Arkady Rotenberg, Yuri Kovalchuk and Nikolai Shamalov: Crimea is theirs

How Crimea became a profitable business for Putin’s friends.
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Immediately after the annexation of the Crimea, the fifth anniversary of which will be celebrated in March, mass expropriation of Ukrainian enterprises and the infrastructure of the peninsula began. One of the main slogans at that time was to preserve and increase the standard of living of the Crimeans, who should have felt that, according to Dmitry Medvedev, "are part of a strong country." Since then, the euphoria has long subsided, except for a narrow but very active group of beneficiaries, the largest Russian oligarchs, whose turnover in the Crimean economy reaches hundreds of billions of rubles. Major privileges received close friends of Putin. Thus, Stroygazmontazh of Arkady Rotenberg concluded state contracts in the amount of 275 billion rubles. Bank "Russia" Yuri Kovalchuk and Nikolai Shamalov increases assets thanks to the military and the Crimean state employees. The military leadership is also not spared. For example, the firms of General Vladimir Zaritsky buy resorts under the hammer on the southern coast. Andrey Vasilyev calculated who earns money in the Crimea and how.


On January 8, the governor of Sevastopol, Dmitry Ovsyannikov, at a working meeting in Kaliningrad, showed Vladimir Putin a draft design of a city cultural center. His idea belongs to the president himself, and therefore the contractor for him must be proven. Better than Arkady Rotenberg’s Stroygazmontazh LLC is not to be found. Recall Rothenberg - Putin's friend from old times, in their youth, they were engaged in judo.

Until 2023, in Sevastopol, they promise to build an opera and ballet theater for 800 seats, a boarding school, a cinema and concert complex, as well as residential and hotel buildings for employees, artists and students. Under the cultural cluster, it is planned to allocate 23.3 hectares of land in the historic center of the city at Cape Crystal and 25 billion rubles.

The customer is the National Cultural Heritage Foundation, among the founders of which are 4 budget organizations: the Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage, the Mariinsky Theater and the Bolshoi Theater. There is no project yet, and it is not clear how it will be financed, but the future territory is already fenced, and an information board on it informs that the general designer and the general contractor is Stroygazmontazh LLC.

However, experts believe that this money may not be enough. How not to recall the Kerch Bridge, which during its construction by the Rotenberg company was first estimated at 50 billion rubles, then at 100 billion, and in the end it cost the Russian budget 227.78 billion rubles.

"Stroygazmontazh" - the largest recipient of funds for the federal target program of the socio-economic development of the Crimea. In addition to the Kerch Bridge and the cultural cluster in Sevastopol, the “king of state orders” turned out to be the only supplier of the reconstruction of Artek, worth 26.3 billion rubles. He is building 16.6 billion rubles for railway approaches to the Kerch Strait.

The total amount of funds that the CMB has mastered or intends to absorb in Crimea may exceed 300 billion. This is about a third of the current volume of the federal program for the development of Crimea (877.8 billion rubles).

Kovalchuk and Shamalov

Earn in the Crimea and you can not government contracts. Bank "Russia" and its largest shareholders (friends of Putin since the co-op "Lake"), Yuri Kovalchuk and Nikolai Shamalov, are an example of a success story. <The investigation that the founders of the bank "Russia" were the leaders of the Tambov-Malyshevsky organized criminal group, read here - The Insider>

When in March 2014, the United States and Canada imposed sanctions against “Russia,” $ 572 million was frozen in the bank’s accounts, and it was disconnected from the VISA and Mastercard payment systems. However, by the end of the year, its assets grew by 23%, funds in the settlement accounts of individuals — by 39%, and the number of branches increased by about a third.

"Russia" helped the development of the Crimea, after the annexation left without a banking system. Due to the toxicity and international sanctions, Sberbank, VTB, Alfa Bank and other giants in the Crimea did not work. It was necessary to raise virgin soil by the state RNKB and the private bank “Russia”. The first works mainly with individuals and businesses. The second managed to get outsourced payroll accounts of the Black Sea Fleet (previously they were served at VTB-Ukraine), and a little later the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Emergency Situations Ministry and other government agencies in the Crimea.

Recently, the Bank “Russia” received an order from the government of Sevastopol for issuing the Unified City Card for public transport, the transfer of pensions, allowances and salaries of doctors, teachers, and officials. The annual volume of social and pension payments is 33 billion rubles.

Due to the symbiosis with the state structures, the Crimean branch of the bank is an active investor. In exchange for a loan for the construction of a new terminal, he, along with the RNKB, received from the state a 51% stake in Simferopol International Airport LLC. Recently it became known that the bank provided a loan of 1 billion rubles to the Crimean Railway. Because of the risk of sanctions, RZD does not want to take the railway infrastructure of the peninsula onto its balance, and the Ministry of Economic Development has long been proposing to transfer it into private hands. It is possible that the lender will later become its owner.

In December 2017, the South Project subsidiary of Russia acquired the Novy Svet sparkling wine factory. The company, with a capacity of 1.6 million bottles of sparkling and sparkling wines per year, was nationalized by the Crimean authorities during the “Russian spring” and then sold at auction.

The bank does not hide the fact that they are interested in buying new wine-making assets. Inkerman International holding the Inkerman plant of vintage wines and vineyards of 2.79 thousand hectares may soon join the “New World”. The holding, which is associated with the Ukrainian oligarch Valery Chamotin, has a conflict with local Russian authorities, who are trying through court to terminate the leases of the plant’s property and the Kaczynski state farm concluded in Ukraine. As Sergey Lebedev, director of the holding, acknowledges, problems can be solved only by finding a Russian owner and investor. There are rumors that have not been confirmed so far that the Southern Project will become such.

General investor in the basement of a residential building

Immediately after the annexation of the Crimea, several micro-enterprises were registered in the basement of one of the residential buildings of Simferopol. All of them are united by the identity of the owner - the former commander-in-chief of the RF missile forces, the three-star general Vladimir Zaritsky. Recently, they have departed the Crimean assets worth tens of millions of dollars.

At the end of 2017, LLC UKIP, 94% owned by a retired general, received a land plot of 20 hectares at Cape Ai-Todor, where even in tsarist times there was an imperial villa. A company with a registered capital of 13 thousand rubles and a number of employees of less than 10 people intends to build a 5-star hotel with a spa complex, shopping, sports and restaurant clusters with a total cost of 1.2 billion rubles.

Six months later, three southern coastal resorts added to the assets of the microenterprise: Ai-Petri, Dulber and Mishor. LLC UKIP bought them at auction for 1.5 billion rubles. Previously, the owners of the sanatoriums were the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Ukrprofzdravravnitsa. In 2014, the Russian authorities nationalized them along with other 480 enterprises, and now the former Ukrainian owners are suing international courts, demanding compensation. In the meantime, nationalized assets are gradually selling, highly beneficial for buyers. UKIP LLC paid 416.4 million rubles for the Ai-Petri sanatorium, while one hundred bare land without communications could cost from 500,000 to a million rubles. With an area of ​​5.7 hectares, only the land here was estimated at 427 million rubles, not counting the hotel infrastructure, which includes a room stock of 800 beds.

In December of last year, LLC UKIP acquired at auction 100% of the shares of Krymtelecom expropriated from the Ukrainian oligarch Akhmetov. The amount of the transaction amounted to 998 million rubles.

The role of the dummy firms of General Zaritsky in the Crimean sub-sanctioned economy is clarified by the story of the design of the “international marina”. It is planned to build it in Balaclava, the most convenient Crimean bay, where there are never storms. Competition for the development of the project worth 339, 9 million rubles won all the same "Stroygazmontazh" Arkady Rotenberg. However, the Russian authorities have not yet decided to build a yacht club for millionaires completely at the budget expense. In order for the contractor to gain access to the planned budget of 8 billion rubles, it is necessary to find private investors who are ready to fork out another 12 billion. This is what another firm of General Zaritsky AIP, another micro-enterprise with a registered capital of 10 thousand rubles, with which the Sevastopol authorities signed an investment agreement on Balaclava.

It is easy to see that business structures earning in the Crimea do this solely due to private-state symbiosis. While for many ordinary citizens the conquest of the peninsula turned to losses and falling living standards, some, according to the well-known wording of Dmitry Medvedev, "not only did not lose, but rather, bought it". But, contrary to the prime minister’s call, the beneficiaries were not Crimeans, but oligarchs close to the Kremlin.

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