Sergei Aksenov’s ‘golden’ mother-in-law 

Sergei Aksenov’s ‘golden’ mother-in-law
Everybody keeps busy in the close circle of Sergei Aksenov Photo: The CrimeRussia

The humble income and asset declaration of Sergei Aksenov sparked active public debates. According to it, the Head and Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea has earned only 3 million rubles ($46.2 thousand) in 2018 and does not even have a car. Concurrently, it became known that his mother-in-law Lyudmila Dobrynya owns deluxe apartments in the historical center of Moscow – Ostozhenka neighborhood. The CrimeRussia reviewed sources of wealth of Sergei Aksenov’s family – that, in fact, supports the head of the resort region – and concluded that this corrupt clan is unparalleled in Russia.

Apartments from son-in-law

Back in summer 2014, shortly after the ‘Crimean Spring’, Sergei Aksenov, Head and Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea, has purchased a deluxe apartment in the center of Moscow in the name of his mother-in-law Lyudmila Dobrynya. However, the public just recently became aware that Dobrynya has de facto been a Muscovite for almost five years already. According to the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre, and Cartography (Rosreestr), she owns real estate with a total living space of 234 square meters in Barkli Plaza Residential Complex at 19 Prechistenskaya quay, Moscow.

The building is located on the left bank of the Moskva River, in the Central Administrative District of Moscow (Ostozhenka neighborhood, Khamovniki district). This is so-called ‘Golden Mile’ – the Kremlin, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, and Bolotnaya square are within walking distance from Barkli Plaza.

“Facades of Barkli Plaza buildings are made of valuable marbles; all units feature panoramic windows; silent-running elevators are installed; and an underground parking is available. The interior area is exquisitely decorated with flowers and greenery. The residential complex is under 24/7 video surveillance,” – Barkli Plaza ads claim.

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Aksenov’s mother-in-law owns apartments with a total living space of 234 square meters in this deluxe residential complex

Barkli Plaza also includes a modern business center, restaurant, and Life Style Trade Complex. Its residential part consists of 40 apartments 75.6 to 189.6 square meters in size. The ceiling height in these units is 3.2 meters. The complex offers family residences, cityscape view apartments, bachelor units, and spacious penthouses on top floors. In addition to the condo 189.6 square meters in size, Lyudmila Dobrynya also owns a penthouse there. 

According to Cian.ru real estate portal, a square meter of residential space in Barkli Plaza costs 1.9 million rubles ($29.3 thousand) on an average – i.e. the Head of the Republic of Crimea has paid over 400 million rubles ($6.2 million) for the units without finishes. 

According to Krymsky Kanal (Crimean Channel) Telegram channel, «the information about the acquisition of a Moscow apartment worth 400 million rubles ($6.2 million) by governor Aksenov’s mother-in-law contradicts the state of his business affairs and affairs of his wife’s relatives prior to the 2014 referendum. After the reintegration, the ‘hero of the Crimean Spring’ got rid of the necessity to repay secured loans to Ukrainian banks and (partially) loans from Donetsk ‘Macedonians’. He had to repay some of those via Vice Premier Nakhlupin controlling financial flows in the framework of the federal targeted program. But now Nakhlupin is in detention. Five years ago, Aksenov implemented the best financial strategy in his life. Of course, after becoming the governor, he and his relatives started earning more. As the saying goes: “Everybody is stealing. But the point is to prove this!”» 

The previous owner of Dobrynya’s apartment in Ostozhenka neighborhood was businessman Aleksander Karmanov, owner of Pipeline Freight Company and Eurasian Pipeline Consortium; he holds the 7th place in the Forbes rating “Kings of Governmental Orders”. But the way, Karmanov was brought to the pipeline business by billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov currently remanded in custody and charged with creation of an organized criminal group and embezzlement of 2.5 billion rubles ($38.5 million) from the budget.

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Aksenov purchased the apartment from ‘pipeline businessman’ Aleksander Karmanov

Interestingly, notorious MIA colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko also used to live in this building; 8.5 billion rubles ($130.9 million) in cash were seized from him during searches.

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Legendary colonel Zakharchenko was a neighbor of Aksenov’s mother-in-law

Business skills of Lyudmila Dobrynya 

Apparently, Sergei Aksenov has very trusting relationships with his mother-in-law who owns, in addition to the Moscow properties, a home 577 square meters in size at the intersection of Okhotnichii lane and Likhogo street in Simferopol. Plenty of assets officially belong to her and, therefore, are not disclosed in the Aksenov’s declaration. Based on this document, the Head of the Republic of Crimea is poor as a church mouse. 

In 2015, Lyudmila Dobrynya has established in Simferopol Specialized Municipal Funeral Service (SMFS) Limited Liability Company; some Leilya Gemedzhi was appointed its General Director. The funeral service started struggling for dead people. In December 2015, SMFS participated in a tender to transport 720 deceased persons with a starting price of 399.6 thousand rubles ($6.2 thousand) conducted by the municipal administration. The company belonging to Dobrynya agreed to perform the works for 230 thousand rubles ($3.5 thousand) – but local entrepreneur Vladimir Luk'yanov offered a price 10 times lower, 23,760 rubles ($366), and won the tender. However, the bidding results were annulled after the unexpected death of Luk'yanov.

Sergei Aksenov’s mother-in-law is not only a successful (based on her real estate) business lady – but also a politician: thanks to her son-in-law, she became a member of the Republican Public Chamber and a member of the Commission for Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Crimea. 

Aleksander Dobrynya, father-in-law of the republican head, is a Deputy Director of Expert and Technical Center State Unitary Enterprise of the Republic of Crimea – he issues licenses to use building structures and industrial equipment.    

Not by mother-in-law alone 

Being a true family guy, the head of Crimea takes good care of other relatives as well. As a civil servant, Sergei Aksenov has to live simply – and he entrusted the lion's share of the family wealth to wife Elena Aksenova (nee Dobrynya). She is the official owner of almost all residential and nonresidential premises and makes good money on the privatization of municipal assets and brokerage of retail space leasing.

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Sergei and Elena Aksenov

In the first three years after the reintegration of Crimea, the revenues of Elena Aksenova have increased by almost 11 times: from 2.9 million rubles ($44.6 thousand) in 2014 to 32.8 million rubles ($504 thousand) in 2016. In 2017 alone, she has earned almost 20 million rubles ($307.9 thousand). The declaration of Elena Aksenova includes a BMW vehicle worth $120 thousand, a home with a living space of 577 square meters, two lots (one of those is 961 square meters in size), three apartments, nine nonresidential premises, and a BMW 750 Li Xdrive. She is also a cofounder of Gals Limited Liability Company owning Okean (Ocean) Trade Center – the largest one in Simferopol leasing retail space to such chains as Comfy, DNS, Eldorado, Limpopo, etc.

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Elena Aksenova

It is necessary to note that Russian Unity Party ‘ruled' by Aksenov before the reintegration of Crimea, was subsequently disbanded. But Elena Aksenova established on its basis a public organization of the same name conducting charitable events and holidays, which allows to launder enormous amounts of ‘hard-earned' money. 

Valery Aksenov, father of the head of Crimea, is a Deputy of the Crimean Parliament from Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia) Party and Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Housing and Public Utility Sphere. He owns only one apartment and a Skoda Rapid vehicle. Mother Nina Semenovna Aksenova, born 1949, is not involved in the family business – she is just a retiree.

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Valery Aksenov is a Deputy of the Crimean Parliament

‘Bright lights’ of Aksenov’s relatives 

In 2015, 24-year-old Kristina Manusova, daughter of Aksenov, took charge of Parus (Sail) Limited Liability Company leasing out nonresidential premises on Kirova avenue in Simferopol. Porter House Restaurant currently operates there. Her husband Daniil Manusov reportedly has ties with Premium Trade Limited Liability Company established in December 2015 – right after their wedding. The Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea has leased to that company (apparently, the wedding gift from the head of Crimea) nonresidential premises 1671 square meters in size on Sportivnaya street. To do so, it had to terminate contracts with previous leaseholders in a pretty rude manner. Interestingly, the lease agreement between Premium Trade and the ministry was signed 13 months after the factual transfer of the premises that were sublet 

After the happy marriage of Daniil Manusov, the business affairs of his father – local entrepreneur Roman Manusov – have significantly improved: now he owns Sakskie Gryazi (Muds of Saki) Trade House in Simferopol. In 2017, Manusov senior has surprisingly won a governmental tender and became the supplier of sulphidic muds for Crimean health resorts.

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Spouse and children of Sergei Aksenov

21-year-old Oleg Aksenov, son of the republican head, has been working in the business empire of his father since an early age. Oleg Aksenov owns a historical mansion designated a cultural heritage monument of the 19th century – House of Merchant Kh.K. Chirakhov. This landmark of Simferopol was privatized and now belongs to Moro Mare Limited Liability Company founded in 2015 by Oleg Aksenov and his father’s advisor Svetlana Babii.

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The Aksenov family privatized a historical mansion in Simferopol

In 2005, Svetlana Babii became, jointly with the mother-in-law and spouse of Aksenov, a co-owner of Mal’va Kom Limited Liability Company; in 2016, it was transferred to Kapital (Capital) construction and investment holding belonging to Monolit (Monolith) Group of Companies.

It is necessary to note that Monolit Group of Companies is awarded huge governmental contracts on a sole source basis. In 2017, it initially won contracts worth some 320 million rubles ($4.9 million) and then – over 1 billion rubles ($15.4 million); in 2018, it earned 1 billion rubles ($15.4 million).

Circulation of Aksenov’s relatives

Evgenia Dobrynya, sister of Aksenov’s wife, is the Chairperson of the Committee for Property Rights of the State Council of Crimea. In other words, his sister-in-law regulates the sales and leases of public assets. Andrei Dedyukhin, common-law partner of Evgenia Dobrynya, is the Head of the Fishery Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Crimea. 

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Evgenia Dobrynya administers state assets in Crimea

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Andrei Dedyukhin is in charge of the fishery industry

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Nadezhda Aksenova, sister of the republican head, is a Deputy of the Simferopol Municipal Council

Aside from relatives, Sergei Aksenov also has business partners, close friends, and associates. 

For instance, Nikolai Vysotsky and Sergei Borodkin, business partners of Elena Aksenova, are Deputies of the State Council of Crimea. Borodkin is also a partner of Aksenova in Stels-Yug (Stealth South) Limited Liability Company, while his son Daniil Borodkin is a business partner of Oleg Aksenov. The business partners of Sergei Aksenov include Artem Zilbervarg, Chairman of the Committee for Competition Policy of the Republic of Crimea, and his deputy Yaroslav Slivka. His fellow party members from Russian Unity – Vladimir Bobkov, Sergei Shuvainikov, and Larisa Georgiadi – became Crimean Deputies, while party lawyer Aleksander Spiridonov is in charge of the State Committee for State Registration and Cadastre of the Republic of Crimea. All these people are members of Edinaya Rossiya Party. Ekaterina Polonchuk, ex-Press Secretary of Russian Unity, became the Head of the Department of Information and Press Service of Sergei Aksenov, Head of the Republic of Crimea.

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Nepotism? No, never heard of such things!

Former Russian Unity member Vladimir Konstantinov is the Speaker of the State Council of Crimea and factual owner of Konsol’ (Console) Ltd., the largest construction company on the peninsula. Other fellow party members of Akesenov – Mikhail Sheremet, Andrei Kozenko, and Dmitry Polonsky – were initially appointed Vice Premiers of the Crimean Government. In 2016, Sheremet and Kozenko became Deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Sergei Aksenov’s advisor Svetlana Babii and Natalia Fedchun, Deputy Minister of Finance of the Republic of Crimea, are also directly involved in his family business. Andrei Lukashev, a business partner of Aksenov, took charge of the Simferopol Municipal Administration in 2017. This list may be continued indefinitely.    

Non-lyrical digression 

It turns out that Sergei Aksenov, in fact, lives in dependence on his family and partners. However, the sad fate of Aleksander Shestun and Aleksander Postrigan’, Heads of the Serpukhov and Klin Districts of the Moscow Region respectively, who had transferred numerous assets to their relatives – but then were arrested and lost the ‘honestly earned’ wealth – should become a warning to Aksenov. Experience shows that corruption cannot last forever: sooner or later, rogue officials end up behind bars. 

Interestingly, a former neighbor of Aksenov’s mother-in-law in Ostozhenka – colonel Zakharchenko currently tried for corruption – has remembered a song of rock musician Viktor Tsoi in his last statement and demanded changes: 

«Tsoy has a song: "Our hearts demand changes". It brilliantly reflects the reality! I ask Your Honor for changes in my life – changes in my place of living. I ask to release me,» – Dmitry Zakharchenko said. 

Hopefully, the corrupt clan operating in Crimea under the leadership of Sergei Aksenov ultimately attracts the attention of the law enforcement authorities, and changes occur in the life of the head of the peninsula. At least, he won’t be allowed to stay in charge of Crimea for the second gubernatorial term.

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