With the accused in the smuggling of cocaine from Latin America, Andrei Kovalchuk, the secretary of the Embassy in Argentina, Oleg Vorobyov, maintained relations, the case materials follow. The delivery of cargo to Russia occurred at the third attempt.
The first secretary of the Russian embassy in Argentina, Oleg Vorobyov, in charge of the security of the diplomatic mission, for two years called up and met with businessman Andrei Kovalchuk, whom the investigators consider the organizer of the supply of almost 400 kg of cocaine from Latin America to Russia. It was Vorobyeva, as follows from the materials of the criminal case on drug smuggling, which the correspondent of RBC was familiar with, was the first to watch the suitcases of Kovalchuk in the back room of the embassy school, and he offered to open them.
Oleg Vorobyov did not reply to RBC's questions.
According to the investigation, the suitcases with cocaine had to fly to Moscow in December 2016 - the military board from Montevideo, along with the things of the Russian ambassador Victor Koronelli. However, shortly before the flight, diplomats and police of the two countries learned about the contents of the cargo and prevented its shipment. The chance to send a drug to Russia already under the control of the special services presented itself in a year, when the next Russian special flight flew to Argentina. During this time, the FSB and diplomats disrupted at least one attempt by Kovalchuk to take out the suitcases himself.
At the same time, according to the case materials, Kovalchuk sent parcels to Russia through embassy staff from 2012, and at least once using a military transport aircraft.
The discovery of 389 kg of cocaine on the territory of the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires in February 2018 was told by Argentinean Security Minister Patricia Bullrich. After the controlled delivery of the drug, six people were arrested in Moscow - three alleged accomplices of smugglers in Russia, the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Maecenas Foundation in Latin America (MORAL) Ivan Bliznyuk and Alexander Chikalo in Argentina (they are not mentioned in the materials of the Russian criminal case) and Andrey Kovalchuk in Germany.
Meeting at the Embassy
Vorobiev, who is a witness in the "cocaine case", has been working at the Russian Embassy in Argentina since the end of 2015. His duties include, inter alia, "ensuring the security of the embassy and its employees," he told interrogation of Colonel of the Interior Ministry Alexander Zabrodin, head of the Russian investigation team on the case.
For the first time Vorobiev met Kovalchuk in February 2016, when Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov flew to Buenos Aires. Russian and Argentine policemen played football, and a reception was organized at the Russian embassy, where Kovalchuk was invited. Ali Ababyov, the embassy's official representative, introduced him to Vorobyov as an employee of the security department of the Russian Foreign Ministry (official spokesman Maria Zakharova denied that Kovalchuk was an employee of the agency).
In a conversation at the reception, a new friend called the names of the current employees of the ministry, which Vorobyov knew. In addition, Kovalchuk handed the diplomat greetings from his predecessor, who left the post of first secretary of the embassy in 2015. "During the reception, we exchanged phone numbers, after which Kovalchuk called me several times, and we talked about everyday topics," the diplomat said at the interrogation.
Kovalchuk then visited Argentina at least three times: in the spring of 2016, in October and November 2017. Every time he found time to see Vorobiev and talk to him "on general topics." None of Kovalchuk's belongings left for safekeeping at the embassy were discussed at these meetings, Vorobyov said.
When in December 2016, embassy officials and police found out that cocaine was in the suitcases of Kovalchuk, the nature of their communication did not change. But, as the diplomat specified in the testimony, he began to write down his conversations with Kovalchuk.
Earlier Argentine media mentioned a Russian official, designated as "Mr. O", in connection with wiretapping telephone conversations Kovalchuk. "I have twelve boxes of cognac and two large boxes of cigars. I need a pickup or minibus, "Kovalchuk told Mr. O in October 2017 during his next visit to Buenos Aires. "I do not have them, and I do not want to get involved in it. Sorry, but I may have problems, "- replied" Mr. O ".
Kovalchuk referred to his acquaintance with Oleg Vorobyov in an interview with Kommersant shortly before his arrest: "We drank just after the Dynamo match, like we even made friends."
Employees of the embassy considered Kovalchuk a high-ranking silovik, a "curator" of diplomats in the special services, told RBC the lawyer of the former head of the Abyanov embassy, Alexander Kostanyants. Kovalchuk "was represented by an employee of various ministries and departments for passage in the territory with a special access regime and further establishing contact with the persons of interest to him," explained one of the operatives of the Main Directorate of Narcotics Control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who in December 2016 flew to Buenos Aires to inspect his suitcases. The Argentine press called Kovalchuk a businessman, he himself refused to talk about his work with Kommersant.
Cocaine at the bust of Ilyich
Suitcases with cocaine in July 2016 brought to school the former manager of the house Ali Abyanov, the case materials say. A worker named Dronov packed them as diplomatic mail, and for the next year and a half they were stored in a room under a staircase, covered with a black cloth, under a heap of trash-decommissioned desks and chairs, broken computers and printers, next to Lenin's bust, Rogov.
Suitcases in the back room Abyanov showed Rogov, passing him the case shortly before the completion of his long-term business trip in August 2016. Answering Rogov's question about the contents of the suitcases, Abyanov suggested that there wine is supposed to be good in Argentina and it is often taken away as gifts.
"According to him, Kovalchuk had to come and collect these things. Kovalchuk I did not know then and asked Abyanov who it was. Abyanov answered me that Kovalchuk is a person "from the center", that is, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Abyanov spoke very well of Kovalchuk, "Rogov said. From his words, Abyanov mentioned Kovalchuk's broad ties and certain assignments that he carried out at the request of this man, but they did not disclose their essence.
In the fall of 2016, Rogov was telephoned by a man who introduced himself as Kovalchuk, and inquired about things. Abyanov, who had left for Moscow by that time, advised Rogov to send the cargo by the Russian military board, which in early December 2016 arrived at the airport of the capital of Uruguay - Montevideo.
"I, fulfilling Abyanov's request, for a time addressed the embassy staff, including the military attache, to find out whether it is possible to send things by spetsbornom, but to no avail. I asked Kovalchuk about Ambassador Coronelli, he told me that he had once met him at the request of Abyanov; Kovalchuk in the conversation called the names of various famous people who supposedly knew him, but who Kovalchuk really is, the ambassador does not know and knows nothing about Kovalchuk's things, "Rogov told the Interior Ministry investigator.
Then Rogov turned to the first secretary of the embassy Vorobyov. Hearing about the suitcases, Vorobyev decided to check them just in case - his fears were connected with the fact that the previous manager Abyanov proved himself "on the negative side," Vorobyev specified in his testimony. The men went to the back room, cleaned the decommissioned furniture, tore up the packaging of one of the suitcases - layers of polyethylene tape and scotch tape. Inside were "rectangular tight packages-briquettes," pairwise wound with electrical tape. One of the Vorobyov briquettes was opened and found a compacted white powder. About the discovery of Sparrows reported to Ambassador Coronelli.
Coffee, pepper and cocaine
As follows from the case file, December 8, 2016 in Buenos Aires flew from Moscow several operatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and experts from the Institute of Criminalistics of the FSB. In the presence of Rogov and another official of the embassy, Maxim Konov, they examined and opened their suitcases, finding inside the open bunches of coffee, spices (oregano, black and white peppers), compact discs, detergent boxes and toilet fragrance. In all 360 briquettes, as the equipment showed, cocaine was found with a concentration of 70 to 88%, it follows from the inspection report.
After the examination by Russian experts, the suitcases of the National Gendarmerie of Argentina were seized by a court decision; they were equipped with GPS-sensors, and the contents were replaced with flour. The storage room was brought to the original view. The lock on her door was replaced; The only key was taken by Vorobiev himself. A surveillance camera was installed near the building, and a round-the-clock duty was organized at the school.
Abyanov, who left Argentina in August 2016 and detained in December 2017, all this time kept in touch with his successor Rogov - the men warmly congratulated each other on holidays, passed greetings to their wives; Rogov complained about the abundance of cases, and Abyanov was periodically interested in the fate of suitcases. Printing out their dialogues in Skype is in the case materials. "The board flew away, the boxes returned. They said, because of the overload, "- wrote to Abyanov already knew about the cocaine of the Rogues on December 12, 2016. So he answered the colleague's question whether it was possible to send suitcases with a military board from Montevideo (the capital of Uruguay, located 200 km from Buenos Aires).
The same flight was to fly personal belongings of a man who was called "BB" in the conversation (they are the initials of Ambassador Coronelli - RBC), but they were not taken on board either, Rogov defiantly protested: "VV said, we will wait for the next flight. So do not worry, we hope and wait. "
"Cognac Bossner", "things Matvienko"
Periodically, Rogov himself called Kovalchuk himself. In July 2017, he consulted the storekeeper about the condition of the suitcases and mentioned that they contained "his belongings, Abyanov's belongings and even the alleged things of Matvienko, obviously referring to the chairman of the Federation Council, Matvienko VI," the testimony of a witness Rogova. "During this conversation, Kovalchuk, I thought, was excited, asked and said again: you are all right, you are definitely all right?" - said Rogov during the interrogation.
In the press service of Valentina Matvienko, RBC said that they would not comment on Kovalchuk's words: "This is nonsense, please contact the source of this delirium."
In October 2017, Kovalchuk rented a business aviation aircraft to take out his suitcases. On it in Buenos Aires there came the alleged accomplice of Kovalchuk, Ishtimir Khudzhamov, and certain "two Latvians"; Kovalchuk himself flew on a regular flight. "We could not give out Kovalchuk's suitcases," Vorobyov said to the investigation: diplomats and special services wanted to control the delivery of cargo to Russia to uncover the Russian part of the chain of smugglers.
Employees of the embassy and FSB did so to take the cargo Kovalchuk could not - for the entire duration of his stay in Buenos Aires Rogov was sent on a business trip to the city of Mar del Plata, as Kovalchuk was sure that, in addition to the store manager, no one in the embassy about the suitcases does not know and does not have access to them. As a result, Kovalchuk left Argentina with nothing.
A month later he again tried to take out drugs, but the plane did not book it in advance. Arriving in Buenos Aires, Kovalchuk first met personally Rogov and met with him in the beer bar Buller. According to Rogov, Kovalchuk "spoke of himself, that he worked in many services, including Russian special services, and knows and communicates with many high-ranking people, called their names."
"From the speeches of Kovalchuk it followed that he lives in Russia, then in Germany, that he is both a former military man, a psychologist, and in general an expert in many areas," said the Ministry of the Interior. - Kovalchuk also said that he has a "cognac from Bossner", which he will certainly buy me. What kind of cognac and who is Bossner, I do not know, but pretended to be impressed by Kovalchuk's speeches and his personality. "
The head of Bossner Cigars Konstantin Loskutnikov (von Bossner), in a conversation with RBC, confirmed that he had repeatedly met with Kovalchuk. Earlier, the former chairman of the Coordinating Council of Russian compatriots of Argentina, Leonardo Golovanov, told RBC that Andrei Kovalchuk represented the German company Bossner Cigars.
"They waited a year, well, let it wait a little longer"
Rogov put Kovalchuk in front of the fact: his suitcases were transported to the repository at the embassy and ready to be shipped to Russia by the nearest special flight that is scheduled for the first decade of December 2017. "I assured Kovalchuk that everything is in order, that the ambassador will soon be replaced," Rogov specified. "An airplane will arrive in Argentina, with which the ambassador will send his things and also allow other embassy employees to send their belongings by this side."
Kovalchuk did it. He asked Rogov to paste on the suitcases sheets of paper from his (Kovalchuk) phone number and the letters "KD" - "consular department." Later, Kovalchuk phoned the clerk and asked him to paste the tags with the name "Nezimov, AN", but this Rogov did not have time to do.
"The board was supposed to have already landed. There things were just nemereno. Already on the eve of receiving orders for meat, wine, cheeses and stuff. The plane, as far as I know, is great, so I used it in full. Waited a year, well, let him wait a little longer, anywhere his baggage will not go away. Now the delegation will take away their orders, well, and then they will call to him, "Rogov wrote on December 7, 2017, to the troubled fate of Abyanov's suitcases.
"Ask the security officers"
Kovalchuk himself could not meet the cargo in Moscow-he intended to ask either Abyanov or some "Chekists" about this, Rogov said at the interrogation. Suitcases with flour and GPS sensors in Moscow were actually met by officers of the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs: on December 12, last year, they detained Ishtimir Khudzhamov and Vladimir Kalmykov in a parking lot near the Foreign Ministry's warehouse on Vasilisa Kozhina Street in Moscow, who arrived to receive the cargo. About the Khujamov and Kalmykov from the materials of the case reliably know only that they paid for a commercial airplane on which Kovalchuk wanted in October 2017 to deliver cocaine to Moscow.
That same evening, Abyanov was detained. He unofficially "worked" for Kovalchuk for several years, follows from the protocol of his interrogation: from 2012 to 2015 the former manager sent three suitcases to Kovalchuk to Russia, while the first suitcase was sent by cargo plane, and the other two - by military transport. For his services Abyanov received $ 3 thousand, he confessed during interrogation. What exactly was in the sent cases - it is not known; Abyanov claims that he was sure that nothing illegal. The general said he was engaged in smuggling wine, coffee and semiprecious stones.
In the organized group of smugglers there are also unidentified participants, follows from the decision to attract Kovalchuk as an accused, dated December 19 last year.
At the same time, although the special services and the police knew about the cocaine in the embassy from November to December 2016, the Investigative Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs officially started the criminal case only on November 15 last year - three weeks before the controlled delivery. Two days earlier, the head of the K department of the FSB, Ivan Tkachev, known as curator of the operational development of ex-minister Alexei Ulyukayev, received operational materials from subordinates and sent them to police investigators.