Opposition politician Alexei Navalny appealed to President Vladimir Putin to verify the legality of the circumstances under which Vladimir Yakunin, president of Russian Railways, allegedly became the owner of a number of real estate properties, including a land parcel in the village of Akulinino in the Moscow Region. Navalny’s appeal to Putin was published on his Live Journal blog. Similar appeals were sent to the Russian Federation Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Federal Security Service, parties in parliament and other addresses.
Navalny bases his request on an investigation performed by his Fund to Fight Corruption related to media publications on Yakunin’s dacha [year-round second home] in Akulinino. As foundation researchers were able to discover, from 2007 to 2011, Yakunin owned the 7,000 square meter parcel in Akulinino, valued at 115 million rubles by a land surveyor. At the present time, the property is registered to a company in Cyprus, Mirolo Investments Ltd., whose beneficiaries, as Navalny claims, are Yakunin’s sons. The head of Russian Railways himself continues to use the parcel.
The Fund to Fight Corruption claims that Yakunin could not have obtained the funds for purchasing such a parcel, and construction of a residence on it, from legal sources. In his appeal, Navalny says that there are also grounds to suspect that the fencing of the property in Akulinino encloses territory that exceeds the dimensions of the parcel purchased. He also claims that access to the Zlodeyka River is closed off along the parcel, which is also a violation of the law.
Navalny also claims that in the course of their own research, employees of the Fund to Fight Corruption uncovered a network of offshore companies through which Yakunin and members of his family supposedly control the real estate and residential complexes. A chart of the network is posted on Navalny’s blog along with detailed explanations about how it was discovered and how it functions.
According to the opposition figure, he is publishing the chart now, because on 18 July, he is anticipating a sentence in the Kirovles affair, in which the prosecutor has asked to sentence Navalny to six years of prison, and also because during the course of the research into Yakunin’s activity, “the chart began to change right before our eyes.” Navalny cites Yakunin, his spouse, Natalya, and also his sons Andrey and Viktor as accessories in the scheme of offshore companies.
Navalny is demanding that Putin conduct an inspection of these circumstances, remove Yakunin from the post he currently holds, and submit the materials of the inspection to law-enforcement agencies to bring him to trial.
Yakunin’s press secretary Aleksandr Pirkov has refused to comment on the information published by Navalny, Interfax reports. Pirkov also noted that he believes the “attacks” on Yakunin are due to the “effective work of the company [Russian Railways]”.
The scandal over the dacha property, whose ownership is attributed to Yakunin, began in June 2013 when photographs of the interiors of the home in Akulinino began to appear on Internet forums. Novaya Gazeta had earlier reported that the beneficiaries of the Cypriot company which owned the property were Yakunin’s sons. The same publication cited the statement of an anonymous source close to Yakunin who claimed that the property in Akulinino was purchased by the Russian Railways president to invest funds he had earned in the 1990s (a loan was used to make the purchase), and subsequently he had decided to sell the parcel.