Author`s name Michael Simpson

"Crab Dealers" Plundered Sea Food to the Sum of $38.5 Million

The Prosecutor's Office of Moscow estimates the scale of sea food plundering committed by criminals connected with the so-called "crab case" to the sum of not less than $38.5 million
Attorney of the accused Boris Kuznetsov informed on Friday June 27 that on June 25 the Prosecutor's Office of Moscow brought the final accusation against Director of the Magadan Fishery Research Institute Alexander Rogatnykh and Viktoria Tikhacheva, ex-aide to Magadan governor Valentin Tsvetkov assassinated on October 18, 2002 in Moscow.

Both, together with Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Fishery Committee Yury Moskaltsev, taken under custody on March 25, are blamed for a large-scale group theft of water biological resources. The investigation thinks that ex-governor Valentin Tsvetkov helped the accused obtain excessive quotas from the State Fishery Committee for catch of different sorts of crab, including that one sold for dollars.
Originally, the damage caused by the accused was estimated at $6 million, but the final indictment fixed the sum at the rate of $38.5 million. Interfax reports, Alexander Rogatnykh was exculpated from the accusation of abuse of the authority.
Attorney defending interests of Alexander Rogatnykh and Viktoria Tikhacheva thinks the charge brought against them is absurd, as the attorney thinks "it is impossible to plunder biological resources, it is only caught fish or crab that can be plundered." According to the attorney, for unknown reasons the investigation imputed to the accused the whole volume of see products allowed for catch in accordance with the quotas.

At that, Attorney Kuznetsov says an expertise held by the investigation revealed that the query the Magadan Fishery Research Institute sent to the State Fishery Committee for crab catch doesn't exceed the total allowed haul estimated by the RF Government. At the same time, thanks to Valentin Tsvetkov's activity the quotas assigned for the research institute were much higher, which in its turn might destruct the population of some kinds of food crab.

The attorney adds that widow of ex-governor of Magadan Valentin Tsvetkov, Lyudmila Tsvetkova sent a letter to the General Office of Public Prosecutor of Russia saying that "institution of the criminal proceedings was intentionally initiated by the Prosecutor's Office of the Magadan region and Interior Ministry officials in the interests of the private commercial companies Mag-SI and Pacific Fishing Company. The proceedings were started with a view to redistribute the quotas for catch of water biological resources in favor of these organizations."

Lyudmila Tsvetkova also informed that a high-ranking official of the Interior Ministry's Department for Fighting with Economic Crimes in Magadan, and later an official from the Prosecutor's Office of Moscow's central district extorted $5 million from Viktoria Tikhacheva.
The General Office of Public Prosecutor held an investigation on the problem; Viktoria Tikhacheva was declared a victim.