Businessman held on suspicion of ordering contract killings

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May 18, 2000, 5 p.m. | Ukraine — by Katya Gorchinskaya

Katya Gorchinskaya

Katya Gorchinskaya has been the Kyiv Post's deputy chief editor since 2009 and is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and other publications. Follow her on Twitter @kgorchinskaya.

Police detain Russian businessman Igor Shagin, head of Top Servis Vostok, on suspicion of ordering several high-profile murders in Ukraine; no formal charges launched ficials. He is also suspected of a number of other serious crimes, but has not been officially charged with any crime. The suspect's wife, together with his former business partner, alleged that the government trumped up the accusations against the businessman. A police patrol detained Igor Shagin, a Russian citizen, on a Kyiv street on April 28 for “malicious disobedience,” said Volodymyr Fialkovsky, Shagin's former business partner and a deputy in Ukraine's parliament. Before he was elected to parliament in 1998, Fialkovsky had headed food trading company Top Servis, of which Shagin was also a director. Shagin later started his own company, Top Servis Vostok, which retained close relations with the original Top Servis, according to Fialkovsky. Shagin had spent a week in a detention ward before his lawyer obtained confirmation from police that they were holding his client. Another week passed before Kyiv City Prosecutor Yury Haisynsky announced that Shagin was suspected of heading a large criminal gang. The prosecutor said Shagin had ordered attempts on the lives of three state officials in 1997-99, and had allegedly organized a series of armed robberies in Kyiv. Haisynsky said on May 11 that police had arrested all 14 of the gang's members, including six hired killers and a weapons supplier. “The [suspects] testified that the person who commissioned the [murder] attempts was Shagin,” Haisynsky said at a press conference. Haisynsky alleged that Shagin ordered attempts on the lives of Agriculture Ministry official Mykola Patsiuk; the chief of of Kyiv's Zhovtnevy district tax administration, Mykola Pidmohylny; and Pidmohylny's deputy, Tamara Koliushko. Patsiuk and Pidmohylny survived the attacks, but Koliushko died in a hospital of multiple stab wounds. Haisynsky said Shagin ordered Patsiuk to be killed after the agriculture official banned Top Servis Vostok from importing a large consignment of meat. Shagin allegedly ordered the two other hits after his firm came into conflict with the local tax administration, Haisynsky said. But four days after the prosecutor's announcement, Shagin's wife, Olga, said that contrary to reports published in the press, no charges had been brought against her husband. She insisted that investigators had not even questioned Shagin in connection with the killing and attempted killings. “I know that he wasn't asked anything like this,” she said on May 15. Police officials were not available to comment on Shagin's wife's allegation. Fialkovsky, who spoke to the press the day after the prosecutors announced the charges against Shagin, said the government had ordered the Russian businessman's arrest in an attempt to destroy his company, so as to avoid paying Hr 2.7 million in tax rebates owed to Top Servis for earlier foreign trade deals. “I will never believe a single word about the murders,” Fialkovsky told reporters at a press conference. He also threatened to sue Petro Opanasenko, deputy chief of the Kyiv department of the Interior Ministry, for earlier insinuating that he, Fialkovsky, was attempting to obstruct justice in the case. Although Opanasenko did not mention Fialkovsky by name during the press conference the day before, reporters inferred that Fialkovsky was the person he was referring to when he said: “We have grounds to state that this lawmaker has collected $500,000 to free the arrested [alleged gang members] and not allow the case to proceed to court.” Fialkovsky said that allegations of his involvement in the case were “lies.” He said he would consider filing a lawsuit against Opanasenko after analyzing what the Interior Ministry official had said at the press conference the day before.
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