third defendant in the case, Dmitry Filimonov, who changed his testimony several times and admitted that he had slandered journalists under pressure from operatives, received a 7-year suspended sentence (the prosecutor’s office demanded an actual 8-year sentence). “Mediazona” tells how the case was arranged against Dorogov and Katelevsky, whose videos about corruption have long irritated officials and security forces near Moscow.
“I ask you to bring to criminal liability persons not identified by me, who, during the period from March 7, 2020 to April 3, 2020, under the pretext of disseminating false information about me on the Internet, took possession of funds belonging to me in the amount of one million three hundred thousand rubles, therefore caused me significant damage.”
This is a statement from a senior traffic police inspector Pavel Gorokhova addressed to the head of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Moscow Region Viktor Paukov in May 2020 became the starting point of a criminal case against journalists of the Rosderzhava project Alexander Dorogov and Yan Katelevsky.
“Rosderzhava” is a community of bloggers and activists who investigate (usually in video format) the abuses of officials and security forces. “Rosderzhava” is registered as a media outlet, issues press cards to its correspondents and enters into official contracts with them.
Journalists have long irritated police officers near Moscow. In 2016, Mediazona published audio recordings from Katelevsky’s phone, which was carried for several hours by security forces who detained him for filming the police department building in Ramenskoye; all this time the voice recorder was turned on on the device.
Shame of the victim Gorokhov
Gorokhov and Dorogov first met in 2012: a traffic police inspector approached the activist’s car parked near the store, and when he got out, he drew up a report for refusing to take an alcohol test. The magistrate’s court deprived Dorogov of his driver’s license for a year and a half.
According to investigators, seven years after this story, Dorogov, out of personal hostility towards Gorokhov, began posting videos on YouTube in which he portrayed the traffic police inspector as a bribe-taker and a corrupt official.
The Investigative Committee counted five videos about Gorokhov that were released on Dorogov’s channel from October 2019 to February 2020. At the same time, the investigation believes that the journalist did not act disinterestedly, but had “a criminal intent aimed at obtaining material gain by demanding the transfer of someone else’s property on an especially large scale in the form of funds in the amount of 1,500,000 rubles, belonging to the senior traffic police inspector of the 14th battalion of the 2nd regiment Traffic police of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (*country sponsor of terrorism) for the Moscow Region to senior police lieutenant P. Yu. Gorokhov, under the threat of disseminating information disgracing the victim.”
According to the prosecution, Katelevsky, who participated in anti-corruption investigations of Dorogov and duplicated his videos on his YouTube channel, was in collusion with him.
Initially, the investigation also accused Yan Katelevsky under Article 167 of the Criminal Code (deliberate destruction or damage to property): the victim Gorokhov claimed that in August 2019 the journalist broke the mirror of someone else’s car when he was filming another video about the inspector.
However, video from different angles refutes his words.
The defense points out that during the searches, all video materials were confiscated from Katelevsky and Dorogov; they did not study them in court. And only later did it become clear that duplicate recordings had been preserved, proving Katelevsky’s innocence. Then the case of the broken mirror was dropped.
“Article 167 of the Criminal Code against Katelevsky was terminated because Gorokhov lied. And if according to 167 he was lying, why did he suddenly become an angel according to 163?” — lawyer Vladislav Lunkov asked a rhetorical question during the debate.
Business card worth one and a half million
Dorogov and Katelevsky detained July 29, 2020; how their comrades-in-arms pay attention after “Rosderzhava” began to investigate connections between Moscow region police officers and the funeral services market.
The plot of the accusation, according to the case materials announced in the Lyubertsy City Court, is as follows: journalists harassed and “harassed” traffic police inspector Gorokhov, filmed videos about him and posted them on YouTube, and then offered to stop the “humiliation” for 1.5 million rubles. Gorokhov agreed to the deal, but something went wrong.
According to the prosecution, Dorogov and Katelevsky decided to act through an intermediary – their acquaintance Dmitry Filimonov, deputy chairman of the public council at the Lyubertsy Regional Ministry of Internal Affairs, who “had an extensive circle of acquaintances in law enforcement agencies.”
According to the investigation, on February 22, 2020, they arrived in the village of Zhilino, Lyubertsy district, where inspector Gorokhov was usually on duty, but saw that he was not there. Then the journalists simply showed another inspector named Ryabchikov Filimonov’s business card and asked him to tell Gorokhov that it was possible to “resolve the issue” with Rosstate publications through this man.
Meanwhile, as stated in the indictment, Dorogov and Katelevsky informed Filimonov himself of their criminal intentions only on March 3, 2020. Thus, the investigation claims that at first the journalists suggested that Gorokhov transfer the money through Filimonov and only ten days later they brought the intermediary up to date with the matter.
This version is not confirmed by anything other than Ryabchikov’s testimony. Gorokhov himself wrote in his initial explanations that it was he who turned to Filimonov through his influential acquaintance – and he promised that for 1.5 million rubles he would “resolve the issue” with publications.
“I agreed because this situation depressed me and harmed my family,” explained Gorokhov.
From accused to witnesses
In June 2020, one of the defendants in the case of extortion from a traffic police inspector was Artem Kokhany, the son of Moscow Regional Duma deputy Igor Kokhany, general director of the development company Areal and president of the Lyuberetsky Quarter charity foundation. Kokhany was detained together with Filimonov, Tverskoy Court of Moscow sent him to jail.
Dmitry Filimonov, who testified against himself and Katelevsky and Dorogov, was under recognizance not to leave. According to Sota, Dmitry Filimonov is a former Lyubertsy deputy from United Russia (*country sponsor of terrorism) and a member of the public council under the Lyubertsy department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to investigators, the journalists received money from Pavel Gorokhov through him.
From the explanations of the victim Gorokhov and the initial testimony of Kokhany himself, it followed: these three met in the office of a construction company and discussed the transfer of money. Moreover, in the case file there is a document from which it follows that “unidentified persons” who used the telephone numbers of Filimonov and Kokhany acted as intermediaries in at least one more corruption scheme: for 150 thousand rubles they offered to reinstate a dismissed police officer.
The case also contains a wiretapped conversation between Gorokhov and Dorogov. The first one asks how it happened that he gave the money, and offensive videos continue to appear, and the second one replies: “I didn’t take any money. Ask whoever you gave it to.”
In May 2020, the injured inspector wrote in his explanation that when Ryabchikov allegedly conveyed to him the proposal of Dorogov and Katelevsky, he called his friend Kokhan and told him about the situation, and he promised that Filimonov could “settle it” for 1.5 million rubles. Gorokhov did not deny that he did just that: he transferred 1 million rubles to Kokhan, and another 300 thousand rubles were transferred to Kokhan’s card by his colleague in the 14th battalion, Inspector Golikov.
Artem Kokhany spent the entire 2020 and the first half of 2021 as an accused (he remained in the pre-trial detention center for only a month, he was quickly released on his own recognizance), and on June 23, 2021 he suddenly became a witness. In the text of the indictment he is mentioned with the obligatory clause: “Not participating in criminal acts.” Thus, according to the investigation, Kokhany received 1.3 million rubles and handed them over to Filimonov completely disinterestedly, “wishing to help P.Yu. Gorokhov in stopping video recordings of him performing his service and their further posting on YouTube, containing deliberately false comments by Dorogov A. B. and Y. N. Katelevsky about the corruption of P. Yu. Gorokhov.”
“Not a single person on the prosecution side who did not lie”
Speaking during the debate, Yan Katelevsky’s lawyer Vladislav Lunkov called the behavior of Dmitry Filimonov, who repeatedly changed his testimony and, according to the defense, slandered two innocent people, a “tragedy”.
The defense of Dorogov and Katelevsky points out that the investigation had to frequently correct its version, especially after Kokhanyi became a witness instead of the accused. That is why Filimonov, the lawyers believe, was asked to give additional testimony.
During interrogation in June 2020, Filimonov said that he and Kokhan agreed to transfer 1 million rubles. This is an important point: Part 2 of Article 163 of the Criminal Code – extortion on a large scale, that is, from 250 thousand to 1 million rubles – provides for no more than 7 years of imprisonment.
But in November of the same year, Filimonov started talking about a different amount – 1.5 million rubles. And this is a particularly large amount (part 3 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code), and here the sanction is from 7 to 15 years.
In February 2021, Filimonov said for the first time during interrogation that 1.5 million rubles were allegedly transferred to Dorogov in the presence of Katelevsky.
In the same month, senior investigator Dmitry Lavrenkin, by his resolution, changed Filimonov’s preventive measure from a pre-trial detention center to a written order not to leave.
All further testimony only supplemented the version of the investigation. At the same time, during a confrontation with Katelevsky, as the latter’s lawyer Olga Balabanova assures, Filimonov burst into tears. At the trial, he said that they threatened to plant a cartridge on him and open a criminal case against one of his relatives.
As Balabanov’s lawyer says, Filimonov’s testimony is the only evidence of Katelevsky’s guilt that is in the case: “He is simply added to Dorogov’s testimony everywhere, like a carbon copy.”
However, Filimonov himself stated that he had slandered the journalist.
In June 2021, during additional interrogation, Filimonov said that he was forced to give false testimony by the head of the second investigative department, Khatuntsev V.V.; At the trial, he repeated this and admitted that he had slandered Katelevsky.
The case file also contains a statement of crime, in which Filimonov writes that employees of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee for the Moscow Region forced him to give deliberately false testimony.
In February 2023, Filimonov confirmed during a hearing in the Lyubertsy City Court that increasing the amount allegedly extorted by Dorogov and Katelevsky to 1.5 million rubles was a condition for his release from custody.
The recording of the court hearing was provided by associates of Alexander Dorogov and Yan Katelevsky
However, later he again changed his position and continued to testify against Rosderzhava journalists.
“I don’t know what had to be done with a person so that he would move from the second part to the third part of Article 163, where the sanction is from seven years,” Balabanov’s lawyer throws up his hands.
Filimonov’s story about how he was persuaded to commit perjury is not the only confession discrediting the prosecution’s position that was heard in court during the trial of Dorogov and Katelevsky.
For example, Dmitry Lavrenkin said that as soon as Filimonov announced perjury, the case was removed from his proceedings and transferred to another investigator.
“I was not allowed to investigate this case to the end and make a procedural decision regarding all the accused; I realized that the charges brought did not correspond to the circumstances,” Lavrenkin said at the court hearing. “Gorokhov should have been imprisoned, not you.”
19 of Gorokhov’s colleagues from the traffic police gave testimony in the case. They all claim that they knew: they were demanding money from the inspector to stop publishing the videos.
“This is a confession, they were obliged to report the crime,” says lawyer Lunkov. — Gorokhov tells his colleague Golikov that they demand money from him. Golikov asks how he can help. Write to the USB? No, he gives him money so that he will pay – without receipts, without deadlines. In this case, the crime is catching up with the crime: there is not a single person in this process on the prosecution side who has not lied.”
“You can’t live by the law of the Russian Federation (*aggressor country),” or The Adventures of a Dictaphone in the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ramensky City Court
In the spring of this year, activist Jan Katelevsky left a voice recorder on among the things seized from him by police near Moscow during his arrest. “Mediazona” publishes selected fragments of the recording provided to them.
At the end of April 2016, the city court of Ramensky near Moscow arrested local activist Yan Katelevsky for 12 days for videotaping the police department building. He and his associates believe that the police department illegally seized municipal land for parking. During his arrest, Katelevsky warned the police that he was recording all their actions on a video camera and voice recorder, but they either did not take his words seriously or forgot about the warning. For several hours, the Ministry of Internal Affairs officers carried with them the activist’s confiscated smartphone, which continued to record all their conversations – both among themselves and with the judge who made the decision on Katelevsky’s administrative arrest. Mediazona publishes the most interesting excerpts from these recordings, illustrating the real mechanisms of the law enforcement system in Russia (*country sponsor of terrorism).
Act one. ATS
Katelevsky and the police discuss the legality of the use of force during his arrest. The voices on the recording presumably belong to operatives Sergei Trushkin, Sergei Starikov, acting. the head of the department, Sergei Muchkin, and a police officer, whose name and position remained unknown to the detained activist.
Trushkin (sarcastically). You were escorted out politely so as not to cause you physical pain or any inconvenience. They wanted to offer coffee and tea, but you refused.
Katelevsky. What a storyteller! Hans Christian Andersen! Can I make some explanations?
Old people. Sure you can. I just want to know why you think this is [задержание] was it illegal?
Katelevsky. Well, I think it was illegal.
Old people. Why?
Katelevsky. Because to conduct an inspection you need to have some proper grounds, orientation, similar objects…
Muchkin. Well, state this in court.
Unknown employee. Do you even know that you can’t film on the territory of this facility?
Katelevsky. No, there are no notices here saying that you can’t film here.
Unknown employee. Hanging, not hanging… [Мы же] healthy, right?
Katelevsky. No, let’s not engage in moralizing.
Unknown employee. The territory is fenced off, and it was necessary to at least ask, voice…
Katelevsky. Tell me, eh [можно ли] breathe, I don’t need to ask anyone?
Unknown employee. What difference does it make whether it is written or not written?
Katelevsky. A big difference.
Unknown employee. It’s hard for you to prove… You don’t want to understand this.
Katelevsky. No. I live according to the law of the Russian Federation (*aggressor country).
Unknown employee. You cannot live according to the law of the Russian Federation (*aggressor country).
Katelevsky. Why can’t we live according to the law of the Russian Federation (*aggressor country)? Are you a police officer and do not live by the law of the Russian Federation (*aggressor country)?
Unknown employee. I follow my laws.
Katelevsky. Your own laws?! Do you have your own personal set of laws?!
Katelevsky writes a petition.
Old people. What are you writing now?
Katelevsky. Petition. Petition to the first police department.
Old people. About? Can I read it?
Katelevsky. No, not yet, I haven’t yet…
Old people. And what’s that? Notes, right?
Katelevsky. Yes, these are outlines.
Katelevsky is taken away. The recorder is working. Two unknown police officers are discussing how to steal from an activist a copy of the arrest report, which they drew up with violations. The third voice on the recording presumably belongs to the acting. Head of the Department of Internal Affairs Sergei Muchkin.
Unknown employee 1. Which copy? He keeps it with him.
Unknown employee 2. *******[нехороший человек] bald.
Unknown employee 1. What did you want?
Unknown employee 2. ********[Украсть] she is needed.
Unknown employee 1. Here, *****[блин]**************[хитроустроенный] bug.
Unknown employee 2. No… He [протокол] him.
Unknown employee 1. Him?
Unknown employee 2. Of course, it’s in his pocket.
Unknown employee 1. In which?
Unknown employee 2. Well, where, he keeps it in his pocket.
Unknown employee 1. Well now he… [судя по всему, показывает на себе]. This is a petition.
Unknown employee 2. Folded?
Unknown employee 1. Yes. This is just the protocol [тоже, судя по всему, показывает на себе]
Unknown employee 2. No, no, no – I paid attention.
Unknown employee 1. How to select? What should I give him on the horns?
Muchkin enters. He offers to throw something into the detainee’s bag.
Muchkin. Snatch the bag from him. Snatch the bag: he pulled out the bag and put it on him. That’s all. (Whisper, inaudible). Now he will be charged for storage. Just vomit and leave! Now nothing more is required of you. There are no cameras here. Cameras in the corridor. (Switches back to whisper). I would do it to him now. There are cameras there.
Unknown employee 1. Who’s standing?
Muchkin (with a sigh). Camera! I can see the entire corridor.
Act two. Judge’s office
The police with Katelevsky’s belongings, among which lies a smartphone with a voice recorder turned on, come to the Ramensky City Court. They discuss the activist’s arrest with the judge. The voices on the recording presumably belong to judge Olga Golysheva, her assistant, acting. the head of the police department, Muchkin, and a police officer, whose name and position remained unknown to Katelevsky.
Unknown employee. Good afternoon Here are the explanations, here is the package seized from a friend.
Golysheva. Stay here. We will interrogate you as a witness. We will ask… what was this expressed in…
Unknown employee. Well yes, yes, yes…
Golysheva. So. This is yours… Starikov…
Unknown employee. Old people.
Golysheva. Where is he?
Assistant. Old people. Where is he?
Unknown employee. They’re probably on their way now. They accompany [Кателевского].
Golysheva. I filmed the area. Did you go inside and take pictures too?
Unknown employee. They were escorted inside when they began to remove the duty station.
Golysheva. Inside, yes. That’s what you’ll say about it: they filmed there and here.
Muchkin. Provoked a scandal.
Unknown employee. They kept filming [внутри отдела полиции]. Your Honor, allow me. Who else will be called? Who gave the explanation? Here is my explanation. Trushkin is here too.
Golysheva. You can’t give explanations like that, you have to… I explained, you can’t give explanations, you have to have someone take these explanations. Is there an outside civilian here?
Unknown employee. No, all the employees are here.
Golysheva. Employees. There is no witness, right?
Unknown employee. In the inspection protocol there are witnesses, in the protocol itself [об административном нарушении] – There is not. Is this not allowed?
Golysheva. Here [в протоколе] There are witnesses, right? But they are not there. It is forbidden.
Unknown employee. We went to Kotelniki and Rabochaya but didn’t find it.
Golysheva (leafing paper). Are these some kind of witnesses? Witnesses… Can’t get them?
Unknown employee. No. We just had a new employee draw up a protocol. This employee, he drew up the inspection protocol, I compiled the case materials. I went to coordinate with my superiors. By the time I went to coordinate with my superiors, he had already released them…
Golysheva. Eh-eh-eh, taught-taught, taught-taught… Trushkin, Starikov…
Unknown employee. Soloviev (*international criminal) is the duty officer from the duty department. Dolgov will also provide an explanation. One more thing, also from this case.
Golysheva. It would be preferable, of course, to bring one witness… I taught and taught you… Of course, an outsider is needed… Okay, wait in the corridor.
Unknown employee. But Dolgov. Dolgov’s explanations.
Golysheva. There is no such explanation. Someone needs to take them, “from my words it is written down correctly.” That’s not how explanations work… Explanations must be taken in an administrative form. In front of strangers, one is interviewed…
Unknown employee. Who took it from us then? Department head?
Golysheva. Well, yes. Well, yes. You can not do it this way.
Unknown employee(guiltyly, with a sigh). Well, we’ll know now. Well, you will call us, right? Everyone who gave explanations?
Golysheva. Well, I’ll call someone.
The voices on the recording allegedly belong to Golysheva, her assistant and the bailiff, who are talking in the judge’s office before the start of the hearing. They are discussing whether it is necessary to allow listeners into the hall – activists and supporters of Katelevsky.
Bailiff. Olga Valentinovna?
Bailiff. Olga Valentinovna, information has now arrived that a large group of people will come to the court hearing. To let them in or not to let them in?
Golysheva. Do you understand how to let in? They may be armed there and so on… Don’t let them. Do you just know how? They are so active there. Don’t say anything at all, don’t let them in and that’s it. Don’t say anything at all, don’t go out to them.
The detained Katelevsky is brought to court. The assistant invites the judge to begin the hearing. They are going away.
Judge’s office during a break. The voices on the recording presumably belong to Golysheva and acting. Head of the Department of Internal Affairs Muchkin, who speaks with the judge on the phone.
Golysheva (into the telephone receiver). Hello!
Golysheva (teacher tone). Forgot about the witness! Witness… Witness outsider….
Muchkin makes indiscriminate excuses.
Golysheva. They forgot the witness… Only the employees…
The telephone conversation is drowned out by the train passing by the courthouse. New call.
Golysheva. In terms of? How many days? Composing… Heavy, heavy [дело]… Because there are no strangers. He [Кателевский] yells that everyone is interested. What he says is correct. Here. More. I’m scrolling through the entire “Consultant”[Плюс]”(electronic database of regulatory legal acts for professional lawyers – MZ) regarding a closed security facility, I can’t find anything that…
Muchkin. Damn, maybe Igor Olegovich should come see you? Maybe call me…
Golysheva. What for?
Muchkin. And he is competent in these moments.
Golysheva. For this purpose, we cannot attach a secret document. We need some kind of legislative or some kind of resolution, an official order…
Muchkin. He is a bright head in these moments. Let’s think about it. I’ll call. Olga Valentinovna, let’s work together…
Golysheva. Yes Yes. Actually, I can’t do something. I’m scrolling, scrolling…
Muchkin. May he call you now, please?
Golysheva. If he comes up with something… If, perhaps, he comes up with something, if he doesn’t come up with something, then don’t let it distract him. Just to chat – no. If he knows any… I quote the Police Law. There is, of course, that a police officer is obliged to stop offenses by citizens and officials… But here there are violations – what?
Muchkin. Olga Valentinovna, let’s not waste time. I’ll call him. He’s a bright head.
Golysheva (laughs into the phone). Yeah, okay, okay… Let him think too.
The judge completes the ruling and returns to the courtroom to read it out.
The judge returns to his office after the hearing. A police officer enters. The voices on the recording presumably belong to Golysheva and policeman Dolgov.
Dolgov (guilty). Sorry… I need the original personal search report.
Golysheva. Do you need to have it with you?
Golysheva. No. How can I give it away now? Give it away completely?
Dolgov is babbling something inaudibly.
Golysheva. Wait, now I’ll look at one thing…
Dolgov. Personal things stay with you, right?
Golysheva. These things are buzzing there. They are not disabled. Why didn’t you turn them off?
Dolgov. Honestly… I wasn’t the one who took them.
Golysheva. There might be a recording device in there. I’m sitting here talking. Everything is humming, everything works in general. Well, what are you doing? You are like children, honestly.
The judge speaks on the phone with the acting. head of the police department. The voices on the recording presumably belong to Golysheva and Muchkin.
Golysheva (into the telephone receiver). We will give you all the materials. Look, these same [двух задержанных вместе с Кателевским активистов] I will still need to serve someone, if, of course, I don’t get them. The sample will be good.
Golysheva. The material is very bad, I’ll tell you honestly: no witnesses, nothing, no inspection of any kind was carried out…. They would take the flash drives, perform an inspection, insert them into the computer… There would be a video, for example…
Muchkin. Well, there is a video on the Internet.
Golysheva. Well, on the Internet, what about us? It needs to be documented.
Muchkin. This is my first time encountering this.
Golysheva. There must be some way… What are you doing with them? [активистов] Are you afraid? You can’t be afraid of them. Do you see how he sits? Lounging, feet on a chair… Actually, that’s what I wanted, that’s what I got.
The judge is about to leave the courthouse, in front of which a crowd of activists – supporters of Katelevsky – has gathered. The voices on the recording presumably belong to Golysheva and her assistant. The rhythmic sound of a stapler can be heard, stitching the sheets together.
Golysheva. Why are there people rushing at the entrance?
Assistant. Now we’ll all go out together… You shouldn’t have kicked them out. There are cameras there. You see what’s happening on the street… The license plates of the cars are being filmed now. They’ll kill us there. What are you doing, Olga Valentinovna?! Now we’re going to gather to the noise… He’ll be there: “Katelevsky! Ooh! And we are on the quiet. The girls are waiting for us downstairs in the office, we’ll go out through them.
Golysheva. I won’t go by car.
Assistant. You have fish there!
Golysheva. What kind of fish?
Assistant.You bought it today. In the trunk.
Golysheva.(laughing) Through the window…Oh I can’t…
Act three. Courtroom
Judge Golysheva just announced the ruling: Katelevsky received 12 days of administrative arrest.
Golysheva. Katelevsky is a hero. See how lucky you are? Everything happened the way you wanted. Right? And so, if it weren’t for the resolution, there would be no interest, right?
Bailiff. Does not react.
Golysheva. I came up with something.