Ex-deputy of Leonid Markelov to flee to Cyprus?

Ex-deputy of Leonid Markelov to flee to Cyprus?
Nikolai Kuklin is believed to be the ‘right hand’ of the detained ex-Head of Mari El

Aleksander Evstifeev, the Acting Head of the Mari El Republic, has removed from office Nikolai Kuklin, the First Deputy Head of Mari El, following a large-scale inquest carried out by the Chamber of Audit. Public activists are concerned that the ‘right hand’ and confidant of Leonid Markelov arrested on suspicion of bribe-taking on an especially large scale might abscond abroad.

Such concerns are based on the shocking data promulgated by Sergei Mamaev, an Aide to Gennady Zyuganov. Mamaev has submitted to the law enforcement authorities, including the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, information about the Cypriot permanent residency of the family of Nikolai Kuklin and offshore companies belonging to it. How could a functionary from a bankrupt republic purchase permanent residence permits for himself and his relatives while holding a key post in the Government of Mari El? 

The Chamber of Audit of the Russian Federation has been carrying out a large-scale financial audit in the Mari El Republic since June 20, 2017. The audit was not classified. It is known that the inspectors were paying special attention to the social sphere, culture, education, health care, construction, and housing and utility infrastructure. Aleksander Evstifeev, Acting Head of the Mari El Republic, has promised to make public the identified violations pertaining to the budget spendings at the next session of the government. However, at the conclusion of the audit, he has removed from office Nikolai Kuklin, a perpetual associate of Markelov and veteran member of the government chaired by the ‘Mari El king’. Kuklin had been working as the First Deputy Head of the Mari El Republic since 2001. He was responsible for the state policy with regards to the construction, architecture, urban planning, housing and utility infrastructure, fuel and power complex, gas supply, and other essential services in the republic. It can’t be ruled out that after the audit and voluntary resignation, Kuklin is to share the fate of his boss and friend Leonid Markelov.   

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Aleksander Evstifeev

The law enforcement structures may also have questions to the Kuklin family. For instance, with regards to their permanent residency in Cyprus and construction business of Nikolai Kuklin’s son Dmitry involved with nine companies. In some of these companies, he is the founder and director. A source in the law enforcement authorities claims that the son of the ex-Deputy Head of Mari El was pulling off his operations with support of his high-ranked father. According to some information, Dmitry Kuklin lives abroad with his family and seldom visits Russia. 

In addition, back in February 2017, a joint inspection of the Ministry of Construction and Housing and Public Utility Sphere of the Russian Federation (Minstroy) and Federal Environmental, Industrial, and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostechnadzor) has identified a discrepancy between the reports submitted by officials subordinate to Markelov and reality. The inspection was checking the readiness of the housing and public utility infrastructure supervised by Kuklin to the heating season. Andrei Chibis, Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing and Public Utility Sphere, has caught Kuklin and his subordinates in a lie. It was found that the situation with the house heating in Mari El was literally catastrophic: no fuel reserves in the depreciated boiler stations, documents to do not comply with the regulations, etc. In total, the Rostechnadzor inspectors have identified 874 violations. At the same time, optimistic reports submitted to the supreme authorities had claimed that the republic is fully ready to the heating season – while millions of rubles allocated for the preparation to the winter have mysteriously disappeared into thin air. After being charged with lie by the Deputy Minister, Kuklin in response has accused the inspectors from the central apparatus of prejudice. The First Deputy of Markelov managed to retain his chair for a while after that scandal – until his termination by the new Acting Head of the Republic due to the financial violations identified by the Moscow commission.

It is quite possible that after the resignation, Nikolai Kuklin relocates to Cyprus, thus, evading the criminal liability. According to Sergei Mamaev, an Aide to Gennady Zyuganov, his son Dmitry Kuklin and his family had applied for the permanent residency in the Republic of Cyprus. It is necessary to note that Cyprus is an island state and member of the European Union. In order to gain its permanent residency, one must invest thousands of euros into the Cypriot economy and have a stable income of at least €50 thousand per person. Kuklin junior and his family (and possibly his father) had to pay hundreds of thousands of euros to a    

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Leonid Markelov

It was found – apparently, during the financial audit – that the Mari El budget had allocated 8 million rubles ($134.8 thousand) to lease a railroad passenger car to be used by the Head of the Republic for service trips. This is a vivid illustration of Leonid Markelov’s style. So, why can’t his subordinates buy a permanent residency in an island state or an entire island in the ocean?

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