An Open Letter to FSB Chief Patrushev
Regarding the Case of Sinelnikov vs. Subbotkin
[TN: Following is a lightly-edited translation of a commentary by the editors of the “For Human Rights”(FHR) website on an exchange of letters between Vladimir Sinelnikov and the head of the Personal Security Division of the Russian FSB, regarding misrepresentations and other misconduct by FSB officer Subbotkin and two of his colleagues following a traffic accident between Subbotkin and Sinelnikov two years ago. The letters themselves - which were also were publicized on the FHR website - were well summarized by Sinelnikov in his Open Letter to President Putin, and therefore will not be translated here. However, the FHR editors make some additional points regarding Subbotkin’s misconduct, the response of the FSB leadership, and the malfeasances of the Russian court adjudicating the case, which definitely merit translation for a wider readership. As noted in the final paragraph of their commentary, the FHR editors consider this an open letter to FSB Chief Patrushev.]
The cynicism of the reply by FSB authorities to Sinelnikov’s letter is sadly typical of the Russian government’s traditions, and subsequent events give rise to fears about the rules by which employees of the Lubyanka are now permitting themselves to live.
We have a few more questions.
First, how could a videotape from a special surveillance camera, aimed at an intersection in front of the Lubyanka, wind up at the police unit investigating the events in question, without any request from the police themselves? Secondly, what sort of documentary permission did Subbotkin have in his possession that allowed him to take this videotape from his place of work and use it for his personal defense? (Although, in an ironic turn of events, independent experts later determined that the videotape only added to the evidence of Subbotkin’s culpability.)
Another question: In his attestations and in the accident report, Subbotkin gave in his own handwriting his home address. And he responded when a telegram arrived at this address requesting he come to an inspection of the vehicle he destroyed. But at the bureau of addresses it turned out he was not registered as living at this address. He had a different residential address: Bolshaya Lubyanka 1/3 (?! – editors). This sadly famous building is the place where Subbotkin works, along with FSB Chief Patrushev, and many of their other colleagues, but in order for this to be his registered address, the place of his propusk (according to the old system), it means that Mr. Subbotkin lived in...
Now, it is well-known that at this address one can find the in-house prison of the FSB. But it would be news to learn that there are also residences here. Apparently, Subbotkin violated some sort of government secret by identifying in the accident report his true place of residence. In Sinelnikov’s letter to the FSB Personal Security Division (USB) he asked one very simple question: “Please confirm the work address of Mr. Subbotkin (at the FSB, in the Presidential Administration), as well as the work addresses of two ‘bystanders’ who ‘happened’ to have witnessed the accident.”
The height of bureaucratic artistry and cynicism displayed in the FSB’s reply should cause, we suppose, some doubts about their honesty, but not about the affiliation of their colleagues: no names given; no comment on the allegation that the officers bore false witness; no “tracks left behind”; the possibility left open to deny everything they did; and, most importantly, no reproach of the officer who practically broadcast his affiliation with the organization, as well as that of two co-workers from a neighboring office who came running across the square to bear false witness on his behalf.
One would imagine that if Subbotkin had known who it was he ran into - that he had “happened into” an academic affiliated with three academies, the author of films about Chernobyl for which he was entered into the Guiness Book of World Records and awarded the Order of Valor, the author of films about Sakharov, human rights workers, and international terrorism - perhaps Subbotkin would have thought twice about trying to intimidate this man with his FSB credentials. And in that case maybe the FSB USB would have thought twice before it put together its sleazy reply, denying some “threat factor” - about which Sinelnikov had said not a single word in his letter - and regretfully noting the lack of any capability in the FSB Ninth Directorate to consider “procedural norms”. We would like to know what they had in mind by this.
In a personal meeting with Sinelnikov, a representative of the Butyrskiy Regional Court in Moscow assured him that his case would be heard in the Butyrskiy court - according to the location where Subbotkin lived (as required by law). But the judge of this court, Naumova, came to a different interpretation: she decided to return the case, unexamined, because contrary to what was said by the court’s representative, she believed that it did not matter where Subbotkin actually lived, but only where he was registered as living. And that being the case, Bolshaya Lubyanka 1/3 was not one of “her” addresses. If Sinelnikov wanted to pursue the matter further, he would have to go to another court, one which had the Lubyanka within its jurisdiction. And he would have to locate the residence manager among the chekisti. The
There has been no official word regarding why the previous head of the FSB USB was replaced, but it is now known that Lieutenant General Kupryashkin will begin this phase of his career with this affair as his responsibility.
Along with an answer to Mr. Sinelnikov’s question about whether the chekist Subbotkin works in the Presidential Administration, we the editors would also like to know whether the Administration was advised of the above-described incident in the course of which Mr. Subbotkin identified himself as belonging to the Presidential Administration.
Not long ago, the President of Russia, on a visit to the Lubyanka (where Subbotkin is registered as living), gave high marks to the activities of the FSB. We can only hope that he was not talking about the activities described in this publication.
We consider this text to be an official open letter to the Chief of the FSB, Mr. Patrushev.