The Moscow City Court has completed a judicial investigation into a criminal case on the alleged espionage of Karina Tsurkan, a former top manager of Inter RAO. Her defense claims that the prosecution failed to provide evidence of her transfer of Russian energy secrets to the Moldovan special services. The case itself arose after Ms. Turcan's conflict with the then President of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR) Yevgeny Shevchuk, who was later convicted in absentia of embezzlement. The head of Inter RAO Boris Kovalchuk testified about this in court.
According to informed sources of Kommersant, in the near future in the Moscow City Court, where the three judges are considering a classified criminal case on charges of espionage (Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) 46-year-old Karina Turcan, will be held debates and a verdict will be passed. One of the lawyers of the former top manager of Inter RAO, head of the human rights association Team 29, Ivan Pavlov, indirectly confirmed this information, refusing to talk about specific dates, not excluding that a decision on the case will be made before the end of this year.
Let us remind you that, as Kommersant told Kommersant, the prosecution finished presenting its evidence in the process in mid-November, keeping within only three sessions. Prosecutors invited only five witnesses to testify, including two former deputy energy ministers, an employee of the security department of Inter RAO, and two colleagues of Ms Turcan. Meanwhile, the defense announced its intention to interrogate a number of witnesses, including an officer of the FSB intelligence unit. The latter, according to the prosecution, was able to obtain both the “agent questionnaire” drawn up back in 2004 by the Moldovan Information and Security Service (ISS) for Ms. Turcan, and the information that the ISS allegedly received from her. Despite the extremely poor quality, these "electrographic images" became the main evidence of the defendant's guilt. Mr. Pavlov stressed that the court granted the petition to summon such a valuable witness, instructing to ensure his appearance to the representatives of the Prosecutor General's Office through the FSB, but the intelligence officer did not come. At the same time, the lawyer noted, the judges did not consider it necessary to call a number of high-ranking FSB officers, who more than once in their messages mentioned the espionage activities of Karina Turcan for appropriate remuneration.
These completely unsubstantiated allegations - among ourselves we called them "vile letters" - were attached to the case, but the court did not want to listen to their authors in order to understand and assess the sources of their knowledge, "said Mr. Pavlov.
But, as he explained, the head of Inter RAO Boris Kovalchuk personally came to court. According to him, the latter gave very interesting testimony that can "shed light on the possible reasons for the emergence of the criminal case of Karina Valerievna." In particular, the head of the energy company explained that Ms. Turcan was a very effective "negotiator" when working in such "difficult" regions as Moldova and the PMR. The latter is home to the Moldavian state regional power plant, owned by Inter RAO, which can run on both gas and coal. A large thermal station supplying electricity to Moldova has been using the first type of fuel in recent years, which is purchased from the PMR, which receives it practically free of charge from Russia. A significant part of the republic's budget is formed due to its resale.
As explained by Mr. Kovalchuk, the head of the PMR Yevgeny Shevchuk decided to increase the payment for gas for the station. Karina Tsurkan, who negotiated both personally and remotely, refused to pay a higher price on behalf of Inter RAO. A price increase would immediately lead to an increase in the cost of electricity, which in this case the Moldovan authorities would buy not from Inter RAO, but from Ukrainian competitors. As a result, Mrs. Turcan decided to switch the power supply of the station from gas to coal, which came from Ukraine. “This aroused the anger of President Shevchuk, who ordered to cut off the coal supply channels, in response to which Karina Turcan stopped the work of the station altogether and was declared an enemy of the republic,” Ivan Pavlov said, calling this conflict a possible background to the criminal case of Mrs Turcan, since Yevgeny Shevchuk allegedly had extensive connections in the special services. By the way, Mr. Shevchuk himself, who lost the elections in 2016, fled from the PMR and was later sentenced in absentia in this republic to 16 years of imprisonment for multimillion dollar embezzlement, smuggling, etc., and now lives in Russia.
Ivan Pavlov also stressed that of the other witnesses whom the defense asked the court to summon, almost no one showed up. Interestingly, the court itself refused to assist lawyers in their invitation, simply limiting itself to issuing summons to the defense.
Thus, the court did not consider it necessary to interrogate the former Moldovan intelligence officer Alexander Papescu, who allegedly drew up and signed the “agent's questionnaire”. As it turned out, Karina Turcan's lawyers were able to find and question him on their own in Chisinau. According to the lawyer, he said that he did not know the defendant, he did not draw up a questionnaire for her, and he himself was ready to testify before the court, providing the defenders with a sample of his handwriting for comparison. As a result, the Moscow City Court only attached to the case the protocol of his interview, drawn up by lawyers, but did not appoint a handwriting examination. “Of the 20 petitions filed by the defense, the court satisfied only five, and two of them partially,” said Mr. Pavlov.
Meanwhile, in the course of the judicial investigation, the expert's conclusions were announced that a copy of the "agent's questionnaire" could have been made "by a technical method using a graphic editor." By the way, Karina Turcan's lawyers were able to find the form of the Moldovan SIS agent's questionnaire on the Internet and presented it to the court, which, according to them, caused amazement among their “procedural opponents” from the Prosecutor General's Office. It is interesting that the “agent's questionnaire” used as material evidence raised serious questions from the Moldovan translator invited to the court, since it contains grammatical errors and signs of forgery. As the translator noted, some of the data of Karina Turcan in this questionnaire are indicated in the masculine gender. In addition, instead of Transnistria, the text mentions the abbreviation PMR, although Moldovan officials do not use it, considering the unrecognized republic an inseparable part of Moldova. The defense also noted that the photo in the “agent's questionnaire” suspiciously coincides with the one that was taken when Karina Turcan issued her biometric passport - four years after the questionnaire was drawn up.
Let us remind you that Karina Turcan is accused of transferring information to the Moldovan secret service on the supply of electricity from Russia to some Ukrainian regions. According to the prosecution, such information, in particular the capacity and scope of supply, is a state secret.
Interestingly, the witnesses for the defense who came to the court from among the colleagues of Ms Turcan explained that they, not having access to state secrets, had such information - they discussed it among themselves at working meetings, in open correspondence, without even knowing that it could be secret.
Nobody announced this to them. In addition, information about these deliveries was published in the media - some clippings from articles were attached to the case file.
The defense also presented to the court the opinion of the linguist, who came to the conclusion that the agent's messages literally coincide with fragments of secret letters from the Ministry of Energy. Ivan Pavlov argues that this circumstance is Karina Turcan's alibi, since the reports could have been drawn up only by those persons who had access to these letters, and Mrs Turcan was not among them due to her lack of access to state secrets. In the computer of the top manager of Inter RAO there was information on the same topic, however, in the "intercepted reports" the phrases coincide word for word with the wording of the letters of the Ministry of Energy, which, according to the defense, raises the question of searching for data leaks among officials who had admission to the state secret. Ivan Pavlov especially noted that his client Turcan always gave detailed testimonies and explanations about all these facts and intends to supplement them before the start of the debate. “We are confident in her innocence and look forward to an acquittal, which we will insist on in the debates of the parties,” the lawyer summed up.