Electric chair for Russian Minister of Agriculture 

Electric chair for Russian Minister of Agriculture

The Krasnodar region authorities openly support large businesses that seize lands using arbitration courts, police, and bailiffs.

According to some economic experts, sanctions, imposed on Russia by the West, are actually beneficial for its economy. But this expert opinion does not take into account one important trend: because increasing the domestic food reserve is now considered the best way to counter the food import ban, large food producers started using this noble cause to maximize their profits and deprive smaller farmers of their lands. They claim that rescuing the country is a big and responsible task and only they – big and trustworthy – can do this properly.

Such a picture can be observed, for instance, in the Krasnodar region where authorities openly support large businesses that seize lands using the Krasnodar region arbitration court, police, and bailiff service. This provokes mass anger of farmers with all ensuing consequences.

On August 21, 2016, the Kuban farmers, desperate to obtain justice in their own region, have rallied a mass protest where decided to stage a march of agricultural tractors to Moscow. Ultimately, participants of the march have been detained in the Rostov region where they had arrived by the federal highway. Taking the public tensions that normally accompany any election campaign and consequences of the current economic crisis, no one can predict what could be the output of this mass arrest.

With regards to statements made during the mass protest: in March, during the first wave of farmers’ anger, people were protesting only against the regional authorities and hoped to get help from ex-Governor Aleksandr Tkachev – but then the public sentiment has changed. The farmers now believe that their main enemy – and, accordingly, the main enemy of the country and politics of the Russian President V.V. Putin – is none other than Tkachev. As well as his relatives who – according to the protesters – are bringing lawlessness to the region.

Are there any grounds for this opinion? There are 3,900,000 ha of fertile lands in the Krasnodar region, and one-third of those lands belongs to the 2 largest agribusiness holding companies: Viselkovsky agricultural complex named after the father of the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and Porkovsky. The first company owns 520 thousand ha, while the second one owns 390 thousand ha. Both companies have direct business links with the family of Aleksandr Tkachev – whose administrative resources are enormous.

Here are some facts: the Investigations Department of the Investigations Directorate for the Krasnodar region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation refuses to initiate criminal cases against officials who have appropriated land and asset shares of employees in the following farming enterprises:

- Viselky district: Progress, Gasyr, Krupskoe;

- Novopokrovsky district: Kalnibolotsky;

- Tikhoretsk district: Mirnoe Closed Joint Stock Company, Tikhoretsky Limited Liability Company, Niva Limited Liability Company;

- Gelendzhik district: Divnomorsky, Myskhako, Mikhailovsky Pereval.

In April 2016 the Civic Chamber of the Krasnodar Krai chaired by L.V. Popova, the Co-chairperson of the All-Russia People’s Front, have received over 180 citizens’ complaints on similar violations – but no action has been taken so far. There is a strong reason behind this: persons from the court community and friends of the Russian Minister of Agriculture are involved into the land seizures.

For instance, Kavkaz agricultural cooperative in the Kavkazsky district was seized by Razgulyai agribusiness holding company, which in turn was immediately acquired by Viselkovsky agricultural complex owned by the Minister’s family.

Shkurinskoe agricultural cooperative with its 10 thousand ha of lands in the Kushyovskaya district has also became a property of the family of A. Tkachev (this occurred after initiation of a framed-up criminal case against its director). After the high-profile arrest of the Tsapok gang, their assets and lands have been transferred under the management of the Tkachev family as well.

In the Pavlovskaya district, the coastal belt is now owned by the former Governor.

During the protest, the outraged farmers were openly demanding to put the Minister of Agriculture to an electric chair for the offences committed – in their view – by members of the Tkachev family. Ilya Pavlovich Zub, a representative from the Kushyovskaya district, has directly accused the Tkachev family of complete seizure of lands in the district. Furthermore, he told that all the supporting documents had been provided to the Moscow branch of the All-Russia People’s Front, but no action has been taken. According to Zub, A. Tkachev and his family have acquired 170 thousand of arable lands in the adjacent Rostov region (in the Peschanokopskoye, Yegorlyk, and Neklinovsky districts) and a grain terminal in Taganrog.

Zub states that the family of Tkachev also controls tens of thousands hectares of undocumented lands in the region without paying any taxes on those.

Recently Vedomosti newspaper reported that the Premier Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a Decree to establish Krasnaya Polyana (Red Glade) gambling zone, which will operate mostly in Gorki-Gorod (Hills City) resort linked with the family of Aleksandr Tkachev, the Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. Another bonanza in the huge empire of Tkachev.

It is necessary to note that the two events – creation of the gambling zone and the mass protest – have occurred almost simultaneously. Of course, it could be a coincidence, but in fact this looks like a menacing warning. The Kuban residents have realized that they were tricked and deprived of the land – their main asset inherited from the ancestors. The region – so calm and trouble-free just recently – may turn into an area of social unrest.

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