On October 31, the six-year term of work of Naili Safaeva, who has headed the 11th Arbitration Court of Appeal since 2017, expired. The authority is based in Samara and verifies acts adopted by arbitration courts of four constituent entities of the Russian Federation: Samara, Penza and Ulyanovsk regions, as well as Tatarstan.
The current head of the appeal, 46-year-old Nailya Safaeva, was unable to obtain a recommendation from the Higher Qualification Committee for reappointment for another six-year term of office. Legal.Report found out why a once influential judge is being deprived of her leadership position with the prospect of becoming the center of attention of law enforcement agencies.
In 2017, Nailya Safaeva headed the 11th Arbitration Court of Appeal, jumping immediately over two steps of the career ladder. For a young judge who worked as deputy chairman of the Arbitration Court of Tatarstan, a promotion could be a transition to the position of head of the same court where she worked. However, having bypassed this step, she immediately headed the court, which verifies acts adopted by arbitration courts of four constituent entities of Russia. What contributed to the sharp rise?
According to sources in the judicial community, Safaeva mainly owes her success to... the current all-powerful chairman of the Moscow Arbitration Court (ACCM) Nikolai Novikov. There are very significant overlaps in the biography of the two judges.
Nailya Safaeva worked as a judge of the Arbitration Court of the Samara Region from 2007 to 2013, when it was headed by Novikov. Then she followed him to Kazan. There Novikov became the chairman of the Arbitration Court of Tatarstan, and Safaeva became his deputy. In 2017, the Higher Qualification Committee approved Nikolai Novikov for the post of Chairman of the Moscow Arbitration Court (ASGM). In parallel with preparations for his transfer, he actively lobbied for Safaeva’s appointment to Samara. And a few months later, the Higher Qualification Commission considered her candidacy for the post of head of the 11th arbitration.
The appointment was not without problems. During the meeting of the HQCC, an anonymous letter was published in which Judge Safaeva was accused of extorting money. They also talked about expensive gifts that colleagues presented to Safaeva. During the meeting, it was established that the organization where the judge’s sister works six times acted as a party to the case in the Tatarstan arbitration court, but it turned out that Nailya Safaeva did not appear in these processes. However, one must understand that the case was considered within the same walls where Judge Safaeva worked, and, as usual, there is always an opportunity to whisper the necessary information to colleagues during a lunch break. As a result, the VKKS nominated her candidacy. Immediately after, in one of the interviews, the judge, who had risen several steps up the career ladder, veiledly thanked her former boss Novikov, mentioning that under his leadership in Tatarstan “it was easier for her to get into the swing of things.”
As time has shown, without Novikov’s broad back, Judge Safaeva found it difficult to hold the chair under her. This year, at a meeting of the High Qualification Board of Judges, many questions arose for her and the court she heads.
Two questions became key. First. Why is there a large percentage of canceled and amended acts in the 11th AAS? The question is quite standard, since this indicator is an indicator of the work of all judges. Nailya Safaeva, in turn, tried to justify herself by the increased workload and staff shortage within the walls of her department.
Second question. Why did the judges of the 11th AAC periodically not take into account the instructions of the cassation when re-examining cases? The head of the court hastened to reassure the members of the HQCC, saying that when she was appointed to the post, there were more than 30 such cases in a year, and now their number has been reduced to five. It was during that period that Nikolai Novikov and Alexander Efanov were the leaders in two key courts - the Samara Region Administrative Court and the 11th Arbitration Court.
We are publishing several indicative canceled decisions for the period that Nailya Safaeva mentioned. These are exactly the acts that Novikov approved and Efanov upheld, while a higher authority overturned their decisions.
1. Volga-Plus LLC applied to the Samara Region Administration (headed by Nikolay Novikov - editor's note) with a statement to the administration of the Federal Registration Service of the region to recognize as illegal the actions expressed in the refusal of state registration of an agreement on the provision of lease of land plots, natural objects on the territory of the Samarskaya Luka National Park dated September 30, 2004, measuring 1 hectare. The company also asked for an obligation to carry out state registration of the agreement on the provision of land plots for lease on the territory of the national park. By the resolution of the Federal Antimonopoly Service dated April 20, 2009, the decisions of the Samara Region Autonomous Court (headed by Nikolay Novikov - editor's note) and 11 AAS (headed by Alexander Efanov - editor's note) were canceled and the application of Volga-Plus LLC was denied.
2. TU of the Federal Property Management Agency for the Samara region appealed to the AS of the Samara region with an application for declaring illegal the refusal of the Office of the Federal Registration Service of the region to state registration of the ownership of the Russian Federation for a real estate object - a land plot of 44 thousand square meters, located in Samara, in the national park, Rozhdestvenskoye forestry, and the obligation to carry out state registration of the ownership of the Russian Federation for a real estate object. By the resolution of the Federal Antimonopoly Service dated May 27, 2009, the decision of the Samara Region Administrative Court (headed by Nikolay Novikov - editor's note) and Resolution 11 of the AAS (headed by Alexander Efanov - editor's note) were cancelled. The claims of the Federal Property Management Agency for the Samara Region were denied.
3. STEX LLC applied to the Samara Regional Administration with a statement to the administration of the Federal Registration Service of the region to recognize as illegal the refusal to state registration of an agreement to lease land plots in the territory of the Samarskaya Luka National Park, concluded between the federal state federal institution National Park " Samarskaya Luka" and LLC "STEX" in relation to a land plot in the national park. By the Resolution of the Federal Antimonopoly Service dated 04/06/2010, the decision of the Administrative Court of the Samara Region (headed by Nikolay Novikov) and Resolution 11 of the AAS (headed by Alexander Efanov) were cancelled, and the case was sent for a new consideration by the Arbitration Court of the Samara Region.
And there are dozens of such canceled decisions that the FAS PO turned down for Efanov and Novikov. Most of them concern the Samarskaya Luka National Park.
The story of the case of “Era” and Podzhabny Island (located on the territory of the Samara Luka National Park - editor’s note) began with an illegal decision made by the Samara Arbitration Court chaired by Nikolai Novikov in the 2010s. It was with him that the epic of squeezing land from the state began.
Despite the fact that during the period of Naila Safaeva there were not many canceled acts, she is reliably aware of the vicissitudes of those cases, since she herself worked under the leadership of Nikolai Novikov in the Autonomous Republic of Samara Region.
One way or another, the VKKS did not support her impulse to remain in a leadership position, even despite the absence of other candidates. Note that Novikov turned out to be more successful than his protégé. Last year, he received a recommendation from the Higher Qualification Committee and extended his powers, despite a series of openly criminal scandals with his subordinates.
In fact: Nikolai Novikov’s acts were canceled many times more often than Safaeva’s acts. However, on October 31, Naila Safaeva’s last day of work expired, and Efanov was disgracedly removed from his chairman’s position. And only Novikov, who led the first instance and made decisions that Efanov left in force, sits in the warm chair of the chairman of the ASGM.
As a result of checking Efanov’s activities, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation established the fact of his affiliation as chairman of the 6th KSOYu with the Samara LLC Era. In fact, this is a direct confirmation of a conflict of interest in the actions of the judge and his violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The story is like this. In 2014-2016, plots in the urban recreation area on Podzhabny Island were taken out through a raider scheme in favor of Era LLC. The co-founder of this company was previously the son of Alexander Efanov, Ivan. Transactions were legalized through the 11th AAS, which at that time was headed by Efanov Sr. At a market price of 4 billion rubles, the land went to Era almost 100 times cheaper - for 46.5 million. According to the audit, Efanov subsequently bought part of the seized land from Era for the construction of a personal estate, also at a price below the market price - 860 thousand . rubles per 0.5 ha. This became one of the grounds for the decision of the Higher Qualification Committee to deprive the judge of his powers and robes.
Currently, a criminal case for fraud has been initiated against the managers of Era LLC (Part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). During the proceedings, it became known that the land on Podzhabny Island was registered using fictitious documents. According to the papers, businessmen allegedly built a recreation center here - six wooden houses, which, interestingly, were even officially put into operation. This allowed Era, as a land lessee, to apply for the purchase of the plots. In reality, no one built any houses. Let us add that the Federal Property Management Agency, through the Prosecutor General’s Office, has already filed a claim to return this land to federal ownership.
The story with “Era” also began under Novikov. And only Efanov suffered. Where was the current chairman of the Moscow Arbitration Court looking?
The Last of the Mohicans
The last judge from the Samara clan, about whose activities more and more questions arise over time, who managed to retain a high post is Nikolai Novikov. An authoritative mentor for Nailya Safaeva and a “workmate” for Alexander Efanov. The latter worked with Novikov in the same authorities.
What is the current chairman of the Moscow Arbitration Court (ACMC), Nikolai Novikov, known for? First of all, fantastic resourcefulness. Wherever he works, his deputies, employees and partners-comrades become involved in criminal cases (like Alexander Efanov), receive disciplinary sanctions I, they are ruining their career (like Nailya Safaeva). And Novikov himself emerges from the water, although dry, but with a “smell” that has spread from Samara to Moscow.
We count Novikov’s “victims”.
First. In October 2012, the dismissed chief accountant of the Samara Arbitration Court, Tatyana Safronova, a former subordinate of Novikov, sent a complaint to Moscow addressed to the Chairman of the RF Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin. She claimed that she was fired by Novikov because she refused to sign fictitious payment documents for payment for contract work.
Second. In the summer of 2023, a criminal case was opened regarding fraud in the privatization of municipal lands (40 hectares). Part of these lands was bought from the company by the former chairman of the 6th Court of Cassation, Alexander Efanov. This story began with illegal decisions when Novikov was the chairman. They have worked together as a team for a long time. Efanov was removed after State Duma deputy Alexander Khinshtein repeatedly called on higher authorities to conduct an audit of the activities of the dishonest judge.
Third. Nailya Safaeva, who is openly called Nikolai Novikov’s creature in the community. Most recently, the HKKS did not extend her powers as chairman of the 11th Arbitration Court of Appeal in Samara. The reason was the chaos in the department she headed. Like a mentor, like a student.
She worked with Novikov in the 2010s and was his deputy in Tatarstan. And after he left for Moscow, she returned to Samara again. The decision of the VKKS is called sensational and a “black mark”.
Fourth. Another subordinate of Novikov, Elena Kondrat, was placed in custody in April 2022, and later received a sentence for mediation in bribery. And here, too, is Novikov’s professional handwriting. History, as always, raises many questions. It is known from open sources that Kondrat received instructions from Novikov to disrupt the judicial process. When she refused the scam, she was framed.
Fifth. The next victim of Nikolai Novikov’s activities is his deputy Natalya Kuzminskaya. In 2023, in Moscow, the disciplinary commission of the Council of Judges of the Russian Federation identified multiple violations of the law on the “Status of Judges in the Russian Federation” in her actions. In particular, she almost did not fulfill her duties for several years and at the same time regularly received a decent salary and bonuses. Novikov approved of this lifestyle of his subordinate and patronized Kuzminskaya until they paid attention to her. This is another and not the last example when people from Novikov’s circle, carrying out his tasks, cause reputational damage to the court and justice.
Anyone can search for information about Nikolai Novikov and will find a lot of interesting things. Around him there is nepotism, denunciations, arrests, “correct” court decisions, expensive real estate. The only question that remains is: who is patronizing Novikov and how long will this continue? For now it remains open.
According to a trusted source, there is a judicial clan that has formed in the Samara region and is using the situation to improve its financial condition. It includes Nikolai Novikov, Alexander Efanov, Nailya Safaeva and a number of other judges. This is indicated by a number of factors - from the cases that they considered and “wrapped up” to the presence of a common base of authoritative comrades in the field. It would be nice for the prosecutor's office to understand in more detail the sins of the judges.