Tag Archives: Moscow
A decade after Chechen militants seized a Moscow theatre in a hostage crisis which left 130 people dead, victims’ families are still seeking answers about use of a deadly gas by Russian forces to end the siege.
A total of 912 people, many of them children, were held hostage in the Dubrovka theatre for three days after coming to watch Nord Ost, a popular musical, on October 23, 2002.
The crisis ended on October 26 when Russian special forces filled the building with an unknown gas to neutralise the attackers, who had threatened to blow up the venue unless Russia pulled its troops out of Chechnya.
The effects of the gas killed 125 people, as well as the 40 attackers who were shot after being knocked out by the gas. The hostage-takers themselves killed five people.
The bloody end to the siege, two years into Vladimir Putin’s presidency, damaged his image as it appeared his regime had not made it a priority to prevent the deaths of the trapped civilians.
Survivors and victims’ relatives remain highly critical of how the authorities handled the crisis.
“We sat without moving in our seats right next to the stinking orchestra pit which had been transformed into a toilet,” a former hostage who wanted to be identified only as Oleg told AFP.
“We were exhausted after three days without food or water,” and were waiting for an assault as “our only chance to be liberated from that nightmare”.
But what followed was “chaos,” he said.
“Ten years have gone by, but so many questions are still unanswered,” said Natalia Kurbatova, whose 13-year-old daughter Kristina, one of the young stars of the musical, was among those killed.
“Why didn’t the authorities negotiate with the militants’ leader, at least to let the children go? What was the gas that killed our loved ones?” Kurbatova demanded.
“I still don’t know how she died,” she said in an interview with AFP. Her daughter was only found in the morgue the day after the security forces stormed the building.
Medical aid to the exhausted hostages who inhaled the gas was poorly organised, said survivors, with most of the deaths resulting from suffocation rather than from explosions or gunshots.
Russian courts however have systematically rejected lawsuits from the former hostages, who have blame the authorities and demanded compensation.
Last December, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia to pay 1.25 million euros ($1.6 million) to 64 claimants, including ex-hostages and relatives of those killed during the siege.
“The gas didn’t kill people right away, and many people died because they weren’t properly tended to,” said lawyer Igor Trunov, who represented the Nord-Ost victims in court.
“The doctors didn’t know the composition of the gas. To this day it is classified. There wasn’t enough of the antidote. The ambulances didn’t have access to the building, and the hospitals weren’t ready to accommodate so many ex-hostages.”
While the Strasbourg court did not criticise Russia’s use of force and the noxious gas, it did highlight the lack of preparation for the rescue operation.
The European court ordered Russia to reopen its investigation into the victims’ deaths and possible negligence by officials, but Moscow’s powerful Investigative Committee has refused to do so.
Moscow has experienced more horrifying attacks since Dubrovka. A 2011 suicide bombing in its main Domodedovo airport killed 36 people and a double suicide bombing in the metro in 2010 killed 40.
A recent poll by the independent Levada Centre pollster found that 53 percent of Russians expect more acts of terror and hostage-takings.
“The main way to protect ourselves from attacks is the work of the special forces, using agents to infiltrate terrorist networks to prevent attacks,” said military analyst Alexander Golts.
“But I wouldn’t say Russia’s special forces have advanced far on that front,” he added.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]
Standing by an open hatch on a Russian military plane high up in the sky is tricky.
All the more so when your job is to “seed” clouds, shovelling chemicals outside to cause rain.
These seeded clouds never make it to Moscow, where millions are enjoying a nice sunny holiday. Or where guests might be dancing at a wedding under the clear blue sky.
Some might think that controlling the weather sounds a bit like science fiction.
But military pilot Alexander Akimenkov doesn’t think so.
I don’t think there will be good results – dry substances are not able to have any noticeable reaction with ice particles
Dr Nina Zaitseva
Russian Academy of Science
He has seeded clouds over Moscow on important state holidays for many years. He says the Russians use two different methods to try to drive the rain away.
“Either there’s a special machine that spits out silver iodide, dry ice or cement into the clouds, or a hatch opens and a guy with a shovel seeds the clouds manually,” he explains.
“As soon as the chemicals touch the cloud, a hole appears. It becomes bigger and bigger, and it either rains right there and then or, if the clouds aren’t very dense, they disperse without any precipitation.”
The Russian government has used rain prevention methods since Soviet times, seeding clouds for major celebrations three times a year – Victory Day, City Day and, more recently, Russia Day.
There are also private companies that for some $6,000 per hour say they can guarantee sunshine on your wedding day – or for any other private party.
HOW CLOUD SEEDING WORKS
Cloud seeding graphic
1. Silver iodide is fired into cloud using flares on planes or from the ground
2. Water droplets then attach to these particles
3. They fall as snow if surface temperatures are below or near freezing, or as raindrops at warmer temperatures
4. Heat released as the droplets freeze boosts updrafts, which pull more moist air into the cloud
Despite the use of the cloud-seeding technique, many scientists remain sceptical of its effectiveness
Many ecologists agree that these techniques, also used in many other countries for irrigation purposes, do not pose much of a threat to the environment or people’s health, as the period of active influence on the clouds is very short.
But when Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov suggested the technique could shift the winter snow outside the capital – and therefore save more than $10m in snow-clearing costs – many felt the city authorities were going a bit too far.
Alexey Yablokov (photo Y. Kotlyarenko-Shukhman)
Alexey Yablokov says winter snow is vital in Moscow (Photo: Y. Kotlyarenko-Shukhman)
Even if the idea might appeal to Moscow drivers, tired of constant traffic jams – especially bad in snowy conditions – it has stirred concerns among local ecologists.
“Millions of tonnes of snow diverted from Moscow will create chaos in the areas where it is forced to fall and might even lead to the collapse of bridges and roofs,” said Alexei Yablokov, one of Russia’s leading environmentalists, who was ecological adviser to former President Boris Yeltsin.
Besides, a lack of snow in Moscow would cause many problems in the capital itself, he said.
“Why do we need snow in Moscow? Snow on the ground helps the roots of trees to survive during severe frosts. If there’s no snow, lots of vegetation – trees, bushes – will die.
“Snow also cleans the atmosphere very effectively. If there’s nothing to clean the Moscow atmosphere, many people will die – there will be tens or even hundreds of additional deaths,” explains Mr Yablokov.
But Valery Stasenko from Roshydromet – the Federal Service of Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring – calls these concerns groundless.
“It is stupid to say that there won’t be any snow in Moscow. If there is some five centimetres of it, it’s absolutely fine, but there is a limit when all the transport just stops,” he said, adding that the aim of winter cloud-seeding would not be to get rid of snow, but to control its level, not letting it go over this maximum limit.
The planes will be out only occasionally, said Mr Stasenko, to prevent major snowfall that happens on average three or four times a month. Thus it will cost a lot less than using snowploughs that are out most days of the winter.
Moscow in winter (AFP)
Moscow’s mayor raised the possibility of seeding in the winter
“Besides, the idea didn’t come to the Moscow mayor from nowhere, it is based on facts. In the early 1980s, back in the Soviet period, there was a special service to limit snowfall over Moscow. It stopped working during perestroika [Gorbachev’s reforms], when money became scarce,” Mr Stasenko said.
“Some eight to 10 planes had to find clouds with the most precipitation and spray them with crystallising chemicals.
“Not all water vapour in the atmosphere turns to precipitation, and for the snow to fall, water vapour should concentrate on ice crystals first. So we were making snow fall before it reached Moscow and this work reduced the amount of snow in the capital by 20, 30 and sometimes 40%.”
And even though this winter is over and the snow in Moscow will soon disappear naturally, scientists at the Central Aerological Observatory of Roshydromet have been working for months trying to come up with new, improved techniques of winter cloud-seeding.
They refused to explain the essence of their work. And this secrecy raises important environmental concerns, says a climate specialist from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Department of Earth Sciences, Nina Zaitseva. She believes that even with raincloud seeding, much depends on luck and coincidence.
She is sceptical about the current research and the state’s past or present ability to effectively seed winter clouds.
“I don’t think there will be good results – dry substances are not able to have any noticeable reaction with ice particles. But if they decide to seed winter clouds with a liquid, they should first and foremost think about the ecological consequences,” said Dr Zaitseva.
Regardless of the Moscow authorities’ final decision on snow cloud seeding, Russia remains one of the few nations where weather control is more than using anti-hail cannons and battling droughts.
So if you want to visit Moscow and don’t fancy rain, go there on one of the three precipitation-free holidays.
And if you want to ensure your wedding day is dry – it might just be possible to make it happen. BBC
2012-04-04 | Tomasz Dąborowski
Last week has brought new developments in Bulgarian-Russian energy relations, when the Bulgarian government withdrew from a project to build a nuclear power plant in Belene. This meant the failure of its second flagship energy project developed jointly with Russia; last December, Sofia withdrew from the Burgas-Alexandroupolis (Bulgaria-Greece) oil pipeline project. At this stage, however, Moscow’s reaction to Sofia’s decisions has been surprisingly calm. Despite earlier announcements, the Russian companies have not brought actions for damages against Bulgaria. Moreover, Russia’s Gazprom made a short-term 11-percent reduction in the price of gas to Bulgaria (to last until the end of this year) in exchange for a political declaration from Sofia that it will accelerate its consent for the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline.
Recent events have shown that a compromise solution on the most sensitive issue in relations between the two countries is slowly being drawn up. It seems that Bulgaria will agree to the quick construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, in exchange for preferential treatment for Russian gas supplies, and Russia not imposing any sanctions related to abandoning the construction of the Belene NPP. These arrangements appear to be beneficial for both countries. For Russia, constructing South Stream is a priority for its energy policy; however for Bulgaria, it is essential to maintain correct relations with Moscow and to minimise the potential financial losses associated with its withdrawal from the Belene project.
Bulgaria rationalises its approach to major energy projects
In the past four months, Bulgaria has withdrawn from two of the three strategic energy projects which it was implementing in cooperation with Moscow. Both of the abandoned projects were primarily political rather than economic in nature.
The Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project served mainly to further the interests of Russia. Its plan included diversifying oil export routes and reducing dependence on transit through the Turkish straits. Bulgaria supported this initiative, seeing it as an opportunity to increase its own transit role in the region, and to emphasise its ‘strategic’ relations with Russia. But the project would not have provided many significant financial benefits for Bulgaria; their section of the pipeline would have been short, which would have translated into low transit revenues. The project also brought about serious objections from environmentalists and protests by local businesses, and so was ultimately abandoned.
Meanwhile, thanks to the Belene project, Bulgaria was to have become an electricity supplier to the Balkan states. This project was also a response to the EU’s demand to close some of the reactors at the Kozloduy plant. However, the Belene project was not supported by reliable financial analyses or forecasts of electricity demand in the region. Additionally a number of errors were made while signing the contracts for the project. In 2008, Bulgaria signed a binding contract to build power plants with the Russian company Atomstroyeksport, despite the lack of sources for financing the investment, or of any strategic investor. Inaccurate records allowed the Russians to increase the contract’s value of €4bn to €6.3bn, as a result of relying on a different method for indexing prices. According to the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, this would have lead to the final construction cost rising to over €10bn. In the light of the problems with financing the project, and a dispute over the final construction costs which lasted over two years, Sofia decided to stop the investment. The Bulgarian government, however announced that one of the reactors planned for the power plant in Belene will be used in the power plant in Kozloduy, which is already in existence. Bulgaria has to date spent 700 million euros on the Belene project and has announced it will pay the Russian operators 140 million euros for the first reactor. It is unclear whether Russia’s Atomstroyexport will seek damages for the failure of the contract for the second reactor for Belene to be honoured
Russia’s conciliatory attitude
Moscow’s measured response to the failure of the Belene project and the trans-Balkan pipeline is probably due to the manoeuvring going on around the last of the three major projects: the South Stream gas pipeline. Bulgaria is crucial to this plan because of its geographical location. Moscow wants to obtain Sofia’s rapid approval for its implementation, as some new elements of the EU’s Third Energy Package are expected to come into force in March 2013; these could make it difficult for Moscow to obtain exemptions for the South Stream pipeline from European law. The pressure to get the pipeline project under way also derives from growing opportunities for the Caspian region, which is in competition with Russia, to supply the EU with gas. Bulgaria will thus seek to obtain additional benefits from rapidly approving South Stream’s construction. Sofia is primarily interested in obtaining low gas prices and eliminating intermediaries in its trade with Russia. At the end of this year, the previous contracts for supplying Russian gas to Bulgaria will expire. Sofia will also aim to guarantee high revenues from the South Stream transit pipeline, and also to make the principles of its operation transparent – something which will be extremely difficult for Russia to accept – in line with European legislation.
Bulgarian energy policy unlikely to be re-shaped
Bulgaria’s abandonment of the projects to build a nuclear power plant in Belene and the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, together with its ongoing talks with Russia on cooperation in the gas sector (both in activating work on South Stream and the new gas contracts), have opened the door to a modification of the energy relationship between Russia and Bulgaria. By initiating a process of limiting the ‘strategic’ dimension of its energy relationship with Russia, Bulgaria has opened the way for implementing new priorities in its energy policy which will not necessarily be in line with Russia’s interests. Reducing spending on major infrastructure projects will increase the chances of completing smaller energy projects, such as modernising coal-based power plants, expanding renewable energy sources, and raising the country’s very low energy efficiency (Bulgaria has the most energy-intensive economy in the EU). This would reduce Bulgaria’s dependence on Russian supplies.
However, the current energy policies are most likely to continue, because of the path dependency tendencies as well as high share of coal and nuclear power in Bulgaria’s energy production (see Appendix). The preparations to modernise and expand the nuclear power plant at Kozloduy indicate that Bulgaria will continue to concentrate on developing nuclear energy. This will open the way for the Russian nuclear industry, which is a natural contender to modernise the Russian-based power plant technologies. It is also unlikely that Bulgaria will increase very low proportion of gas in its energy production. Under public pressure, the Bulgarian government introduced a total ban on the exploration and production of shale gas in January this year. The gas interconnectors currently being constructed will enable Bulgaria to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies, but is rather unlikely they will be a “game changer” in the process of setting priorities in Bulgarian energy policy.
Bulgaria’s overall energy balance sheet in 2010
Figures in thousand tons of oil equivalent Gross inland consumption Primary production Import Export
Coal 6828 4 931 1700 46
Crude oil 6095 23 6072 –
Nuclear energy 3849 3849 – –
Gas 2300 59 2 131 –
Renewable energy sources 917 779 7 63
Electricity 495 55 – 826
Total 17829 10234 11743 4507
Source: Bulgarian National Statistical Institute
By John Helmer, Moscow March 11th, 2012
Imagine that Russian spetznaz troops were helicoptered into a foreign country, opening fire on a hideout in which Russian citizens were being held hostage by heavily-armed bad guys demanding a ransom for their captives. And suppose the outcome of the firefight was the deaths of the hostages. One can be sure the Anglo-American media would headline the operation as a botch-up demonstrating the incompetence of the Russian military, the Russian lack of respect for the human rights of its citizens, and the ruthlessness of President-elect Vladimir Putin for giving the foolhardy order to fire.
“The beginning of the end of Putin” would be the sub-text, just as The Economist has front-covered its reporting of Russia this week, while its sister publication, The Financial Times, tries to talk down Putin’s election majority, talk up Russian risk in the markets, and ignore the contrary evidence of the RTS index — up 24% since the start of the year; down 4.3% after election day, and up again by 2.2% yesterday. As a Moscow-based reporter of a US paper of record complains, his bureau has been under orders from headquarters to keep up the anti-Putin drum-beat to the exclusion of other news.
In truth, Russian special forces didn’t attack a compound in a northern Nigerian town, but the British did. That was on Thursday last, March 8.
A large number of people died, including the hostages, one British, one Italian. The operation was more than a fatal botch-up. The Italian government has announced publicly it did not know in advance of the military operation, and approved a ransom solution, not a military one. Easy for the Italians to claim with hindsight, especially since it’s not clear if Rome issued an explicit no-attack, no-fire order. But London is unapologetic, at least towards Rome.
The reports appearing in the Italian, Nigerian and then British media over the weekend claim Rome had agreed to pay a larger ransom than London, which cut the price down from €5 million to €1.2 million, including a deposit, followed by a phased release. The British Special Boat Service (SBS) reportedly used the deposit handover to follow the bad guys back to their hideout, where the SBS, with Nigerian backup, started their operation. It has been reported in Corriere della Sera that once they knew they were surrounded, the kidnappers asked for safe passage, leaving the hostages behind alive; this request was reportedly turned down in London, and countered with the British demand for unconditional surrender. That then led to the conclusion on the part of the kidnappers that they should dispose of the evidence against them, so they shot the hostages.
The hostage-taking occurred on May 12, 2011. So ten months have elapsed in which to identify the bad guys, locate their hideout, determine their price, plot the options, weigh the alternatives. The British cover-up has made it appear the bad guys were Islamic fundamentalists. Nigerian evidence suggests this was a commercial kidnapping, which is common in that country, often with complicity of and ransom-sharing with local, regional or federal Nigerian officials, military officers and the like. “We have always claimed responsibility for all the operations that we undertake, but we are not in any way responsible for the killing of the two foreigners,” the spokesman for the local Islamic fundamentalist organization has said. “It is not in our line of operation to take hostages.”
The cost of the British operation, including the final military failure, is several multiples greater than the discount ransom, and almost certainly more expensive than the original ransom. So much for the price London puts on the lives of its citizens.
There is a much longer story about how Moscow behaved during the 26-month captivity of Russian citizens in Nigeria between October 2003 and December 2005. The bottom-line of that one is that Moscow waited for much longer, paid a far higher ransom price, and recovered all the hostages alive and well. What isn’t well-known is that the Kremlin carefully plotted a military rescue operation, but concluded the risk of hostage casualties was too great to proceed. Also, the Nigerian Government was punished at the highest level for its involvement in the affair. Here’s a resume of that story.
The African Pride was a Greek-owned, Panamanian-flagged tanker which was caught smuggling crude oil from Nigeria in October of 2003. The contraband scheme was an elaborate one at the supply end, involving high-ranking Nigerian naval officers ashore and at sea, as well as an international oil trader of repute, who was the purchaser of the cargo once the tanker made port elsewhere. Several vessels were involved, with about 30,000 barrels of crude going out the backdoor every day. The African Pride was crewed by 12 Russian mariners, and one Georgian. When their vessel was apprehended by Nigerian police, it was loaded with 11,400 tonnes of oil. The crew was taken ashore under arrest. In time, however, the tanker, its officers and its cargo proceeded to make good their escape.
For two years the crew was held in a Lagos prison without trial. During that time, the Kremlin paid Russian lawyers and more than one special emissary to negotiate the release with the Nigerian authorities. On one occasion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a personal demand to the Nigerian Ambassador in Moscow, as well as to a powerful Nigerian intelligence officer. In the final deal approved by the Kremlin, the Nigerians agreed to charge and try the crew for smuggling offences; convict them and sentence them to time served; and for the final three months, September to December 2005, while the Nigerians organized their show trial, the mariners were released on bail to live in the Russian embassy compound in Lagos. At the end of December they were convicted, released, and flown home.
It helped that the Nigerian Government at the time wanted to take a seat on the United Nations Security Council and needed to get Russia to lift its veto on everything Nigerian. There was also competition for the same seat, and for Russia’s favour, from South Africa. A great deal of money – roughly four times last week’s ransom — was at stake and discreetly on the table in these many-sided negotiations. How to pay it, and make sure the Nigerians stuck to the release terms, also took time and care on the Russian side. Although never acknowledged officially, the ransom or bribe was concealed within at least one, possibly two oil exploration concessions awarded by the Nigerian government to Russian oil companies, Zarubezhneft and LUKoil.
A source who was involved in the negotiations for release of the hostages has described in detail the military option, which was drawn up and discussed in Moscow during 2005. He says that a spetznaz operation would have involved a helicopter attack on the prison in Lagos, where the hostages were being held. There were multiple objectives – create a diversion to draw the Nigerian guards away from their Russian prisoners; blast a path into the cellblock where they were held; and shoot their way out on to the rescue helicopters. Non-military means to lull the Nigerians were also anticipated.
The problem acknowledged in the Kremlin was that the risk remained incalculably high that the Nigerians would kill the Russians as soon as the attack started, or use them as shields and see them dead in the crossfire. The Russians were also certain the Nigerians could not be trusted to honour their side of a release bargain, whether reinforced by bribes or not. In short, Moscow decided the risk of a fatal outcome for their citizens remained too high to justify the military option.
So the ransom was paid, and eventually everyone survived. Hostage-taking and kidnapping for ransom of Russian citizens continued in Nigeria (notably of six Russian employees of United Company Rusal’s aluminium smelter south of Port Harcourt in mid-2007). There have also been hostage-taking episodes involving Russian ships and seamen in Guinea and Benin. The Kremlin doesn’t invariably pay pirates and kidnappers, but in West Africa always. Let’s hear the Economist roar its disapproval of that.
Several police officers were arrested during the last week in the Moscow region, Chief Directorate of Internal Affairs of the Moscow region is being searched, and central television broadly cover luxurious life of the Moscow region prosecutor and his deputies. In response, Attorney General of Russia holds press conferences, where it defends by blaming its persecutors of the Investigation Committee of Russia in poor performance. It is a matter for the resignation of Attorney General Yuri Chaika. Rumafia.com conducted its own investigation and found out why the management of law enforcement services (Fedral Security Service and the Investigation Committee vs. Prosecutor General of Russia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs) has locked in mortal combat for a little-known businessman Ivan Nazarov.
The whole world holds its breath watching numerous revolutions in the Arab despotisms, and the Russians watch their own much more interesting TV-drama in all the news on TV. They have got a unique opportunity to watch online for the combat of two clans in the law enforcement structures. At least the last five years similar struggle was waged without any noise and spikes in the public field.
And here are the subjects on central TV channels about the leaders of the prosecutor’s office, living in luxury cottages and booking for banquets kilograms of black caviar, press conferences accusing the FSS and IC of the Russian Federation in “a mockery of the Constitution”. The stake in this battle is high – not only the position of Attorney General, but also the dominant position of one of the clans in law enforcement system of Russia for the coming years. And generals grappled because of the fate of hitherto unknown 30-year old businessman Ivan Nazarov.
Rumafia correspondent managed to trace the path of this young man from an ordinary heroin merchant to a man who kicks open the doors of the authorities cabinets and having enormous capital.
“Security officials” strike back
It is worth noting that this is not the first clash of two clans, which can extremely conditionally be divided into “security officials” and “liberals”. The first clan is focused on Vladimir Putin, and includes Viktor Ivanov, Vladimir Ustinov, Nikolay Patrushev, Yuri Zaostrovtsev, Alexander Bastrykin, Igor Sechin, Alexander Bortnikov. “Security officials” control the entire oil business, its representatives lead the FSS, IV of the RF, Federal Drug Control Service, Ministry of Defense. The clan’s position is that any dissent in the business environment, in official circles, in politics must be combated by the most decisive ways. “Liberals” tend to Dmitry Medvedev, these include Yuri Chaika, Rashid Nurgaliev, German Gref, Alexey Kudrin, Viktor Khristenko. The clan controls gas business, officials related thereto head Ministry of Internal Affairs, Prosecutor General, Ministry of Finance. It is believed that “liberals” are for the development of democratic institutions in the country and against radical solution to any disputes. However, all this division is very conditional. Totally in the Kremlin and the government there are 10-12 different groups, which depending on the situation participate in a conflict or not. And some leaders and members of both clans have mired in corruption long ago, and therefore are vulnerable to their rivals.
The first such online combat occurred more than ten years ago, in 2000. The conflict that time also because due to one unknown businessman Sergey Zuev, who owned shopping centers “Tri Kita” and “Grand”. Ministry of Internal Affairs and State Customs Committee of the RF announced that they revealed a large channel of smuggling of furniture, which was sold in the Zuev’c shopping centers. And quiet work of illegal channel was ensured by FSS generals.
Prosecutor General’s Office, headed at the moment by “security official” Vladimir Ustinov, took all the materials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and closed criminal case. Immediately on the newspaper pages and on television screens a large amount of compromising information appeared on the patrons of smugglers from the security services. Vladimir Putin, who at that time listened to the “liberals” believing that there should be some kind of opposition to “security officials” (he later refused to support “liberals”, believing that they have enough favor from Dmitry Medvedev), appointed to lead a scandalous case of the independent investigator to his good friend Vladimir Loskutov, and operational support was mandated to Federal Drug Control Service, headed at that time by “liberal” Viktor Cherkesov (then “security official” Viktor Ivanov was appointed the head of the Federal Drug Control Service). A stubborn combat was around Zuev for six years until “liberals” finally won. Upon results of investigation, “Tri Kita” owner was arrested, “security forces” – General Attorney Vladimir Ustinov (“liberal” Yury Chaika took his place) and deputy director of the FSS Yuri Zaostrovtsev lost their positions, as well as the group of counterintelligence generals.
Though the victory of “liberals” was only temporary. After recovery from the defeat “security officials” took the offensive immediately. In 2007, Federal Drug Control Service General Alexander Bulbov went to jail who was involved in operational accompaniment of “Tri Kita” case. When “security officials” decided to shift the Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin from his position, his deputy, Sergei Storchak was put into the jail.
Now it is time for decisive struggle, which regarding shifted positions should not be inferior to the battle for Zuev. As the owner of “Tri Kita”, businessman Ivan Nazarov, on a large scale is not a principle figure for both clans. However further investigation may lead to the resignation of Yuri Chaika. Here is the matter of principle – whether “liberals” the year before the presidential election be able to defend “their person” and repel attacks of “security officials” or not.
“Security officials” also use the same methods as “liberals” used “Tri Kita” case. From a legal point of view their attacks are extremely weak. Virtually all attorneys and law enforcement officials, even those who do not like “prosecutors”, believe it is just ridiculous to bring the article 159 of the Criminal Code of the RF (fraud) for the organization of the network of underground clubs with gaming machines. And it was incriminated to Ivan Nazarov. “The investigation insists that gaming machines owned by Nazarov, were reprogrammed so that the chances of winning were minimal. This was the fraud as said one of former General Prosecutor’s Office employees. But gambling is generally prohibited except designated areas, all the rules about how often a person should win are accounting for the legal business, but it is completely clandestine here. What rules can be in the illegal casino? With the same success you can prosecute for fraud that drug dealers, who dilute heroin”.
However, it is obvious that for “security officials” the legal component is not crucial – external effect is the main factor. All newspapers and TV channels have already showed footage with prosecutors, who celebrate anniversaries in luxury restaurants by ordering kilograms of black caviar there, who fly in private planes abroad for the holidays, who build luxury houses on “occupied” Moscow region areas. All such whims of law enforcement officials were paid from the funds controlled by Nazarov.
Prosecutor General’s Office flatly refuses to recognize the legitimacy of criminal cases regarding Nazarov and refuses to maintain applications for his arrest in a court. Head of the Main Department for Supervision of investigation of Prosecutor General’s Office Andrey Nekrasov had already called the whole situation around the businessman and prosecutors “a mockery of the Constitution”.
From drug dealer to General’ Dima son-in-law
So who is this Ivan Nazarov, around whom so desperate fight between two Kremlin clans developed? As Rumafia managed to find out, Ivan was born in Moscow on Nov. 1, 1980 and his surname at birth was Voshchinin. Version of how he became Nazarov later was told to our correspondent by one businessman in Moscow region. According to his words, his father left the family of Ivan, so the mother gave the child her surname. After many years his father returned and turned out to be Vladimir Nazarov, the co-owner of the Moscow Region basketball club “Dinamo” (his second co-owner is a famous singer Lev Leshchenko). He did his best to help Vanya, and he took the surname from his father as a result.
However, the surname change is mostly connected with other circumstances. According to the information of law enforcement agencies, in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s a drug dealer Ivan Voshchinin worked in Moscow. From 1999 to 2001 police officers arrested prostitute Natalia Yurtaeva, small criminals Alexey Osipov, Daniil Girnyak, Sergey Nesterkin and a dozen people who were involved in the heroin dealing. They all testified that they got the goods from Vanya Voshchinin. In 2001 his home phone number was put on listening in, all went to the detention of the drug dealer. However, at the last moment he managed to escape from the police, and soon Vanya has become Nazarov, officially changing his surname.
The door to the world of big money and influential friends opened to Ivan his girl friend in early 2000s, named Dasha. More precisely, not herself, but her father – a respected lawyer, Dmitry Yakubowsky, better known as General Dima. The man covered with legends and built a spectacular career for himself accompanied by both the ups and downs.
In 1984 he was a senior consultant of the Presidium of Moscow Bar Association, and since 1987 he became chief secretary of administration of the Moscow prosecutor’s office. In 1990 he led the Judiciary Committee for property valuation of Western Group of Forces and since that time he became a figurant of most major scandals involving corruption in the higher echelons of government and the withdrawal of giant capitals overseas. In 1994 Yakubowsky was put into the jail for five years for participation in the theft of manuscripts from the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.
However, prison term only added weight to General Dima in certain circles. “In prison he often went into the fights with the “authorities” defending his position, constantly found himself in punishment cell because of the conflicts with the administration, this way he won recognition in criminal circles, – told the man who still communicates with Yakubowsky, – He is still a very powerful man, he is able to communicate with the disgraced oligarchs such as Boris Berezovsky and with the remaining persons “in charge”, for example, with Alexander Voloshin. In spite of all he is well received in Kremlin, and is on a first name basis with prosecution representatives of different rank.
Interlocutor of Rumafia correspondent replied this way to the question whether he now sees Yakubowsky as a shadow representative of the authorities or the criminal “authority”: “He just connects that and another”.
And in addicted to the adventures and keen young man Vanya Voshchinin-Nazarov enters General’s Dima family. Yakubowsky immediately has attached him to a businessman from the Pushkin district Valery Kazakov. Kazakov officially owned game halls and restaurants. But it was only the top of the business. In fact, Valery Kazakov in the early to mid-2000s was one of the main communicators between the leaders of Prosecutor General’s Office and businessmen, officials, law enforcement officers from the regions. He could solve almost any law enforcement and judicial problems, and controlled billions of judicial mafia. In 2008 more than a hundred limousines drove at Kazakov’s funeral. Duma deputies, senators, heads of districts and cities, a senior Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office employees came to pay their last tribute to him.
The cut off head on a threshold of Office of Public Prosecutor
Valery Kazakov was known by absolutely all people in Moscow, though something representing in this life.
Actually in his face there was a dialogue with all corrupted top of the State Office of Public Prosecutor, Moscow regional Office of Public Prosecutor, the Municipal Department of Internal Affairs of Moscow Region. Just Kazakov explained to businessmen, heads of cities situated near Moscow and areas, to militiamen and regional public prosecutors “the game rules” established above.
Who of what was guilty and how many should pay for it. Who and whom should appoint the head in various The municipal unitary enterprise. Whom to enter in founders of profitable firm, the market. Who will go on increase and who will leave authorities and law-enforcement structures. “Not consent people” with such rules waited numerous checks, criminal cases, the conclusion in a pre-trial detention centre. So, for example, the head of Pushkin area Vladimir Bashkirtsev has refused to be on friendly terms with “public prosecutor’s”, and he was brought at once the action, during a consequence the official has endured a stroke and as a result has left the post. By means of criminal cases cleaned also another “not consent person” – the mayor of Frjazino Vladimir Uhalkin.
As a result under control “public prosecutor’s” there was a considerable part of “tidbits” in Moscow suburbs: the gaming, sandy open-cast mines, ranges of destruction of garbage, the grounds intended for building etc. As grew in the posts public prosecutor’s curators of Kazakov, its powers increased also. By 2007 heads of Offices of Public Prosecutor and divisions SEC (on struggle against economic crimes) began tens to come to Moscow suburbs from Southern Federal District (from Sochi, Mineral waters, the Caucasian republics). All of them wanted to discuss with Kazakov, and accordingly, with representatives of the State Office of Public Prosecutor, destiny of various criminal cases, possibility of appointment to this or that post, other questions. The businessman too began to go often to business trips, constantly expanding geography of the activity. All this process was accompanied by transfer from hand to hand suitcases with money.
At such employment of Kazakov began to involve in conducting scale business of Ivan Nazarov. As a result Ivan Nazarov began to operate in the beginning gambling institutions and restaurants in Moscow suburbs, and then and has started to help to resolve various non-staff situations between representatives of law enforcement bodies situated near Moscow and businessmen. However, so far as concerned the large sums, for good reason undertook personally Kazakov. Ivan to a new role «solver of question» has accustomed quickly enough, especially the father-in-law General Dima was always ready to help him.
From small drug dealer Voshchinin-Nazarov has turned to the succeeding businessman and the collector of the collection of antiques. Yakubovsky and Kazakov have reduced him with many heads of Moscow regional Office of Public Prosecutor and the State Office of Public Prosecutor, and also with influential businessmen. Among Nazarov’s acquaintances there was Boris Berezovsky (as we have already written, General Dima till keeps in touch with the oligarch also). Ivan some times took out representatives of Moscow regional Office of Public Prosecutor to have a rest to France on Berezovsky’s yachts. Those yachts which have been arrested one of these days on demand of the State Office of Public Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. Also he carried out various commissions of the disgraced oligarch in Moscow. Nazarov has become very intimate and with Berezovsky’s old colleague antiquary Yemelyan Zaharov who has in turn acquainted the young man with “authority” Alimzhan Tohtahunov more known, as Tajvanchik (Zaharov and Tohtahunov are co-founders of firms “Artels” and “Arcade”). Under the influence of these people, Ivan began to collect a collection of painting and icons itself. However, despite all these communications, he continued to remain in the shadow of Valery Kazakov while that he has not killed.
In 2008 public prosecutor’s «have taken notice» of the large market located in Pushkin area of Moscow suburbs. To explain to owners of “game rule” have charged to same Kazakov who has ordered to enter into structure of founders of the market of the people named him. «Public prosecutor’s »have not considered one: the market was supervised by really bloody two”authorities”Andrey Vershinin (Top) and Dmitry Lesnjakov (Wood). The first in 1990 was one of the most bloody insurgents ореховской groupings, and the second supervised in those days over a gang of killers, on which to the account of ten victims. They could worry and numerous criminal wars, and arrests of all nearest colleagues. As a result the last all stages of natural and unnatural selection have settled “authorities” in Pushkin area, in parallel they kept control of a number of objects in Krasnodar territory. According to field investigators, Wood and Top continued to solve all questions, as in 1990 – with the help such “boys “,” the marksman », pistols and automatic machines.
On August, 1st, 2008 Valery Kazakov left city Office of Public Prosecutor Pushkino when “Wood” and “Top” have approached to him up in arms. In broad daylight they have shot the businessman, and then the hunting knife have actually cut off a head from a body. Businessmen situated near Moscow consider till now that it was the demonstrative certificate – a head at steps of Office of Public Prosecutor. However, on interrogations Lesnjakov (he was arrested last year on charge in murder of Kazakov, «the thief in the law» Alik Minaljan and a number of other crimes) has declared that head cutting has been caused by “necessity”. Ostensibly at “authorities” cartridges have come to an end, and the victim still submitted life signs.
After death of Kazakov there was a question on the one who becomes his receiver. However, here both public prosecutor’s, and militiamen, and Yakubovsky were unanimous – anybody Ivan Nazarov with this role will not consult better.
Public prosecutor’s Organised Сriminal Group and “homosexuals”
By the time of when Kazakov has been killed, and his place was occupied with Voshchinin-Nazarov, the vertical of a public prosecutor’s mafia has already been built, natives of Office of Public Prosecutor of the Shchelkovo area of Moscow suburbs and Dmitry Yakubovsky’s proteges entered into it mainly. According to special services, the hierarchy Organized public prosecutor groupings looks as follows (we will name it for convenience in abbreviated form – OPPG).
The Leader of the OPPG is the head of the Main organizational-inspection management of the State Office of Public Prosecutor of the Russian Federation Yury Sindeev once beginning his career in the Shchelkovo area. In most GP he is named «the grey cardinal» without which approval almost any personnel appointments are impossible. As a result Sindeev has put on all key posts in Office of Public Prosecutor of Moscow suburbs of the proteges, and then he has begun gradual “capture” and Offices of Public Prosecutor of Moscow. His “proteges” hold responsible posts in Office of Public Prosecutor of Krasnodar territory and a number of other regions. GP also «under an outset» is hammered by personnel representatives of interests of Sindeev. On the importance in this department with him, except for general public prosecutor Yury Chajki who completely trusts Sindeev, can be compared only the first assistant to the general public prosecutor Alexander Buksman and the assistant to the general public prosecutor Victor Grin.
«The person №2» in OPPG is too the native of the Shchelkovo Office of Public Prosecutor Alexander Ignatenko, holding the post of the first assistant to the general public prosecutor of Moscow Region. This person in every way tries to show the riches when he is not in a uniform. On hands a Swiss watch from precious metals from 100 thousand euro (more often Ulysse Nardin Tourbillon), in a pocket platinum phone Vertu etc. Almost every month Ignatenko goes by the private plane rented by Ivan Nazarov, abroad. Favourite places: Seychelles, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, France. Ignatenko has the dense communications with the State Office of Public Prosecutor and besides Sindeev. His son is the old business partner of the son of public prosecutor Yury Chajki. According to one businessman situated near Moscow, offsprings of public prosecutor’s heads supervise the consulting company which took part in capture of some Pulp-and-paper industrial complex, metal works, transport companies.
«The person №3» in OPPG – the public prosecutor of Moscow suburbs Alexander Mohov who began the career all in the same Shchelkovo Office of Public Prosecutor. «If I did not know, who actually Mohov I has decided that it the fair person, – has told Rumafia the businessman facing the public prosecutor of Moscow Region personally, – Any manners of the oligarch as at Ignatenko, he is dressed modestly, behaves too frostily, without ponts. However, Vanja Nazarov (to Mohovu in 2010 60 years were executed exactly), always entered into an office of the public prosecutor without knock and behaved with it extremely familiarly».
Last year Mohov celebrated the anniversary in a big way – in sanatorium “Pine forest” has gathered more than 120 visitors, has been ordered some kg of black caviar, platform stars acted. All this magnificence by in 10 million roubles (nearby $350 000), was paid by Ivan Nazarov. Mohov during usual time tries not to show the riches, being put in real estate. He owns a townhouse in Troitsk, cottages in the Shchelkovo and Istrinsky areas. And now completes huge private residence on Rublevka. Mohov planned to drive there already in the new status. In the middle of February the assistant attorney-general on the Central federal district Vladimir Malinovsky should pass to work in Presidential Administration, and Sindeev has already prepared all necessary that released the place was occupied with Mohov. In turn Alexander Ignatenko should become the public prosecutor of Moscow suburbs. However, these shifts were prevented by employees of FSB and Investigating Committee the Russian Federations which have arrested Nazarov and given publicity a role of the high-ranking public prosecutors in his business, and also their magnificent life which obviously is not corresponding to officially declared incomes approximately in 1,2 million of roubles year (nearby $38 000).
Next in POPG hierarchy you will find Ivan Nazarov with a group of so called “youngsters” -prosecutors (most of them are in their 30ies or close), all protegees of Yakubovsky, Sindeev and Ignatenko.
To be more precise: Prosecutor of Krasnogorsk – Eugene Puzanov, Prosecutor of Istra – Mikhail Popkov, Prosecutor of Pushkino – Ruslan Rezumenko, Prosecutor of Noginsk – Vladimir Glebov, Prosecutor of Odintsovo – Roman Nimeshchenko (he is a little older than his colleagues), Head of Moscow Region Prosecutor’s Office #15 Dmitri Yrumov, Prosecutor of Serpukhov – Oleg Bazylyan, and Pavel Sedoikin – head of Regional Environmental Prosecutor’s Office. All those “youngsters” -prosecutors call “Godfather” Ignatenko their “Father” behind his back.
“If you don’t know what they are, you would take them for regular socialites (party people)”, a source who spent a few vacations with the prosecutors’ crowd told our reporters. – You would find the most expensive clothes, watches, phones, cars. They only hang out in sophisticate clubs and restaurants. Kisses, hugs, slaps. They take private jets to most exclusive resorts abroad. To an outsider, they will look like typical “golden youth” . According to the same source, Ivan Nazarov and Dmitri Yrumov are the most close friends in this group. “They have always spent time together, almost inseparable. They would appear after midnight in one of the most expensive clubs, many businessmen, especially family ones, would find this annoying. A lot of imes they would look weird, I suspect they used cocaine. They acted like celebrities – with ever present smiles on their faces, a bit of gayness. And even though they are not gay, people started referring to them as ones. When they found out, they ere not upset, but used this word to refer to themselves. Nazarov was heard saying at the party: “Where is my gay partner?”
By the way, when a few years ago, Nazarov was considered not cool enough, he would feel offended, like a child. Not long before his arrest, Nazarov purchased a yellow Lamborghini with a license plate М555ММ from his former father-in-law (Yakubovsky). One of the officials said teasing him: Why couldn’t have they given you a cooler license plate? Don’t they appreciate you?” Ivan got very upset.
With compromising materials – into the President’s Residence
For a long period of time, Stanislav Buyanskiy, Deputy Prosecutor of Moscow Region, had been one of the active members of POPG mafia as well as one frequent party. In 2001, Buyanskiy, 21 at the time, came to work for Prosecutor’s Office of Odintsovo District. One of his first assignments was inquiry into investigation materials in Dmitri Yakubovskiy’s case. General Dima who was released from prison in 1999, took part in brutal beating of some businessman. After conferring with an experienced attorney, Buyanski made one of the most important decisions in his life – he signed a denial to initiate criminal proceedings in that case. Yakubovskiy couldn’t fail to notice this act and Byanskiy’s career literally skyrocketed after that. At the age of 24, he became a senior prosecutor (international commissions) at the Russian Federation Prosecutor’s Generals Office, and at the age of 28, he became Deputy Prosecutor of Moscow Region.
Despite his position, POPG leaders did not signle out Buyanskiy among other “youngsters” – prosecutors – not in the hierarchy of POPG, not money wise.
One of Buyanskiy’s former colleagues said: “Stanislav is not a very smart person, by extremely ambitious. At some point in his life Buyanskiy decided that he is capable of becoming Prosecutor of Moscow Region, one of the leaders of the group and the one who would be getting a lion’s share of income. He started preparing a “coup”, collecting compromising materials on his colleagues and phonetapping their conversations. Yakubovskiy found out about it. He used to consider Buyanskiy his friend and protegee. They even had their summer cottages next to each other, next to Gorki 9, President’s residence in Odintsovo District.
As a result, they had an unpleasant conversation which ended physical. His other colleagues also found out about what he did and in a moment he turned into an outcast. Buyanskiy was seriously concerned about his life, but decided to go on with the game where his bid was everything he had. At first Deputy Prosecutor’s plan was to put on Youtube a video message to the president to denounce his former colleagues. Buyansky figured that after that they would lose their jobs, and he, being a fierce fighter against corruption, will get a promotion. But then he decided to act differently.
Deputy Prosecutor decided instead to talk about the corruption to Archpriest Vladimir Volgin, who is also the spiritual father of Russian President’s wife, Svetlana Medvedeva, and talks to the President himself. He promised to arrange a meeting with the President, where Buyanskiy could pass all the materials he had. But something went wrong. While waiting for the president at the chapel at Gorki 9 “(Volgin took him there), a young man was detained by Federal Security Service.
Having found out about this, “youngsters” – prosecutors hurried to pass the information to the media and making fun of Buyanskiy. It sounded like Deputy Prosecutor either got crazy or drunk and somehow and broke into President’s residence. After that Buyanskiy made an attempt to expose his fomer colleagues, but nobody took him seriously. As a result, he left abroad fearing retaliation, and has been living there.
Don’t want to deal with “Glamour” representative.
Prosecutors mafia problems have really started after Valery Kazakov’s death. Many businessmen did not want to deal with Ivan Nazarov. “Everybody knew and respected Valera, he was a real, understanding person, the person you would want to deal with”, said one of the Moscow region businessmen. “And here comes some type of glamour guy in trendy jeans and tight shirt and starts “bending fingers”. You would not really want to give anything to this type of guy, to be quiet honest with you.
As a result, at the very beginning, people would literally line up at the front of Ignatenko’s office to confirm Nazarov’s powers. Alexander Shestun, head of Serpukhov Region, playing by the rules up to that point, has become one of Vania’s and other prosecutors’ guys worst enemies. Enlisting the support of the FSB, he started writing down all of his negotiations with Nazarov and Ignatenko.
And then they started arresting people. The first was Sergei Abrosimov, Chief Deputy at the Prosecutor General’s Office in the Southern Federal District on October 3, 2009. (he used to be Prosecutor of Serpukov Region). They put handcuffs on him, shen Sergei came to get 5 mln roubles from Shestun. Abrosimov had never been an active POPG mafia member, even though his appointment was thanks to Sindeev’s recommendation. He might have been just one of the close people.
And then the final blow came on October 5, 2009. On that day Nazarov was to pick up from Shestun $2 mln and the papers confirming that head of the region put one of his own people in charge of the department. When leaving, they wanted to put handcuffs on Vanya. But POPG then beat the secret service. On October 5, Elena Bazanov, Shestun’s Deputy was arrested instead on the grounds of bribery.
It took secret service more than a year and a half to prepare a new operation against the “prosecutors’ gang. On February 13, 2011 Nazarov was arrested and detained at the Sheremetyevo Airport, where he arrived along with Ignatenko from one of his famous voyages. However, the Prosecutor General’s Office is not going to give up and is making efforts to release Vanya and protect the other “prosecutors”. They realize that ,should they lose, it’s not only Yuri Chaika, who will be in jeopardy, but the entire clan of ‘liberals’. It looks like the solutions to this conflict can only be found during informal talks between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.
Position: Attorney General Of The Russian Federation
Yury Chaika was born in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur (Khabarovsk kray) in 1951. In 1972 after serving in the army, he entered Sverdlovsk Institute of Law where he met Yury Skuratov. After getting a degree he began his career in the public prosecution bodies, first he was on probation, then served as an investigator and later as a deputy district prosecutor of Irkutsk region.
1973-1984 transport prosecutor of the town of Tayshet in Irkutsk region
1983 head of investigative department of East-Siberian Transport Prosecutor’s office. Noticeably he was the first prosecutor to bring gangsterism charges.
1984-1992 He hold the position of instructor in the administrative department of Irkutsk regional branch of the Communist Party. He was a first deputy Irkutsk Region prosecutor, head of a department of Irkutsk regional branch of the Communist Party and East-Siberian transport prosecutor.
1992 Irkutsk Region prosecutor. The media said that he helped to close the Kozyrev brothers criminal case (3 businessmen affiliated to mafia – Magomet, Murat and Bashir (Vakhi) who moved from Ingushetia to settle in Irkutsk. Later Bashir became a member of the state Duma as Ingushetia’s representative).
1995 first deputy prosecutor general of the Russian Federation. It was prosecutor general Yury Skuratov who nominated Chaika.
1999 After Skuratov’s suspension Chaika was made an acting prosecutor general. He supported the suspension of the ex-boss and said that the suspension was lawful.
1999 minister of justice of Russia
23 June 2006 the Federal Council of Russian parliament appointed him a prosecutor general
June 2007 The president of Russia asked Chaika and his office to control funds for the Olympics.
While in office he effectively prosecuted ex-head of Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the chairman of the board of directors of MENATEP Group Platon Lebedev, who are now serving their time in far-off camps of Baikal Region and in the north.
Order of Merit for the Fatherland (4th class)
Order of Honour
Medal for martial valour
He is a meritorious lawyer and honourable worker of the prosecution bodies of Russia
Chaika is married and brings up 2 children. His wife Yelena has a degree in teacher-training. She is a housewife who owns half of the flat (203.6 square metres), a land plot (4300 square metres), non-residential premises and a Mercedes-Benz. His elder son Artem is a lawyer and businessman who co-founded a number of companies. He is a business partner of Bashir Kodzoev, a deputy of the state Duma, who represents Ingushetia. His younger son Igor entered the Academy of Law in 2006.
There was a jailhouse riot in the camp ST-2 (Tulun, Irkutsk Region) in 1979. Inmates Khasanshin and Kupriyanov who were heavy drug addicts said that investigation group member Chaika had brought marijuana to their ward, offering it in exchange to the testimony he needed. Kupriyanov wrote a statement in the name of Pel’she. The details found in a party archive turned up during the perestroyka.
Source: The New Times, 14.05.2007
Since the early 90s Chaika and Nikolay Nebudchikov were colleagues. Later they became friends. Nebudchikov rose to the rank of an inter-district prosecutor and in 1991 knocked together a criminal group. The prosecutor’s gang committed mostly contract-killings and extortion. They were caught by chance (some are still on loose). The trial was closed. These events happened when Chaika was a regional prosecutor. Nikolay Nebudchikov has never been found guilty.
Source: Novoye Vremia, № 13-14, 14.05.2007
In the mid 90s Chaika decided to construct a building for the newly-opened Institute of Law in Irkutsk. The government allocated money to the works. The examination hold by the FSB officers discovered that the records of construction works were doctored. The damage made up over $ 1.5 million. Deputy chief of the FSB Aleksandr Nikolyuk informed Anatoly Merzlyakov, Chaika’s succeessor at the post of regional prosecutor, and offered to institute criminal proceedings. Merzlyakov refused point-blank and decided to shelve the case. However when in summer 1998 the information finally reached Moscow, a group of FSB officers and federal prosecutors was sent to Irkutsk. The investigation proved everything. The evidence went to Moscow, but FSB and Prosecutor General’s office agreed on not giving the case publicity.
Source: Baykalskaya otkritaya gazeta, 13.10.1999
On March 9, 1999, the anti-crime unit of Moscow region police detained Syzyr Chumakov and Ibragim Yevloyev on suspicions of $60.000 extortion. They extored money from Formpost firm, registered in Odintsovo. Chumakov and Yevloev drove a Daewoo Leganza with registration number o682oo (such numbers usually belong to VIPs and nicknamed ‘blatnoy’ meaning thieves’). The police withdrew a revolver, RGD-5 grenade, heroine and special permission which exempted the car from the pull-overs (issued for Yury Chaika). The car belonged to the younger son of Yury Chaika, Artem. They drove the car by his warrant.
Artem Chaika gave evidence to provide an alibi for Yevloyev. He said when the extortion took place both of them were at the airport awaiting Artem’s flight to Irkutsk.
Source: Kommersant newspaper, 27.09.2000
In 2002-2003 Artem Chaika’s business was expanding dramatically. Thanks for the bailiffs who were under unofficial guardship of Yury Sindeev, the head of the main organisation and inspection department of the Prosecutor General’s Offices. Junior Chaika and his business partners, including member of the state Duma Bashir Kodzoev, tried to take control of the Upper Lena River Steamship Company. They also supported Continental Management company (a subsidiary of the Bazovy Element) in their bid to acquire Bratsk and Kotlas pulp-and-paper plants, the leaders of Russian forestry industry. In 2004 the war broke out with an aim to raid Moscow Public Transport Agency (JSC). The justice ministry workers (covertly controlled or directly subjugated to Yury Sindeev) were involved in the corporate raids.
Source: The Moscow Post 25.06.10
February 2007 brought a major scandal related to Yury Chaika. For 15 years Chaika’s old friend Sergey Zubarev was the mayor of Irkutst district (municipal unit in the south-east of Irkutsk region with the center in the city of Irkutsk). This district is a prestigious residential area with the land used for construction of elite cottages. The authorities gave 1.5 hectare land plot to Akvamarin Company (Limited Liability Company). The company was founded by mayor’s close relatives. Another plot (9 hectares) was given to a firm owned by Zubarev’s son-in-law Nasonov. 34 hectores went to God knows whom and at unknown price: there was no bidding, and not one single pence of taxes went to the local budget. The civil services has long ago been divided between the firms owned by Zubarev’s relatives. They feel absolutely safe and protected by the city prosecutor’s office (incidentally the city prosecutor is Anatoly Merzlyakov, Chaika’s old friend and former deputy). While Chaika convened a conference of heads of law-enforcement agencies of the Siberian Federal District, people held a meeting outdoors, protesting against bribery and hushing up.
Source: The New Times, 14.05.2007
According to the tax return, in 2009 Chaika earned much less than his first deputy, the head of investigative committee Aleksandr Bastrykin. His income was just 2.16 million of roubles, compared to Bastrykin’s 6.29 million. But Chaika is a married man. His wife’s income was 6.36 million of roubles and she purchased Mercedes E350 4M. The register of legal entities says she has been managing «Artikul 2001» Limited Liability Company (registered in Moscow) since 2003.
Source: Vedomosti newspaper, 07.05.2010
Yury Chaika is very cautious, but even he was unable to disguise his son’s criminal business. It is rumoured that Artem Chaika controls Solidarnost Limited Liability Company. The company was a lucky buyer of a lucrative chunk of state property – 4th largest Russian salt deposit Tyretsky Salt Mine JSC. The assets were bought for 660.6 million roubles (with opening price of 639.6 million)
Solidarnost had to add just 21 million for this super-profitable asset. Moreover 9 companies were excluded from the auction.
The owner of Solidarnost is Nikolay Kulgayev, who manages RTI-Tsent Plus Limited Liability Company, owned by Mikhail Karamushka. According to Russia’s Property Agency, Karamushka and Kulgayev are affiliated to Artem Chaika and Solidarnost represents his business interests.
Position: Chairman of STC NK
Born 01.09.1950 in Baku (Azerbaijan).
In 1974 he graduated from the evening department of the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute, specializing in mining engineering on technology and complex mechanization of oil and gas fields development.
Since 1972 he worked as a driller in a production association “Kaspmorneft».
In the period from 1974 to 1979 he started as operator for oil and gas production, he soon became an engineer-technologist, then the shift supervisor, foreman, chief engineer and finally deputy chief of the oil field.
In 1979 -1985 Alekperov worked in management of manufacturing associations “Surgutneftegaz” and “Bashneft».
From 1985 to 1987 was the first deputy general director of «Bashneft» in Western Siberia.
From 1987 to 1990 he worked as general director of the production association “Kogalymneftegaz». In 1990-1991 – Deputy, First Deputy Minister of Oil and Gas Industry of the USSR.
In 1991 he became president of the oil concern «Langepas-Urai-Kogalymneft».
In 1993, on a decree of President Yeltsin the state concern «Langepas-Urai-Kagalym-oil ” was transformed into joint-stock company ” LUKoil “.
In 1995, Alekperov was chairman of the Board of Directors “Imperial”; in 1998, he became chairman of the supervisory board of the bank. At that time, LUKoil owned a stake of 26% shares of «Imperial» bank and bought from «Gazprom» another 7%. According to numerous publications in the media, “LUKoil” was late with the repayment of loan at 33 million dollars to the bank.
In 1998-2000, Vahid Alekperov was chairman of the Board of Directors in “Petrokommerts».
In April 1996 he was the confidant of Boris Yeltsin during the presidential election in the Tyumen region.
Since 1999 – Member of the Economic Council of the Government of Russia.
In January 2000, he was relieved of his duties as chairman of the board of directors of the company “LUKOIL”.
Since 2000 – present time- Chairman of the Board of Directors of OAO RITEK.
Since 2001- present time – Chairman of STC NK “LUKoil”.
According to the magazine “Finance”, his status for the year 2009 amounted to 7.60 billion dollars; he took the 4th place in rating of Russian billionaires.
Married; has a wife Larisa, a son Yusuf (born 1990). He tends to spend spare time with his family. He is fond of tennis.
In privy Alekperov’s name is “Don”. He even holds out his hand at the meeting so that one looks liking kissing it. Alekperov has earned an “every minute” respect due to the fact he knows the oil industry “inside and out». He started as a drill man, and rose to a director of field. As a professional he got formed in the Siberian Kogalym when leading «Kogalymneftegaz», thence the psychology “everything is possible” is. Also in Kogalym, Alekperov has received another nickname from drill men – Alec the First – for the fact that despite the party instructions, he built normal brick housesfor the workers , not shacks. Another story of those years: Alekperov sat down on the damaged oil pipe to give moral support to the welders fearing of explosion. In Alekperov’s days life level in Koglame was considered the highest in the USSR – payments for oil were made by real money. “Bright future” builder of was soon transferred to work in the Ministry of Petroleum Industry of the USSR. Alekperov was the youngest first deputy minister in the history of the Ministry. It is unknown who favoured him for the post. Leonid Filimonov headed the Ministry ( at first he headed «Nizhnevartovskneftegaz», then a president of Eastern Oil Company). Alekperov co-authored with to work out a scheme of vertical integration of oil companies – VINK. Thus, in late 1991 the first international oil concern «LUKoil» appeared in Russia, which consisted of “Uraineftegaz” and “Langepasneftegas.Alekperov met those companies’ heads back in Kogalym – Putilov Alexander and Yuri Shafranik (the latter subsequently headed the Petroleum Ministry and helped a lot to “oil king” Vagit in business). The structure of “LUKoil” also included the Perm and Volgograd refineries. The name of the concern consists of the first letters of the cities’ names as follows: Langepas, Urai, and Kogalym. A major shareholder and strategic partner of LUKoil became the U.S. Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). LUKoil secured a reputation of Americanism company.
(Source: “aloud about …”, May 2003,” Top Secret “, November 2002)
Since then, not a single oil project has been passed by LUKoil. Exploration of Timan-Pechora, the Caspian and the Arctic shelfs, Baltic transit, construction of the Baltic Pipeline System and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, building a new oil terminal in the north, the development of the tanker fleet, and the order for production of railway tank — “LUKoil” took part in everything. Moreover, the company tried to control directly the competing projects. The aim was expansing in all directions under the auspices of public interest. Today LUKoil – this is 1,3% of global oil reserves, and 2.3% of global oil production. Speaking of Russia, LUKoil is a 18.6% oil production and 18,1% of all-Russia oil refining.
In 1993, Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on privatization of the oil industry. At the same time Alekperov announced the idea that there should not be more than three or four oil companies in the country. He actually took the sweet spots of the oil sector.
The then President Heydar Aliyev hoped that Alekperov would defend the interests of Azerbaijan in Moscow, but everything turned out the opposite. Alekperov primarily defended the interests of Moscow. But in spite of exhibiting his loyalty, in the late 90’s Alekperov began conflicting with the authorities. On the one hand, Putin did not want to tolerate too large and independent monopolists. On the other hand, LUKoil became in the way of its main rival «Sibneft», the company of the “family”. As a result LUKoil was prosecuted for withholding taxes of hundreds millions of dollars. Viktor Kalyuzhny – an outspoken lobbyist of LUKoil resigned the post of Fuel and Energy Minister (it is noteworthy that Alekperov did not take him to the company, probably being displeased with the work of “hand-minister). Meanwhile, Alekperov was “caught» in a doubtful relation with criminal authority Bogomolov named Bogomol (Tyumen OPG). He was even listed at one of the LUKoil’s posts. Everybody in the underworld avoided communicating with Bogomol remembering the death of the famous thief in law “Shakro-old” (also Kakachia); he was killed in the vicinity of Berlin. It is believed that “godfathers” controlling “LUKoil” were involved in the murder, since shortly before his sudden death “Shakro-old» had quarreled with one of the heads of LUKoil.
MIA was aware of relations existing between the structures of “LUKoil” and the criminal world controlling the gasoline business. In particular, former Interior Minister Kulikov written about it in a note addressed to Chernomyrdin, but no decisions on that matter followed.
By the way, back in 1997 vice-president of LUKoil Vitaly Schmidt died from a coronary heart disease; his death was subsequently treated in the press as the murder by poisoning. Schmidt was an author of restructurization of offshore system in LUKoil, which was disadvantageous for Alekperov, and therefore was not implemented after Schmidt’s death. Relatives of Schmidt voiced accusations against Alekperov, Ralif Safin, and other leaders of “LUKoil” in the “Top Secret” program on the NTV channel.
First deputy of Alekperov Sergei Kukura also suffered after a few of years later. He was kidnapped by unknown persons, and then safely returned. Then it was discovered that lukoylovtsy had been engaged in the sale of diluted gasoline for a few years through its network of petrol stations. Tthe state treasury, according to conservative estimates of the tax police, was damaged in the amount of 4.5 billion rubles.
In 2000, the Federal Tax Police Russia announced the initiation of criminal proceedings against Alekperov and chief accountant of “LUKoil” Lyubov Hoba on the fact of “sheltering large funds of taxation». On the same day, Alekperov met President Putin in the Kremlin . As a result, the prosecution was not presented to him. In August 2000 Arbitration Court dismissed most of the claims of the Federal Tax Police Service against “LUKoil”.
(Source: “Profile” from 17.07. 2000; “Novaya Gazeta” on 20.12.1999)
In early 2000, LUKoil voluntarily refused of participation in financing project works on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, although it had every right for a share in the future “pipe”. That sudden act of philanthropy had an explanation – Alekperov utmost tried to maintain the image of the most public, most patriotic company in Russia. refusal of share in the Azeri oil pipeline was supposed to emphasize the loyalty of “LUKoil”, which had been questioned after the establishment of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC).
Since the beginning of the First Russo-Chechen war, it was necessary to determine the routes for transporting of Caspian oil. The USA, Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan insisted on the south side of the Caucasus Mountains, while Russia – on the northern slopes of the Caucasus. Then LUKoil took a strange position, as it was acting against the public interest. LUKoil was for development of the field “Kyapaz». LUKoil signed the agreement with Azerbaijan on doing that. Official Ashgabat made a note of protest considering the agreement an intrusion on their territory. Russian Foreign Ministry was forced to justify itself, and to recognize Russia’s debt to Turkmenistan of $228.5 million as compensation. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the choice of transporting routes of Caspian energy resources depended on position of Turkmenistan. In addition, Ashgabat was the only ally of Russia against the United States in struggle for the Caspian Sea.
As a result, Moscow failed the struggle from the very beginning. It was thanks to the policy of “LUKoil” that Caspian Sea had been divided into national economic zones. LUKoil also was an active participant in the intrigue on construction of the “pipe” bypassing Chechnya. MFA of Russia defended Russia’s route of transportation by all methods, including war in Chechnya. Meanwhile LUKoil expanded its presence in the Azerbaijani oil fields and was a member of the AMOK, which was going to drive oil through the “pipeline” Baku-Ceyhan. A friend of Alekperov- Viktor Chernomyrdin persuaded everyone that Russia’s national interests were met, referring to state status of LUKoil.
In the northern direction LUKoil pursued primarily its own profit. Having bought an oil company “KomiTEK” and in fact having absorbed it, LUKoil became the owner of majority deposits of the Timan-Pechora and the pipeline, which was supposed to become a part of the Baltic Pipeline sysetm (BPS). BPS – is a direct access to the world oil market, which Russia had lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Therefore, Putin took the BTS under his patronage, but LUKoil opposed that from the beginning. As a result, LUKoil developed an alternative BPS project called “Northen Gate”, which involved the construction of oil terminal in Varandey with capacity of 30 million tons per year with the following transportation by oil tankers. Under that project, LUKoil managed to gain ownership of the oil base of the Northern Fleet in Mohnatkina Pahta.
(Source: “Stringer” from 14.11.2000)
But Alekperov is famous for his capability to roll with the punches – Vagid Alekperov knows how to parley. He agreed with the authorities. As early as in 2002, Alekperov was called the favorite of the president. As they say, Alekperov is the man who does understand the system, and signals that authorities send. “It is impossible to separate the company’s interests from the interests of the State on which territory it operates», said he once. «We have the same interests. Everything that is good for Russia is good for our company.” In 2005, Alekperov received order “For merits before Fatherland» of IV degree from Putin. It is noticed that level of consumer prices for gasoline depends on conversations of Putin and Vagit Alekperov.
Today Alekperov owns 20,6% of LUKoil. Another 20% belong to the American ConocoPhillips, 9,25% – Vice President Leonid Fedun. Many experts believe that the whole empire of Vagit Alekperov has been created on money of the U.S. companies which control Russia’s projects through LUKoil.
(Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 16.02.2006)