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Cablegate: Corruption Fighter Astafyev Reportedly to Accept Plea

VZCZCXRO6025
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHPOD RUEHSK RUEHYG
DE RUEHVK #0117 3370605
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030605Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1243
INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0527
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 1348

UNCLAS VLADIVOSTOK 000117

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

MOSCOW FOR JUSTICE - TOM FIRESTONE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV SCUL RS
SUBJECT: CORRUPTION FIGHTER ASTAFYEV REPORTEDLY TO ACCEPT PLEA
BARGAIN

REF: A) VLADIVOSTOK 107 B) VLADIVOSTOK 79

1.Summary. Militia Colonel Aleksandr Astafyev, who was arrested
on trumped up charges in June in an attempt by some local
authorities to neutralize his anti-corruption campaign, may be
ready to make a plea bargain. Investigators reportedly have
still been unable to assemble adequate evidence and have offered
a conditional sentence if he admits guilt. Evidence or not, he
remains in jail and evidently has been pressured enough. End
Summary.

2. Astafyev continues to languish in a local jail (see Ref A).
We understand that investigators still have been unable to
obtain credible evidence to prove their accusations that he was
involved in fraudulent activity or any other violations of his
duties. Instead, they have offered a conditional sentence if
Astafyev pleads guilty.

3. The Director of Far Eastern State University's Organized
Crime Study Center, Vitaliy Nomokonov, told us on December 2
that Astafyev`s son had recently asked for his advice about
whether Astafyev should accept the prosecutor's plea bargain.
Nomokonov had advised Astafyev not accept the offer because the
investigation has nothing against him and is only seeking ways
to justify the arrest.

4. Nevertheless, Nomokonov added, investigators have pressured
Astafyev enough, and he is ready to accept the bargain in order
to leave the pre-detention center until the court hearings.
Nomokonov pointed out that this means that Astafyev will
definitely be sentenced, receiving probably a conditional
sentence.

5. Comment. Astafyev is a close Consulate contact who
participated in a State Department-sponsored International
Visitors Program devoted to fighting corruption. He has been a
well known speaker at seminars organized by the Far Eastern
National University's Organized Crime Study Center (OCSC) and
had received a grant from the OCSC to write about violent
corporate takeovers in Primorye.

6. Earlier, Astafyev passed a note to the U.S. Consulate
requesting American assistance (see Ref B). His spouse has told
us that he would like to move to the U.S. as refugee when his
case is over. End Comment.

ROTERING

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