Why do the very same people with impunity bankrupt dozens of banks from which billions of roubles disappear, how do the special services help them do this, and what happens to those who try to stop them?

On 18 February the Natsionalnyy Rezervnyy Bank [National Reserve Bank] (NRB), which belongs to Aleksandr Lebedev, a Novaya Gazeta stockholder, may be closed. The formal pretext is an administrative case started by firemen who decided that the office of the NRB, located in one of the best business centres in Russia, does not meet safety requirements. Before the firemen's visit, "mask shows" [raids of masked police] consisting of associates of Directorate K of the FSB [Federal Security Service] and a special-purpose police detachment swooped down on the NRB office. The formal pretext was a criminal case of embezzlement of 450 million roubles [R] from the Rossiyskiy Kapital [Russian Capital] Bank that the NRB had financially cleansed [saniroval] in 2008-2009. The real reason for these raids is an attempt to frighten Aleksandr Lebedev and make him keep quiet and stop the investigation of the embezzlement of R5 billion from Rossiyskiy Kapital that he discovered during the cleansing. Today we continue our investigation on the billions that disappeared, the main beneficiaries of this withdrawal of assets, and their security "cover" from the most varied special services.

Prologue. The Letter of an American Diplomat and a Failed Scam

On 18 January 2007, an associate of the US Embassy reported from Moscow to the State Department on a strange corruption scandal that made American diplomats very apprehensive. "On 16 January," he wrote, "the Moscow City Court began the hearings on a case of tax fraud in which Oleg Alekseyev... [ellipses as published throughout] from the Federal Tax Service (FNS) and Aleksey Mishkin... from the Moscow branch of the Central Bank (TsB) were involved... Both were accused of extorting bribes of 5.3 million dollars in 2005 from Aleksey Ivashchenko, president of Rossiyskiy Kapital Bank, in exchange for halting the prosecution of the bank, which had failed to pay 75 million dollars in taxes in 2004. As is reported, Ivashchenko complained of extortion to the Federal Security Service, and the FSB officers the next month arrested Alekseyev and Mishkin during the transfer of the bribes."

The American diplomats and their sources in Western companies were confused: they did not know how to interpret this case and they discovered a suspiciously large number of coincidences and strange circumstances. Why was the FSB rather than the police working on the case? Why was the amount of the bribe so implausibly high, taking into account the not-too-high level of the officials? Why didn't Rossiyskiy Kapital challenge the tax complaints in court as other banks have successfully done? Those are the questions that the diplomats and their informers asked. And finally, throughout this entire story, one more detail bothered the diplomat: at roughly the same time that the operation against Alekseyev and Mishkin was being conducted, high-ranking associates of the Ministry of Finance turned to one of the embassy's sources and proposed a very similar action under the FSB's leadership against the tax service, but this time with the participation of an American firm as a victim of the extorters of the bribe. As the diplomat reported, the idea supposedly belonged to FSB director Patrushev and Minister of Finance Kudrin, who hoped that such high-profile cases would become a signal to bribe-takers from the FNS. Judging from the text of the dispatch, the diplomats had every reason to believe in the reality of these proposals from the FSB and the Ministry of Finance. But the scam did not come off - the American company refused for reasons of reputation. But then the cooperation between the Rossiyskiy Kapital Bank and the FSB ended in complete success: the case of Alekseyev and Mishkin became one of the most high-profile cases in 2007, and the wave of public indignation regarding the irrepressible appetites of the bribe- takers so engrossed even independent observers that everyone somehow forgot about the bank's enormous tax debt of 75 million dollars.

The Exposition. On the Trail of Failed Banks

And so three years after those events, exactly everything down to the topic, the details, and the chief heroes is being repeated with Aleksandr Lebedev, the owner of the Natsionalnyy Rezervnyy Bank and a Novaya Gazeta stockholder. That same Rossiyskiy Kapital, which this time 150 million dollars disappeared from, once again raids by the FSB, and an enormous public response like a curtain of smoke hiding the main thing - the beneficiaries of the money that had disappeared.

Everything began on 17 October 2008 when at a conference in Minister of Finance Aleksey Kudrin's office, the best minds of the Russian banking sector were deciding how to save Rossiyskiy Kapital, which was in a pre-bankruptcy condition. The stakes were apparently not only the fate of the bank taken separately, but also the stability of the country's financial system. At that moment Rossiyskiy Kapital possessed an extensive regional network and in its accounts were clients' capital totalling roughly R16 billion and physical persons' deposits totalling R7 billion, so the failure of such a major bank in a crisis year could cause a chain reaction. At the conference in Kudrin's office, the Natsionalnyy Rezervnyy Bank was given the instruction to conduct the cleansing of Rossiyskiy Kapital, and a Central Bank deposit of 300 million dollars was posted in the NRB balance accounts for that purpose. (A year later Lebedev returned all the money together with the interest, although, allow me to mention, he obtained this capital before the adoption of the corresponding law on cleansing whereby today banks get loans under much more beneficial financial and time conditions.)

When the NRB specialists started to carry out the cleansing, they discovered that the reason for the dismal condition of Rossiyskiy Kapital was not so much the financial crisis that had erupted as the questionable operations of the former owners of the bank. Learning of that, Aleksandr Lebedev began to write tonnes of letters to all the different levels of offices where he reported that with the help of questionable deals, unrepaid loans, fly-by- night firms, and offshore accounts, R5 billion were withdrawn from the bank. The scheme of these operations was obvious even with the most superficial analysis, and the owner of the NRB named the particular parties who in his opinion were guilty - the bank's main owners: Aleksey Ivashchenko, Irina Kireyeva, and Oleg Martynov. Each of them had a fairly extensive biography, and Rossiyskiy Kapital is by no means the only failed bank on their work path.

Aleksey Ivashchenko was born in 1960. He was a member of the boards of directors of the Torgovyy Dom [Commercial House] GUM and the Novokuznetskiy Alyuminiyevyy Zavod [Novokuznetsk Aluminium Plant] and was head of the St Petersburg ZAO [closed-type joint-stock company] Vagonmash - one of the oldest railcar building enterprises in Russia which products cars for the subway and railroads. And Ivashchenko began his financial activity at the notorious Mosbiznesbank, where he worked from 1993 into 1998 and held the positions of vice president and first deputy chairman of the governing board. And it was a coincidence that specifically in 1998 - after Ivashchenko left - that problems began at the bank: its credit indebtedness was over R10 billion. They were also attempting to rescue Mosbiznesbank, one of the at-that-time largest banks and for Moscow a system-forming one - the Bank of Moscow was working on its cleansing. But even that did not help: the bank had its license revoked. Moreover, it was learned that the Main Investigations Administration (GSU) of the Moscow GUVD [Main Internal Affairs Administration] had started criminal proceedings. The investigators discovered that in the period from 1994 into 1996 alone, more than $200 million had been embezzled from Mosbiznesbank. The scheme down to the minor details duplicated the one that Aleksandr Lebedev is writing to all the offices of different levels about: phony firms were created and they were given deliberately unrepaid loans and the money was transferred to offshore accounts and converted into cash. It was this, in the investigators' opinion, that in fact became in 1998 the main reason for the collapse of Mosbiznesbank. Aleksey Ivashchenko was not harmed in any way in this scandal, but as people were saying in financial circles, Rossiyskiy Kapital, which appeared in that same year, supposedly was created using the money of the ruined Mosbiznesbank.

Oleg Martynov has a much larger "service record" of bankrupt banks. Martynov was born in 1955, while Rossiyskiy Kapital dates to 1998, and he began his financial career at the Industriya-Servis [Industry Service] Bank, which specialized in servicing the Olbi concern, which belonged to the well-known entrepreneur Oleg Boyko. Starting at that time, Martynov and Boyko cooperated closely and met in the management of practically all the structures created jointly. They founded the Shonkor-Olbi Bank (the license was revoked in 1997), they were the ones who participated in creating the Favourit Bank (the license was revoked in 1995), and they were the ones who were stockholders in Rosmedbank (the license was revoked in 1996), and, allow me to mention, the license of that same Industriya-Servis Bank was also revoked in 1996.

But the story of the bankruptcy of the Bolshaya Volga Bank, where Oleg Martynov was the chairman of the board of directors, deserves special attention. In 2004 the bank had its license revoked, and the Deposit Insurance Agency (ASV) worked on liquidating it. During the inventory of the property, ASV associates discovered that practically the entire amount of debtor indebtedness was made up of unrepaid promissory notes of various commercial enterprises - the OOO [limited liability company] Gaz Stroy Prom, the OOO Pervaya Sudokhodnaya Kompaniya [First Shipping Company], and the OOO Sovremennyye Sistemy Svyazi [Contemporary Communications Systems]. The unusual thing was that these companies belonged to Oleg Martynov himself and were the founders of Bolshaya Volga. Looking at this scheme, one can assume that Martynov as the manager of the bank apparently used depositors' money and loaned money to his own firms, which as the ASV audit showed, were in no rush to repay the debts, which in fact led to the revocation of the license and bankruptcy.

What is curious is that this scheme was used not only in his own bank: companies under Martynov's control contrived to borrow and not repay loans in outside organizations as well. In February 2007 the Arbitration Court of Moscow granted the demand of the claims of the Investitsionnyy Torgovyy Bank [Investment Commercial Bank] against the OOO Stroitelnaya Zhilishchno-Investitsionnaya Kompania [Housing-Investment Construction Company], whose general director was Martynov and whose founders were Gaz Stroy Prom and Sovremennyye Sistemy Svyazi, which in fact belonged to him. As the court established, the bank tried to collect R103 million from the debtor because Oleg Martynov's firm had in 2005 obtained a loan of R75 million for a year which had never been repaid by the time of the court hearing. The court granted the plaintiff's claims in part and decreed that R86 million should be collected from the debtor.

Years later Rossiyskiy Kapital also duplicated the fate of Mosbiznesbank, Bolshaya Volga, and all the other banks that our heroes had something to do with.

The Starting Point

How This Happened at Rossiyskiy Kapital

When at the government's instruction, NRB began the cleansing at Rossiyskiy Kapital, the scheme for withdrawing the assets was discovered during the very first audits. Moreover, all those methods that were tested and broken in earlier at dozens of other banks were used.

Scheme 1. "Cutting With a Dull Saw"

Throughout all of 2008, Rossiyskiy Kapital provided loans to or paid for the services of firms with typical signs of being fly-by-night ones which by transferring it to each other's accounts in the end accumulated money in so-called "windows" with accounts in the Cypriot bank FBME Bank Limited. The main "window" in this scheme was the OOO Firma Kvant with charter capital of R10,000 and a general director who was listed as the founder in 37 other commercial structures. The audit by the Rossiyskiy Kapital security service showed that this firm from February into June 2008 had conducted 77 suspicious transactions to transfer monetary resources to the offshore zone. As was written in one of the confidential reports prepared during the audit, the transactions involving these fly-by-night firms were completed on 15 October 2008, and that "is explained by the circumstance that the officials who had managed the bank at that time believed that starting on 16 October the bank would have its license revoked (the ordinary associates confirm this) and they were actively 'preparing' for this." The specialists who audited the bank also classified the transactions of Rossiyskiy Kapital's subsidiary - the OOO Velikolukskiye Tkani [Velikiye Luki Fabrics] (Veliktkan) - as part of this same scheme. Veliktkan's credit indebtedness by the start of 2008 came to R180 million, and for three years the enterprise was operating at a loss but all the same received loans from Rossiyskiy Kapital, which later on went to pay for the phony, as the auditors believed, work of the fly-by-night firms, which in turn transferred these same sums to other fly-by-night firms for work supposedly done and on into infinity until the money settled in those same "windows" with accounts in Cyprus.

Scheme 2. "Recrediting Chains"

Starting in 2004 Aleksey Ivashchenko and a number of companies affiliated with him began to acquire the stock of the Lipetskiy Oblastnoy Bank [Lipetsk Oblast Bank]. The purchase was made using credits from Rossiyskiy Kapital. The auditors might have at first been surprised that all the money was repaid, but soon they discovered that the repayment took place under a fairly strange scheme which worked in the following way. The firm would receive a loan from Rossiyskiy Kapital and would buy the stock of the Lipetskiy Oblastnoy Bank, and the money to repay the debt went through a long chain of fly-by-night-firms from another company that would also receive loans at Rossiyskiy Kapital. In other words, to put it bluntly, the repayment of the capital was made through recrediting, and from that naturally the size of the financial hole was not reduced, because while one hole was being closed, another would appear in a different place. A judicial investigation was conducted regarding the deal to buy Lipetskiy Oblastnoy Bank, and there it was discovered that many of the firms that had participated in this vicious circle were affiliated with Aleksey Ivashchenko and Irina Kireyeva, and the accounts of some of them were in the Bolshaya Volga Bank, which belonged to Oleg Martynov and at that time had not yet been liquidated.

Scheme 3. "Housing"

Mortgage contracts were another method for withdrawing the assets from Rossiyskiy Kapital. During the official audit that a commission consisting of five banking specialists was working on, it was discovered that from 2006 into 2008, Rossiyskiy Kapital had concluded five credit contracts to acquire real estate from a certain Zhestyankin family. As the official memorandum says, the transactions were conducted "on the basis of a one-man decision" and "under the direct instruction" of Irina Kireyeva, the former chair of the governing board of Rossiyskiy Kapital. What was her interest in the real estate of the Zhestyankin family? I quote the materials of the audit: "Ipatov ( the chief of the bank's administration for extension of credit to physical persons - R. A.) pointed out in explanation that a credit line was granted for Zhestyankina's son to acquire an apartment belonging to Kireyeva with the right of ownership..." Ipatov, according to him, numerous times tried to make Kireyeva sign these contracts, but she always refused and the loans were not discussed even in the bank's credit committee. In the end the commission came to inauspicious conclusions: "... The credits were in effect not secured, and because of that appealing for a penalty on the security in a judicial manner is not promising... Starting in November 2008 (that very time when the former owners were expecting that the bank's license would be revoked - R. A.), repayment of the credits by borrowers was stopped, and at the present time, the total indebtedness... is more than R308 million and 670,000 dollars." The associates of Rossiyskiy Kapital and the NRB had written to the law enforcement organs about all this. Their statements were accepted, but the UVD [internal affairs administration] investigator for the TsAO [Central Administrative District] of Moscow, after copying all the complaints of the auditors, did not find elements of a crime in Kireyeva's actions.

Scheme 4. "A Shady Trick With a Quick Visit"

In March 2009 Mikhail Dokuchayev, the chairman of the governing board of Rossiyskiy Kapital who had been appointed by the NRB as the cleansing bank, sent a statement to the chief of the Administration for Combating Economic Crimes (UBEP) of the GUVD of Moscow. Dokuchayev wrote that on 11 April 2007, a credit agreement for $17 million had been concluded between Rossiyskiy Kapital and the borrower Oleg Martynov to acquire nonresidential spaces with a repayment deadline of 10 April 2008. The money, "according to the existing cash debit slips, was issued in cash from the bank's cashier's office to the borrower in 13 instalments from 16 through 28 April 2007." "All the orders were signed by Martynov," Dokuchayev reported. But Martynov appealed to the Arbitration Tribunal where he said that he did not sign any agreements, and to confirm that he showed entries on his foreign travel passport that showed that from 15 through 30 April, he was outside Russia's borders and consequently could not have obtained the money. The court upheld his lawsuit, and hence, it appeared that there was no $11 million. But the judicial investigation conducted showed the opposite. I quote: "Martynov as the stockholder and VIP client of the bank at the start of April 2007 turned... with a request to prepare payment orders on his account - with no specific date. With the authorization of the former chair of the bank's governing board Kireyeva..., these documents ... were prepared and signed by Martynov personally. Beginning on 16 April 2007, these... documents were executed by Martynov's telephone instructions indicating the amount and the purpose of the payment. According to the verbal orders... of Kireyeva..., the cashiers issued money from the cashier's office on the basis of the prepared... cash debit slips to Martynov's proxies..." Here the "shady trick" ends, and then the "quick visit" starts.

Martynov not only won the suit, but he also filed a complaint with the Investigations Committee where a criminal proceeding was started under the article "fraud." It is not quite clear what the investigator was guided by, because if you believe the materials of the official audit, the fact that 17 million dollars was obtained was proven not only by the testimony of the bank's associates, but also by the results of the study by the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs] Expert Criminal Science Centre, which confirmed that it was specifically Martynov who had signed the cash debit slips. But what is curious is that right then within the framework of the criminal proceeding, the investigator asked Rossiyskiy Kapital for the originals of the cash debit slips and ban k documents which were in fact used as the basis for offering the money. I wonder whether these documents will come to light at some point or they are simply lost in the archives of the investigations committees together with the 17 million dollars.

The Culmination. The "Mask Shows," the Firemen, and the Regular Visitors With the "Official Documents" of the SVR [Foreign Intelligence Service]

All the schemes for withdrawing the assets from Rossiyskiy Kapital were laid out in detail in Aleksandr Lebedev's letters to the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the ASV, the General Prosecutor's Office, the Investigations Committee, and the FSB. What kind of reaction followed them? For a start strange people with promissory notes for hundreds of millions of roubles began to visit the NRB office more frequently. They admitted that they were the nominal holders, and the real owners were generals of the most varied special services. It would also happen that the generals would not bother to find messengers. To illustrate, according to Aleksandr Lebedev, General Sergeyev, the former chief of the banking department of FSB Directorate K of the SEB [Economic Security Service], came to the bank with a promissory note for R130 million.

And in November 2010, the NRB office was raided by a special-purpose platoon headed by Investigator Pavel Krylov, who demanded a meeting with Aleksandr Lebedev and the bank's financial documents. The explanation for the need to bring in heavy artillery, as it became clear later, was that the "associates of the bank could have exercised armed resistance" (can you imagine bank clerks "firing back" with binders on the good guys with automatic rifles?). At the same time, another brigade of masked men headed by Major Andreyev set off for the bank's storage facility where the safety deposit boxes were. The point is that the evening before Lebedev himself had said several times in telephone conversations that it was there that the disk with the materials on the thefts in Rossiyskiy Kapital were.

After the "mask shows," the firemen came to the bank for an inspection and discovered that the premises did not meet the safety requirements. At the same time, the NRB office is in one of the most modern class "A" business centres in Russia and next to it is the state corporation ROSNANO [Russian Nanotechnologies Corporation], which Vladimir Putin visited not long before the firemen's visit. In the end the unplanned inspection took the form of an administrative case that the court will examine on 17 February. In the worst of the scenarios, part of the premises of the NRB head office might be closed for a few months.

Perhaps the authors of the special operation were relying on the idea that after the public "raids," the clients would flee from the bank and the bank would fail. In the first weeks after the "mask shows," there was in fact an exodus of depositors - about R1.5 billion "left" the NRB. But the NRB is considered the most reliable bank in Russia, its norm of capital sufficiency is 54 per cent. That means that it is impossible to drown the bank even if tomorrow all the depositors were to leave. However, apparently someone is still nourishing such hopes - it is no accident that today the FSB is sending around the regional directorates guidelines to collect compromising material on the NRB's branches, and some gray individuals are running around the offices in the government and recommending blocking the project to order 44 new Tu-204-SM planes (this largest project in the history of domestic aircraft construction is the saviour for the Ulyanovsk Plant and the entire sector) from the aircraft company Red Wings, which belongs to Lebedev, since the NRB, which will finance the deal for the customer, will "collapse any second now."

In addition to the direct "raids," one more extremely important event took place, one that tied together these two links with a single chain and a common feeling of the complete idiocy of everything happening. In December 2010 a man who introduced himself as Mikhail Fradkov, the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), called the NRB office and asked that his general be received. Soon the visitor himself appeared, and he flaunted the "official document" of the SVR and introduced himself as Konstantin Mikhaylovich Yakovlev. Later, following Aleksandr Lebedev's statement to Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the chief of the GUVD, the stranger for a start asked that he be sold an apartment at a discount and then reported that the FSB's Directorate K with the participation of the MVD had "concocted a criminal case against undetermined persons from the Rossiyskiy Kapital Bank, the final goal of which was to 'raid' the Natsionalnyy Rezervnyy Bank that carried out the cleansing." Yakovlev also reported that at the initiative of the Main Investigations Administration at the GUVD, a "special" audit would be conducted by associates of the Central Bank. According to Lebedev, Yakovlev laid out some of the information on a sheet of paper, notably, he "proposed to settle the problems that had arisen through Glukhov, the chief of the GSU of the GUVD of Moscow, and Gabyshev, the chief of a department, for monetary remuneration in the amount of R1 million, which can be transferred later, when the case is closed."

Evaluate these events in chronological order and the surrealistic nature of the picture will become obvious. It is difficult to even imagine that after the search that caused an enormous public response, SVR director Fradkov would call the NRB office and petition for some "general." More likely this entire operation resembled a dull Chekist scam like the one that the FSB wanted to pull off against the tax service with the participation of an American company in 2007. At least the level of execution and the "creative" design are very similar. But it is something else that bothers me in this story.

The words of the phony general were confirmed by the documents from the criminal case that could have come to him only from the investigations brigade and that he conveyed to Lebedev when they met. From them, finally, it was becoming clear who the initiator of this security campaign was. I quote the investigator's report memorandum: "The material of the audit conducted by the associates of the FSB's Directorate K of the SEB served as the reason for starting the criminal case..." But it followed from this same report memorandum that an episode of theft of monetary resources of the Central Bank is also being investigated within the framework of the criminal case, in other words, that same deposit placed in the NRB for the cleansing of Rossiyskiy Kapital, which together with the interest was repaid just a year ago, which the Central Bank itself in fact confirms. Here is what I wonder: is it that they are pretending to be idiots in the GUVD's Main Investigations Administration or did they simply forget to tell them about this in Directorate K of the FSB?

Also attached to the report memorandum was a letter from Ivan Glukhov, the chief of the GUVD's Main Investigations Administration, to Gennadiy Melikyan, the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank. In this letter Glukhov asked that that same promised "special" audit be conducted. It is difficult to conjecture whether the banker Melikyan read the FSB information report or relied on his own knowledge in the area of finance, but the audit really did begin and is accompanied by the very same topics that are beyond common sense. (Parenthetically let me note that right after the cleansing procedure was finished, the Central Bank had already audited the activity of the NRB and did not find any violations, while the ASV even sent a special letter saying that it did not have any complaints against the NRB in the cleansing of Rossiyskiy Kapital). Here is the last example. On 7 Februar y 2011, Andrey Manoylo, the chairman of the NRB governing board, sent a letter to Konstantin Shor, the chief of the Moscow Main Territorial Administration of the Bank of Russia, where he laid out the details of the prolonged audit. Manoylo among other things wrote: "...After the end of the conference that your deputy Mr K. O. Galustyan conducted, the latter reported to me that the real reason that the audit was conducted was the publication of some materials of a humorous nature in a foreign newspaper belonging to one of the bank's stockholders and the negative response regarding this from the head of the Government of Russia." It is easy to conjecture who Mr Galustyan had in mind, but it is simply impossible to understand how such a thing could have come into his head, just as it is impossible to imagine Fradkov calling on a city telephone with a request to sell an apartment to a general.

The Epilogue. The Magic of Universal Idiocy or the Smoke Screen

Before publication we sent queries to the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank with a request to evaluate how the cleansing procedure was going and whether they have any complaints against the NRB and whether they intend to take some steps based on evidence of the withdrawal of assets from Rossiyskiy Kapital. At the FSB they responded that they cannot divulge materials of the preliminary investigation of the GSU under the GUVD. We sent a query to the FSB with a request to confirm whether this service's Directorate K really was the initiator of the raids on the NRB, as well as the question of whether they intend to find the billions that disappeared. At the FSB they responded that they cannot divulge materials of the preliminary investigation that the GUS under the GUVD is conducting. We sent a query to Ivan Glukhov, the chief of the GSU under the GUVD, with the request that he answer why strange people with "official documents" of the SVR are offering to transfer to him $1 million to resolve the problems; and why these people have the materials from the criminal case and his personal letters; and in addition the question of whether they are willing to find the Rossiyskiy Kapital assets that were withdrawn. The very next day we were called back by that same investigator Pavel Krylov, who headed the "mask shows" at the office of the NRB and very much wanted to know what materials had been "leaked" from the criminal case - apparently in order to understand what the editorial office has. There has been no news from the GSU under the GUVD since that time.

It may be that this quiet is in fact for the best. Because after the stories involving the scams of the American companies, the raids by special-purpose platoons, the visits by firemen in helmets, the phone calls from the "directors of the SVR," and certain nonexistent cartoons and Putin who was offended by them - it is frightening to imagine what all these people once again might think up. Will they perhaps tomorrow "put together" a grandiose "case of a band of vermin, spies, and murderers" headed by Ignatyev, Kudrin, and Lebedev (they were the ones who together started all this) who specially devised the financial crisis in order to steal money from Rossiyskiy Kapital? And all this perhaps would resemble a comedy if not for one "but." Behind all these fantastic and implausibly stupid topics, we somehow once again are forgetting about the main thing: where are the billions that disappeared from Rossiyskiy Kapital and how long will the people who ruined dozens of banks under the protection and with the help of various special services continue to feel at ease and continue to engage in this business? Or is our financial system merely honed to the point that individual top managers with impunity can export the assets of Russian banks to offshore accounts and the state using taxpayers' money will rescue these banks, and those who try to prevent this should always be ready for a special-purpose platoon to come visit them?

P.S. Aleksandr Lebedev reported to Novaya Gazeta that he intends to initiate an audit of the activity of the NRB by the Investigations Committee of Russia and the Comptroller's Office (2.7 per cent of the NRB stock belongs to the state, and the bank conscientiously pays dividends on it to Rosimushchestvo [Federal Agency for the Management of Federal Property]).

In his opinion, only in that way can the objectivity of the investigation of the story involving the cleansing of Rossiyskiy Kapital in 2008-2009 be ensured.