Our family suffers from persecution of Russian government for 11 years now. In Guatemala Kremlin found a surprising ally – CICIG – an organization which was meant to fight corruption but instead has turned all its resources against us. Our entire family was imprisoned and sentenced to 14 and 19 years of prison for documents issued by Guatemalan Government. Criminal proceedings against us were initiated by Russian state banks: Gazprombank and VTB. The VTB bank participated directly in the process as an adhesive complainant with support of CICIG.
Unfortunately, there are many parties interested in hiding the truth. Some of CICIG sponsors who never investigated the collaboration between CICIG and Russia declared that there is no evidence of the collusion between that institution and Kremlin. But there is plenty of evidence as we will show here.
Russian press gives us the first proof. Immediately after our arrest Russian newspapers issued numerous publications on CICIG’s key role in persecution against us. The expressions they used were more than clear: “It was not the police who found the Bitkov, but the lawyers of VTB bank, those who acted as true detectives. They managed to locate the family in Guatemala … In December last year (2014), lawyers of VTB bank brought into the Bitkov process International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) … By request of CICIG, the police arrived at the house of Bitkov with arrest warrant ”
“… Russian Ambassador to Guatemala Nikolay Babich clarified that there is no extradition agreement between Guatemala and Russia and they are in the process of preparing one. However, the extradition of the Bitkovs is also possible through a bilateral agreement… The press service of VTB bank has declared with great satisfaction that the capture of Bitkovs was possible thanks to coordinated actions of VTB bank and CICIG… ”
Kommersant, article on the collaboration between VTB Bank and CICIG
The second piece of evidence is that Russian state bank VTB directly participated in our case as an adhesive complainant without ever presenting a single piece of evidence to support their claims. This was possible because CICIG has vouched for them. VTB also named as their representative the substitute magistrate of Constitutional Court Henry Comte. The act naming said representative was signed by the president of VTB Bank personally – Andrey Kostin – who is a close friend of Putin.
All this judicial fraud was carried out by CICIG which faithefully promoted interests of the bank without any legitimate support whatsoever. CICIG’s mandate states that the organization was created to help Public Ministry of Guatemala investigate Clandestine Apparatuses of Security. Aiding a foreign bank in it’s supposed commercial interests against a family of immigrants doesn’t fit in any way into it’s functions. It was an obvious act of corruption, and CICIG used its mandate for illegal interests of Russian state.
CICIGs representative, Claudia Gonzalez, asked Judge Galvez to establish VTB bank as an adhesive complainant, providing the judge with false information about supposed crimes committed in Russia.
For a long time we thought it was only Henry Comte, the intermediary between the Russian government and CICIG, but it was clarified that there was another character much closer to Ivan Velazquez and there was another state owned bank involved – Gazprombank – which acted clandestinely.
Gazprombank named as their representative – Alfonso Carillo – a person close to Ivan Velazquez. The mandate was issued by Andrey Akimov personally who is another good friend of Putin. According to testimony of a former CICIG’s employee, Alfonso Carillo used his connections to aid Kremlin and CICIG in their persecution against our family.
To aid Kremlin, Ivan Velazquez personally ordered attorney general Thelma Aldana to transfer the case against our family from metropolitan office to FECI, to a particular prosecutor – Estuardo Campos. Years later Ivan Velasquez denied having any knowledge of our family but here is the evidence that he personally gave order for our case to receive “special attention”.
This allowed CICIG to maintain the case against us in the highest risk courts and in hand of judges loyal to them.
From October 2014 until the arrest of our whole family on January 15, 2015, CICIG was carrying out constant monitoring of all members of our family and even Anastasia’s boyfriend, this investigation is recorded in 4 CICIG reports with more than 100 pages where collaboration with Russian banks is confirmed and false accusations of Russian government are used as basis.
At the unilateral hearing on January 14, 2015, it was CICIG that asked for immediate arrest of our entire family, offering Judge Galvez false information given by VTB Bank.
Judge Galvez dictated an arrest warrant for us, based on false arguments given by CICIG which they heard from Russian banks.
After the arrest in which participated more than 100 armed police officers, the bank demanded to keep us in jail and CICIG once again supported the bank. CICIG and VTB bank systematically misinformed judges, hiding evidence of our innocence time and time again. To keep us in jail they said that we have no right to house arrest because of risk of flight.
CICIG’s representative Claudia Gonzalez lied that our entry into Guatemala was anomalous. To avoid application of the Migration Law, which protects immigrants, she then said that we are not immigrants.
When Judge Galvez realized that he was deceived by CICIG he granted house arrest to Irina and Anastasia. CICIG together with VTB Bank him. They insisted that at least one member of our family must remain imprisoned and because of them Igor spent 3.5 years in prison before trial! According to law preventive prison can not be used for more than 1 year but CICIG asked the judges to make an exception.
CICIG’s representative Claudia Gonzalez manipulated the law in respect to what the term immigrant means, stating that it does not apply to us because we are not poor. She literally said that and the puppeteer judges of CICIG pretended that it made sense.
Immediately after Judge Galvez granted house arrest to Irina and Anastasia he was replaced by judge Erica Aifan who blindly complied with everything required by CICIG and the bank.
Aqui podemos ver como en la audienca de 30.01.2017 , Aifan promueve ilegalmente los intereses del banco VTB que pertenece a Putin . ¿ Que interés tiene la juez , por que trabaja para el banco? Saben congresistas demócratas de esto? Esto es corrupción y crimen internacional . pic.twitter.com/ItrYvgBLv3
— Igor Bitkov (@Igor_Bitkov) August 9, 2019
Judge Aifan had numerous meetings with agents of VTB and Gazpombank. For example, here Aifan and representative of Gazprombank Alfonso Carrillo are having lunch during Aifan’s working hours.
In October of 2017, 3 months before the final trial, Judge Aifan sent a letter to the Russian embassy where she informed them about the “planned sentences” for our family. This is a grave violation of many laws and judicial ethic. She knew that we were politically persecuted by Russian Government yet not only she was sending reports to Russian Embassy giving them reserved information of our trial but also planned sentences for us before we were even sent to final trial.
When we challenged judge Aigan for committing these crimes and violating due process, CICIG defended her.
CICIG lied to international community stating that they knew nothing about political persecution against our family. Their lie is easily exposed. There are recordings from every audience that we had in 5 years and in each of them CICIG is made aware of Kremlin’s persecution against us despite their judges explicitly prohibiting us from telling the truth. Here Claudia Gonzalez says that she doesn’t care about our political persecution.
Ivan Velazquez also lied stating that he knew nothing of our family. In fact, he had two meetings with Irina Bitkova where she fully informed him of our case and abuses that were being comitted by his prosecutors. One of those meetings was recorded.
The worst of all the crimes committed by CICIG was their advocacy in sending our 3 years old son Vladimir to an orphanage. When we were arrested we named legal tutors for our son and he was left in their care. His tutors are close friends of our family and knew Vladimir well so he was doing well with them as was confirmed by numerous reports for the court. Vladimir was born in Guatemala and this is Guatemalan citizen by birth which prevented our extradition. That’s when Pavel Astakhov – representative of Putin on children matters – announced that Vladimir should be taken to an orphanage. Then Russian Embassy asked us to sign papers making Vladimir Russian citizen. We refused. Soon afterwards Vladimir was illegally separated from his tutors and sent to an orphanage. It was a tragedy for us all. Kremlin was using our 3 years old son in their dirty game of politics. Years later, a childhood attorney Haroldo Flores testified that CICIG’s representative visited him shortly before that trial and ordered him to take our son away from us. After a long month of fighting to return Vladimir we finally got him back. But it’s unforgivable that CICIG – an institution created to fight corruption – was aiding Kremlin in taking our son away.
The Appeals Court of Guatemala returned our son to us and annulled resolution of judge Aifan to send us to final trial. Then Constitutional Court confirmed this decision. The following final resolutions were issued: 02.27.2017 of Constitutional Court; 19.10.2017 3rd Court of Appeals; 04.25.2018 of Constitutional Court; 05.22.2018 – execution of orders of 3rd Court of Appeals. Constitutional Court tried to do justice and to revoke all accusations against our family.
However, CICIG used it’s influence to act against Constitutional Court and to continue with torture of our family. Judges Erica Aifan and Yassmin Barrios refused to comply with the resolutions of superior courts and continued the trial against the law.
Despite those resolutions in our favor, unprecedentedly the tribunal of Yassmin Barrios sentenced Igor to 19 years of prison, Irina and Anastasia to 14 years each. We were sentenced without any evidence, without any witnesses. That’s when it became absolutely obvious to everyone that there are big powers behind this. Despite the fact that we were sentenced by Guatemalan judges for irregularities in our documents, Russian press reported the following: “VTB asked CICIG to investigate… We are satisfied with judgement of Guatemalan courts which sentenced Bitkovs finding them guilty”. Press Service of VTB Bank then declared that they will be announcing the date of new trial proceedings against our family, promising that we will be accused of more crimes still.
Kommersant, January 2018,
Meanwhile CICIG and FECI covered up Cutino crime ring whose members include 25 governmental officials, among them Mayra Yojana Veliz Lopez and former foreign minister Raul Morales Moscoso. All they participated in the process of issuing of our documents for which we were sentenced.
We can conclude that there is abundant evidence of collaboration between CICIG and Kremlin. The trial against us orchestrated by CICIG was completely anomalous violating our human rights and due process many times over. CICIG supported Russian state owned banks that are sanctioned by US and EU violating it’s mandate. Numerous lies in attempt to cover up their responsibility in our torture are easily exposed by announcements of VTB Bank congratulating CICIG and even saying that the organization was “hired” to persecute us. Ivan Velasquez claimed in United States that he never heard of our case. There is a letter which he sent personally to Thelma Aldana asking her to transfer our case to a particular prosecutor as well as video recording of his meeting with Irina Bitkova where she attempted to explain him how his prosecutors violate the law in our case and where he left abruptly. CICIG and it’s chief Ivan Velasquez colluded with Kremlin knowingly while they were covering up the real crime ring Cutino which involves many governmental officials.
The key people in the torture and persecution of our family were never investigated: Ivan Velazquez, Thelma Aldana, Francisco Sandoval, Mayra Veliz, Alfonso Carrillo and many others. Their bank accounts, those of their relatives and related companies should be investigated. CICIG is an embarrassing disappointment to international community, which in its good faith was deceived and confused. The most important lesson to be learned here is that no entity of international power should ever remain and act without any control or supervision.