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The Moscow police disclosed this week that they have decided not to investigate Alfa-Inform, a Moscow security agency, after an individual describing himself as an employee of the company made a telephone threat to put John Helmer in a wheel-chair unless he removed documents relating to Alfa-Inform and Rusal from this website.

The telephone-call was made to Vladimir Kulakov, Helmer’s assistant, on May 5. The caller claimed his name was Nikolai, and that he worked for Alfa-Inform. The caller’s number showing on the receiver was 8 (963) 990-44-86. He asked for the following message to be relayed to Helmer. “If John Helmer does not immediately remove the latest [website] posting which involves Alfa-Inform from his site, he will be only able to move if riding in a wheelchair”. After being assured the message would be relayed, the caller rang off, saying “Why the hell is he posting this!”

The posting to which the caller was referring was: http://johnhelmer.net/?p=3090 This revealed that the Alfa-Inform report on Helmer’s whereabouts and movements — found after a police search of a car belonging to three men arrested on December 28 after they attempted to enter Helmer’s apartment block in Moscow — had been tampered with, and that a forged version had been sent to the Moscow court reviewing the police investigation of those incidents.

Soon after the threatening call was received on May 5, Helmer filed a new complaint with the Khoroshevsky raion OVD. This was registered as a new case KUSP-5118.

 

Within three days, on May 8, senior OVD officer A.V. Kamanin signed his approval of a report by a lower-level officer, concluding that there was no evidence of a crime to be investigated, because it had proved impossible for the police to investigate the telephone-caller’s number. “It is not possible to establish the identity of the person who on May 05, 2010 called from the mobile number 8-963-990-44-86 to the mobile number of citizen Kulakov V.I….because the subscriber of the indicated number is out of network reach and is disconnected.”

 

More than two weeks were to elapse, before this report was endorsed by OVD station head K.Kh. Botashev, who signed the official notification on May 24. This said: “In connection with absence of elements of crime according to Art. 119 of the Criminal Code of Russia it was ruled not to open a criminal case on the basis and in accordance with Art. 24 part 1 item 1 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Russia.”

These documents were not made available to Helmer and Kulakov until June 7, two further weeks after Botashev had signed off on them. There has been no explanation for the delays.

A source close to the investigation said that it was not possible for the police to get access to the registration data for the telephone number used in the threat call unless a criminal investigation was opened officially first. Also, the police did not question Alfa-Inform as to whether it employed a person or persons named Nikolai, and what mobile telephone numbers he or they might use.

In the interval between investigating and not investigating the threat call, on May 18 Judge Elena Tsyplakova of the Savelovsky district court of Moscow over-ruled the police recommendation to close the first investigation of the plan of threat and attack against Helmer by men who were employees of Alfa-Inform. A criminal investigation has now been opened in that case, and involves both police investigators and officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB). The authentic version of the Alfa-Inform report, which was registered by the police on December 28, and reviewed by the FSB, has been secured. Three names are under investigation in addition to those arrested on December 28.

In parallel with the criminal investigation now under way in Moscow, the Australian Senate was the scene last week of formal questions by an Australian Senator about Rusal, its controlling shareholder Oleg Deripaska, Alfa-Inform, and the evidence gathered by the Australian government that led it to warn Helmer on December 20 of a threat to his personal security in Russia.

On June 3, Senator Bob Brown (Independent, Tasmania) filed four sets of questions during the Senate’s formal question-time for answer by two ministries, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the business promotion branch of the Australian trade ministry, known as Austrade. Brown hinted that the government is withholding disclosure of the evidence the Australians obtained regarding Alfa-Inform’s involvement in the security threat to Helmer, and of the association of Rusal with Alfa-Inform in the preparation of the plan subsequently uncovered by the Moscow police.

Australian officials have attempted to silence Brown, and to evade the statutory requirements for disclosure of the evidence on file in Canberra under the Australian Freedom of Information Act. Brown asked for documentation of all contacts between Australian officials and Rusal, as well as Rusal’s lobbyist in Australia, John Hannagan, and Alfa-Inform. Deripaska was named in the Senate questions in part because he visited the country in April. Brown asked what officials had met with Deripaska then, and what was discussed. Contacts between Australian officials and Alfa-Inform were also probed by Brown on the record. The government has a month in which to reply.

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