2017 In Review: Top Russiangate’s Investigations
Sergey Matvienko’s Investment Grab-it-zation
We reviewed the real estate owned by the son of Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matvienko and traced back a story that unveiled her generosity. Sergei Matvienko privatized land plots and buildings from the assets of St. Petersburg for 8.4 billion rubles.
He received land and real estate for investment projects, when his mother was the governor of St. Petersburg. The promised hotel complexes on rented land have never been built. But under the new governor, Georgy Poltavchenko, this property became the property of Matvienko's son – together with architectural monuments and historic buildings.
The “seized” property was so much that the investigation had to be divided into two parts: the first part is about a hectare near Sestroretsk and a historic mansion on Kamenny Island, whereas the second one tells about the house of writer Vonlyarlyarsky in the center of St. Petersburg, a building on Vasilievsky Island and a site in Kronstadt.
Family nest: what the governor of St. Petersburg and his family own
And once again the north-west: we looked closely into Georgy Poltavchenko’s declaration and found plots on Rublyovka and an elite apartment on Petrogradka. His neighbors in the cottage village of Gorki-8 include Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and Senator Lyudmila Narusova – the widow of the first mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak. The elite apartments of the mayor are registered in his son and spouse.
The total value of the property of the Poltavchenko family is from 123 to 240 million rubles, whereas their average annual income amounts to 5.5 million rubles. It turns out that to buy a house and two apartments the governor would have to save from 22 to 43 years.
The business of Poltavchenko's daughter-in-law Darya Neshchadimova also looks sketchy. Her charitable foundation called Svetloye Vremya (Bright Time) is in no hurry to disclose its financial statements. We published a material on how the foundations wins state contracts for events, which at the end of theday are not held at all. In the meantime, partners of Poltavchenko's relative receive posts in the Administration of the Governor of St. Petersburg.
Also we found the St. Petersburg Governor’s house of in Plyos. Despite the fact that the main star of the society column is Georgy Poltavchenko, the house is in his son’s possession. There is also real estate belonging to the wife of a member of the Federation Council, Valery Vasiliev.
These days, the head of the Plyos City Council is Timerbulat Karimov, who is the grandson of a Bashkir poet, son-in-law of the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin, applicant for the post of head of Bashkortostan. We found out how the career of the head of Plyos developed and how Inga Sechina helped her husband in the development of the city with a “secret dacha” with a house for a duck.
Fire in Rostov-on-Don: “No one will bloody sell anything here – they all will take up machine guns”
The year 2017 will be remembered by the tragedy in Rostov-on-Don, where in August, a district with private houses burnt down. Mikhail Shubin went to the scene and learned the details of the event – who could set Govenyarka (Shithole) on fire and whether the state provides assistance to the victims.
One of the heroes of the materials shared his feelings with our correspondent: “There are no suckers here, no one will bloody sell anything here; they all will take up machine guns. I will do that, as well as Verka, Valka and Vaska. I have something to greet them with. I'll have my Maxim machine gun and I will waste them right here. They won’t get us. Screw them all!”
It’s cheaper to die
“After the aminazine, the children lie in their beds, move slowly and only holding on to the wall – it is difficult to move their legs. After antidepressants, they sit, stare at one point and smile. And if you ask them what they think, they answer: “... I do not want to smile, I'm scared,” says the heroine of the text about medications used in psychoneurological dispensaries.
The study of public procurement of potent psychotropic drugs with severe side effects showed that in the PNDs, old generation antipsychotics are still used to suppress patients.
How Berkut migrated to Russia
The text about the “new life” of Ukrainian security forces officers is an investigation of how Russia shields the fighters of the Berkut. Those who are under criminal investigation in Ukraine for the murders of protesters flee to the neighboring country. One of them was noticed at the crackdown during the protest against corruption on the Tverskaya Street in Moscow – he coordinated the actions of the special services. Deputies of the United Russia and the Russian MIA help the Berkut officers to settle down here.
Interpol, tweet, biocluster
A story from Chechnya – an investigation of how the perpetrators of the murder of the Yamadayev brothers – the enemies of Ramzan Kadyrov – settled in the republic. Russiangate has studied the list of Interpol, the names of those wanted in the case of Sulim Yamadayev, and found out that the killers have become respected residents of Chechnya. They turned to the head of the republic for help and now manage the companies associated with the Akhmad Kadyrov Foundation.
Then Kazan Rublyovka: who settled in the elite village
A material about another republic – the settlement of Borovoye Matyushino is called the “Kazan Rublyovka”. We met with the neighbors of head of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov. In his residence, there are more than 50 TVs, and next to it, deputies of the State Duma and Tatarstan officials settled. A villa with a wine cellar near Putin's street costs 697 million rubles, and helicopter platforms are built right on the Volga River.
Jet lag: the Paradise Papers unveiled Giner’s aircraft business
The year 2017 in the world of investigative journalism will be remembered by the leak of documents of the offshore law firm Appleby. Russiangate together with the Municipal Scanner dug into the Paradise Papers and learned the details of the aircraft business of the owner of the CSKA football club, Vadim Giner.
It turned out that the offshore companies of his family own 30 planes, among which there are Falcon and Bombardier. The Russian companies of the Giner family win contracts of large state companies that are under American sanctions. The family faces the same – in this case, they will lose the aircraft business hidden in Latvian companies.
Blowing up the fifth column
We studied the Russian Guards’ state purchases on the eve of anti-corruption rallies. To suppress the civilian riots in the spring of 2017, Rosgvardia purchased a system of “sound suppression of disorders”, weapons and armored vehicles. We found the system called Whisper, which breaks up demonstrations with unpleasant sounds, the military boat Flamingo, armored cars Federal and Yesaul, and counted how much everything costs.
Presidential villas in the Crimea
After the Crimea was annexed, the Federal Security Service (FSO) received summer residences and villas that belonged to the Ukrainian authorities until 2014. We counted how much the FSO spends on maintaining the villas. Hamam, helipads, luxury furniture. The renovation works for the FSO are carried out not by Russian, but by Belarusian, German and Ukrainian companies.
All of the Chechnya
We understood how Akhmad Kadyrov's Foundation works: not only it is involved in charity, sends hundreds of tons of food to Syria and makes generous gifts to world celebrities, but it also builds factories, opens private companies and foreign accounts. The Foundation, which is included in the global list of corruption by Transparency International, collects tribute from ordinary “state employees” and spends it to help Ramzan Kadyrov's associates.
The closest friend
We published an investigation about what “the second person in Chechnya” – the cousin of the head of the republic, State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov – is involved in. According to our information, it is he, who is behind the attack on journalists and human rights activists of the Committee against Torture on the border of Chechnya and Ingushetia in March 2016. Russiangate discovered that the Delimkhanov family owns a property with a total area of more than 27 thousand sq. m. in the village of Jalka.
The planes used by Rosneft
We checked the fleet of Rosneft and found close ties with the government and inflated prices for air transportation. Italian helicopters, Canadian planes and business jets cost the state company billions of rubles. The aircraft fleet of the oil company is used by the Chairman of the Government, Dmitry Medvedev.
Putin's glamorous allies
We figured out how the family of presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov lives. His eldest son Nikolay is affiliated with the company on mixed martial arts Fight Nights, whose co-owner – businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov – paid for the honeymoon of the newly married Dmitry Peskov and Tatiana Navka on the sailing yacht Maltese Falcon. His daughter Yelizaveta studies at a business school in Paris, which costs 631 thousand rubles a year and visits Ramzan Kadyrov. And the wife of the country's first press secretary does not declare American real estate.
Good dad, bad dad: Shuvalov and his children
Another story about the kids – we have learned how the family of the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Shuvalov, lives. The assets, registered by the generous parents in the name of the eldest son Yevgeny passed to daughter Maria. These days, she dances in the Bolshoi Theater, and in her spare time – walks the corgi in Shuvalov’s Austrian castle. As soon as she reached adulthood, she received from her parents a land plot and real estate in Nemchinovo, as well as their Russian and foreign companies.
An investigation about bots, praising the Moscow program of renovation on the Internet. The analysis of similar Twitter accounts of faceless fans of renovation showed that the bots are connected with Tina Kandelaki’s company Apostol. For all of its projects, the company used the same accounts. We studied the life cycle of a bot – from the PR of Aeroflot and Rostech to the creation of a positive image of Igor Shuvalov and the Moscow City Hall.
The regime’s victim
We found out how kickbacks prior to elections work. In 2016, the party United Russia received 4.3 billion rubles in donations –the party has never received so much money from sponsors.
Part of the benefactors could make donations in exchange for winning public procurement contracts. The businesses of the one-sixth of the sponsors of United Russia – that is, 104 companies – took off after the donation to the party. In 2016-2017, they began to receive more state orders than in all previous years.
Among such companies, most of those who started winning the state contracts were the contractors of JSC Russian Railways. Most of them belong to the Russian businessman Alexei Krapivin – the son of the adviser of the ex-head of the Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin.