Multibillion curb construction in Moscow 

Multibillion curb construction in Moscow
Sergei Sobyanin: the more curbs the better Photo: The CrimeRussia

‘Sobyanin slabs' and ‘Sobyanin curbs' became popular memes among Moscow residents. Granite curbs and slabs are continuously installed in the city – or, to be specific, reinstalled: old pavement elements – still remaining in good condition – are replaced by new ones. It is not a secret that the cost of the granite details exceeds their market value, while the works are performed by companies affiliated with the Moscow Government and directly with Sergei Sobyanin. One might ask: what is wrong with the ongoing renovation of the Russian capital? The CrimeRussia multiplied the kilometers of pavement by billions of rubles and found out that the cost of such ‘renovation' is truly sky-high. Why does Moscow need all these slabs and curbs, including those shipped from Ukraine?

Multibillion curbs

Granite curbs and slabs are one of the largest city improvement expenditures in the Moscow budget. In 2017 alone, 1.2 million square metes of granite paving slabs and almost 674 km of granite curbs were installed in the city. To compare: in the same year of 2017, the Russian Government has spent some 75 billion rubles ($1.1 billion) on agricultural subsidies and 42.5 billion rubles ($647.9 million) on My Street Program in Moscow. The works continued in 2018: in May, the Moscow Government announced two tenders to supply 272 km of granite curbs at the cost of 1.11 billion rubles ($16.9 million). Taking the expenses associated with the removal of old concrete curbs, the total cost of works was some 1.66 billion rubles ($25.3 million).

Several days ago, it became known that the Russian capital is going to buy record-breaking 940 km of granite curbs for 2.99 billion rubles ($45.6 million). It is necessary to note that the Moscow Government has already purchased stone curbs for 2.3 billion rubles ($35.1 million) this year: two tenders for the total of 1.7 billion rubles ($25.9 million) were held in March, and a tender for 658 million rubles ($10 million) – in June. Ufa-based Bashkirsky Kamen’ (Bashkir Stone) Limited Liability Company and Moscow-based TD Spetsplast Limited Liability Company have won these tenders. 

On July 11, 2019, Automobile Roads State Budgetary Institution subordinate to the municipal economic complex of Moscow announced four more tenders to supply granite curbs. To understand the scope of this ‘renovation’, including the past years, it is necessary to know that the length of the Moscow Automobile Ring Road is 108 km, while the total stretch of all Moscow roads is 3.6 thousand km. In the last five years, the Russian capital has spent over 13 billion rubles ($198.2 million) on curbs.

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Mayor Sobyanin: the more curbs the better

Market price? 

The acquisition prices fluctuate every year – but still remain ridiculously high. For instance, in 2018, the Moscow Government has purchased curbs at the cost of 4085 rubles ($62.3) per linear meter – while their price in construction stores was less than 2500 rubles ($38.1).

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Moscow purchases curbs at overcharged prices. Infographics: Meduza.io

Some domestic producers offer even lower prices. For instance, Yekaterinburg-based Granite Invest Limited Liability Company, one of the suppliers of granite slabs and curbs for the City of Moscow, sells curbs for 1800 rubles ($27.4) per linear meter plus shipment (10–15% of the total order cost).

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Standard granite curbs ordered by Moscow

Yekaterinburg-based Granitis Limited Liability Company offers similar items for 1700 rubles ($27.4) per linear meter. The Moscow Government cannot be unaware of such prices. It is necessary to note that no official financial reports are available in relation to the ‘granite acquisitions’. Neither market value analyses nor names of bidders are published on the governmental acquisitions website. No one can say how much money is pocketed by suppliers affiliated with the Mayor’s Office – but taking the scope of the ‘renovation’, this sum amounts to billions of rubles.

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Such scenes can be seen in Moscow the year-round

Experts believe that the city improvement costs have increased more than twice since 2014. This was done inter alia at the expense of healthcare costs cut by 8%. My Street Program, with its ‘golden' slabs and curbs, has already consumed over 200 billion rubles ($3.1 billion) – but Sobyanin and his entourage are not going to stop.

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Sergei Sobyanin has a passion for city improvement

The curbs withstand the change of seasons – but not the slabs. Various chemicals are actively used in the city; these reagents erode the joints, dissolve concrete, and the slabs ‘rear up’. In addition, heavy street cleaning machines drive through the squares and sidewalks all the time. As a result, drains are not functioning, the streets are full of puddles, and pavements get distorted. This is a signal for yet another re-installment of slabs – i.e. new revenues. And so on ad infinitum... 

Criminal traces 

In November 2017, operatives of the Directorate of Economic Security and Combating The Corruption of the General Administration for the City of Moscow of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation detained Aleksander Shukyurov, Head of Capital Renovations Directorate State Budgetary Institution; Oleg Filippov, Interim Acting General Director of Sveko Federal State Unitary Enterprise subordinate to the Federal Protection Service of Russia; and Evgeny Akhmadishin, General Director of Vaviot company specializing in the wireless dispatching in the housing and public utility sphere. All of them were charged with embezzlements of funds allocated in the framework of My Street Program. According to SPARK-Interfax database, in the period of 2013–2017, when Shukyurov was in charge of Capital Renovations Directorate, contracts totaling almost 80 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) were awarded to various companies. Interesting, no photos of Aleksander Shukyurov can be found on the Internet. The official appears in dossiers as follows:

 

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Aleksander Shukyurov avoids cameras

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Evgeny Akhmadishin

According to the available information, Aleksander Shukyurov has led the investigators to his direct supervisor Aleksei Eliseev, owner of Rador-M Group, and the Head of the Capital Renovations Department of the Moscow Government. Contracts worth 26 billion rubles ($396.4 million) were awarded to Rador-M Group in the framework of My Street Program. 

K-holding affiliated with Road Group Limited Liability Company has won a tender to supply granite curbs in 2015, while Rador-M won the respective tenders in 2016–2017.

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Tenders held by Automobile Roads State Budgetary Institution in 2015

These companies are tied via common co-owners. For instance, Aleksei Eliseev was a cofounder of Road Group. What a gold mine! In addition, Eliseev was a member of bidding commissions selecting winners of the governmental tenders. Vice Mayor Petr Biryukov close to Sergei Sobyanin is his direct supervisor.

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: Aleksei Eliseev, General Director of Road Group Limited Liability Company

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‘Circulation’ of tender winners in Moscow

An insider from the close circle of the Moscow Mayor claims that, in anticipation of the mayoral elections in September 2018, Sergei Sobyanin has spent over $300 million from the budget on his campaign. For instance, he purchased News.Yandex and so-called bots of news analysts and celebrities. In the past, show diva Renata Litvinova had sharply criticized My Street Program and accused the Mayor of misuse of public funds – but then she started praising the performance of Sobyanin and his city improvement initiatives. 

Ukrainian trace in granite smuggling 

In July 2019, it became known that Sergei Sobyanin intends to write-off additional 165 billion rubles ($2.5 billion) in the framework of My Street Program. In fact, the sums spent on the city improvement defy any logical explanation. A comprehensive audit is required to find out how much money was ‘buried’ in the streets of Moscow ‘improved’ with curbs, slabs, etc. But somehow, the law enforcement structures do not rush to check the Mayor’s Office. 

Vice Mayors Anastasia Rakova and Petr Biryukov are actively lobbying My Street Program. According to the media, Biryukov claims that My Street Program will never end. It is necessary to note that the paving frenzy enriches not only officials of the Moscow Government – but Ukraine as well: Moscow spends billions of dollars on Ukrainian granite slabs despite strained relations between the two countries.

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Petr Biryukov, the ‘right hand’ of the Moscow Mayor

The ‘granitization’ of Moscow is so large-scale that domestic granite suppliers are unable to ship the required amounts of slabs and curbs. For instance, Andrei Luk’yanchikov, Director of Chelyabinsk-based TK Office City Limited Liability Company, told the media that “the entire Chelyabinsk region must procure granite for the entire winter to satisfy the ‘curb needs’ of the capital”. 

In other words, the demands of the team led by Sobyanin are too high for the Russian granite industry. On the other hand, Ukraine has high-quality stone and respective mining and processing capacities. Therefore, the funds allocated for the Moscow program have been redirected to the adjacent ‘unbrotherly’ state. 

Back in fall 2017, Valery Rashkin, a Deputy of the State Duma from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), had addressed the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), Prosecutor General's Office, and Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation asking to investigate the Moscow Government in relation to acquisitions of Ukrainian granite. According to the parliamentarian, such purchases directly support the Kyiv regime and its criminal policy – i.e. the Mayor's Office is financing the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In addition, Rashkin believes that this trading cooperation is contrary to the current legislation because Ukrainian enterprises shipping their production to Russia cannot legitimately participate in tenders held by the ‘aggressor state'.

 

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Valery Rashkin, a Deputy of the State Duma

However, the Russian law enforcement authorities haven’t reacted to the Deputy’s inquiry. It is necessary to stress that such ‘trade’ is, in fact, smuggling because Russia and Ukraine have no official trade and economic relations. 

According to the available information, Chinese company Xiamen Pagoda-Build Co. Ltd. is shipping granite slabs from Ukraine to Russia; its owner is Ukrainian citizen Maksim Tryasunov. The Head Office of Xiamen Pagoda-Build Co. Ltd. is located in Xiamen, China. In 2017, the company launched a representation office in Kyiv.

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Maksim Tryasunov

The official website of Xiamen Pagoda-Build Co. Ltd. openly advertises the trade cooperation with Ukraine.  

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Maksim Tryasunov on a Ukrainian enterprise

Above-mentioned Granite Invest Limited Liability Company belonging to Aleksei Stepanchenko and Andrei Khudyakov reportedly ships Ukrainian granite to Moscow, too. For instance, in summer 2017, United Energy Company belonging to the Moscow Government has purchased slabs produced in the Kirovohrad region of Ukraine via Granite Invest.

In 2016, journalist Ivan Golunov – the one illegally arrested in 2019 – found out that Bolshaya Yakimanka street was paved with 20 thousand square meters of granite slabs originating from a deposit in Zhytomyr region. Markings on slabs paving 25 thousand square meters of the Boulevard Ring indicate that they were produced in Halynivka and Toropishche, Zhytomyr region.

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Ukrainian granite in Moscow, 2016

In 2017, similar boxes with slabs – although with removed markings – were discovered inter alia during the pavement of the Garden Ring. The Moscow Government hasn’t answered journalistic inquiries about the usage of Ukrainian products in the ‘renovation’ of the Russian capital. 

Anastasia Rakova, a Vice Mayor of Moscow nicknamed in certain circles ‘the night lady’ of the Russian capital, is reportedly involved in the ‘granite business’, too. Allegedly, she has convinced Sergei Sobyanin to purchase Ukrainian granite under My Street Program and cashed out 10 billion rubles ($152.4 million) of public funds via a dummy company. 

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Vice Mayor Anastasia Rakova is involved in embezzlement schemes?

The CrimeRussia may neither confirm nor dismiss this information. After all, the purpose of dummy companies is to cover the traces. In any event, the never-ending pavement of the city with slabs and curbs should be of utmost interest to the law enforcement authorities. This is an open field for work – an uncharted territory for probes and inquests... In the meantime, the Moscow Government continues burying billions of rubles in the ground – regardless of the season and weather – and is not going to slow down.

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