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Investigators and customs officers have been chasing Sergey Zuev, owner of Tri Kita (Three Whales) for six years.
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June 15, 2006
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Acting Prosecutor General Comes In Handy for Furniture
Prosecutor Generals Office reported yesterday it was an open season for the case on grand contraband of furniture, which was sold in 2000 via Tri Kita (Three Whales) furniture store owned by businessman Sergey Zuev.
Sergey Zuev, his former partner Andrey Latushkin, illegal broker Andrey Saenko and two smugglers (the Podsotskikh couple) were arrested for 10 days with the sanction of the court.

Their guilt was evident to us even five years ago, representatives of the Federal Customs Service said pointing out the arrest became possible only when President Putin stepped in.

It was Acting Prosecutor General Yury Biryukov, who, in 2001 to 2002, triggered criminal prosecution for officials that appeared too eager to jail Sergey Zuev for smuggling.

Thanks to Biryukov, investigator Pavel Zaitsev and two senior officials of the State Customs Committee (todays Federal Customs Service) Alexander Volkov and Marat Faizulin found themselves on the wrong side of the bar on charges of malfeasance when checking out the contraband of furniture sold via Tri Kita and Grand. The customs officials were soon acquitted, but the investigator got suspended sentence of two years at the second attempt.

Former judge of Moscow City Court Olga Kudeshkina said she was pressurized by Biryukov, who insisted on the guilt judgment for Zaitsev. Kudeshkina didnt yield though and Chief Judge Olga Egorova ordered to transfer the case to a more obedient colleague.

Manners change with the times, and the furniture case gained momentum, when Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov resigned and his first deputy Yury Biryukov felt his position was rather shaky. He reasoned, perhaps, it was time to be more aggressive and revived the action against grand smugglers.

All the Article in Russian as of June 15, 2006

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