Glamorous crook acted as citizen of Estonia

Risto Berendson
, reporter
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Photo: Kommersant

A jurist posing as Estonian citizen while organising a grand extortion scheme with help by Moscow law enforcement in high likelihood used a fake Estonian passport.

A jurist of Estonian citizenship disclosed as grand fraudster – this was the tone of recent articles in Russian media about the arrest of a crook that shook Moscow business circles and law enforcement. The man’s name is Dionisio Zolotov.

Upon arrest, it surfaced the individual – known to investigative bodies from times before – was former Deniss Tumarkin, a guy who, a couple of years ago got entangled in an extortion scandal as a Moscow lawyer and, in order to purge his reputation, was forced to temporarily leave Russia.

In the summer of 2013, Mr Tumarkin returned to Moscow with a new identity – the Estonian citizen Dionisio Zolotov. To check media claims regarding his valid Estonian citizenship, upon request of Postimees Police and Border Guard Board took a look. The answer was explicit – the person bearing that name has no official link to Republic of Estonia whatsoever.

Thus, the crook was probably using a fake Estonian passport. But what exactly did the crook, hiding behind Estonian identity, accomplish in Moscow?

The «stardom» of Mr Tumarkin’s started some years ago as a young successful lawyer in Moscow. His business scheme was outstandingly impudent and was based on connections in security circles. With businessmen totally unaware, he entangled them into criminal investigations and then offered his services to get them out.

The criminal scheme was disclosed in 2008 as Moscow tax board ordered a string of searches at an entrepreneur. Thereafter, the lawyer Mr Tumarkin arrived on the scene with a proposal – for a bribe of 52 million roubles, he would guarantee the termination of the criminal case.

Mr Tumarkin did get the money. However, instead of keeping his promise, he demanded that the businessman pay the same amount again. Instead of paying up, the businessman went to FSB for help. The security service sued the extortionist.

These were a high ranking tax crimes investigator and a former executive at FSB; both were sent physically behind bars. Mr Tumarkin, the only guy jailed conditionally, left Russia and arrived as the Estonian citizen Dionisio Zolotov.

In a rich Moscow neighbourhood, Mr Zolotov opened a company called Kaitse sporting a fancy office and offering legal consultations. If Russian media be believed, Mr Zolotov led a high-flying life – his official car only moved with blinkers and alarms on, often protected by a genuine police car. To clients, Mr Zolotov lied that he was close relative to assistant FSB chief Viktor Zolotov and a man, thus, in whose power it was to solve «any» problems businessmen might have.

Flaunting such arguments finally sealed his doom as FSB interest was aroused. Turned out, the crook had corrupted and involved several leading Moscow police officials.

An example of a racket – a businessman turning to Mr Zolotov to seek protection from tax board investigation came near to also lose his company. Namely, the businessman emitted to the crook-jurist bonds worth about €5m whereat Mr Zolotov had recourse to police complaining that the businessman refused to pay his debt.

Naturally, the businessman got arrested ... and sat behind bars for six months till FSB uncovered the fraudsters. As Mr Zolotov then was arrested, it turned out the crook had recorded his meetings and telephone conversations with corrupt investigators. Who could wish for better evidence?

According to TV channel Ren TV, the evidence discovered was also the reason why, at the end of last year, a top guy at Moscow police Vladimir Rožkov suddenly left office. While the official reason cited was health problems, Ren TV claims the real reason was close friendship with Dionisio Zolotov and bribes accepted from the latter.

Since August, the hero of our story is locked up at Lefortovo prison, Moscow.