The last week with the crop of scandals was very impressive even for Russians accustomed to everything. The main characters - but rather bad guys - in the mass media were officials and high-ranking politicians. The observer of Rumafia, who has analyzed a number of publications of the leading online media, can see a quite definite trend here. The targets of the information attack were representatives of the key ministries and departments — of defense, nuclear energy, and regional development.
Defense of Ministry of Defense broken through Oboronservis
The most powerful storm of revelatory publications was caused by the case of embezzlement in the Ministry of Defense and the affiliated holding Oboronservis, which had already led to several arrests and the resignation of the Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The high- profile corruption exposure was seasoned with juicy domestic details. Five criminal cases were initiated, three commercial functionaries of the military department were arrested (the process is obviously going not to stop with that), the head of the General Staff resigned, resignations of military leaders began.
The audit revealed numerous cases of illegal privatization and subsequent sale of real estate owned by the Department of Defense, including military facilities. Some large-scale thefts were revealed. But all this was being suspected and kept discussing for the years. Innovations are only in a specific disclosure of previously unknown names: Head of the Department of Property Relations of the Ministry of Defence Evgenia Vasilyeva, head of the Center for Legal Support Expert Ekaterina Smetanova, Head of the District Material Warehouse of the Moscow District of the Air Force and Air defence JSC Maxim Zakutaylo, acting General Director of the MirA company Dmitry Mityaev.
All of them supervised business operations with military equipment. All of them were directly patronized by Anatoly Serdyukov. But why the specific sanctions - along with the information attack - followed right now?
Do not forget that in the next three years, Russia's defense budget is to grow to 3 trillion rubles ($ 93.46 billion). The Head of State has repeatedly expressed concern about the prospects of no-purpose waste and elementary theft. It is clear, that in this situation personal sympathies (and personal attitude of Vladimir Putin to Serdyukov can’t be called negative) recede into the background. And the main information resources somehow caught the attack on the military corrupt officials, considering the campaign as a main stream action, from which it was impossible to stay away.
Atomic model of theft in Rosatom
The investigation into the embezzlement in the production of units for nuclear power plants in Rosatom was sensationally developed. The technological aspects of the case were outlined quite clearly. According to the SK (the Investigation Committee) of the Russian Federation version, the equipment for nuclear power plants was made from cheaper steel, than it should have been. The proceeds from these scams were divided by heads of major companies of the nuclear industry. Some representatives of Rostechnadzor (the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Inspection), associated with the technocrats through a system of bribes, were related to the fraud as well. The inspectors gave the necessary conclusions and licenses right to enter into and licenses and didn’t pay attention to violations. A criminal case with the damage for a total sum more than 100 million rubles (more than $3,125 million) was initiated.
As well as in the case of the Ministry of Defense, some new negative newsmakers appeared and found the all-Russia popularity: Director General of Atom-Industry Dmitry Golubev, Commercial Director Olga Fedorova, Purchasing Director of the Machine-Building Plant ZiO-Podolsk JSC Sergey Shutov. The ZiO-Podolsk is one of the largest Russian manufacturers of equipment for nuclear industry, in particular, it supplies machines for nuclear power plant in Iran, India, Bulgaria and China. It was the Chinese government who sent to the Rosatom about three thousand comments on the quality of the equipment supplied. It is possible that the troubles with foreign partners demanded so hard and fast solutions.
But there is a more important reason. Russia's spending on nuclear weapons in 2013-2015 will amount to 101.15 billion rubles (more than $ 3.16 billion). Some of these funds are intended to the Rosatom. In particular, the governor of the Tomsk region Sergey Zhvachkin signed a contract with the head of the Rosatom Sergey Kiriyenko on construction of a nuclear power plant with a development reactor on fast neutrons at the Siberian chemical plant near Tomsk. In addition, in a number of nuclear projects of the Rosatom, not only the state but also private companies are among investors. Participation in its major projects can help them get incomparable profit. Especially, if all goes according to the corruption scenario of the ZiO-Podolsk. Therefore, there is a smaller unambiguity of information assessments than in surveys on corruption in the Ministry of Defense.
Case of Regional Development Ministry going on rapidly
Considerable attention has been paid to the investigation of the thefts committed during the preparation for the APEC summit, which was held in Vladivostok in early September. A criminal case for fraud was initiated. The central figure of the publications here is the arrested head of the government of the Perm Krai Roman Panov, the former Deputy Minister of regional development. But having ordinarily mentioned about Panov and having reflected his biography, the mass media voluptuously anticipate the future arrest of the head of the Far Eastern Directorate of the Ministry of Regional Development Oleg Bukalov (he also was questioned, but still at large). Some more senior officials of the Ministry of Regional Development are suspected in the implementation of the scheme of the theft as well.
The matter is that the suspects “organized tenders on public contracts for engineering and scientific and technical support to the construction of the objects for the summit, as well as on voluntary insurance of the unfinished objects; then they ensured the success for the commercial firms being under their control”. Then they transferred 93.3 million rubles ($ 2.91 million) to the accounts of these firms. But “the contractors didn’t really participate in the insurance and engineering support of the construction, as the services provided by the contracts had been performed previously by other firms”. According to the Audit Chamber, the total amount of violations, identified as a result of audits for the years 2008-2012, makes more than 15 billion rubles ($ 468.75 million).
According to media reports, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov proposed to liquidate the Far Eastern Directorate of the Ministry of Regional Development even two or three years ago. In particular, he was dissatisfied with bureaucratization of the process and delay in the acceptance of objects. Before the summit, Shuvalov asked the law enforcement authorities to check the Directorate for the use of funds.
The authors of the publications also marked out the fact that Roman Panov had accompanied Shuvalov on the trip to South Ossetia. There the Ministry of Regional Development, among other things, controls the money which were allocated for the restoration of the republic. Probably, the arrest of Panov is a signal to mid-level official.
Bankers call for fair trial of A Just Russia member
But life goes on. Along with the explosive news, the usual routine continues. And commentators do not bypass it also. Another major revelation in the State Duma touched a deputy of A Just Russia once again. Oleg Mikheev from Volgograd (business system Gloria), was charged with fraud and embezzlement of a billion loan. According to media reports, the deputy managed to get loans at once in several large banks – in Promsvyazbank, NOMOS-Bank and Kazkommertsbank.
Eighteen months ago, the SKR (Russia's Investigative Committee) of the Volgograd region already checked the appeal of Promsvyazbank that Mikheyev had tried to assign more than 2 billion rubles ($ 62.5 million) as a result of the transaction with Volgoprombank. In the same appeal, it was said about defaults on the deputy’s loans in the amount of about 1 billion rubles ($ 31.25 million). In a year after that, a treatment inspection was conducted and the investigators found in the actions of Mikheev elements of a crime under the article “Fraud”. However, the criminal case wasn’t opened because it required a resolution of parliament. But then the SKR management didn’t apply to the State Duma about the resolution.
Another creditor of the member of A Just Russia - Nomos Bank - accused him of theft of the credit in 250 million rubles ($ 7.81 million). This loan was granted to Glor company (formerly Gloria-M LLC), controlled by the deputy, for reconstruction of a hotel in Volgograd. The bank argued that Mikheev personally had negotiated and vouched for the borrower and gave a pledge of 100% of the shares of the borrower. The credit, however, wasn’t used for its intended purpose, and it became clear that the borrower wouldn’t carry out the obligations under the contract. Moreover, in Nomos-Bank claim that Mikheev and his partners siphoned off all of the assets of the borrowing company, which were pledged to the bank. The court recognized that the Gloria still owed the Bank more than 185 million rubles ($ 5.78 million). On this fact, on November 16, 2011, the General Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in the Central Federal District (CFD) opened a criminal case, under the article “Fraud”, but while against unidentified persons.
The Kazkommertsbank and his Russian “daughter” Moskommertsbank have their claims to Mikheyev as well. In 2005-2006, Bronko-M LLC (DBK – Development Bank of Kazakhstan) has received a bank loan in the amount of $ 40 million for the construction and reconstruction of some objects in Volgograd on security of the Diamant retail complex belonging to DBK. The guarantor of the loan was the deputy Mikheev once again. In 2009, the DBK ceased to repay the loan, and Mikheyev refused to carry out his obligations as the guarantor. The Moskommertsbank loss is estimated at 1 billion rubles ($ 31.25 million).
The deputy’s problems with the banks began more than three years ago. However, neither SKR nor the Duma took any action to stop his, to put it mildly, unseemly activities. Why have they recollected it now, when the bill is going to the billions?
Some experts think that the reason of current explosion of publications on unlawful activity of Mikheev is in the inner-party and the Duma conflicts. It is known that recently Mikheev, as one of financiers, has begun to aspire to a leading role in the fraction. However, most analysts agree that it is necessary to look for the reason in the aggravation of the situation in the Volgograd region.
They justify this by the fact that Mikheev claims and has very bright prospects of being elected head of the region during the gubernatorial elections, if they take place in the foreseeable future. This assumption is quite justified, given that the current governor Sergey Bozhenov has an ambiguous reputation. When he was the mayor of Astrakhan, the supporters of communist Oleg Shein were beaten up. And most importantly, there were a number of fires in the city, which killed 28 people - the territory under the houses were sold by the municipality to the mayor's wife Olga Bozhenova for commercial development. The Bozhenov’s appointment as the governor in January 2012 caused negative reaction in society. Thus, if the elections will be held in the nearest future, Mikheev has a very real chance of success.