“Notes of an Investigator”

April 28, 2016

Sergei Kanev

A Moscow police investigator has very helpfully (and anonymously) published a price list of what it takes to get the police to do their job.


There is a big row going on in the Moscow police because one of them has published on a police internet forum “Notes of an Investigator,” with details of the everyday life at his station: how crimes are auctioned to neighbouring police stations, how much policemen have to pay investigators, prosecutors and experts.

From Notes of an Investigator

“A normal summer day. I arrive at work in my small district station in one of the Moscow districts, and am summoned to take part in a conference call with the head of department at the local police department. I am told that the deputy chief of police in charge of operations is being sent on a trip to the Caucasus so I am in charge of criminal investigation. There were four of us, but with me in charge I now have three people under me. Until now there have been so many meetings, conference calls, analytical reports and summons to the boss that I have had little time for my work as an investigator.

“A week later I am handed information about Article 160 part 4 of the Criminal Code (embezzlement by an organised group, or on a large scale). It is an economic article popular with the Economic Security Department (ESD), but the number of episodes in the case will help to supply the management of the district with the “ticks” [a card in the recording system of registered crimes entered into the departmental statistics, influencing promotion and bonuses in the police service], which they are always going on about.

“A day later a young female investigating officer went to the court to arrest a criminal at the request of the Prosecutor’s Office. Despite his tearful pleas to let him out on bail of two million roubles, we did what the Prosecutor asked and went to the court. Then came the first surprise – the Prosecutor acceded to his request because, as he said, he had a good reference from where he lived (although we had not furnished any evidence), he has a wife and child, a job (although he allegedly had embezzled to the tune of 60 million roubles), so why should one lock him up? The judge didn’t spend long on it, brought down his hammer and the chains fell off the poor businessman. The two million had obviously found the right home.


The investigator’s revelations have revealed a considerable amount of turmoil at the Moscow police directorate: the “tick” system for recording crimes was officially abandoned in 2012, but it’s still a case of “the more the merrier – whatever the means,” and the investigator’s notes contain a price list showing who has to be paid, how much and what for. Lt Gen Anatolii Yakunin, head of the Central Directorate, asked for the author to be found and brought to him. An APB [all-points bulletin containing information on wanted persons] was sent out to all secret agents, HR personnel, and a threatening message was sent to all districts to “analyse in depth information set out in the attached history, and to report back.” Back down the line came the response, “No facts like that here.”

From Notes of an Investigator

“At the next meeting in the office of the Directorate of Internal Affairs, the deputy chief in charge of operations starts shouting at me because I don’t have an organised crime group (OCG) on my patch. While half-listening to him, I wonder whether I shouldn’t perhaps be setting one up myself.

“I was asked to stay back after the meeting, and the deputy advised me to go down to the Economic Security Department, where a complex Article 159 case (fraud) with many episodes had been brought in and sections of it were being parcelled up and divided out. I went to the office of the head of the ESD Ops and Search Division No. 3, where I met the other heads of department, and watched the terrible realities of the current Interior Ministry system: the head started by saying that he had an excess of 60 crime episodes (relating to organised crime), and was ready to share them out.

“What happened next nearly knocked me off my chair: each episode cost 1,000 USD.

“The head of Ops and Search No. 1 immediately took 20 episodes and put 20,000 USD on the table. Other directors followed suit, and the effing and blinding kicked in.

“I realised I had made a bad choice, that criminal investigation is a question of chipping in at 1,000 USD a time for expert advice, and the ESD is buying its statistics at 20,000 USD a throw. No place for me. Set against them, we’re just dossers.

“At the next conference call I was once more given an ultimatum: to get my figures together properly by the end of November. I rang round all the investigating officers I know: one of them offered me two robberies for 10,000 USD. Heavens! Am I dreaming? The department head was so pleased he loaned me his personal driver.”

Operations auction

“I have to endorse every word,” an investigator I know told the New Times correspondents, on condition of anonymity. “But we then have to pay 100-200 roubles to hand the documents in to the office.”

Detectives I know tell me that they have similar auctions too. Pricing varies. Before end of year accounts the cost of a completed case under the “Armed Robbery” article can go up to as high as 35,000 USD. Others find homeless people and drug addicts, and do deals with them to take on charges of unlawful arms dealing, robbery or car thefts.

Some investigating officers have ‘savings’ stashed away: pistols with numbers rubbed off, bullets, grenades without detonators and drugs, so that, when necessary, they can cobble together some kind of episode. One or other of these pieces of material evidence can figure in several crimes.

From Notes of An Investigator

“Four months have passed and we have been paying for everything: episodes, cases being signed off in court, forms, expert witnesses and all the other rubbish. The head of department has squeezed his pockets dry so as to hang on to his job.

One expert witness job costs 5,000 roubles, for criminal cases it’s 30,000.

You just try and get your hands on 150,000 at once. Even sponsorship didn’t cover it all.

“During one arrest one of my investigators and member of the Patrol-Sentry service was hit in the face and had his uniform torn. I filled in the forms for Article 318 (use of force against a government official) and 319 (insulting a government official) and took them to the Investigating Committee for activation, or to the “businessmen in blue” as we call them.

“I waited four hours to be seen by the deputy head of the inter-borough department. He read the forms without hurrying and went to see the head of department. After a 15-minute meeting I was taken out for a smoking break.

“During our conversation the deputy asked if I knew their tariffs. It appears that activation of charges under Article 318 costs 50,000 roubles and for Article 319 it’s 30,000. Otherwise they would have no time to investigate and it would be easier to turn the cases down. I turned on my heel and left.

Some statistics

According to New Times there are currently 643 people on charges of using force against a government official and 391 on charges of insulting a government official. Judging by the consolidated returns from the Central Directorate, approximately ten police officers every month are abused, and three or four beaten up or have their uniform damaged.

As to the bribes to investigators and prosecutors mentioned in the Notes of an Investigator, a detective friend told me that they had solved this problem in another way: rather than giving presents or flowers for official holidays to the “businessmen in blue,” they invite them all to a sauna which they have hired for the occasion.

From Notes of an Investigator

“Your guiding policy and high-handedness, dear members of the top brass [Interior Ministry, prosecutors, ed.], are destroying everything. Police officers are afraid of being given weapons, using weapons, arresting people, and the need to keep up the figures [of arrests etc]. The system has been ruined by your stupidity, corruption and desire for promotion through the humiliation, destruction and intimidation of rank and file police officers. I am resigning today because I’m exhausted. And when people like us start leaving, people like you could well become targets for the people you have conned, sent down for nothing, refusing to send the real criminals to prison. But the relatives of those who have been killed are still alive.”

New Times asked the head of the Central Moscow Directorate, Lt General Anatolii Yakunin for a comment. In a telephone interview he said, “I have taken control of this publication and am working on the matter. We have received this signal, so perhaps this [system] really does exist. For the moment I am not ready to say on what scale, possibly only 1%. But I can say without qualification that there is no such system.”

This article was first published in New Times

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