“It was better with Tkachev.” Actions of Krasnodar Governor ricochet on Presidential Envoy to Southern Federal District
Endless corruption scandals and high social tension among the population and elite of the Krasnodar krai make it possible to suppose that Governor Veniamin Kondratiev won’t stay in the office until the next ‘farmers march to Moscow’ scheduled to March 28, 2017.
Veniamin Kondratiev, the Governor of the Krasnodar Krai, is a protege of Aleksander Tkachev, which is detrimental to him. According to CrimeRussia sources, not only hasn’t he solved issues accrued during the rule of the previous Governor, but exacerbated those considerably. The local people unanimously state that “it was better with Tkachev”. Law enforcement authorities note that during his two-year rule, Kondratiev has gathered an inefficient management team. With Kondratiev, the debt of the Krasnodar krai to banks and the federal center has increased from 140 to 150 billion rubles.
Embezzlements of budget funds had occurred in the region at all times, but during the rule of Aleksander Tkachev, the scandals were not escalated so much. The regional administration has literally tied hands of the local media outlets through cooperation agreements, but more and more corruption scandals are going public nowadays. According to a CrimeRussia source, the law enforcement authorities and Vladimir Ustinov, the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District, are directly interested in this. Rumors about the upcoming replacement of the entire management team for the Southern Federal District are being actively discussed behind the scenes because the current Plenipotentiary Envoy has allegedly lost the control over the situation in one of the most important regions of Russia. Interestingly, Aleksander Tkachev, the current Minister of Agriculture, is named the main contender for this post.
Vladimir Ustinov, the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District
The recent high-profile scandal in the Krasnodar krai – linked with a criminal case against Vice Governor Yuri Gritsenko charged with exceeding of official powers – is a warning signal to the team led by Veniamin Kondratiev from the apparatus of the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy indicating the upcoming dismissal of the current Governor.
In the beginning of February 2017, media outlets have reported that the case against Gritsenko would be separated from the proceedings related to the embezzlement of 200 million rubles during the construction of a perinatal center in Sochi.
The investigation believes that in the end of 2016, the Vice Governor supervising the construction industry has instructed his subordinates to transfer a portion of funding for the construction project via Kuban Universal Bank Limited Liability Company, which went bankrupt shortly after this. According to the CrimeRussia source, this is a typical embezzlement scheme used in the region: the funds are transferred and then disappear together with the recipient. Normally, the stolen money are divided between the participants of the scheme, and the law enforcement authorities suppose that the Vice Governor has got his share in the amount of 100 million rubles.
Yuri Gritsenko, the Vice Governor of the Krasnodar Krai
On the afternoon of January 30, 2017, some 15 investigators and operatives have arrived in two Gazel minibuses to the regional administration. Around 7 p.m., Yuri Gritsenko has been escorted by three law enforcement officers out of the building and taken to the Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. The Vice Governor and one of his subordinates had been questioned in the framework of a criminal case related to the exceeding of official powers. But the sources in the regional government have noted that the official remains at his workplace and performs his duties as usually. Furthermore, the law enforcement authorities haven’t announced yet any investigative actions preformed in relation to the Vice Governor or charges laid against him. Veniamin Kondratiev, the Governor of the Krasnodar Krai, has not made any staffing decisions in this regard as well.
The absence of official comments from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) with regards to the criminal case against Gritsenko might indicate that somebody is trying to hush up the matter. This is indirectly confirmed by a story that had never been publicized but became known to the CrimeRussia source in the regional law enforcement structures. The fact is that the Arbitration Court of the Krasnodar Krai often acts not for the public interests, but delivers verdicts beneficial for supreme functionaries of the regional administration affiliated with commercial structures. In particular, some judges reportedly work in close collaboration with Vice Governor Yuri Gritsenko.
According to well-informed sources in the in the regional law enforcement agencies, in October 2016, robberies of suburb cottages belonging to high-ranked officials became more frequent. The General Administration for the Krasnodar Krai of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation has got a task to catch the robbers.
In the beginning of November 2016, during a special operation, a robber has been caught with 1.5 billion rubles in cash stolen from a cottage belonging to an Arbitration Court judge. When asked about the origin of the money, the judge said that the cash does not belong to him and was planted. Allegedly, the total amount of money kept in the home was less than 1 million rubles. It is necessary to note that, according to the sources, the servant of Themis has family ties with an aide to Vice Governor Yuri Gritsenko.
The huge amount of money remained in the police custody for some time, and its fate was unknown until recently. But according to a source from the criminal investigation department, after an incoming call, the money have been taken away to an undisclosed location.
Andrei Korobka, the Vice Governor of the Krasnodar Krai
It was also reported that another Vice Governor of the Krasnodar Krai – Andrei Korobka, supervisor of the agroindustrial complex, – has attracted the attention of law enforcement services as well. There is a documentary evidence that 35-year-old Korobka provides multimillion subsidies to his brother in the framework of the agricultural producers support program and for cattle breeding. The subsidies are provided in the form of co-financing by the federal and regional budgets – while the direct recipients are chosen at the local level. There is an order to allocate a subsidy of 3.7 million rubles and then another subsidy of 1.7 million rubles to Grigory Nikolaevich Korobka. The possible prosecution of another Kondratiev’s deputy would mean the end of his political and administrative career.
According to the sources, Kondratiev failed to come to an understanding with the local elite and establish good relations with the command of regional enforcement structures – which has resulted in an ‘internal war’. An important factor displeasing the enforcement authorities is the informal support of the ‘farmers march’ by the regional administration. In fact, Veniamin Kondratiev has pulled a mean trick on the regional enforcement services.
The close contacts between Veniamin Kondratiev and Andrei Rudomakha, coordinator of the NGO "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", – designated a foreign agent by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation – also baffle the law enforcement structures. During the rule of Aleksander Tkachev, the Greens had been openly running opposition political activities, including regular visits to the ‘Putin’s chalet’, ‘Patriarch’s chalet’, and ‘Tkachev’s chalet’ during the protests against the Sochi Olympics. Currently Rudomakha is considered a public aide to the Governor who calls him “Andryusha” in public.
According to the law enforcement authorities, the Governor started actively interfering with the work of developers who can not understand how to deal with the new team. Speaking with a CrimeRussia journalist, representatives of development companies expressed their failure to grasp how should they work.
“In the past, we had paid and got used to it. We knew: you pay – you can work, and ultimately the people get their housing, but today these rules do not work; generally speaking, there are no rules at all,” – our informant told.
According to him, because of the outstanding liabilities, several construction companies, who worked with money provided by shared housing construction investors, are to go bankrupt soon.
Apparently, the possible social turbulence in one of the richest regions of the country has attracted close attention of the Presidential Administration. According to the CrimeRussia source, a task has been set for Vladimir Ustinov, the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District, Regional FSB Directorate, and Sergei Tabelsky, the new Prosecutor of the Krasnodar Krai: purge the regional administration and prepare it for a new appointee. According to our sources, more high-profile cases are expected in the nearest future; furthermore, some investigations have already been transferred to the Investigations Directorate in the North Caucasus Federal District of the ICR.
After scaring Dagestan with inspections, arrests, and searches, the interdepartmental commission of the Prosecutor General’s Office and ICR has identified key priorities for the regional watchdog authority. After the crackdown on the old clan-based system, the management reforms became more constructive – however, another wave of criminal cases, terminations, and arrests is expected in the republic. The CrimeRussia was figuring out what other Dagestani officials are currently at risk.