The Most “Illegal” Businessman. The Dmitri Lebedev Case

Published on: 28 September 2016

On 14 December 1999, the Chertanovo District Court adjudged Dmitri Lebedev guilty and pronounced sentence as imprisonment in a general penal colony for a period of four years. But what a crime could be committed by a professor of the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music, a seriously ill father of two minor children, to be isolated from the society? In fact, the only professor’s guilt was that he dealt with private cabbing and headed a cooperative named Kindness-2 without a proper license. To be more exact, he had got a license, but, according to the investigators, the actual number of drivers who were employed by the cooperative was more than that specified in the license. The investigation was very extensive: dozens of witnesses were interrogated and thousands of documents and records were thoroughly examined… At that time, millions of people were engaged in private cabbing in our country. As a rule, more of them did not pay taxes and were not registered as entrepreneurs. Lebedev could do the same, but he, as a man of the Soviet accomplishment, decided to follow the law: he formed and registered a cooperative and entered into an agreement with the police division, and for this he was punished. The authorities (in this case judicial ones) seemed to warn all citizens: it was impossible to observe the rules in our country. Those, who wish to attempt to, will be inevitably prisoned.

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