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Russia – Illegal casino case could collapse

By - 8 January 2013

The high-profile 2012 case concerning a network of illegal casinos in Moscow and the prosecutors that are alleged to have taken on the roles of protection racketeers as outlined by investigators into the case could be on the verge of collapsing.

Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin has filed a submission to the Supreme Court claiming that the arrests of the former police officers Oleg Sudakov, Mikhail Kulikov and Farit Temirgaliev accused of taking bribes to ignore a network of illegal casinos were unjust. If they are subsequently released, then no one involved in the case will remain under arrest.

The Investigative Committee has claimed however that the case is far from over. However, according to lawyers, the prosecutors could get the case materials returned for further investigation and then the proceedings may last indefinitely.

The collapse of the Moscow Oblast prosecutors’ case can be considered a condition of the peace treaty between the two law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor General’s Office and and the Investigative Committee..

The high-profile scandal provoked a public and media uproar. Businessman Ivan Nazarov was said to have run 15 illegal casinos in towns across the Moscow Region. According to law enforcement authorities, several high-ranking officials from the prosecutor’s offices and the Interior Ministry were involved in the casino operation.

A source close the case said: “Nazarov himself is under protection. The businessman who dealt millions of dollars and ‘sponsored’ the first deputy prosecutor of Moscow Oblast Alexander Ignatenko and his staff started cooperating with the investigators and gave exhaustive testimony about the former high-ranking protection racketeers.  Mr. Ignatenko is still detained in Poland where he was arrested in January 2012. In October, the District Court in Nowy Sacz ruled to extend his detention until 9 February 2013. The second escapee, the former Klin prosecutor Eduard Kaplun, voluntarily appeared before the Investigative Committee in August of this year. Many other figures involved in the case, such as the former Serpukhov prosecutor Oleg Bazylyan, his colleague from Noginsk Vladimir Glebov and former Odintsovo prosecutor Roman Nischemenko have also been released.”

Since the law banning casinos came into effect in the summer of 2009, nearly 30,000 illegal slot halls and 500 casinos have been closed down. The police meanwhile have confiscated over 450,000 gambling machines and other equipment. The Prosecutor General’s Office has confiscated over 53.4m rubles ($1.8m) in illegal proceeds, collected more than 132.5m rubles ($4.5m) in fines and opened over 1,200 criminal cases.

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