There is not much information about Sergei Korolev, the newly appointed first deputy director of the FSB, in the public domain: he was head of the Economic Security Service (ESS), and before that, the FSB Directorate for Internal Security (FSB). That is, in fact, all that the public is «supposed» to know. IStories decided that fellow citizens are entitled to more complete information about an important official.
The author of the investigation, Roman Anin, studied the materials of several high-profile criminal cases in which Korolev is mentioned, and found in the biography of one of the most secretive leaders of the Russian security services a lot of things that were not included in its official part. For example, his ties to several leaders of the criminal world who were accused of dozens of murders and kidnappings.
In addition, the material, in my opinion, gives a clear idea of how bureaucratic careers are made in Putin’s time — nothing happens there by chance. The journalists found out that Korolyov-father was a friend of Viktor Zubkov and hunted together with him, which apparently contributed to the first steps of Korolyov-son, who started his career in St. Petersburg under Zubkov’s wing. In the early 1990s, Zubkov served as Vladimir Putin’s deputy in the St. Petersburg City Hall’s Committee for External Relations, became Deputy Minister for Taxes and Duties in 1999, took over as Prime Minister of Russia in 2007, and headed Gazprom’s board of directors in 2008.
The author quotes the opinion of Korolyov’s colleagues: they are convinced that despite having «good connections» Korolyov made his career on his own because he is «a very savvy operative» (one of the highest forms of praise in the law enforcement community): before he became first deputy director, he worked for the FSB as head of a unit, head of a division, and head of a department.
The thing is that, first of all, in my view, the law enforcers’ opinions should be divided by ten — they themselves have repeatedly demonstrated how easily they can lie, understate, or exaggerate their own successes in the name of some «higher interests», unknown to their fellow citizens. And, secondly, curious in this regard and contradictory is assessment of Korolev’s activities during his time in the service of economic security (SEB) UFSB of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region on the part of his colleagues from related law enforcement branches. This once again demonstrates the traditionally «uneasy», if not hostile, relationship between the police and the KGB (Federal Security Service), especially exacerbated under Putin, when the FSB took from the «cops» bread-and-butter places for protection. Korolev’s tasks, among others, included combating organized crime and supervising law enforcement agencies. Journalists recall the war for influence between the police and the FSB and, in particular, between Sergei Korolev and Vladislav Piotrovsky — at the time head of the city’s criminal police and later head of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad region Department of Internal Affairs. I once investigated a criminal case against Arkhangelsky, a businessman from St. Petersburg. And in that case the figure of Piotrovsky «loomed» quite clearly.
Obviously, the stumbling block for Korolev was the case of Oleg Makovoz, a native of Irkutsk region, who was detained by St. Petersburg Police Criminal Investigation Department. According to police investigators, Makovoz, nicknamed MacLeod, was one of the members of a Bratsk criminal group. (In 2009 Makovoz was sentenced to 23 years in prison for the murder of Rustam Ravilov, the leader of the «Kazan» gang, kidnapping and extortion.) Checking the circle of Makovoz acquaintances, operatives found that the ringleader of Bratsk criminal group closely communicated with Sergei Korolev. The nature of this relationship, in their opinion, «was similar to a mutually beneficial cooperation». In the view of Korolyov’s colleagues, who were interviewed by IStories, Makovoz was «a valuable source of information, and the relationship between the operative and the source is one of the most complex, even philosophical, problems in the work of the special services.
In any case, it was in the midst of the Makovoz investigation that Korolev submitted a report about his transfer to the Federal Tax Service (FTS) under the wing of its then-head, Anatoly Serdyukov, son-in-law of the aforementioned Viktor Zubkov. Later, Serdyukov became the head of the Ministry of Defense, and Korolev became his advisor. In his new position he, in particular, supervised the GRU. Since I remember well the old days, I can say with confidence: «there had never been anything like this before and here we are again»: an adviser to the Minister of Defense became a man who has close ties with the gangsters. Moreover, in his new post, IStories writes, he, in particular, supervised the GRU.
However, as further events showed, the connection to the criminal world of St. Petersburg did not go anywhere either. The author of the investigation studied the materials of the Spanish police, which in 2008 conducted a large-scale special operation «Troika», resulting in the arrest of, in the words of the Spanish media, «leaders of the Russian mafia». Among those arrested was Gennady Petrov, a St. Petersburg businessman with criminal past. Journalists take us back to the wiretaps of Petrov’s conversations with high-ranking Russian officials published by The Insider. By the way, the same ones — Zubkov and Serdyukov (Vitya and Tolik fraternally call them Petrov). From these conversations, the reader learns curious details about the appointment of Alexander Bastrykin as head of the Investigative Committee. And also, about a mysterious character by the «name» of Boltai-Noga (swinging foot). IStories established: Boltai-Noga, like Korolev, worked as an advisor to Anatoly Serdyukov; Boltai-Noga, like Korolev, is named Sergei; Boltai-Noga, like Korolev, had a relationship with the FSB: Petrov reminded in the conversation with his son not to forget to congratulate Boltai-Noga on December 20, Security Agents Day; Boltai-Noga, like Korolev, was born on July 25.
Why is the topic of «peterskije» (officials originated from St Petersburg) once again raised in the investigation of IStories important? Because the system they cultivated eventually spread over the entire country. This once again confirms: the Russian government is completely criminal in nature.
Finally, the strength of the story lies in the unresolved mystery of Sergei Korolev’s personality. No matter what ties he was caught in, each time he not only got away with it, but it seems to have only strengthened his authority among his colleagues. Working on this text, the author of the investigation repeatedly asked his interlocutors: «How could Korolev be appointed deputy director with so many acquaintances among the leaders of the underworld» Both friends and former enemies of the new deputy FSB director answered more or less the same thing: «And who is not without sin? At least he [Korolev] has never been involved in * [beastliness or betrayal]. And the president appreciates such people».
In this sense, the journalist concludes, the president’s personnel policy bears little resemblance to the principles practiced in a state governed by the rule of law, but rather resembles the personnel logic of criminal bosses, where loyalty is the candidate’s main virtue.
Sergei Korolev did not answer the IStories questions. At least, not yet.
Search technologies used by the authors: work with our own sources; search through open sources (The Insider’s publication with wiretaps); use of official investigative materials, including from another country (Spain).
Techniques used: interviews, analysis of all the information obtained.
The original text of the article is Russian. Translated by artificial intelligence systems.