The widow of Yuri Luzhkov, Elena Baturina, through her official representative Gennady Terebkov, accused Mikhail Fridman and his A1 company of “raiding”. “Everything is like in the old, unkind times,” they whispered in the market. One of two things - either Mikhail Fridman’s associates are so good that from his London he is again not afraid to engage in even the most toxic projects inside Russia. Or they are so bad that he is forced to fight for any crumbs, neglecting the risks.
The reason for the high-profile statements from Elena Baturina was the December 31 th announcement that the entrepreneur was wanted on the basis of a lawsuit from a certain Erenzen Manzheev, financial manager in the bankruptcy case of her brother Viktor Baturin. Manzheev filed a corresponding application with the magistrate of court plot No. 6 of the Elistinsky judicial district of the Republic of Kalmykia, where Viktor Baturin is now registered. Manzheev himself had previously lost similar civil claims to Baturina, declined to pay compensation, as a result of which the widow of Luzhkov filed for bankruptcy on December 25, for which, apparently, she received an “asymmetric” response in the form of a wanted announcement within 2 days . The case, even for the flexible judicial system of Kalmykia, is unprecedented. Interestingly, the A1 group of Mikhail Fridman at first categorically denied their involvement in the process against Baturina. “A1 has nothing to do with any resolution on the search for Baturina and is not involved in this matter,” a representative of the investment group said before RBC’s New Year.
But not even a week had passed before the people of Friedman radically changed their position. Apparently because it was too stupid to dissemble, to unlock and to deny.
“We have acquired the rights of demand and intend to realize them in the framework of the bankruptcy process [of Viktor Baturin],” A1 representative said in a comment to the same RBC, making a new, sincere statement right away. - Having studied all the materials of Viktor Baturin’s entrepreneurial activity, including the decisions of numerous courts initiated by him, today we can reasonably say that his sister Elena definitely has an unpaid debt to her brother, arising from the acquisition of a 25% stake in Inteko JSC, and the payment of this debt "It will satisfy the requirements of all of Baturin's creditors, including Sarrio, Federal Tax Service, Russian Agricultural Bank and others."
The head of the press service of Elena Baturina, Gennady Terebkov, in turn, said that the Baturins have not been linked for a long time to any relationship, including financial, but Viktor Baturin has repeatedly tried to get money from Elena Baturina and her companies under various pretexts.
“He lost all possible courts, but, having exhausted legal methods, he turned to raiders from A1, counting on their resource,” said Gennady Terebkov. - Illegal decision of a judge in Kalmykia, dirty public relations campaign against Elena Baturina, false statements in the media about the alleged non-involvement of A1 and Viktor Baturin in these actions and now A1’s invention of Elena Baturina having some debt to Viktor Baturin, contrary to all existing legal court decisions “These are the stages of the raider attack on Ms. Baturina by A1 structures of Mikhail Fridman, using her long-time opponent Viktor Baturin and his unreasonable demands.”
The picture as a result emerges rather convex. A deaf region remote from Moscow with its own customs and mores (Kalmykia). A protracted conflict (a dispute between Elena Baturina and her brother lasts more than 15 years), in which one of the parties - it would seem - lost hopelessly (Baturin lost all the courts in all instances to his sister, was caught by the hand for falsification of documents and fraud, for which he was convicted of several years in prison). The presence of “businessmen” was “decided” on places behind which one could hide for the time being (the mentioned Manzheev is not just a professional bankrupt, but also the son of the former head of the Supreme Court of Kalmykia). And all the same “Alfovites” in the arena - or rather, for the time being, backstage. It is clear why, for people who know from this whole story, it was nostalgic for the old, unkind times.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, the score for the “conquests” collected by the Friedman-Khan-Aven team was already tens and even hundreds. At that time, the Alfa-ECO structure thundered mainly on the corporate conflict market, not disdaining any, even the most insignificant, cases, provided that they could bring quick profit. It was suggested that supposedly specially trained "messengers" traveled to the devastated regions of a huge country - inconspicuous people without a certain kind of occupation, collecting up-to-date information about poorly protected industrial assets, real estate, etc. A separate role in the goal reconnaissance was to be performed by Alfa-Bank, which by legal methods received reliable information about the true financial situation and the real possibilities of potential goals.
For each campaign, subsequently put together full-fledged “groups” consisting of professional lawyers, given to them by PR specialists and power support. Moreover, very often these specialists had no formal relationship with Alfa-Eco and acted, respectively, at their own peril and risk, apparently performing, in the interests of Friedman, Khan and Aven, all the most dirty and ungrateful work without any security guarantees in case of failure, almost like the current PMC fighters. Ideally, the interest of “Muscovites” in one asset or another should not have been read at all until the very last moment. The main game was played by local pawns.
Quite often, one and the same scheme, not very beautiful even for those times, could be repeated: the “Alfovites” joined the next corporate conflict as hired consultants at the invitation of one of the parties, but quickly began to work exclusively for themselves, leaving the asset behind and “ aggressor ”, and the unlucky“ victim ”who asked for help.
The methods could be used very different, and the further the scene was removed from the Kremlin, the wider their choice. If there was any, at least minimal possibility of initiating criminal cases, criminal cases were instituted under any pretext. If it was possible to carry out a power seizure of the factory administration with impunity, masked people, with the support of the police, carried out full-fledged military operations in the quiet towns of Russia. If you had to call black white and white black - some dark personalities suddenly began to bring suitcases with cash in the media. And although - here we need to repeat this again - these people had no formal relationship with Alpha, the tonality of the materials for some reason always pointed to one, quite definite interest.
Starting with quick acquisition and “repackaging” of assets in relatively simple industries (these were numerous half-dead bread and sugar factories, tea packing factories, chemical industry and pharmaceuticals), the group quickly switched to heavyweights in the raw materials industry and metallurgy, having managed to fight, for example, with the Krasnoyarsk aluminum plant over Achinsky alumina refinery. At the same time, 90% of small assets did not linger for a long time in Alpha’s hands - they were quickly put in order and resold with good profit to those who had serious intentions to develop them. “First of all, we are investors, not managers” - the group professes this principle quite officially.
Decades have passed since then, but the style and basic principles of the “design” work of the Friedman-Khan-Aven shadows have not fundamentally changed. They can still be interested in any project, provided that it will bring good profit. They can still use any means, provided that the victim cannot prove their illegality for one reason or another. Most likely, like 20 years ago, they will act harshly, calmly, but if possible with the wrong hands.
Now the “attacking” (in modern terminology - “investment”) consortium unit can be called A1. In 2019, the A1 holding had a landmark appointment - the former Minister of Transport of the Moscow Region and the former Deputy General Director of the railway company Peter Katsyv joined the Alfa Group co-owner Mikhail Fridman. Whose son, Denis, had sued William Browder for several years in the United States, accusing him of laundering money from the Magnitsky List. As a result, the company Katsyva Jr. Prevezon Holdings entered into a pre-trial agreement with the US authorities in the case of legalization of this money. The most striking episode of that story was the historical meeting of lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, acting in the interests of Katsyv, with the son of Donald Trump. The very fact of this meeting subsequently formed the basis of Russia's accusations of meddling in overseas presidential elections.
It is obvious that Elena Baturina is not anonymous regional businessmen from the 90s. And in London’s involuntary partners, Dandy Friedman, on this project, in addition to faceless lawyers and semi-anonymous “decided,” it turns out to be such a bright, diversified and unpredictable personality as Viktor Baturin - who managed to produce singer Dima Bilan in his life and take care of the famous Napoleonic scientist , Associate Professor of SPSU Oleg Sokolov, who dismembered his young lover last November. Everything happened in the investment (or considering the technology rather raider) practice of A1, but for example, on the screens of scandalous talk shows, their disassemblies have never splashed out. Perhaps a precedent will now be created.
Anonymous conspiracy thesis
Telegram channels generally tend to the idea that a loud run over Baturina for Friedman is not about business, namely about the show and about a distracting maneuver. Allegedly, unpleasant news for Alpha from Europe and the United States are expected in the coming months, up to the introduction of personal sanctions against its top officials. What doesn’t look so fantastic anymore, given the recent employment in A1 of Peter Katsyv. In October 2019, personally, Mikhail Fridman survived several unpleasant hours during interrogation in Spain, where a criminal case was opened against him on a number of charges, including “intentional bankruptcy” and “corruption in business.” And while the billionaire’s lawyers present him as a victim of a slander, there are already volunteers in Russia ready to fly to Spain at their own expense and give additional evidence against Friedman. “And in this context, the louder and dirtier the proceedings with Baturina are, the less public attention will be paid to European and (in the future) American investigations, where the main threat comes from for co-owner Alpha,” anonymous conspiracy theorists from the cart speculate. And to be honest, no more logical explanation has yet been offered.