“ElektrOST-Alko”. City near Moscow became family domain of ‘vodka king’ Pekarev 

 “ElektrOST-Alko”. City near Moscow became family domain of ‘vodka king’ Pekarev
New Elektrostal Mayor Vladimir Pekarev never forgets about his numerous relatives and business partners Photo: The CrimeRussia

Administrative, family, and business ties have completely intertwined in cities located in the eastern part of the Moscow region. The CrimeRussia was figuring out who controls the business in eastern districts of the Moscow region and how this relates to Elektrostal Mayor Vladimir Pekarev.

The recent termination of Evgeny Zhirkov, Mayor of the City of Balashikha of the Moscow Region, amid two scandals – shutdown of Kuchino dumping site after the nation-wide teleconference with the President and high-profile story of the ‘drunk’ boy killed in a traffic accident – has attracted close attention to other associates of Andrei Vorobiev, Governor of the Moscow Region. 

Vladimir Zhirinovsky has readily expressed the need to purge the ranks of officials in the Moscow region. The leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia had earlier repeatedly accused the regional authorities of corruption and criminal ties. Now he suggested to “shake the Moscow region strong enough” and cleanse the administrations of Balashikha, Zheleznodorozhny, Noginsk, and some other cities. 

It is well-known that Governor Vorobiev prefers to appoint former prominent businessmen heads of district and municipal administrations and relies upon their past business experience. But is this policy justified, taking that the interests of ordinary people are affected, while these businessmen may not necessarily be ‘former’?

Vladimir Pekarev, Mayor of the City of Elektrostal of the Moscow Region, shows an excellent example how to make the municipal budget and utility fees paid by almost 160 thousand residents a steady source of income for the family clan. 

Six months ago, positive and active Pekarev has superseded Andrei Sukhanov – criticized by the city dwellers for everything during all the 12 years of his rule – as the Mayor and immediately started reforming the financial and economic practices of the municipal organizations. He had acted so efficiently that pretty soon, all the key spheres and municipal contracts have fallen into the hands of his numerous relatives, former colleagues, and business partners, as well as friendly officials from administrations of neighboring Noginsk, Pavlovsky Posad, and Chernogolovka – both former and acting ones.

‘Pekarev’s levy’

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Dmitry Gusev, Deputy Head of the Elektrostal Administration

Upon becoming the Mayor, Vladimir Pekarev has appointed his son-in-law Dmitry Yurievich Gusev, former Deputy Head of the Administration of Pavlovsky Posad and Director of Zhiloy Dom (Residential Home) Management Company Municipal Unitary Enterprise, his Deputy for the Housing and Utilities Infrastructure. 

After the arrival of Gusev to the Administration of Elektrostal, a steady transfer of the municipal housing and utilities infrastructure to Pavlovsky Posad companies has started; according to some information, Pekarev and Gusev own shares in a number of companies in the neighboring city, including GIS (Municipal Engineering Service) Limited Liability Company incorporated in Pavlovsky Posad.

One of the main issues faced today by the Elektrostal residents is maintenance of gas equipment. After the ‘enthronement’ of Pekarev in a city where 70% of population heat water with gas geysers, this issue has escalated further. 

According to Zakupki.kontur.ru, on January 16 and 23, two Elektrostal-based management companies, Tsentralnoe (Central) Limited Liability Company and Severnoe (Northern) Public Joint Stock Company, have signed with GIS contracts to maintain gas equipment in the residences of the housing fund of the main Elektrostal districts. Both contracts have been signed on a sole source basis.

The cost of the contract signed by Tsentralnoe Limited Liability Company is some 15 million 132 thousand rubles ($253.7 thousand), while the contract signed by Severnoe Public Joint Stock Company is worth almost 25 million rubles ($419.2 thousand). To compare: a year ago, the same public joint stock company had signed a contract with Elektrostal-based RemGazstroy Limited Liability Company to provide similar services at the cost of 616 thousand rubles ($10.3 thousand). 

It is necessary to note that the residents are legally required to sign equipment maintenance contracts – but they can choose the contractor themselves. According to some information, the contract with GIS (Municipal Engineering Service) Limited Liability Company has appeared at some point in the Unified Maintenance and Utility Payment Documents mailed to the residents.

Since January 2017, an additional item has appeared in maintenance and utility bills received by the residents of Elektrostal Municipal Entity: “maintenance and repairs of the gas equipment in the residence” amounting to 25–70 rubles ($0.4–1.2) per user per month. The outraged residents have nicknamed these gas charges ‘Pekarev’s levy’. Many people strike out the charge for services rendered by GIS in their maintenance and utility bills as a mark of protest. But not all of them opt to choose another service provider. Deputy Mayor Gusev has reminded everybody in the local media about the responsibility for the rejection of the gas maintenance service and threatened to cut off gas for this. 

On March 2, in response to heavy criticism at a session of the City Council, Dmitry Yurievich Gusev said that he had chosen GIS Limited Liability Company based on his past collaboration experience with it in Pavlovsky Posad and agreed all his steps with the Mayor.

Give everyone a good dressing-down

It is necessary to note that since 2013, the Head of the Pavlovsky Posad Municipal Entity – whose business has expanded to Elektrostal – is Oleg Borisovich Sokovikov, a former subordinate of Vladimir Pekarev in OST Group where Sokovikov used to be in charge of the Corporate Law Department.

Andrei Yurievich Radin, ex-Head of the Administration of the Noginsk District, also used to work in OST-Alko under the leadership of Vladimir Pekarev; he has switched from the alcohol business to the district public authority after marrying a daughter of Valery Radenko, ex-First Secretary of the Noginsk District Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

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Andrei Radin, ex-Head of the Administration of the Noginsk District

According to a CrimeRussia source, after becoming employed with the Noginsk Administration, Radin had actively participated in privatization and reselling of former state farm lands – the OST Group management had been pulling such operations in that period. His wife Marina Valerievna Radina is a so-called ‘mass founder’ – according to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, she has founded 29 (!) operating companies and manages 3 of those.

Marina Radina and her husband are united not only by family but also by business ties. The former official is currently in charge of Ecoproduct Group of Companies Limited Liability Company co-founded by his wife. This food company used to serve (virtually, on a sole source basis) School Meals Production Facility Municipal Unitary Enterprise in the Pavlovsky Posad district; now it is regularly winning tenders carried out by the School Meals Production Facility Municipal Unitary Enterprise in the adjacent Elektrostal district, since May 2017 – on a sole-source basis. And what a coincidence: the Elektrostal School Meals Production Facility started awarding numerous contracts worth dozens of millions of rubles to Ecoproduct since November 2016, after the election of Vladimir Pekarev the Elektrostal Mayor.

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Marina Radina and Vladimir Laptev, ex-Head of the Noginsk District, at the opening of the first Unisec Dry Cleaner in Russia

Marina Radina has plenty of common interests with the Pekarev family. Together with Iya Vasilievna Pekareva (a relative of the Mayor, perhaps, the mother) Radina is a cofounder of Tornado Trade and Entertainment Center providing financial services to Vesta Limited Liability Company. 

According to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, Iya Vasilievna Pekareva is an experienced business lady. Currently she is a founder of 12 operating organizations: some of those are indirectly linked with OST-Alko Holding (for instance, Shustov restaurant); InterProm Limited Liability Company has been co-founded jointly with Nina Grigorievna Bryntsalova (another ‘mass founder’ – 24 companies, mostly in Balashikha), mother of Igor Bryntsalov, Chairman of the Moscow Regional Duma; and several companies have been co-founded jointly with Elena Vladimirovna Pekareva, daughter of the Elektrostal Mayor. 

One of the main assets of the Pekarev family is Yamkino Diary Plant; according to Zakupki.kontur.ru, the total amount of governmental contracts awarded to it is 2.9 billion rubles ($48.7 million). Based on the documents, Elena Vladimirovna Pekareva is the owner of the enterprise supplying food to all the hospitals in Noginsk and Elektrostal and some other health care facilities of the Moscow region. According to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, she also owns the major share in Soyuz-OST Private Security Company that currently guards almost all municipal institutions in Elektrostal. The total amount of governmental contracts won by this private security company is 25 million rubles ($419.6 thousand) – this figure does not include contacts with business structures.    

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Soyuz-OST is not the only private security company controlled by the Pekarev family. The Elektrostal Mayor is indirectly linked with Soyuz-T, Soyuz-Posad, Soyuz-El, and REY private security companies – this is not reflected in the documents but confirmed by the same names of their cofounders. According to some information, armed officers of one of these companies guard the home of ‘thief-in-law’ Oleg ‘Tsirkach’ (Circus Artiste) Pirogov, ‘crowned’ by Aslan ‘Ded Khasan’ Usoyan in 2011 and appointed the ‘overseer’ of Elektrostal. 

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The range of interests of the relatives and business partners of Pekarev is not limited to the protection, housing and utilities infrastructure, and school meals. According to the local people, the Mayor’s entourage is currently trying to lay hands literally on all the spheres of business in Elektrostal. Pressure is put on the entrepreneurs and levies are imposed on them under the pretext of ‘assistance to the city’. For example, the renovation of Kristall (Crystal) Sports Palace is performed using extra-budgetary funds – and Vladimir Pekarev credits this to himself in interviews to local partisan media outlets.

Should somebody refuse to bend, then athletically built young men appear at the doorstep one fine day and explain to the ‘rebels’ how wrong they are, Elektrostal residents say. The believe that the situation is going to worsen further. The entire path of the oligarch who had made a fortune on alcohol production in the 1990s confirms this. 

Governor Vorobiev had introduced Vladimir Pekarev as a mayoral candidate, together with 11 other nominees, in October 2016. After coming to power in the region three years ago, Vorobiev has, in fact, effaced the boundaries between the mayor and city manager in the framework of the local governance reformation by nominating his protegees to mayoral positions in the form of order. On December 26, Deputies of the Elektrostal City Council have elected the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of OST-Alko, a major alcohol holding, the Mayor of Elektrostal Municipal Entity.

However, Pekarev was not a dark-horse candidate for the people – residents of Noginsk, Elektrostal, Pavlovsky Posad, and Chernogolovka knew him as the ‘Grey Eminence’ of the eastern part of the Moscow region since the mid-1990s. 

School of life

The biography of the current Elektrostal Mayor is a typical story of a businessman from the 1990s who managed to survive that turbulent decade. After the compulsory military service, Vladimir Pekarev, a man of the people, has become a tailor, then cutter, and then cooperator. During the period of deficiency of consumer goods in the beginning of Perestroika, his business had developed dynamically – and by 1995, Pekarev was in charge of some 10 sewing and trade cooperatives.

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The Gorbachev’s prohibition law has caused a crisis in the alcohol industry. Upon reviewing the demand, the successful cooperator has decided to switch to a new profitable business – production of vodka and other liquors. However, this business was not only enormously profitable – but also extremely dangerous: a support in the criminal structures was required to enter it. By that time, Vladimir Pekarev already had such support: since the early 1990s, the businessman had maintained friendly relations with Noginsk criminal ‘authority’ Vladimir ‘Sima’ Simonenkov – the leader of a Noginsk organized criminal group practicing racket, murders, and robberies in the beginning of the 1990s. Igor ‘Baton’ (Loaf) Patutkin was the ‘right hand’ of ‘Sima’ (currently he is the founder and Vice President of the Hockey Federation of the Noginsk District playing forward in Bogorodsk team of the Night Hockey League).

The gang under the leadership of ‘Sima’ and ‘Baton’ was not only providing ‘cover’ to the Pekarev’s business in exchange for a revenue share – according to the CrimeRussia source, it had also acted as an ‘enforcement wing’. Contrary to the official version claiming that the Chernogolovka Distillery was built on the territory of an abandoned vegetable warehouse, this territory was only the core of one of the largest distilleries in the Moscow region. The organized criminal group of Simonenkov and Patutkin has literally ‘cleansed’ the warehouse surroundings from summer cottages and their owners by burning homes in nearby cottage communities.

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The business was successfully developing. Gangsters of Simonenkov had provided a criminal ‘cover’ for OST-Alko, while extensive connections of Pekarev in the Government of the Moscow Region and among officials had ensured the support of the administrative resource. Chernogolovka-based OST-Alko Distillery had produced several brands of vodka of moderate quality but at affordable prices (Borogodskaya, Stol’naya, etc.) and became the core of a dynamically growing alcohol holding uniting Ost-Aqua Mineral Water Bottling Plant, Chernogolovka Brewery, OST-Master Printing House, OST-Alco Trade House, Ost-Tara Elektrostal Plant for Processing Returnable Glass, Petrovsky Ethanol Plant Open Joint Stock Company, and some 30 other enterprises.

Pekarev has entered the ‘major league’ by signing, on a sole source basis and preferential terms (he always knew how to make ‘right’ friends), a contract with Soyuzplodoimport Federal Budgetary Enterprise to produce famous Soviet vodka brands – Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya – on the OST-Alko facilities. In 2003, OST-Alko Group was among the three largest alcohol producers in Russia, while in 2006, the group of companies belonging to Pekarev had produced 4.5 million daL of strong alcohol, while its consolidated trade turnover was 10.15 billion rubles ($170.4 million).

Partner of Bryntsalov

Vladimir Pekarev has turned onto politics in 1997, when the Chernogolovka Distillery built by him was about to become the industry leader. Initially, he was elected to the Moscow Regional Duma in the electoral district № 23, according to some information – with support of his old friend Igor Bryntsalov, the current Chairman of the Moscow Regional Duma and nephew of pharmaceutical tycoon Vladimir Bryntsalov. In that period, Bryntsalov was a Deputy representing the Balashikha Electoral District and had common business interests with Pekarev (the spouse of Bryntsalov owned a small share in one of his OST-Alko enterprises). Rumor has it that Pekarev was elected to the State Duma of the Russian Federation for the first time in the Noginsk Electoral District as a representative of Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party with the support from Bryntsalov, then-Head of the Regional Political Council of the Party. Prior to becoming the Elektrostal Mayor, Vladimir Pekarev was a Deputy of the Moscow Regional Duma representing the Elektrostal Electoral District.

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Igor Bryntsalov, Chairman of the Moscow Regional Duma

According to the CrimeRussia source, the Deputy’s chair had enabled Pekarev to lobby his business interests openly and use the administrative resource. The legislative initiatives proposed by Pekarev had allowed to literally freeze the alcohol tax at that time; he had also initiated a reduction of the consolidated social tax for Russian entrepreneurs. 

The parliamentary immunity is a very useful privilege as well, especially for those involved into the alcohol business. In 1997, several people in the Moscow region got poisoned with vodka produced by OST-Alko, while in 1999, the enterprise had serious issues with the tax authorities. By that time, Pekarev has already mastered the scheme allowing him to manage the business empire via family members and close associates; he still continues actively using this scheme as the Elektrostal Mayor: all the Deputy’s assets officially belong to his wife (currently, ex-wife) Larisa Evgenievna Pekareva and sisters – Tatiana Yanovna Pekareva and Elena Yanovna Sorokina. Other high-ranked shareholders of OST-Alko Group used the same ‘camouflage’ as well, including Igor Bryntsalov and Chernogolovka Mayor Yuri Filippov whose share in the alcohol holding (15%) had officially belonged to his wife Elena. 

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Yuri Filippov, ex-Mayor of Chernogolovka

The year of 2004 has become the beginning of the end for OST-Alko. The Federal Tax Service had even revoked the license from the primary plant of the holding for some time, while in the end of the year, the OST-Alko representation office in the Komi Republic was charged with sales of counterfeit vodka after 466 deaths from alcohol poisoning in nine months. While the business was collapsing and the creditors were demanding their money (Sberbank alone had claimed 116 million rubles ($1.9 million) in the Arbitration Court), Vladimir Pekarev was actively preparing for himself a ‘reserve airfield’ in the regional politics. In 2014, Sokrat-Dialog collections agency had requested to withdraw his parliamentary immunity and submitted a letter to Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika asking to charge Pekarev with swindling – but the eastern part of the Moscow region was already under control of the ‘Gray Eminence’. By that time, a number of high-ranked district officials had already gained work experience in OST-Alko (in addition to Bryntsalov, Filippov, Sokovikov, and Radin, Viktor Samodelov, ex-Head of Balashikha, and Vladimir Polikarpov, Deputy of the Moscow Regional Duma and Head of the District Political Council of Edinaya Rossia, used to work in the Pekarev’s holding). Required connections had already been established with the law enforcement structures as well – residents of the Noginsk district name Aleksander Burenkov, ex-Head of the Administration for the Noginsk District of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (his family still owns several companies jointly with the Pekarev family), and Nikolai Shepel, Head of the Noginsk State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate, creatures of Pekarev. 

In 2010, OST-Alko shareholders sold the company to Kabardino-Balkaria-based Rial Group controlled by Khadiz Abakhezov – but by that time, Vladimir Pekarev has already completed his transfer to the regional politics where he actively uses skills acquired in the course of his business career.

In 2014, Vladimir ‘Sima’ Simonenkov, Chairman of the Noginsk Boxing Federation, was gunned down together with his driver near his home in Noginsk. Earlier the CrimeRussia wrote, citing its sources, that Igor Patutkin was the mastermind behind the assassination of his former partner (in addition to the membership in the same organized criminal group, Simonenkov and Patutkin had a joint business – Letayushiy Drakon (Flying Drake) Car Service Center in Elektrostal). The murder of ‘Sima’ has manifested for Pekarev the end of his personal business epoch and convinced him that the best asset are the people who pay taxes and utility fees.

Should somebody dare to object – ‘Baton’ can replace the late ‘Sima’ as an enforcer any time; according to some information, he still has joint interests with Pekarev. Physical pressure on the opponents is an efficient tool both in the business and politics.

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