Crossbow Coup trial begins against ex-intelligence officer
MOSCOW, November 13 - RAPSI. The Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) hosted live text coverage of the hotly anticipated public Crossbow Coup trial from the Moscow City Court.
Just one day after former intelligence officer Vladimir Kvachkov was acquitted of charges relating to the attempted assassination of privatization czar Anatoly Chubais, he was arrested and charged with organizing a coup plot. According to Kvachkov, authorities claim he intended to carry out the coup with a small team of followers armed with crossbows.
15:20 Well, that's all for today. Thanks for joining us and be sure to tune in tomorrow for our live broadcast of the Pussy Riot extremism trial! By the way, please find the broadcast in Russian here.
15:10 The hearing is abruptly ending. It will resume at 10:30 Moscow time on November 19.
15:03 The Prosecutor is reading the entire list. There was a knife presented to Kvachkov from Tagliatti officers according to the engraved sign on the blade, another knife with a long black blade, a computer tablet, a box with instructions on using a radio station, four sports bags filled with devices for noise muting, flags, badges, and chevrons.
14:53 Among the texts found in Kvachkov's apartment are books titled, "The Psychology of World Domination," "I am Russian and am doing Russian Business," and a number of other books, pamphlets, newspapers, and leaflets.
14:49 During the search, the following items were confiscated: a train ticket to the city of Voronezh, a knife with a sheath, an engraved knife, $200 USD wrapped in a sheet of paper, 183,000 rubles, some boxes with MTS and Megafon mobile operators contracts, the newspaper "News of Slavs," a train schedule from Moscow to the suburbs, $10,000 USD, discs marked, "Death to the occupiers and traitors," different notes, the text entitled "The Political Struggle of 1971," and two brochures entitled "The Union of the Russian People". Investigators also seized a black device with a charger, a radio station, two guns for self-defense, a few boxes of rubber bullets. Kvachkov does not have a permit for these weapons, but he denies that they belong to him.
14:45 The record of the search of Kvachkov's Berezhkovsky Embankment apartment in the central Moscow is being read out. The report reads that the door was opened, while Kvachkov stresses it was broken by force.
14:40 “The case materials were not there yesterday or the day before; all are perfectly well acquainted with them. You need to prepare for trial,” the presiding judge Pavel Melekhin opposed. However, he will provide the defense with time to prepare the relevant motions. Today only two reports will be examined.
14:38 “The prosecutors’ list includes materials that we consider inadmissible evidence. To explain the motivation behind our point of view, we need time. We will present arguments on the inadmissibility during the next hearing,” Kvachkov said. Today he only agreed to the announcement of evidence from the search of his apartment.
14:37 Kvachkov consulted with his attorneys and is now calling for the judge.
14:32 The hearing has been adjourned for 15 minutes to allow Kvachkov to prepare his thoughts on the prosecutor’s motion for evidentiary disclosure. In his opinion, the prosecutor included invalid evidence in the list. The defense intends to request a postponement on the hearing because the prosecutor listed an enormous amount of documents – several volumes.
14:29 Alexander Kiselev is on trial along with Kvachkov who, according to investigators, had planned to support the uprisings in St. Petersburg. Lawyers said that Kiselev and Kvachkov only met in the paddy wagon, when their criminal cases were combined.
14:26 It has been incidentally revealed that Pyotr Galkin, alleged to be part of Kvachkov's criminal network, confessed to the FSB and has agreed to testify against Kvachkov, received a suspended sentence. However, he stated that he and Kvachkov's ideological differences attest to the fact that their actions were not coordinated.
14:24 Now they’re going to read out the written evidence and examine the material evidence. The prosecutor is reading out the results of the investigation of Kvachkov’s apartment, a report on the inspection of objects and documents retrieved.
14:19 The Kvachkov supporters have their own unique system of allocating seats in the courtroom. For example, they’ve decided to let in the youngest among them: “Vladimir Vasilyevich will have more pleasure looking at them,” because they’re young and fresh.
14:10 Meanwhile, Kvachkov’s supporters have written to Moscow City Court chairperson Olga Yegorova requesting the allocation of a larger courtroom to accommodate all the audience. There’s such a a room in Moscow City Court with 60 spectator seats and a separate press balcony with over 100 seats. It might be currently empty.
14:03 The hearing has been delayed - still waiting for Mikhalkina; she is now in an appeals hearing. A crowd is gathering at the door of the courtroom. People are trying to smash their way in.
12:06 The hearing has been adjourned until 2pm.
12:04 Kvachkov is not opposed to letting the two lawyers go. He wishes them the best of luck in “the battle of Stalingrad.” They’re en route to defend their client in an extremism case.
11:57 The witness denies any involvement in the drafting of the list, claiming that it has grammatical errors.
11:54 The prosecutor is reading out a report of items seized in Kvachkov's apartment. The list includes paper envelopes, tickets, knives, shoulder patches, lists containing various symbols, schemes of military units; one of which contains Avvakumov's name.
11:52 Two attorneys have asked the judge to let them go, saying they have to catch a train to be at another Kvachkov hearing in another city. They already have tickets. The judge asked them which station they need to be at. He decides it's in bad form to let an attorney go in the middle of questioning a witness. The hearing will go on, despite concerns the lawyers might miss their train.
11:45 Kvachkov asks whether psycho-physiological selection methods allow to establish the readiness of the military unit to effectively suppress revolt or to participate in a revolt. He can't understand why the garrison has been effectively disarmed based on the threat of rebellion. He wonders about the psychological impact on the military unit which was ordered to surrender weapons.
11:41 “I work with people,” the witness declares, explaining why he can’t get into details about military equipment. He highly values the battle-readiness of military psychologists. In his opinion, the training center is the best in Russia.
11:39 This man, by the way, isn't only a psychologist. He's a specialist for the department of professional psychological selection, which is in the recruiting business. He says that he heard about the work to enhance protection of the garrison.
11:35 The prosecutor asks about the names of the officers, location of warehouses, and other questions. Still no mention of the charges.
11:33 The next witness has been called - military training center psychologist Valery Avvakumov.
11:30 The prosecutor finally agrees to release the witness.
11:29 There are no more questions for the witness, but the prosecutor is in no hurry to let him go. The prosecutor is reading out a report of survey areas.
11:26 In fact, it has been quite difficult to figure out exactly what Kvachkov has been charged with so far, our correspondent reports from the courtroom. The charges themselves are as of yet virtually unknown. Kvachkov himself claims the alleged Crossbow Coup is central to his indictment.
11:22 Kvachkov questions whether all of these security precautions would prevent the army from acting as much of a military unit – how will they get their weapons if they need to fight?
11:19 “We talked about the threat of the seizure of arms and ammunitions – about the possibility of someone, somewhere, trying to encourage people to revolt. Toward this end, arms surveillance was intensified. The gates were welded to prevent capture,” Naletsky explains. He adds that he wasn’t involved in this discussion, that he learned about it from colleagues.
11:16 Not just anyone can wander up and take up arms, Naletsky explains. The warehouses are guarded by security wards that allow only staff granted permission by the Federal Security Service (FSB). The guards are armed with machine guns. There’s also a security system. A double-barbed wire fence blocks the entrance as well. The witness is still carrying on about warehouse security.
11:12 Kvachkov asks the witness how much time is needed to make launchers and missiles battle-ready. The witness explains the procedure. He also explains the timeframe for readying other types of weapons. Preparing the tank takes about an hour plus about 20 minutes to get the ammunition, according to the witness.
11:03 At the prosecutor’s request, Naletsky lists more than a dozen weapons used by the unit, including AK74s, machine guns, grenade launchers, ammunition, etc.
10:59 The first witness – Konstantin Naletsky – was born in 1965 and lives in the city of Podolsk near Moscow. He only knows Kvachkov from the media. He says that he was chief of a missile and artillery military unit in Kovrov in the summer of 2010.
10:54 “Who are there more of, Russians of Jews?” wonders Kvachkov. “They’re all our’s,” his lawayer Oksana Mikhalkina responds. She tells Kvachkov that there’s a good crowd of journalists in the hall – ones she recognizes from the last trial.
10:49 Once the attorneys, prosecutors, family members, and journalists file into the courtroom, little space is left for the Kvachkov supporters. The bailiffs say that today the witnesses will testify.
10:42 As usual, the hearing isn’t going to start on time. In attendance are the retired colonel’s wife, dozens of journalists, and scores of Kvachkov supporters. One of the judges tells us the trial will begin soon.
10:30 Good morning! Our broadcast is beginning live from the Moscow City Court. With you today are Anna Shubina, Vladimir Yaduta, and Ingrid Burke.
Kvachkov’s early years
According to his official website, Kvachkov was born to a military family on August 5, 1948. He spent his childhood in Ussuriysk, a city in Russia’s far east. He studied at a military academy and began his career in the field shortly after graduating. In 1981, he became an intelligence officer.
In 1983, when the USSR invaded Afghanistan he commanded the Special Forces there. In 1984, after sustaining a head injury, he was awarded the highly prestigious Order of the Red Star. He later received the Order of Courage. In 1994, he began serving as a high-ranking officer in the Main Directorate of Intelligence. It is unclear from his personal biography when the ties between him and the military were severed, but he is said to have been honorably discharged in 1998.
Kvachkov is a married father of four. He has two grandchildren.
The Chubais affair
In 2005, the motorcade of then-Privatization Minister Anatoly Chubais was attacked by a combination of road-side bombs and automatic gunfire.
Kvachkov was acquitted by the Supreme Court on December 22, 2010 of having organized the assassination attempt. In so holding, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier jury acquittal which had been based on the prosecutors’ lack of sufficient evidence. After Kvachkov was acquitted in the case he was awarded 450,000 rublesas compensation for moral damages, although he had initially sought some 50 million rubles.
The following day, Moscow’s Lefortvosky District Court issued a warrant for the retired colonel's arrest as part of a new case: that of the Crossbow Coup. Shortly thereafter, Kvachkov’s counselors filed a claim with the European Court of Human Rights challenging the validity of his arrest and further prosecution.
The Crossbow Coup
Kvachkov presently stands accused of having masterminded a coup d’état plot wherein he and a small group of his followers would oust the government. Kvachkov claims that the government’s theory specifically involves the use of crossbows to wrest control of the nation.
Kvachkov has denied the charges, claiming that they lack any legitimate basis. Kvachkov said he has been accused of organizing a group of recruits from his People's Liberation Front of Russia armed with crossbows to carry out a coup. From his own words the indictment is based on testimonies of one People's Liberation Front member accused of extremism.
At his upcoming trial, Kvachkov faces charges of aiding and abetting terrorism and attempted mutiny. He faces 20 years in prison at a minimum. Due to the sensitive nature of the case, it was initially set to be considered confidentially. As of November 9, however, the trial will be held largely in the open. According to Kvachkov’s attorney, only classified materials will be examined behind closed doors.
Kvachkov himself has stressed that the accusations against him are groundless and has so far denied his guilt.