Crows do not pick crow's eyes: Volzhsky Mayor embezzled billions and allowed others to do so 

Crows do not pick crow's eyes: Volzhsky Mayor embezzled billions and allowed others to do so

A criminal group involving the Administration of the City of Volzhsky has been operating unpunished in the Volgograd region for a number of years. Using various swindling schemes, the gang has already embezzled over one billion rubles from the budget. An informed source shared with the CrimeRussia information confirming this. See details in our exclusive material.

The total amount of kickbacks and black cash in the period of Igor Voronin’s Mayorship (2000–2009) is estimated at more than one billion rubles. Currently the organized crime group led by Voronin makes 70 to 100 million rubles annually. According to the regional authorities, the city of Volzhsky still remains one of the major corruption centers in the region. In March 2016, the press service of the Volgograd Regional Administration said in an interview to Volzsky.ru portal that “despite continuous systematic anti-corruption efforts, Volgograd and Volzhsky still cause serious concern to the authorities. The Chamber of Control and Accounts of the Volgograd Region has reported that the most corrupt spheres are: land use, city planning, governmental acquisitions, housing and public utilities, transportation, and trade”.

Our
notes

The city of Volzhsky is the second largest city in the Volgograd region with population over 320 thousand people. One of the largest industrial cities in the lower stream of the Volga River. The city is located on the left bank of Akhtuba river, 20 km northeast from the center of Volgograd. Together with Volgograd, it is the core of the Volgograd urban agglomeration with the total population of 1.3–1.4 million people.

Voronin has become the City Mayor for the first time back in 2000. In 2009 he lost elections to Marina Afanasieva, but in 2013 he returned to this post and brought back the embezzlement system to siphon budget funds to his own pockets and pockets of his accomplices. Shady activities of Voronin grasp the whole city: from public utilities to kindergartens.

‘ZhUK’ and ‘PUK’

According to the data obtained by the CrimeRussia, during his first two terms, Voronin has created a sustainable criminal group, which started enriching itself by carving-up the housing and public utilities sphere. The Multifunctional Enterprise of Housing Services Municipal Unitary Enterprise was reorganized, and its functions have been re-distributed between several private companies. Each of those was controlled by Voronin through his trusted aides. Financial flows from ZhEK Limited Liability Company were managed by Vasily Kirmasov, the company founder and an in-law of Voronin (later a criminal case was initiated against him under Article Abuse of Official Powers). Voronin was receiving his monthly levy from ZhUK Limited Liability Company through Oleg Serikov and Igor Abramov (a criminal case has been initiated for withdrawal of a large amount of money). Zhillishe Limited Liability Company was paying levies to Voronin through Aleksey Evdokimov (another suspect in the case related to the abuse of official powers). PUK Limited Liability Company was paying through Aleksey Tikhonov (later convicted for swindling on an especially large scale). ZhH Limited Liability company – through Yuri Zhuchkov, a former officer of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) assigned to the Volzhsky Municipal Administration. In one form or another, the organized criminal group of officials controls the housing and public utilities system to the present day.

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Mikhail Kubantsev, Voronin’s Deputy for communal services, was his right hand; therefore this sphere was of special interest for the superior officials of Volzhsky. Kombinat Blagoustroistva (Center for Public Amenities) Municipal Unitary Enterprise has been plundered in 2007–2009. Chisty Gorod (Clean City) Limited Liability Company was established instead of the municipal enterprise, and Voronin and Kubantsev got shares in it. The adventurous businessmen have transferred expensive special equipment to their company for next to nothing and, using their administrative resource, secured contracts for the firm. Kubantsev was arranging and covering inflated garbage removal volumes and fees charged from the residents. After the loss of Voronin at the elections of 2009 and losing control over the city administration, the company was sold to third parties – allegedly, for 90 million rubles.

After the re-election of Voronin as the city Mayor in 2013, administrative pressure has been put on the new owners of Chisty Gorod Limited Liability Company in order to get a share in this business. The company was pressurized by various inspections, including audits by the Chamber of Control and Accounts of Volzhsky. The above-mentioned former FSB officer Yuri Zhuchkov was the Head of the Chamber at that time. According to some information, he was purposively appointed by Voronin to pressurize undesirables and cover embezzlements in municipal financial structures. Management companies controlled by Kubantsev and Kirmasov refused to sign contracts with Chisty Gorod Limited Liability Company. According to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, the current Head of Chisty Gorod Limited Liability Company is Ella Kuzmina; she started working in the Administration of Volzhsky in 2008 as the Head of the Department for Municipal Property Management. Later she also became a suspect in the criminal case related to abuse of official powers.

The Voronin’s team practiced an original approach to sports development. For example, Vladimir Militsin, the former Head of the Department for Municipal Property Management and president of the local Torpedo (later – Energia) football club, was collecting funds for the team from local businessmen. The traditional scheme was used: administrative pressure on the business community until the entrepreneurs come down with money for football players. But most of these amounts had not actually reached the players, and in 2006 the club went bankrupt. 

The same scenario was later used by Voronin during the establishment of the Volzhsky Development Fund chaired by Mikhail Rogozin. An inquiry of the Administration for the City of Volzhsky of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (MIA) into the city park zones improvement performed by the Fund has identified facts of larceny, violations of facility acceptance regulations, and inappropriate expenditures (the case materials are currently under review in the MIA Administration for the City of Volzhsky).

A criminal case against Aleksander Galda, another accomplice to Voronin, is currently under investigation. In 2009 he mysteriously acquired a school building located in Krasny Sad settlement of the Srednyaya Akhtuba district and belonging to the city of Volzhsky. According to the information obtained by the CrimeRussia, currently Voronin is actively attempting to affect the investigation and cover-up the case using his connections in law enforcement authorities. Apparently, the misappropriation of this building by Voronin–Galda–Kubantsev criminal group was performed in order to sell it later back to the municipality at much higher price. Interestingly, in 2009–2010 Aleksander Galda was the head of Parki Goroda (City Parks) Municipal Unitary Enterprise; he was appointed to this post by Voronin. In 2010 Galda was dismissed due to financial violations. However, after Voronin’s re-election in 2013 as the Volzhsky Mayor, he, for some reasons, gave a job to Galda – who had a criminal record – again and appointed him the Director of Volgogradgidrostroy Community Center responsible for the management of city parks. Volgogradgidrostroy Open Joint Stock Company is mentioned in the criminal case related to the school building; Kubantsev – the future Vice Mayor of Volzhsky – used to be its principal general some time ago. Apparently, he was supervising scam sales and purchases of buildings in the Administration of the City of Volzhsky. Ultimately Kubantsev became a suspect in a criminal case related to machinations with unfinished construction of a building in the framework of the Citizens Resettlement Program in 2008; on March 29, 2013 he was convicted. 

Александр Галда

Election poster of Aleksander Galda 

Back to school!

There was another episode related to education. Back in 2006 Aleksander Reznikov, a henchman of Voronin, became the Head of the Department of Education and Youth Policies of Volzhsky. He has, in fact, destroyed the food production facility supplying meals to schools and kindergartens of the city. Instead he created two affiliated companies that have monopolized – with support of Reznikov – this sphere and were using over 100 million rubles of budget funds annually only in schools (plus they were servicing over 100 kindergartens making some 150 million rubles on those). The private companies were using equipment of school and kindergarten cantinas for free, while all operational costs had been covered from the budget. The net profit had been withdrawn by the organized crime group and distributed between its members. The Chamber of Control and Accounts of Volzhsky had repeatedly reported violations in the catering organization and 100% extra charges on meals – but Yuri Zhuchkov was settling all issues with law enforcement authorities.

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Later Irina Guseva, then-Deputy of the Volgograd Regional Duma (and future Volgograd Mayor), became so excited with this misappropriation scheme, that she has even pushed a special bill through the regional parliament relieving businessmen operating in schools from paying rent.

But school meals were not the only sphere of interest for Reznikov. Using his official powers, the civil servant had strongly recommended directors of schools and kindergartens to sign service contract with right maintenance companies. Maintenance contracts for HVAC, roofs, fire alarms, and hydro meters as well as construction and renovation contracts used to be signed without contests (and often the contracted works had not been completed). Reznikov secured financing for his contractors and ensured prompt signing of acceptance certificates. 

Another profitable scheme created by Reznikov involved outsourcing of bookkeeping for all schools and kindergartens – and again, this contract was awarded to a right company. Without a contest, under pressure from Reznikov, all these institutions were transferring funds to the Reznikov’s firm on the regular basis, from which the monies had been subsequently withdrawn. We would like to note that more than half of the municipal budget is being spent on education – which translates into more than 1.5 billion rubles a year.

The officials had not disdained to rob ordinary people as well. For example, a levy was imposed in all kindergartens: the parents had to make monthly payments for economic needs. The funds were flowing directly to the pockets of Nadezhda Korsakova, a deputy to Reznikov. A huge number of complaints from the parents to law enforcement authorities and directly to the City Mayor brought no result.

Victory again!

In 2013 Voronin was elected as the Mayor for the third term. Governor Sergey Bozhenov supported his candidacy. By the way, in 2014 Bozhenov had to leave this post leaving a trail of numerous corruption scandals. Some of his deputies had been convicted: Pavel Krupnov – for a multimillion bribe, Olga Dyakova – for abuse of official powers, etc.

The criminal society supported Voronin as well. In particular, it was Sergey Dozhdev, a member of the organized criminal group of late Vladimir Kadin (so-called supervisor of the region), involved into racketeering of businesses, syphoning funds from the public housing and utility system, control over scrap metal turnover in the region, tax evasion, criminal skirmishes, and drug dealing.

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Immediately after the re-election, Voronin resumed his old operations. Convicted criminal Kubantsev became an aide to the Mayor and controlled all financial flows from municipal housing and public utility companies, construction projects, and municipal unitary enterprises. The official name of his position was: Director of the Association of Management and Operating Housing and Public Utility Organizations. Contracts were awarded to companies affiliated with Kubantsev, and then the funds had been withdrawn, transformed – via subcontractors – into black cash, and distributed between the members of the criminal society. According to the CrimeRussia information, in 2013, in the framework of the program to return kindergartens to the municipal property, the City Administration was purchasing kindergartens back at overrated prices for bribes. In particular, the City Administration has paid a double price – over 50 million rubles instead of 25 – for a private Detstvo (Childhood) kindergarten to the Volga Plant of Asbestos Technical Products Open Joint Stock Company, whose director – Iosif Shraer – was a member of the Voronin’s team and controlled financial activities of the Volgograd Inter-District Electric Networks Municipal Unitary Production Enterprise.

Irina Guseva, a Deputy of the 6th Convocation of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, was an intermediary in this deal, which is a subject to a special investigation by the CrimeRussia. It is also known that currently Irina Guseva, a Candidate for Deputy to the 7th State Duma from Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party, offers patronage and connections to Voronin if he assists her in the election campaign.

Most probably, Guseva would get the required assistance because the Secretary of the Political Council of Edinaya Rossia in the city of Volzhsky is Sergey Aksenov – another old friend and partner of Voronin. In 2014 Aksenov, the former Director of Energotekhmash Limited Liability Company (earlier headed by Voronin himself), became the Director of Vodokanal (Water Canal) Municipal Unitary Enterprise. The team of employees attempted to defend their previous director Rem Vartanov dismissed due to fake reasons. But Voronin needed control over financial flows and contracts of Vodokanal; therefore, time-tested Aksenov was an ideal candidate for this role. A collision was that as of January 1, 2015 Energotekhmash was owing some 900 thousand rubles to Vodokanal; it had been in arrears permanently for the last 10 years.

Apparently, Aksenov was also a good assistant to Voronin in bringing Energotekhmash to a condition when any machinations could be performed with it. To achieve this goal, the plant – owing to the tax service, its own employees, and utility providers – was declared bankrupt in 2015. Then the land where it stands – through simple manipulations with paperwork and omission of the mandatory land remediation procedure – has been re-zoned. Now it can be shamelessly sold for residential construction. 

“They will put you behind bars – you deserve this for stealing!”

The Voronin’s ruling ended up pretty sad for some of his subordinates and other people related to him. But the Mayor himself never had any troubles at all.

Igor Abramov, the Head of ZhUK Limited Liability Company, and his accomplices were arrested in 2012 for swindling on an especially large scale with the housing and public utility system of the city of Volzhsky. A criminal case was initiated. The suspects were accused of larceny of some 50 million rubles paid by the residents for maintenance and utilities.

Mikhail Kubantsev, the First Vice Mayor, was arrested in 2012 in the framework of a criminal case related to embezzlement of money from the Fund for Reforming the Housing and public Utility System in the framework of the Resettlement Program for people living in dilapidated housing. According to the investigation, inappropriate actions by Kubantsev have resulted in damages for 9.4 million rubles to the city budget – while people in need have not received new housing. In addition, the former Vice Mayor was later charged with abuse of official powers during a kindergarten construction in the 14th residential block resulting in damages for 10.5 million rubles to the budget. Ultimately, Mikhail Kubantsev was convicted and deprived of the right to hold state and municipal positions related to exercising functions of a public authority, organizational-managerial, and administrative-economic functions for 5 years.

In 2012 Ella Kuzmina, the Deputy Mayor of Volzhsky, was arrested on suspicion of Abuse of Official Powers (part 2 of Article 285 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). According to the investigation, she was involved into shady land allocation schemes for commercial development.

Игорь Воронин

Igor Voronin (in the center) 

Oh, sports! You are the money!

In 2014 Sergey Tikhonov, the ex-Head of the Srednyaya Akhtuba district (earlier he used to be the Head of PUK Management Company) was found guilty of Swindling committed by an organized group on an especially large scale (part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). According to the investigation, in September 2008 the Srednyaya Akhtuba District Administration had sold an abandoned school building and land lot in Rakhinka settlement to a commercial organization for 250 thousand rubles. Then Sergey Tikhonov, ex-Head of the District Administration, together with Sergey Chekunkov (the Head of the company – purchaser of the school), Andrey Uvarov (the Head of the Finance Department of the Mayor’s Office of Volzhsky), and Nikolay Parshin (then-Deputy of the Volgograd Regional Duma), have entered into an Agreement of Purchase and Sale and returned the school building and land lot back to the municipality – but at the price of 25 million rubles. 

Vasily Kirmasov was charged with abuse of official powers in 2015. The investigation has found that in 2013 his ZhEK Limited Liability Company owed 10 million rubles to Lukoil-TTK company. However, instead of paying the arrears, Kirmasov issued an order to pay dividends to himself in the amount of some 1 million rubles. Upon withdrawal of this sum, the Arbitration Court of the Volgograd Region has decided that Vasily Kirmasov is unable to repay the debt to the utility provider, and his company was recognized a bankrupt. 

Aleksey Evdokimov, the former director of Zhillishe Management Company, was charged in 2015 with abuse of powers. According to the MIA General Administration for the Volgograd Region, back in 2010–2012, the company headed by Evdokimov had accrued multimillion arrears to utility providers. But instead of using utility fees paid by the residents to pay out the debts, Evdokimov has built an office for himself.

“To Moscow!”

Evgeny Golovko, who was earlier tried in Volgograd for swindling, is another criminal in the Voronin’s team. In October 2014 he was appointed the Director of the Municipal Autonomous Institution Multifunctional Center for State and Municipal Services of the City of Volzhsky. Time will show why the Mayor needed a person with such background on this position. 

In the period of 2005–2009, the criminal group led by Voronin has stolen over 120 million rubles allocated for engineering networks construction in residential blocks № 38 and № 14. The work had to be performed by organizations controlled by Kubantsev and Voronin, but in fact the engineering networks are either still lacking or partially built by the developers at their own expense under pressure of the municipal administration. 

Furthermore, according to the CrimeRussia information, Voronin could be an interested party in the murder of Aleksander Parkhomenko, the Principal General of Volga Nitrogen-Oxygen Plant Open Joint Stock Company, in 2002. The purpose of the crime could be an appropriation of shares of the strategic resource-providing enterprise. The crime has been partially solved: the killer was found and serves a prison term, but the clients of the murder haven’t been identified yet.

During all these years, the criminal proceeds have been continuously transferred to Moscow and used for construction of a trade center in Cherkizovo – allegedly, registered in the names of relatives of Voronin and Kubantsev. Expensive real estate has been purchased to children. In particular, an apartment on Kutuzovsky avenue officially belongs to a son of Voronin. Kubantsev preferred cottages in Metallurg and Yuzny (Southern) settlements. He also used to acquire production facilities and registered those in the name of his daughter.

Principal members of the criminal society    

фигуранты преступного сообщества

On the official web-site of the Administration of the City of Volzhsky, Voronin greets the visitors as follows: “We are open for communication with you, open for positive collaboration, and would like to involve as many residents into the local self-government as possible”. Taking the shadow side of the Mayor’s work, this slogan can be interpreted in two ways. The local businesses have already experienced the “openness for communication” and “positive collaboration” with the Mayor’s Office. The desire of the City Administration to “involve as many residents into the local self-government as possible” is also understandable: the more people are involved, the more money can be pocketed. But as it always happens, there is not enough money for everybody – therefore, businesses, investors, and human resources themselves flee from the region. The only remaining group are the officials who produce nothing but have unbounded appetites. This is only one example of an average city in Russia – but it shows the scale of corruption and impunity of officials making 300 thousand rubles a day. And who knows how many similar cities are in our country?

Our
notes

Igor Nikolaevich Voronin was born in 1963 in Omsk. In 1981 graduated from the high school № 18 in the city of Volzhsky. In 1986 got his first higher education by graduating from the Volgograd Polytechnic Institute with a major in ‘Internal-combustion engines’. In 2003 got the second higher education by graduating from the Volzhsky Humanitarian Institute with a major in Economics. Entered the labor force at the Volgograd Tractor Plant as a master. In 1996 transferred to Energotekhmash Open Joint Stock Company; worked as the Deputy Director for Marketing and then – as the General Director. On December 25, 2000 was elected the Mayor of the City of Volzhsky with support of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In 2005 was re-elected as the Mayor. In 2007 was elected to the State Duma in the party list of Edinaya Rossia (the United Russia) Party, but declined the Deputy’s mandate. On October 11, 2009 lost the Mayoral elections in Volzhsky to Marina Robertovna Afanasieva by a close shave. In 2009 returned to the post of Director of Energotekhmash Open Joint Stock Company. In 2013 ran for the Mayoral elections again and has won with a huge margin.

Documents

 ООО "ZhUK"
 LLC "ZhEK"
 LLC "PUK"
 LLC "Zhilishe"
 LLC "Zhilishnoye Hosyaistvo"
 LLC "Chisty Gorod"
 Development Volzhsky Fund
 JCS "Volgogradgidrosrtoy"
 Volzhsky town budget on 1 of April 2016
 Voronin's declaration for 2015

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