First, the Clown brought this story to a glam magazine. He wanted to make a present to his nice and clever wife. She is a model, and it could be useful for her career. Editorial staff listened to him and said that was a cool story. “We are going to make a photo session with her. But just tell us one thing. Who is Anna Politkovskaya?” they asked. The Clown decided not to deal with them and left a message to the Novaya’s answering machine.
The conspiratorial name Clown was given to him by the major of FSB when he forced him into signing the paper where he agreed to be their agent. The stupid looking police officers who were present there, laughed very much. There are still reddish swellings on his wrists, caused by the handcuffs, which was confirmed by the medical forensic examination. His real name is Eduard. He’s a waggish guy and sometimes might seem a strange fellow, but he emanates peacefulness. Well, the FSB major can’t be denied artistic neatness. This guy really looks like a clown. A clown smiles silly when beaten by a sham inflatable club. But in reality it was a chair’s leg that was used for beating. While holding the Clown’s head with his elbow, this major who the others called Seryoga (another version of the “Sergei” in Russian), was saying “You’ll be Ok tomorrow, but after a year you’ll become crazy as I am going to beat you in a specific point.”
It’s in a movie that the main character is beaten, then some action follows, then he is beaten again and then he is saved by someone who rushes in. And when a person is beaten during three hours, it’s not a movie, but paranoia. Working in the Novaya, one may often listen to such stories.
If the Clown had come to Anna Politkovskaya with this story, she would have got involved without doubts; in spite of the fact this case would be hopeless. It was instinctive of Anna to cover those hurt. There’s no other like her. This is the last thing that she might have done with the fact of her death that protected the Clown and helped to achieve justice. Because now, after 5 years this described story happened and after the Anna’s death, those brutes wouldn’t be able to evade responsibility.
31 July 2002 at 11 a.m. “a nice, charming and quiet person”, as Eduard Ponikarov refers to himself, happened to be in the office of the tour agency Jumanjy Travel. Actually, he got there by accident. And the place itself was an apology for an office, being just a room in the basement. But the business seemed interesting and Ponikarov was thinking about buying it. The owner was “a red faced but very creative man who really knew Africa”. Experienced former intelligence service agents used to come there to have some vodka with the owner. They told about Africa, war, business and tourism. All that sounded cool and the Clown thought if he could invest money in the project.
Though Ponikarov looks very peaceful like a teddy bear and it’s difficult to imagine him wearing the stripes on his shoulders, his first profession was a military translator with the Finnish language. Once he translated at the meeting of that-time Russian defense minister Pavel Grachev and his Finnish counterpart. There he told to them both that it would be a nice idea to teach our officers to be UN observers. The Finnish minister grasped at the idea and Grachev had to agree. Several officers, including Ponikarov, were given training in Finland. In particular, they were instructed how to behave if you get prisoner in a hot spot. In July 2002 this knowledge proved to be very useful for the Clown, though by that time he had left the Army and had been engaged in different business projects.
Ponikarov started his business activity in a joint Russian-Finnish building firm. Everything was Ok but in Aug. 1998 there happened the default in Russia. All the firm’s money, deposited in 5 banks, got lost. Then Ponikarov got engaged in exporting mayonnaise from Finland. But in September 1999, when two blocks of flats were blown in Moscow, the trucks with mayonnaise were detained by the traffic police and the mayonnaise went bad. Just at that time his wife, Olga, delivered their first baby and the second afterwards. While the wife was on her professional tour (she is a model), the Clown was looking after the children and making plans for future.
So, at 11 in the morning he was sitting in the office of Jumanji Travel waiting for the owner, who seemed to be drinking vodka somewhere. Suddenly, several muftis rushed into the office. Until July this year the Clown had thought their number was 10, but the investigation established they were in six.
While some of the rushed in were making the office a shambles, the others put the cuffs on the Clown and started to beat him. The Clown was taught at the UN observes training course that it’s necessary to try to speak to the terrorists and to build a contact with them. But all that was hard to do now, as those guys didn’t ask him about anything and their eyes were empty like the fish’s. He managed to comprehend from their talk that they were looking for the passport of some Azerbaijani who allegedly was the owner’s client. Of course, the Clown had no idea of where the passport could be and finally the guys realized he had nothing to do with the matter.
As the Clown made no resistance, that blunted the guys’ vigilance. They allowed him to go to the toilet in cuffs. He rushed upstairs, ran out of the office and reached a police officer who was guarding an embassy near there. The guys came in a few seconds and showed to the police officer their service certificates saying they were officers form the Organized Crime Combat Department. Then the Clown realized they were not bandits. So they took him back to the basement and continued to beat more maliceously. One of them, Seryoga, participated more than others. He beat the Clown with a merry and sadistic malice. Then the guys seemed to have some problems they couldn’t solve and a bit later another two officers came to the office. They introduced themselves as FSB officers. Let us remember that two security officers joined the other officers from the Organized Crime Combat Department.
Those two seemed to be cleverer. They came to some solution the sense of which is not clear. They bought a bottle of vodka, made the Clown drink half of it and wash his face with the rest of it. Then they forced him to sign the written agreement about working for FSB with the conspiratorial name Clown. “You behave well, and make nice jokes when beaten”, they praised him laughing. Yet even after that no one was going to release him.
They seemed to think he was very rich and had a lot of money at home. He gave them his home number so that they can call and check there was no one at his home at the moment. Then they went to the City of Krasnogorsk (near Moscow) where Ponikarov lived. Seryoga and the FSB officer whom they called Pasha (a variant for Pavel in Russian) were in the car with the driver. All the way they kept him on the back seat of the Mercedes with tinted glasses. The driver did not participate and he seemed to dislike all what was happening. The Clown was thinking of pushing the driver’s back in order to make an accident near a traffic police post, but the cuffs were fastened on his back. It was about two p.m. when the car stopped near a 14-floored block of flats where the Clown lived. Pasha stayed in the car while Seryoga went to check if the Clown’s wife was around walking with the children. Through the tinted glass the Clown saw his wife with children enter the front door. The clown waited for a good moment to attract attention.
So the cuffs were fastened on his front and they all came up to his flat with a shirt covering the cuffs. They unlocked the flat’s door and there the Clown started shouting. He tried to get to the balcony, his wife and wife’s sister started to shout too. The officers started to beat the Clown before his wife’s and children’s eyes.
He understood nothing would stop them. But he was in his own flat! He required the search warrant. The answer was a terrible stroke in his head. His eyebrow got slashed. The officers took him back to the car where the driver was waiting with the running engine. Clown’s wife Olga hanged on the car’s door. Pasha told to the driver to go and he pushed the accelerator. Olga was thrown away but she managed to remember the registration number of the car. The neighbors saw the car too.
Now the Clown was lying under the back seat with Seryoga strangling him. He was picking the wound on the eyebrow trying to make the Clown fall unconscious with pain.
The officers seemed not to know what to do. The car rushed about in different directions. First, they went for Tushino, then decided to come back to Krasnogorsk. Seryoga said he knew some bandits there who could help them solve the problem. In the end, when they passed the traffic police post for the third time they were stopped by the traffic regulation officer who suspected something was wrong.
While the driver and Pasha were talking to the officer, the Clown was taken out of the car and thrown behind the post‘s glass booth. The Clown tried to reach the road but Seryoga got him. At this moment another car came by the post, it was the car of the prosecutor of the City of Krasnogorsk.
One may say for sure that it’s the wife who saved the Clown, remembering the car’s number. And of course it’s the traffic regulation inspector who also saved the Clown. He managed to call the prosecutor and not to flush Seryoga and Pasha. When in August this year, five years later, investigators came to this post with Ponikarov, the inspector was still working there. He remembered well that story as he had never seen anything the like after that.
We are not sure about this part of the story, as even after the prosecutor’s appearance, calling ambulance and putting the Clown in hospital where all the injuries were confirmed, Pasha and Seryoga were not detained. Well, they are not the only ones in the “law enforcement” bodies.
Now to the main topic. The clown was not going to put up with what had happened. He was not guilty of anything and he didn’t want to forget the humiliation he had suffered. In 2002 Eduard Ponikarov visited all the possible instances. He visited even the Prosecutor General’s office and he was requested to make a claim to FSB and Inner Security Service of interior ministry. In the end the case was terminated pleading to the fact that Ponikarov just got detained by mistake in the process of investigative measures taken.
”I wouldn’t mind such a treatment if I were a terrorist. But I am not. And usually the cops play their tricks with fools. If they see you are not a fool, they leave you alone. In my case everything was clear and they still continued to beat me! I told them they anyway would be got to”, Ponikarov said.
Well, they were got to a bit late, five years after the events. And who knows what else they have done during these years. It’s being investigated now.
After 2002 Ponikarov and his family moved to Moscow and they rented their flat in Krasnogorsk to some acquaintances.
In July 2007 Ponikarov got a phone call from that flat. He was said that the General Prosecutor had called looking for him and he had left his phone number. Eduard called and got invited to come to the Prosecutor General’s office.
This time he liked people who interrogated him. They were intelligent and “positive”. But he couldn’t understand why this case that had been terminated five years before was started again. “I thought, it might have been the file which just got out of the bookcase,” he said.
Now he knew the surnames of “Seryoga” and” Pasha”. They were Khadjikurbanov from the interior ministry and Ryaguzov from FSB. In the end of August, watching television he learnt that they were detained in relation to the case of Anna Politkovskaya and because of abuse of power and for something else. He understood that at once, as he warned them they would be got to.
That’s the whole story. Eduard Ponikarov doesn’t like to condemn other people’s actions, but he says he would like to “make a political conclusion”.
It’s very simple.
In 2002 he applied to all the instances. No one there responded to him. This is the system. If those two had got sentenced in 2002, Anna Politkovskaya might be alive now.