Consolidator of metropolitan lands: Empire of Aleksander Postrigan’, ex-Head of Klin District, collapses
According to Aleksander Kurennoy, an official representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the watchdog authority is about to file with the Klin Town Court of the Moscow Region a lawsuit to confiscate assets worth in total 4 billion rubles ($62.1 million) from Aleksander Postrigan’, ex-Head of the Klin District. Aleksander Postrigan’ was arrested in June 2018 on suspicion of exceeding official powers and remains in detention since then. The CrimeRussia was figuring out the origin of billions of rubles and hundreds of real properties belonging to the Honorable Builder of the Moscow Region, business affairs of his relatives and friends, and why the official was busted for corruption so many years after pulling off his criminal schemes.
Seizure for the benefit of the state
The career of Krasnodar krai native Aleksander Postrigan' (who is a Doctor of Economics by the way) began in 1992 – he was appointed a Deputy Head of the Klin District Administration. In July 1992, Postrigan' took charge of the municipality; in 1996, became the Head of the Klin District; and was re-elected in 1999. In 1997, he was awarded the Order of Friendship and title of an Honorable Builder of the Moscow Region. In addition, Postrigan' is an Honorable Citizen of the Klin District. In total, he had ruled it for some 22 years – concurrently using his official capacity for personal enrichment to the maximum.
Aleksander Postrigan’ had ruled the Klin district for some 22 years
“It is established that Postrigan’ had used his official capacity for personal enrichment, including embezzlements of municipal assets,” – Aleksander Kurennoy, a representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office, states. According to the press service of the watchdog agency, aside from exceeding official powers, Postrigan’ has been charged with bribe-taking – although no details of that episode were disclosed yet.
The list of his – ‘acquired through hard work’ – assets includes over 400 real properties worth in total 3.9 billion rubles ($60.5 million) and officially belonging to people from his close circle. Operatives of the Investigations Department in the Town of Klin of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) found out that the assets nominally belong to 8 persons – relatives and close friends of Postrigan’. The Klin Town Court has satisfied the lawsuit filed by the Prosecutor General’s Office and seized the assets of the former civil servant; therefore, their official owners became defendants in this case.
According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, “this refers to 407 illegally appropriated real properties (apartments, land lots, a recreation base, etc.) whose cadastral value is 935.7 million rubles ($14.5 million), four vehicles (Тоyota Land Cruiser, Mercedes S350, Audi А8, and Audi Q5) worth in total 9.4 million rubles ($145.9 thousand), and the monetary equivalent of already seized assets worth 3 billion rubles ($46.6 million). The Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region of the ICR is in charge of the case.
A source close to the investigation claims that the list of Postrigan’s assets consists of nearly 150 pages. However, almost nothing belongs to him officially. For instance, his relatives and friends are nominal owners of several land lots and real properties in Matveevo village, Klin district. Valery Postrigan’, son of the former district head, owns land lots in Sokolovo village and Zubovo rural settlement – the list of these properties consists of 12 pages.
A criminal case has been instituted against the former official in summer 2018. On June 29, 2018, Aleksander Postrigan’ had attempted to leave Russia and was arrested in Sheremetyevo Airport. After the arrest, his luxurious mansion was searched.
The property features a deluxe mansion, guesthouse, golf courses, and ponds
Postrigan’ was arrested because, back in 2013, he has knowingly issued an acceptance certificate and occupancy permit for a 54-apartment residential building located at 41–2, Tsentralnaya street, Reshetnikovo, Klin.
The builder was TST Stolitsa (Capital) Limited Liability Company; it has not performed the capital construction works in full, while the completed works were performed with gross violations. The building was unsafe and started dilapidating due to the construction defects. Ironically, people were resettled there from unsafe and dilapidated housing in the framework of the respective state program. A criminal case was instituted against Postrigan’ under part 3 of Article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (exceeding official powers). According to the investigation, the suspect was aware that the accepted building hadn’t met the project requirements, thus, inflicting damages to the state in the amount of 34 million rubles ($527.7 thousand). The victim – current Klin administration – is determined to recover this sum from Postrigan’.
This residential building was commissioned illegally
On June 30, 2018, the Klin Town Court has remanded the suspect in custody – although his attorneys had asked to release him on bail of 16 million rubles ($248.3 thousand) or place under home arrest. The Moscow Regional Court upheld the decision of the first instance, while the investigation is identifying more and more criminal episodes in this case. Accordingly, the detention term of Postrigan’ is continuously extended.
Aleksander Postrigan’ in court
On March 29, 2019, the Arbitration Court of the Moscow Region has recognized TST Stolitsa Limited Liability Company – the builder of Reshetnikovo Residential Complex – bankrupt. It cannot be ruled out that the enterprise was driven to bankruptcy on purpose in connection with the case against Postrigan’.
In February 2019, two new charges have been laid against the suspect: according to the investigation, the ex-Head of the Klin District has illegally issued an occupancy permit for a residential apartment building at 3A Volokolamskoe highway, Klin. Omega Grand company was its builder. The building was lacking the fire safety system and gas supply. The damages were estimated at 33 million rubles ($512.2 thousand). In addition, Postrigan’ senior has illegally issued a construction permit for patio at Mojito Cafe belonging to Postrigan’ junior.
In 2014, Aleksander Postrigan’ suddenly decided to resign from his post – while being a Deputy of the Klin Council of Deputies from Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia) Party – and arranged the appointment of Alena Sokol’skaya, spouse of prosecutor Aleksander Kozlov, a former suspect in the ‘gambling case’ investigated in the Moscow region, the new district head.
Alena Sokol’skaya succeeded Postrigan’ as the district head
To refresh background: in 2011, the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation has uncovered a network of underground casinos covered-up by local prosecutors and officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation. The network had operated in 15 settlements, including Klin, – and Postrigan' could not be unaware of this. Its annual revenue amounted to $5–10 million. Twelve law enforcement officers were charged in the framework of this high-profile criminal case amalgamating nine separate inquests. Aleksander Kozlov, then-Deputy Prosecutor of Moscow and a friend of Postrigan', was mentioned among the suspects in the pre-investigation probe carried out by the ICR. However, in February 2014, Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika has called this case unsubstantiated – and all suspects were released.
Aleksander Kozlov was not prosecuted in the framework of the ‘gambling case’
In June 2015, Aleksander Kozlov was appointed the Prosecutor of the Tula Region; he was removed from this post in 2018 by a Presidential Decree. A number of suspicious stories are associated with his name.
Aleksander Kozlov and Aleksander Ignatenko, ex-Deputy Prosecutor of the Moscow Region and primary suspect in the ‘gambling case’
In 2017, the criminal case against Aleksander Koshelev, ex-Chairman of the Public Reception Office of the Governor, Head of the Fund for Small and Medium Business Development in the Klin District, and the ‘right hand’ of Postrigan’, has been transferred to the court in the Klin district.
Aleksander Koshelev, the ‘right hand’ of Postrigan’
According to the investigation, in 2011–2012, Koshelev had paid to the Head of the Department for State Support of Small and Medium Business of the Ministry of Economy of the Moscow Region and his deputy 5% of subsidies granted to entrepreneurs. The total amount of monetary funds paid by him to the above officials was 2 million rubles ($31 thousand). In 2012, this person was caught red-handed during the handover of a bribe and arrested; in 2014, he was sentenced to a conditional term of 1.5 years.
Money – into the family
Aleksander Postrigan’ was repeatedly mentioned in corruption scandals – but managed to get off the hook every time. His wife Elena Postrigan’, ex-Head of the Klin Branch of the Registration Chamber of the Moscow Region, had assisted him in manipulations with the status of real properties. Her deputy was her sister Irina Dmitrievna Ermoshkina. Simple ‘purchase–sale–lease’ fraud schemes had steadily replenished the family budget.
Not only the older generation of clan Postrigan’ had worked hard. Valery Postrigan’, son of the district head, born in 1970, was not only the top aide to his father – but also the factual owner of Klin Mechanical Engineering Plant (its General Director is Vadim Zhidetsky). Postrigan’ junior is the founder and shareholder of 22 enterprises, including Alye Parusa (Crimson Sails) Limited Liability Company, Al’mageya, Master Class, Pantera (Panther) and Pantera + Private Security Companies, ZiS, YurBukhProfKonsalting, Investment Resource Management, Sosnovy Bor (Pine Forest), Klinmet, Skat, Oliviya Klintsvetmet, Krona (Crown), Detektiv (Detective), Reklama PEN (PEN Advertisement), Sputnik Telecom, ARS-A, KREK, and Renessans-K (Renaissance-K). The majority of these legal entities have been liquidated by now. In addition, Valery Postrigan’ owns Kontinent (Continent) retail chain, Kazachy Kuren’ and Havana restaurants, and real estate in Cuba and the Czech Republic.
Valery Postrigan’ is a Deputy of the Council of Deputies of Voroninskoe Rural Council, Klin District, from Edinaya Rossiya Party.
Daughter Natalia Postrigan’, born 1975, is a business partner of her brother; she successfully develops, jointly with husband Valery Arakelov, a hotel and resort business in Slovenia. Natalia owns real estate both in Slovenia and the Czech Republic.
According to Municipal Scanner online portal, on October 25, 2007, Natalia Postrigan’ and Valery Arakelov became the owners of Czech company Arsenij-Plus s.r.o., which, in turn, owns Terme Resort d.o.o. incorporated in Slovenia and purchased at an auction for €8.5 million in September 2014. Terme Resort d.o.o. is a resort complex in Rimske Toplice; it consists of 4 hotels and includes Roman thermae.
Arsenij-Plus s.r.o. owns real properties in Karlovy Vary at Sadová 813/10, Sadová 815/8, and Sadová 876/6. In addition, Arsenij-Plus s.r.o. is the sole proprietor of Eurospa a.s. – the owner of 4-star Hotel Venus in Karlovy Vary. In 2014, the assets of Arsenij-Plus s.r.o. were estimated at €9.3 million.
Vadim Ermoshkin, a nephew of Aleksander Postrigan's wife, is also the owner and director of ‘family' companies.
Back in 2009, Consensus and Truth movement has published on a Moscow forum a copy of the petition submitted to the Prosecutor’s Offices of Klin and Moscow and exposing unlawful acts committed by the Postrigan’ family in the Klin district. More than 3 thousand signatories of the petition had asked the watchdog agencies to “check not only the above-listed facts – but the legitimacy of operations run by persons close to officials and economic activities of relatives of the Head of the Klin District ”.
District residents had complained of Postrigan’ – but no actions were taken
The law enforcement authorities have reacted to the petition submitted by residents only 9 years later – although, according to a report published by the Audit Chamber in April 2010, the violations identified in the Klin district had amounted in that period to 565 million rubles ($8.8 million) – i.e. constituted 17% of the annual budget of the municipality.
According to some sources, Aleksander Postrigan’ had ties with criminal structures. The list of his possible partners includes Valery Ustinov – in the 1990s, he was a member of the ‘Klin’ brigade led by Anatoly Bobkov (Bobok) and then worked together with Andrei Kasatkin, leader of Poliklinika (Polyclinic) organized criminal group. Kasatkin was shot dead in Klin in 2006. The above gangs had specialized in protection racketeering of markets and other retail facilities, extortion, and blackmail. Another partner of Postrigan' was criminal ‘authority' Aleksander Yur'ev (Delovoy (Business)) responsible in the Klin district for the housing and utility sphere, trade, and settling conflicts between businesses and enforcement structures. Delovoy was shot dead in fall 2012.
In spite of everything, Aleksander Postrigan’ had always posed as an honest official. Perhaps, this is the reason why he had never disclosed foreign assets in his declarations. Still, it became known that on November 27, 2006, he became the owner of Czech company Krasnodar s.r.o., which, in turn, owns an apartment in Karlovy Vary at Stará Louka 342/32. As of 2015, the total cost of assets belonging to Krasnodar s.r.o. was some €230 thousand.
A company belonging to Postrigan’ owns an apartment in this building
It is necessary to note that the District ICR Department has identified all real properties illegally acquired by Postrigan’ back in 2018. So, why is the investigation ongoing for so long? Because the nominal owners, who had, in fact, privatized the district, have expectedly disagreed with the decision of the Klin Town Court and started appealing it. In other words, the defendants had struggled for each piece of the appropriated real estate. Ultimately, the ICR has raised the status of this criminal case by transferring it from the territorial department to the Main Investigations Directorate in the Moscow Region. As a result, the disputed real estate has fallen under the jurisdiction of the Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow. The defense attorneys for Postrigan’ had repeatedly appealed the extensions of the asset seizure terms – but the Moscow City Court had upheld the stance of the investigation every time.
At some point, the Moscow Regional Court has surprisingly supported Postrigan' by recognizing the initial seizure of the real estate illegal – but the Prosecutor General's Office has issued a special verdict on that matter.
As it is known, the Prosecutor General’s Office gets things done by all means. Take, for instance, the case against Aleksander Shestun, ex-Head of the Serpukhov District, arrested in June 2018 for fraud, bribe-taking, and illegal business activities.
The fate of Aleksander Postrigan’ resembles the story of his ‘fellow in misery’: in April 2019, the Krasnogorsk Town Court of the Moscow Region has satisfied the lawsuit filed by the Prosecutor General's Office and seized from the family and associates of Shestun 676 real properties, 22 vehicles, river transport, and other assets worth in total 10.5 billion rubles ($163 million) for the benefit of the state.
In February 2019, Sergei Gribinyuchenko, ex-Head of the Pushkino District of the Moscow Region, was arrested during the handover of a bribe in the amount of $20 thousand. At the time of the arrest, Gribinyuchenko was the Acting Head of Dzerzhinsky Municipal District of the Moscow Region.
This series of arrests in the key region of Russia clearly indicates the need to consolidate administrative units of the metropolitan area. The Moscow region needs skilled managers – not ‘local kinglets’ able only to privatize their ‘domains'. Of course, selfish interests always exist, and no one can guarantee that dishonest officials don't infiltrate the vertical of power. By building the governor's vertical in the Moscow region, Andrei Vorob'ev is fulfilling his main promise to the voters: clamp down on the corruption. Unfortunately, so far, the campaign has been targeting only low-ranked local officials (and former officials) not loyal to the regional head.