Russia Update: Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund Urges Probe of Defense Minister’s Mansion

October 27, 2015
A mansion complex in Barkhivka, the town near Moscow where government leaders maintain homes, said to be owned by relatives of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, discovered by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund. Photo by alburov.ru

Today, the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) led by opposition leader Alexey Navalny published information indicating that Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu has properties that his existing salary and assets cannot have paid for.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

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Gazprom, Rosneft Drop in Rankings on Annual Platts Rating of Energy Companies

Andrei Malgin notes on his blog today a report from Slon.ru about the latest ratings from Platts of the largest energy companies of the world, compiled since 2011.

Gazprom has plunged in value from 4th place to 43rd place. Rosneft is the only Russian oil company in the top ten rankings, but barely hung on to this distinction, falling from 6th to 10th place.

Back in 2008, Gazprom’s CEO Aleksei Miller said that due to the high price of oil, his company might grow to be the most highly-valued in the world with capitalization of up to $1 trillion in the next decade. With Russia’s economic problems that preceded even the war in Ukraine, and Western sanctions following the annexation of the Crimea and the fall in oil prices globally, Russia’s energy sector is doing poorly as this internationally-recognized rating illustrates.

Twelve Russian companies are in the Platts’ list. Other Russian companies have also fallen in ranking: Novatek has fallen from number 55 to number 133; Transneft from 29 to 83; Lukoil from 11 to 13; Tatneft from 48 to 64, and Bashneft, which was seized from oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov and nationalized by the government last year, from 67 to 101.

One regional company has made it to the list for the first time, the Volga Territorial Generational Company, at number 165, and Surgutneftegaz has improved from position no. 18 to no. 12.

The US company ExxonMobil tops the list, with Chevron in 2nd place and Royal Dutch Shell in 3rd place. BP has fallen from 2nd place to 29th.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund Urges Investigation of $18 Million Mansion Related to Defense Minister Shoigu
Today, October 27 the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) led by opposition leader Alexey Navalny published information indicating that Defense Ministery Sergei Shoigu has properties that his existing salary and assets cannot have paid for.

Translation: Furious George continues to out the Rublyovskoye Highway elite. Read and distribute.

“Furious George” is Navalny’s staff person at the FBK, Georgy Alburov, a play on the children’s book Curious George.

Translation: Hahahahahaha. RBC are great.

The link is an RBC article about the allegation, referring to Alburov’s blog about the alleged homes, which were constructed in an Asian style.

2015-10-27 17:10:54

FBK is planning to appeal to the prosecutor’s office and the presidential administration to investigate the luxury home.

Rublyovskoye Highway, nicknamed “Rublyovka,” is on the outskirts of Moscow and is home to many government leaders with some of the most expensive real estate
in the world — or as Alburov put it, the street beloved by
“bureaucrats and friends of Putin in the top league of crooks and
thieves who have stolen way more than the average.” The information was
obtained from drone flights that the FBK does about once a year.

The
aerial shots show a complex with some buildings still under construction
in the Odintsovsky District of the village of Barvikha where government
leaders are known to reside.

2015-10-27 17:12:16

Alburov was able to find the records
for this home, possibly from past files as recently a law was passed
making such real estate information classified.

He found the
parcel of land was registered on September 23, 2015 by Elena Aleksandrovna
Antipina who had earlier purchased the land in 2010, and another parcel
in 2012. Alburov researched further and found that Antipina was a native
of Achinsk in Krasnoyarsk Territory. He found the Asian style “odd for
Achinsk”. No further information was found about this “mysterious woman”
so he dug deeper for the historical records of the parcel and found the
name of Kseniya Sergeyevna Shoigu, who had purchased the two parcels on
the same day, November 28, 2009 and then ended the registration for one
in 2010 and the other in 2011.

2015-10-27 17:13:03

At that time, Shoigu was head of
the Ministry of Emergencies and a member of the Supreme Council of the
United Russia party and his daughter was only 18 years old. How was it
possible for such a young girl to obtain property valued at $9 million?
Both parcels were transferred to Antipina ultimately, although the
second was briefly the property of Dmitry Kotsyubinsky, a man who used to play hockey with Shoigu.

Alburov found that Google Earth’s photo of the area dated in 2010 revealed the initial construction.

2015-10-27 17:13:53

Here
Alburov made the “rough estimate” of $18 million based on the
construction costs. Looking at the public records of Shoigu’s property, which officials must file, he saw that the records from 2010-2012
indicated land parcels, homes and automobiles totalling 173 million
rubles (currently $2.6 million, and worth more in 2010).

“In principle, not a bad sum. But it doesn’t stretch to a hectare
in the heart of Rublyovka,” said Alburov. In 2012, Shoigu’s wife bought
an apartment valued at between 103 to 223 million rubles ($1.5 – $3.1
million) in a luxury tower called Vorobyov Hills and gave it to his
other daughter, Yuliya.

Trying to find the Achinsk connection,
Alburov discovered that Shoigu worked in Achinsk in 1979 as the senior
foreman of a construction firm, and had married the daughter of the
chief engineer, Aleksandr Antipin, then took over his position after
several years. Shoigu’s wife’s name is Irina Aleksandrovna Antipina, and
the “mysterious woman” in the real estate transaction turns out to be
her sister.

Elena Antipina lives in an 80-meter square apartment
and has a 2011 BMW which she is now advertising for sale online, Alburov
discovered.

Alburov said he made the mistake of discussing his
research in the FBK office, which is bugged. So when he went to see the
building where Elena Antipina lived, agents from the FSB and
police were waiting for them there and took them down to the station on the
pretext of an investigation into “apartment theft.”

2015-10-27 17:14:29

Alburov was
sentenced to community service earlier this year on a contrived “art
theft” charges related to his taking of a street artist’s sketch which
he gave to Navalny as a present. He noted that the law-enforcers wanted
to take him to the police station in an unmarked car with civilian
plates, and said it was forbidden to photograph it.

Once at the
police station, they dropped the story about “apartment theft” and now
interrogated them about why they were “gathering the personal data of
relatives of those who are fighting in Syria to transmit the addresses
to ISIS.” An FSB agent whose nick-name only of “Borya” was given was
summoned in particular to threatened them with a prison sentence for
ostensibly revealing such information.

Alburov noted that this was the first time the FBK has been threatened so directly in connection with a publication.

The
FBK also discovered that next door to another parcel owned by Shoigu
was a tract owned by Yuri Vorobyov, a close friend since 1989, a senator and the father of Andrei Vorobyov, the governor of Moscow
Region, who replaced Shoigu who had once served in that post. The
original photo obtained had a lot of trees that disguised the building.
But the FBK was able to find other photos that revealed the buildings
had the same Asian-style roofs as the buildings in Barvikha, including a
photo that said it was called “Red Dragon” at one time. They discovered
that nearby was another parcel owned by Maksim Vorobyov, Yury’s son,
and yet another owned by his wife.

Finally, they found another old photo of another home of Shoigu’s showing the same Asian style of roof:

2015-10-27 17:15:06

Alburov concludes (translation by The Interpreter):

Amazingly
brazen. A man who is in government service his whole life, who
carefully cultivates the image of an ascetic close to the people,
builds himself a hella palace on Rublyovka with money of unknown
origin. Furthermore, he registers it to his 18-year-old daughter and
then to his wife’s sister( so it is not found). In any normal country,
such a person would be quickly kicked out of the government and would
land right in court.

Alburov says Russian law on unlawful enrichment should also
extend to the relatives of officials; he has shown that Shoigu’s
sister-in-law does not have an explanation for her wealth.

Shoigu’s
family owns a company called Ekspo-Em where his wife worked, and now
Antipina works there, which wins contracts from the Emergencies and
Defense ministries, and Alburov has urged that these be investigated,
and has provided an address for people to send in anonymous tips.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick