Malofeev played an important role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In 2014, his former consultant Alexander Borodai became the first head of the self-proclaimed DPR, and Malofeev himself did not hide the fact that he had organized financing for the Crimea and Donbass, however, he called it exclusively humanitarian activity. After all this, Malofeev was one of the first Russians to fall under the sanctions of the EU and the USA.
Konstantin Malofeev was a bright hero of corporate wars of the late 2000s, a minority shareholder of Rostelecom and almost the main person in the Russian communications market, but he almost lost everything, getting involved in an exhausting war with VTB. In 2014, he played an important role in the conflict in the Donbass and came under the sanctions of the EU and the USA. Since then, his main business has been causing mainly losses, some companies go bankrupt, others have seized accounts at the request of the Federal Tax Service, The Bell found out. Despite this, Malofeev is preparing a triumphant return as the leader of the new monarchist party, under which he prudently created a new media holding. Where he got the money from is not known. Former clients of the infamous cryptocurrency crashed exchange believe it might be related to its missing millions. Malofeev himself categorically denies this.
To the sounds of the Russian anthem, men in Cossack hats brought the icon of Nicholas II to the conference room of the Tsargrad hotel near Moscow. Prior to this, an airplane icon circled the borders of the former Russian Empire, visited dozens of dioceses, and by November 5, 2018, it was at the second meeting of the Two-Headed Eagle Society. “You and I are 2014 members,” the chairman of the society, Orthodox businessman Konstantin Malofeev solemnly announced. “Until the end of 2019, we need to increase the number to 10 thousand.”
The “Two-headed eagle” is a springboard for the new conservative party in Russia, The Bell’s interlocutors in other parties and political technologists are sure. The society of its appearance, certainly, was waiting, assured Malofeev himself in a conversation with The Bell. “There is a political crisis in the country, and there is a request for a monarchist party,” says the former investor, sitting in his office in Novinsky Passage, hung with icons, portraits of representatives of the Romanov dynasty and Russian commanders. According to a VTsIOM survey, 28% of Russians adhere to monarchical sentiments, and 6% clearly understand how they see it, says Malofeev:
“Of course, these are people who love Vladimir Putin and see the continuation of his power in the imperial monarchical spirit. I share these values. ”
All this is Malofeev’s personal initiative, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told The Bell. According to him, the businessman did not discuss or coordinate with the Kremlin any political initiatives.
More recently, Malofeev said that he shared the values of "Fair Russia", which has not yet talked about the monarchy. In March, he joined the party, where he was promised the place of deputy Sergei Mironov and carte blanche for reforms in exchange for sponsorship. The party “Rodina” also wanted to get Malofeev, its head Aleksey Zhuravlev does not hide. “Konstantin Malofeev and I had a lot of debate about his participation in our work,” the politician said. As one of the options, the creation of a conceptually new social-patriotic party “with elements of a monarchist ideology” based on “Motherland” and “Fair Russia” was discussed, but failed to agree with Mironov. Zhuravlev connects the reason for the failure with the problems within Just Russia and some miscalculations by Malofeev himself. “He thought that partnership in politics is built in the same way as in business, but this is not so,” Zhuravlev explains. “Here you can fulfill all the conditions, comply with the agreements, and partners will refuse obligations.”
And so it happened: it was planned to officially announce Malofeev’s appointment as deputy Mironov at the next congress in April, but at the last moment he was canceled. The Just Russia leadership was frightened off by the fact that Malofeev “acted like a customer in a vegetable shop,” Kommersant wrote. “We have different views, different paths, so our paths have diverged, and there is no tragedy for us or him,” Oleg Shein, a member of A Just Russia, vaguely explains. His party comrades do not want to discuss this topic at all. On September 10, Malofeev publicly announced that he was leaving the party, explaining that he wanted to focus on his new work - in the World Russian People’s Cathedral, where he, under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill and together with former presidential adviser on economics Sergei Glazyev, was preparing a Russian development strategy for 30 years in advance.
Why did he get together in politics, Malofeev does not say, but this is not his first attempt. In 2012, at the height of the war with VTB due to a bad loan, he tried to become a senator, but then he could not get this chair - and with it new opportunities and immunity (after several years of legal proceedings, seizure of assets and searches of VTB, Malofeev still had to pay off).
The remains of former luxury
A signboard for Marshall, a fund whose assets at its peak was valued at $ 1.5 billion, is still hanging above the neighboring door to Tsargrad’s office in Novinsky Passage in Moscow. But, according to Konstantin Malofeev, his Marshall Capital ended when the US Treasury Department froze assets and accounts around the world.
But they "are not professionals, do their job poorly and are no different than Russophobia, so it did not cause me any damage - just write it down," he says.
However, this is not entirely true. In 2014, immediately after the imposition of sanctions, Malofeev still hatched plans to create a new fund - Pierre Louvier, jointly with the French CFG Capital. In Russia, nothing was known about the Louvre, but Malofeev called him a "talented investor" with experience in the country, "a businessman and a man, of course, courageous." Together, he said, they agreed to create a new fund of at least 2 billion euros. But sanctions still thwarted these plans.
Marshall Capital is now called Marshal Global, with a focus on commercial advisory services. The founder of the company is Mikhail Leshchenko, a former partner of Malofeev and an adviser to ex-Minister of Communications Igor Shchegolev. Thanks to his friendship with Schegolev, Malofeev in the mid-2000s was considered almost the main person in the Russian communications market. The largest known investment by Marshall Capital for all time was a minority stake in the state-owned Rostelecom worth about $ 1 billion. Its fund, Malofeev, was sold to the state-owned company in 2013 (most of the money would later go to settle VTB claims). Since then, no other Malofeev investments have been reported.
“My whole business today is the Tsargrad holding,” says Malofeev in a conversation with The Bell.
Judging by open data, it includes two dozen companies, but they have few real assets. The largest are the Tsargrad hotel complex built by Malofeev in the village of Spas-Teshilovo, Moscow Region, the agricultural complex, Tsargrad media group and the Livadia resort in Crimea. All companies, according to their statements in SPARK, ended last year with losses of 700 million rubles, and the value of their assets fell more than twice - to 4.2 billion rubles. In the previous few years, from 2013 to 2017, the losses incurred by Malofeev's companies ranged from 550 million rubles to 1.8 billion rubles per year.
Business and social projects of Konstantin Malofeev
Dozens of accounts of companies included in the group are blocked at the request of the Federal Tax Service, it follows from the reports. Including the once largest company in the group's assets, Isma LLC. This company specializes in property management and participated in development projects of Malofeev. Back in 2016, the structure of Isma's assets included receivables of 1.9 billion rubles and financial investments of 2.8 billion rubles. But in January 2019, the company demanded to declare bankruptcy, and in May, the Cyprus offshore Flotis Projects LTD demanded 1.97 billion rubles of accounts payable from it. Interim manager Sergei Druzhinin included Flotis in the register of creditors as the sole creditor - in the case file this is justified by an extract from a certain account of this offshore.
Behind the offshore is the co-founder of the Order of Saint John the Baptist of Jerusalem, Leonid Gavrilov, better known as an oceanologist, found The Bell. Apparently, he is a long-time partner of Malofeev: in the biography of Gavrilov it is indicated that in 2013-2017 he was a "business angel" Tsargrad-TV ", and now he has the exploration company Avangard, which belonged to Malofeev until the summer of 2019. . It is likely that Isma’s property, if any, will be sent to the Cypriot offshore company as the sole creditor, then the company will be excluded from the register of legal entities “quietly, calmly and without too much fuss”, suggests Alexander Pogorelov, partner of the Law Firm Torn. As a result, all of its liquid assets, in the absence of other creditors, will go to Cypriot Flotis. Malofeev himself succinctly answers the question about the bankruptcy of the largest "daughter" of his holding: if it was something serious, he would know about it. His press service calls this the legal form of liquidation: the company has no debts on salaries and before the budget. Gavrilov did not respond to messages from The Bell, adding him to the black list.
In addition to the Tsargrad holding, more than a dozen charitable foundations and public organizations are associated with Malofeev. But judging by their reports, generous funding for them ended simultaneously with the imposition of sanctions. Judging by the numbers, the main brainchild of Malofeev is the Tsargrad media company, but it brings most of the losses.
How many Malofeev spent on his media business is unknown: Tsargrad Media does not publish statements, but the losses of the eponymous non-public joint stock company in 2014–2018 totaled about 1 billion rubles. But in terms of audience size, the Tsargrad television channel, founded in 2015, is already comparable to the “media factory”, which is associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin. At the start, RBC magazine estimated the audience of all resources related to Prigozhin at 5.5 million. The audience of Tsargrad-TV (according to Yandex.Radar) exceeds 7 million people, and the number of views on the site is close to 10 million per month ( the Tsargrad press service estimates its audience at 11 million unique visitors on the channel’s website and 10 million views of content on social networks per month).
Due to the extensive network of dozens of resources, each of which promotes each other, the media audience that connect with Prigozhin reached 33 million by 2017, of which 11 million were from RIA FAN, the main media group. Malofeev could take this strategy into service. For example, his double-headed eagle movement in 2017 ranked the small online publication Today as one of his media resources. The certificate of its registration belongs to the company “Rin”, which administers a dozen more resources (for example, the portals “AboutKremlya”, “Chechnya.ru” and others), each of which promotes each other. Portals such as Russian People’s Line, RIA Katyusha, Russia Forever, SM-News (with almost 7 million unique visitors per month) and others are engaged in mutual promotion. Most of them are registered as mass media, which allows them to be indexed in Yandex.News. The press service of Malofeev, however, argues that all these publications are not related to Tsargrad.
How Malofeev finances all his undertakings is not clear. He himself evasively answers that he has earned enough at the time, and now he has cooled to business. Part of Malofeev’s capital is “in investment portfolios managed by professional market participants,” the press service said in response to The Bell’s latest request.
“Malofeev, what will you do to him, will you order a song on the radio?” Futurico wrote in a group chat on Telegram called “Wex / BTC-e class action lawsuit”. The chat was created in December 2017, now there are more than 1.5 thousand people. Chat admins run the Wex Code website with news of the struggle of depositors for their missing money. They mainly discuss filing applications with various authorities and the low probability of returning the lost.
The group has recently revived: a recent publication of Wex Code claims that the last administrator of the exchange lost keys from crypto-wallets, which as of May 2018 had the equivalent of about $ 450 million, but a year ago in Novocheboksarsk, at the place of residence of one of the exchange's clients , a criminal case was opened, which was then transferred for examination to the Investigative Department of Moscow (the case number is given in another publication on the same site, but there is no publicly available data on it, the security departments did not respond to The Bell’s request )
Wex crypto exchange is the successor of the infamous BTC-e, which appeared in 2011 and collapsed in 2017, after one of its creators - 40-year-old Russian Alexander Vinnik - was arrested in Greece. U.S. authorities accuse Vinnik of creating an illegal crypto-exchange, which has sold at least $ 4 billion in bitcoins for all time. Vinnik was involved in the financial affairs of the exchange, and his Novosibirsk partner, system administrator Alexey Bilyuchenko, under the nickname admin, was responsible for the technical part. BTC-e quickly became popular - mainly due to the fact that users did not need to pass any verification to participate in the auction, which was very suitable for cyber fraudsters of all stripes.
The exchange rose instantly after the arrest of Vinnik. To restart it, renaming it Wex, Bilyuchenko, who was free, was offered by one of the major BTC-e clients - Dmitry Vasilyev, a native of Belarus. The platform started working again, but in the summer of 2018 Vasiliev announced that he was selling Wex to the former Kiev businessman Dmitry Khavchenko, who had fought in the Donbass under the call sign “Sailor”. Last year, RBC Magazine described all this, linking Sailor with the former head of the DPR and former political consultant Malofeev Boroday.
Malofeev does not deny friendship with Boroday, but questions about the crypto-exchange are clearly angry with him:
“I even forbade my employees to buy this crypt so that they would not lose money,” he resents in a conversation with The Bell.
The BBC Russian Service describes a different version: with reference to the testimony given during the investigation by the exchange co-founder Alexei Bilyuchenko, the publication says that he met Malofeev shortly after the first fall of the exchange - through a lawyer Vinnik, who knew the co-founder well Kaspersky Labs Natalia Kaspersky and her husband Igor Ashmanov. Both are regular members of the well-known Malofeev Safe Internet League. “The Vinnik case is a purely lawyer's project of the Bar Association of Timofey Musatov, it has no relation to me,” Ashmanov told The Bell. “I have nothing to say on the cryptocurrency exchange either, I don’t deal with cryptocurrencies, I have never had a single bitcoin in my life, I consider them an absolute evil.” Musatov did not respond to The Bell's request.
According to cryptocurrency companies Blockchain and Litecoin, on May 16, 2018, 30 thousand bitcoins and 700 thousand lightcoins were withdrawn from the well-known BBC wallets of the Wex exchange, which at that time was equivalent to $ 350 million. In the group of former Wex clients, they hope that the criminal case will make it possible to find out where the hundreds of millions of dollars missing from the exchange have gone. In the BBC version (it is set out on the basis of Bilyuchenko’s testimony and an audio recording of his talks with a man whose voice resembles Malofeev), in May 2018, through Malofeev’s mediation, he transferred the encryption keys and thereby gave all the cryptocurrency stored on Wex, people who linked themselves to the FSB.
Shortly before the release of the BBC publication, Lenta.ru and several telegram channels simultaneously went out with materials about Wex, but it was Bilyuchenko who allegedly entered into a conspiracy with other security officials who appeared to be guilty of the disappearance of the cryptocurrency.
“Neither Konstantin Malofeev nor his structure had and are not related to the Wex exchange, its management and assets,” his press service insists.
Despite the stated intolerance towards cryptocurrencies, Malofeev does not deny that he was related to a project called Vladex, which in 2018, a few months after the collapse of Wex, was represented by Vladimir Glazyev, former economic adviser to Putin at the economic forum in Vladivostok.
There is a presentation on the company's official website, which begins with a quote from Vladimir Putin: “We need to create our own digital platforms.” The objective of the Vladex project was designated as “the creation of a digital financial center in the Far East”, where ICO and ITO projects will flock. Among the advantages of the future site were indicated "low commission on operations, high speed of transactions, data protection."
The founder of the company with the same name and legal address as in the Far Eastern project in July 2018 was Kirill Malofeev’s son, a participant in the patriotic movement of his father “Two-headed eagle” and a player well-known among esports players under the name “Likkrit”.
The general director of his Vladeks was initially Natalya Tyurina, who was previously responsible for Malofeev’s failed project to build historical and patriotic parks. Then she was replaced by Ilya Markov, general director of the company POB Alexander Boroday.
Kirill Malofeev, in an interview with The Bell, said that Vladex is a “startup related to information technology”. His father first said that he did not know anything about such a company, but later the press service of Malofeev Sr. nevertheless clarified: Vladeks was registered on behalf of Konstantin Malofeev and was supposed to become a platform “to attract investment in the real sector of the economy ", But never led legal activities. In the testimony of Bilyuchenko, Vladex is described as a failed project of the Russian national crypto-exchange, writes the BBC Russian Service.
On October 18, in the hall of the church cathedrals of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, at the opening of the XXIII World Russian People’s Cathedral, his deputy in this organization Konstantin Malofeev sat on the left hand side of the church. Also on the podium was Sergey Kiriyenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, responsible for the Kremlin’s domestic policy. Among the other guests of the event, one could also notice Igor Shchegolev, a long-time acquaintance of Malofeev (now he is the presidential envoy in the Central District).
The cathedral has existed since 1993, before Cyril it was led by Patriarch Alexy II. When creating the main goal of this organization, the unity of all Russian people was declared, hence the worldwide status. A year ago, Vladimir Putin took part in his work, but there was no president at the last meeting. The organization, said Malofeev, is waiting for reform. In terms of influence, it should be something like the Zemsky Cathedral in its best times, he described. The role of Malofeev is “to establish expert work, develop international and human rights areas”.
“The strategy will be the answer to the fantasy work of our liberal colleagues,” Malofeev promises, clearly alluding to Alexei Kudrin's “Strategy-2024”, which could form the basis of Vladimir Putin’s fourth term.
The cathedral “acts as a partner of the state in solving the most acute problems facing the country,” Kiriyenko said at a recent meeting. This year, the problem of demography was discussed as the main topic, and next year it will present a 30-year comprehensive program for the development of Russia.
Malofeev poetically calls this document “Russian Dream 2050”, but he does not want to discuss what kind of dream it is. According to him, Sergey Glazyev, who heads the socio-economic unit of the cathedral, and former head of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), lieutenant general of the foreign intelligence service in the reserve, Leonid Reshetnikov, are included in the work on the strategy. RISI is part of the presidential administration and became famous when in 2016 in the USA he was suspected of meddling in the American elections.
Quotes from the report of Konstantin Malofeev at the meeting of the “Two-headed eagle” in 2018
“The happiest, brightest period in the history of the Russian people was the time of the monarchy. I consider it the only safe haven for Russia ”
“We believe that Putin was sent to us by God. With his arrival, Russia rose from its knees and made itself respected all over the world. ”
“We must do everything in our power to ensure that President Putin remains in power as long as possible. And if you need to change the Constitution for this, then this need has ripened for a long time! ”
Throwing their own brainchild - the movement "Two-headed eagle" - Malofeev is also not going to. In October, the St. Tikhon Orthodox Humanitarian University hosted the next meeting of the “Two-headed eagle”, which brought together about 200 people, including Malofeev’s son Kirill, a group of Cossacks, priests and camouflaged people who surrounded Alexander Boroday. The meeting began with prayer, after which Malofeev announced that the “Two-headed eagle” is the basic organization for the embodiment of the ideas of the World Russian People’s Cathedral.
In this role, the “Two-headed eagle” has three main functions: legal support for Russians in interethnic conflicts, the development of a “strategy for the future of Russia” and the organization of a single working movement. As an example, Malofeev recalled a failed attempt to build a temple in a park in Yekaterinburg. “At that time, athletes came to the defense of the temple, which pushed people away, but the members of our organization should have come out,” he announced solemnly. After that, the participants were asked to vote for the opening of the Moscow branch of the Cathedral, which would be headed by Malofeev. Hall unanimously raised his hands.
Then Malofeev talked mainly about politics: he branded both liberals and United Russia, ironized how United Russia party members in the recent elections to the Moscow City Duma, appearing to be self-nominated, and urged all participants to "not get out of the Internet," because only young people live there. Finishing criticizing the “mesmerizing liberal ideas” that lead to degradation and extinction, Malofeev announced:
“We need to criticize the current government. I am the founder of the TV channel Tsargrad, you know. And we criticize the government no less than the Rain channel! But it’s impossible to criticize Vladimir Putin, it’s impossible, it’s impossible to do it under any circumstances. ”
The former investor claims that the Two-Headed Eagle branches operate throughout Russia - there are already nearly ninety of them. But, judging by the reporting of the movement, so far its activities are not too costly: the largest expense in 2018 is 3.8 million rubles for educational activities, a little less went to pay. In Moscow, the “Two-headed eagle” is registered at the same address where the checkpoint in the RISI is located.