Bypassing general. Andrei Rostenko, ex-Mayor of Yalta, released from Moscow jail 

Bypassing general. Andrei Rostenko, ex-Mayor of Yalta, released from Moscow jail
Andrei Rostenko has been released from the pretrial detention facility and returned to Crimea Photo: The CrimeRussia

Andrei Rostenko, Yalta Mayor since November 2014 and until July 2017, was remanded in custody for two months on May 23, 2018 by the Basmanny District Court of Moscow. According to the investigation, the official has “knowingly unlawfully” transferred a land lot belonging to Alupka Health Resort subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation into the municipal ownership. The court decided that the investigation team has presented sufficient evidence and detained the suspect for two months because Rostenko could abscond or use his connections in the Crimean governmental and law enforcement authorities to put pressure on prosecution witnesses. However, the official is currently on the loose. Why was he released? Has he actually signed a pledge not to leave the city?

Riding along Crimea quick as the wind

As recently as on June 18, 2018, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) had insisted on the detention of Andrei Rostenko. On the same day, the Moscow City Court has examined the appeal against the arrest of the ex-Mayor and recognized it legitimate. But on July 23, the Press Service of the Moscow City Court has stated that no new verdicts in relation to the arrest of Rostenko were delivered. In other words, the investigation allegedly hadn’t brought a motion to extend his detention term – and the suspect has been released under a written pledge not to leave the city.

A well-informed source told The CrimeRussia that Andrei Rostenko was released on June 27 and instructed “not to expose himself”. But on August 3, photos appeared on the Internet showing the official in the center of Simferopol, not far from the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea, where Rostenko has caused a traffic accident by ramming his car into a bus.

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Rostenko in Simferopol

Only on August 8, Yuri Avdeev, attorney for Andrei Rostenko, made a statement confirming that his client is in Simferopol. The lawyer hasn’t specified the circumstances of his release. Therefore, it remains unclear how can Andrei Rostenko be on the loose if the evidential base is sufficient to remand him in custody? And what cities can the official visit under the terms of his written pledge? By now, Rostenko has also been spotted in Alushta and Yalta...

Not leaving its own behind

According to the source, Sergei Aksenov, Head of the Republic of Crimea, had actively insisted on the release of his official aide Andrei Rostenko – not only has Aksenov accused the ICR of incompetence but also threatened to initiate a criminal case “for illegal detention of the ex-Mayor”. Aksenov called the arrest of Rostenko “a provocation against the Crimean authorities” staged “as per somebody’s order”.

It is necessary to note that back in July 2015, the Head of Crimea had established a special commission to protect corrupt officials from criminal prosecution. Obviously, the vast majority of Crimean functionaries are creatures of Aksenov – legends about the nepotism in the circles of power circulate on the peninsula. Aksenov said that the commission authorized by Vladimir Putin and Aleksander Bortnikov, Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, will examine all corruption charges laid against local officials. He noted that the new structure has been created due to the enemies’ intention to destabilize the situation in Crimea and picture the peninsula as an especially corrupt region. “Everybody working faithfully may rely on my significant personal support,” – he said at that time. However, four days later, the Head of Crimea has abandoned the idea of such a commission citing inconsistencies with the Russian legislation. Residents of Crimea still remember this funny initiative of the regional authorities with a smile.

The efforts of Sergei Aksenov to protect Andrei Rostenko have a simple explanation: the ex-Mayor of Yalta is ‘unsinkable’ because he has been appointed ‘the head of the South Coast of Crimea’ by the so-called ‘Simferopol team’ as a direct henchman of Aksenov. And not only a henchman – but also an old friend and close comrade. Both of them were cadets of the Simferopol Higher Military-Political Construction Academy (according to some information, in June 1993, Aksenov was expelled from it for breaches of discipline).

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Andrei Rostenko and Sergei Aksenov

The source told The CrimeRussia that Sergei Aksenov was summoned to the central ICR headquarters in Moscow for questioning in the framework of the criminal case against Rostenko and he has personally guaranteed that the suspect won’t leave the Russian Federation. Apparently, the Head of Crimea defends the ex-Mayor of Yalta not for personal motives – but for the purposes of his own safety. In fact, Aksenov has reasons to be worried: it is known that Rostenko made a plea deal and told ‘everything’ to the operatives. In addition, all materials have been seized in the Yalta Municipal Administration and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Crimea in the framework of this investigation.

Bypassing general

According to the source, during the large-scale searches carried out after the arrest of Rostenko, Aleksander Spiridonov, Head of the State Committee for State Registration of the Republic of Crimea, was hiding in the washroom of the Crimean Council of Ministers to avoid being questioned. Spiridonov is a member of the Aksenov’s team and key figure in the land machinations committed on the peninsula (he works in the interests of the regional head jointly with Evgenia Dobrynya, a younger sister of Aksenov’s wife). Andrei Rostenko – ‘king of the South Coast of Crimea’ – is one of the links in this chain and, accordingly, has his ‘share’ in all shady schemes.

The CrimeRussia obtained findings of a prosecutor’s inquest brushed under the carpet for some reason. The materials include a list of orders and appendix listing more than one hundred violations committed by the ex-Mayor of Yalta who had re-zoned lands for a price.

Aleksander Spiridonov was hiding in the washroom from Mikhail Tumanov, Senior Investigator for Special Cases Under the Auspices of the ICR Chairman and head of the team investigating the case against the former Mayor of Yalta.

“I know for sure that Sergei Aksenov refused to answer the questions of general Tumanov citing Article 51 of the Russian Constitution. The group led by Tumanov has gathered lots of materials indicating that an organized criminal group specializing in seizures of properties, businesses, etc. had operated on the peninsula capitalizing on the transition of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia. Rostenko was released on June 27, while Tumanov left Crimea on June 28 – i.e. Rostenko was released behind his back,” – the source told The CrimeRussia.

No more ‘Pearl’ in Crimea

Rostenko lived in grand style during his mayorship. The CrimeRussia already wrote (Andrei Rostik’s ascension to power: from gang to Yalta mayorship) that since June 2015 and until June 2017, the official had resided with his family in an elite block of Zhemchuzhina (Pearl) Health Resort not far from Lastochkino Gnezdo (Swallow's Nest) paying a symbolic rent of 29 thousand rubles ($463). Local public activists managed to evict him from Zhemchuzhina – and then the health resort was closed. According to the source, it is planned to build a cottage community instead of it.

We became aware that the Crimean authorities have indeed authorized the hotel complex construction in Gaspra township on Cape Ai-Todor, while the investor of the redevelopment of the territory of Zhemchuzhina Health Resort belonging to Solnechnaya Tavrika (Sunny Tavrika) State Unitary Enterprise is Management Company for Infrastructure Projects (MCIP). According to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, its founder is general Vladimir Nikolaevich Zaritsky. In 2001–2008, he was the Commander in Chief of the Missile Forces and Artillery of the Russian Federation.

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Colonel general Vladimir Zaritsky is the investor of the development project on the South Coast of Crimea

It is planned to use the unique 20-hectare territory of Zhemchuzhina Health Resort to build a cottage community and a five-star hotel 12.7 thousand square meters in size with 172 suites. In addition to the main hotel building, the complex will include cottages, bungalows, apartments, spa, and trade, entertainment, catering, sports, and tourism clusters. The project is scheduled to be completed in July 2020.

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The web site of Zhemchuzhina Health Resort informs of its closure and offers alternative vacation options

It is necessary to note that Zhemchuzhina Health Resort is located in the middle of the Kharaksky Park established by Grand Prince Georgy Mikhailovich in the 19th century. The park has been designated a monument of the garden art and is protected by the state.

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