Turchak Jr.: A Story of One Underestimated Family
In mid-October, Russian President Vladimir Putin sacked the governor of the Pskov Region, Andrey Turchak. This happened during the “fall of governors”, when in less than a month ten Russian regions had their leaders. Turchak was the eleventh to be sacked. However, for the official, this dismissal is rather a promotion than a sign of mistrust coming from Moscow: he was immediately appointed to the post of head of United Russia in the State Duma. Katerina Karaseva, Sofya Savina and Mikhail Shubin talk about the former governor’s biography and scandals he was involved in.
CONNECTIONS FOR A GOOD START
The story of Andrey Turchak’s success is inseparable from the career of his father Anatoly Turchak. According to St. Petersburg historian Lev Lurie, for the first time Turchak Sr. got acquainted with the future president of Russia in the Petersburg judo club called Trubostroitel: they trained together with the Rothenberg brothers and had one coach – Anatoly Rakhlin.
Anatoly Turchak is older than Vladimir Putin by seven years. Accordingly, they practiced their martial arts in different groups and, probably, fought in different weight classes. We cannot claim that their friendship was born there. One thing is clear, though: membership in the judo club, which gave rise to so many high-ranking individuals, cannot be ignored.
According to the official biography, Turchak Sr. started at the Leninets plant as a simple fitter. In 25 years he became the CEO of the enterprise, and since 1992 he is the head of JSC Holding company Leninets.
In the mid-1990s, Turchak Sr. worked closely with Putin in St. Petersburg. In particular, he was Putin's deputy when the latter headed the headquarters of the party called “Our Home is Russia” during the 1995 State Duma elections. After Putin was moved to Moscow in 1997, Anatoly Turchak headed the branch of the party in St. Petersburg.
Later, Turchak's career also developed successfully: by 2016, according to the version of Business Petersburg, he was ranked 85th in the rating of St. Petersburg billionaires. Anatoly Turchak's main asset is still the holding company Leninets. It is engaged in the development and production of airborne avionics, navigational radio-electronic equipment and guidance systems for high-precision weapons.
Anatoly Turchak also inculcated an enthusiasm for judo in his son Andrey, who at the age of 16 became a coach of the children's youth sports school of the Olympic reserve. When his son turned 20, Turchak Sr. decided that it was time to introduce him to the family business and appointed Andrey as a manager in Leninets’ subsidiary company. At age 25, Turchak already became the director for restructuring, and then – the director for corporate policy of HC Leninets. At age 28, Andrey Turchak became the vice-president of HC Leninets.
A year after his appointment, in 2004, Turchak Jr. was awarded the prize – as the best young businessman of Petersburg. He gives several interviews, and allegedly after that he is noticed and invited to the office of United Russia.
‘They said that the party is forming a youth movement and they need the managers, who achieved something in life, taking into account the St. Petersburg roots, of course,’ Turchak said.
The youth movement was Young Guard of United Russia (MGER). In 2005, it was officially registered. Among others, Turchak and his partner in Leninets Alexander Gorbunov head the MGER. Two years later, Turchak was elected a chairman of the coordinating council of the youth organization.
The young guards often formed the main part of the crowd at various city events in favor of the candidates promoted by United Russia, as well as other party events. It was believed that MGER is a personnel reserve for the “adult” United Russia. The organization became known as the “tool for explanatory work in the youth environment” and reaction the opposition.
In early spring of 2007, the social elevator brought Turchak to the next floor of the Tower of Babel of the Russian system of power. At the age of 31, he was elected a deputy of the Pskov Regional Assembly from the party United Russia. The next two years he combined this post with the membership in the Federation Council. In February 2009, President Dmitry Medvedev appointed Turchak as governor of the Pskov Region. He was assigned to one of the poorest and most opposition regions of the country. At that time, Turchak was 33 years old.
A LIVEJOURNAL POST AND JOURNALIST KASHIN
Once, journalist of the newspaper Kommersant Oleg Kashin displeasured the young governor. The conflict was caused not even by some article or a high-profile investigation, but because of the comments in the LiveJournal.
Kashin wrote a post on the resignation of the head of the Kaliningrad Region Georgy Boos. An anonym wrote in the comment section that Boos ‘was absolutely not ready to compromise. the result is logical.’
On August 16, 2010, in his response, Kashin suggested to compare Boos with any governor: ‘Listen, well, you demonize him completely, compare him with any other governor, not even with Ramzan and not with Tuleyev, or some f.cking Turchak, how is Boos uncompromising compared to them?’
Turchak's reaction surprised many. The head of the region joined the comments and wrote very harshly: ‘You have 24 hours to apologize. You can do it here or in a separate post.’
Kashin’s reply was: ‘I believe that your appointment has offended federalism, common sense and other things of the same nature. I believe that a relationship with a Putin’s friend is not a sufficient reason to lead the region. I am sure that in any free elections in any region you would not have scored five percent. I do not have anything personal against you. Do you think I should apologize? What happens if I do not apologize?’
Turchak did not reply to it, and Kashin did not apologize. Later, the governor of the Pskov Region deleted his comment.
A little less than three months later, on November 6, 2010, Oleg Kashin was attacked. A little after midnight in the courtyard of Kashin’s house on the Pyatnitskaya Street, a man with a bouquet of flowers came up to him. Kashin turned to him, and at the same time, another man attacked him from behind. The attackers beat the journalist for several minutes with an iron rod. Kashin groaned in pain, his neighbor from the first floor heard his screams. It was he who frightened off two men who quickly got into a car and fled. The criminals broke the journalist's both jaws, shin, tore off a phalanx of a finger. Also, doctors diagnosed a concussion.
The investigation into the case is still on. Initially, Kashin said that he considered the version about Turchak's revenge possible, but unlikely. The journalist did not doubt that the attack was due to his work activity, and even suspected the leader of another pro-Kremlin movement Nashi, Vasily Yakimenko, in ordering the attack. Later, he apologized to him.
In 2015, Kashin announced that his case had been solved. The perpetrators were Danila Veselov and Vyacheslav Borisov. The first was the head of the security of the Petersburg mechanical plant, which is part of the Leninets holding company, the latter works as a guard in the same enterprise. Another guard of the mechanical plant, Mikhail Kavtaskin, was at the wheel of the car. They testified that the attack was ordered by the ally of Turchak, the manager of the holding Leninets, Alexander Gorbunov. For this, he paid the three offenders 3,3 million rubles.
According to the investigation, the motive for the crime was really the conflict with Governor Turchak. However, the attack was not blamed on the latter. Kashin considered it obvious that the attack occurred on the order of the governor. ‘It is clear, it is a provocation,’ Turchak said at the time. The governor invited the journalist to Pskov to talk ‘eyeball to eyeball’ and show him that the region has changed in five years. Kashin did not go.
The perpetrators in the Kashin’s case have not yet been punished. The trial continues. The case received another “branch” – the abduction of Gorbunov is investigated. In 2014, according to the investigators, his former subordinate Alexander Meshkov, who is now on the wanted list, did this.
The kidnapping was disguised as a special operation of the security forces. Gorbunov was kidnapped, taken to the Leningrad Region, where he was held for several days. According to the case materials, the perpetrators attempted to videotape compromising information from the prisoner. In particular, according to preliminary data, the kidnappers wanted to obtain a confession in organizing an assassination attempt on journalist Oleg Kashin from him. They were asking Gorbunov about his business and his friend, the governor of the Pskov Region, Andrey Turchak. The alleged abductees are the same Danila Veselov and Mikhail Kavtaskin. Turchak once again is not in the picture.
The ex-governor has four children: Anatoly (1997), Olga (1998), Filipp (2009) and Sofia (probably 2001-2003). The son of ex-governor, Anatoly Andreevich Turchak, registered two organizations. He holds the post of the CEO of the St. Petersburg Martial Arts Club Volna. In addition, an individual entrepreneur with the same name is registered in the Russian northern capital. His specialization is trade through vending machines and another 20 kinds of business activities.
Andrey Turchak has an elder brother, Boris, who holds the post of the CEO of the JSC Leninets Holding. Most of the state contracts of the company are concluded with the Federal State Unitary Enterprise Trade House Kremlevsky by the Department of Presidential Affairs. Kremlevsky rents its building in St. Petersburg. In December 2016, such a contract cost 2.4 million rubles, and in February 2017 – 3.1 million rubles. Another company, Ritz-Info, controlled by Boris Turchak, concludes contracts for the Internet and communications services with the Kremlevsky. Boris Turchak owns eight more companies in St. Petersburg.
The ex-governor's wife, Kira Turchak, holds stakes in several companies: JSC Labirint, Aeroinvest Plus LLC, AK-Invest LLC, Volna-TK LLC and InvestServis LLC. She is also the founder of the charity fund The Great Future. None of the companies has state contracts.
Turchak's father is still a shareholder of OJSC Leninets Holding. In addition, he owns 17% of JSC Radioavionika. The company is successful in government business: from 2011 to 2017, it concluded state contracts for a total of 437 million rubles. Among the largest customers, there is the Ministry of Defense, as well as JSC Russian Railways.
Another of his enterprises, the Central Scientific and Production Association Leninets, for the history of its existence, has concluded state contracts worth 350 million rubles.
Anatoly Turchak also owns the stake in OJSC Zavod Radiopribor. Among its active customers, there is the Federal Security Service. The largest contract was concluded with the the subsidiary company Aviation Complex named after S.V. Ilyushin. For 167.5 million rubles, Zavod Radiopribor purchased 38 Doppler meters for track speed and the angle of drift.
SCANDALS REGARDING REAL ESTATE
In 2013, Aleksey Navalny found Andrey Turchak’s undeclared apartment in Nice worth € 1.3 million. According to his private investigation, Turchak's relatives, brother Boris and father Anatoly Turchak, as well as his wife Kira, in November 2008, registered the company Villa De Flirey in Nice, which bought the mentioned apartment. A month and a half later, information transpired that Turchak had sold the property.
In April 2016, Novaya Gazeta published a part of the investigation of the so-called Panama archive, which concerned off-shores of Russian officials and alleged friends of Putin. Among others, in the publication, the governor of the Pskov Region Andrey Turchak was called.
Journalists found that Kira Turchak, from 2008 to May 2015, was the sole shareholder of the offshore company Burtford Unicorp Inc. registered in the British Virgin Islands. This is a violation of the law, since Russian officials and their family members cannot own foreign financial assets and instruments since May 2013.
As Turchak told Novaya Gazeta, the company was established to finance a mortgage deal for the purchase of an apartment in 2008 in France. According to him, Burtford Unicorp Inc. never conducted economic and financial activities in Russia and was officially closed on March 7, 2014.
‘All the necessary formalities, as far as I know, were observed immediately after the 79th
law entered into force. Probably, the registration takes some time. I’ve never wondered about that,’ Turchak said, answering the question about why his wife owned a company registered in the offshore, despite the fact that it is prohibited by law from 2013.