Time to put in jail: security forces expose corruption nest in Crimean Sudak, ex-mayor Vladimir Serov flees
After accusations of corruption, ex-vice-premier of Crimea and former mayor of Sudak, Vladimir Serov, is wanted. The official is suspected of mediating the transfer of a bribe in the amount of 2 million rubles ($31,000) for registration of land in the resort area of Sudak. The CrimeRussia found out what the fugitive did with his “family-bureaucratic” pool, who his criminal prosecution may be connected with, and what role Berezovsky of Sudak, Boris Deich, played in the Crimean official’s business career
Vladimir Serov already held the position of the Sudak mayor in the Ukrainian Crimea in the period of 2010-2014. After the annexation of the peninsula to Russia, he automatically (though not without the patronage of the head of the Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov) became the head of the city administration, and in July 2017 he was appointed deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea. In the Crimean government, Serov oversaw transport, energy and utilities. On April 2, 2018, Aksyonov dismissed Serov, explaining his decision by the inefficiency of the official’s work. However, the following version looks more plausible on this point: most likely, Serov was fired when the security forces uncovered hotel and land-building schemes in Sudak in 2018. Already being dismissed, he tried to close the city on himself, considering it under control, and ceased to coordinate matters with Aksyonov. And to do so in the Crimea, you guessed it, is fraught with consequences. Therefore, the head of the republic quietly got rid of the strayed official.
Vladimir Serov held senior positions in Crimea for a long time
Also, the following information can be considered as a version: getting rid of Vladimir Serov by Sergey Aksenov is associated with the arrest of the ex-deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Vitaly Nakhlupin, who, we recall, was detained in October 2018 in Moscow by officers of the Investigative Committee on suspicion of receiving a bribe in a particularly large size (Part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code). According to this information, Vitaly Nakhlupin allegedly offered Vladimir Serov to take part in the “auction of unprecedented generosity” for the privatization of the Yalta port for a certain percentage, to which he agreed. But then Serov, probably after consulting with his friend, a Moscow protege, the Minister of Transport of Crimea Igor Zakharov (resigned in April 2018), conceived another project, the essence of which was the implementation of the Yalta port to their common comrades from Rostov-on-Don. At that time, Serov was only appointed vice-premier of Crimea. Some time later, Vitaly Nakhlupin learned about the scam, but Serov, relying on his position and position, simply sauced him off. Nakhlupin, for his part, did everything possible so that he “fell into disgrace” with both Aksyonov and the capital. However, Nakhlupin himself also miscalculated, which is why he has been in the Lefortovo jail for half a year without the support of the head of the Crimea.
Vitaly Nakhlupin is under arrest
Serov's "family-bureaucratic" pool
In February of this year, the security forces discovered an entire criminal group engaged in land fraud in Sudak. In the city administration, as well as in the places of residence of the defendants in the criminal case, searches were conducted, documentation and computer equipment were seized. According to available information, during the search of Serov's house, a valid Ukrainian passport was found and an interesting picture in which he poses in the form of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Vladimir Serov as Napoleon
Passport of a citizen of Ukraine Vladimir Serov, found during a search
Then, for illegal operations with the land of the garage-building cooperative Gorny, the deputy of the City Council from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Boltunov, who is in the closest circle of Serov's associates, was arrested for two months. And the former mayor Serov soon disappeared from the zone of visibility, for which reason he was wanted.
Sudak LDPR Deputy Vladimir Boltunov
Within the framework of this criminal case, about which the security forces do not tell much, another surname appeared - of the Simferopol city council deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party Vasily Kurzjaba, who is also suspected of committing a crime under Part 3 of Art. 30 and Part 4 of Art. 291.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: he was detained in Moscow on the eve of the capture of Boltunov. Also in the case there is a female official in respect of whom a criminal case was initiated under part 4 of Art. 291.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation: her name has not been disclosed yet. After the February searches, the current head of the Sudak administration, Andrey Nekrasov, was summoned to the main investigative office of the Investigative Committee for the Republic of Crimea.
The current mayor of Sudak Nekrasov appears in the case of ex-mayor Sudak Serov
Episodes of criminal activity in Sudak, as sources of The CrimeRussia in this city have told, are quite a few. For example, security officials had questions about the construction of a hotel on the parking lot near the water park in Sudak: this project was approved by the city administration in November 2018, and the company associated with Serov's wife, Ivanna Serova, became its beneficiary.
Another company, also associated with Serov’s wife, intended to build a second hotel, and for some reason also at the parking place — near the Sudak administration. For both of these problematic buildings the plots were illegally allocated and reassigned to change the type of permitted use.
Also, the security forces have worked on an episode concerning the registration of housing and the receipt of accommodation by Serov's “relative-friends clan” from the administration of Sudak. The whole clan at one moment was extremely needy and socially unprotected. The names of some of the "poor relatives" and representatives of the friendly bureaucratic pool of Vladimir Serov are known, which, in particular, were: Olga Nikolaevna Serova (relative of the former mayor); Andrey Petrovich Rudik (the spouse of Serov's sister, Nadezhda Rudik, business partner of the Serov family); Alexey Petrovich Rudik (brother of Serov’s sister’s husband); Sergey Ivanovich Volkov (a close friend of the Serovs); Oksana V. Garnicheva (chief specialist of the housing and utilities department of the Sudak administration); Larisa Stepanovna Kryzhchenko (Head of the Department for the Maintenance of the City Council); Oleg Viktorovich Besarab (head of the territorial body of the administration of Sudak in the villages Perevalovka, Grushevka, Kholodovka); Dmitry Sergeevich Pinayev (deputy director of Sudak forest-hunting facilities); Alyona Viktorovna Schukina (co-owner of the law firm of Sudak Paritet); Oksana Leonidovna Godilo (presumably her husband, Denis Yuryevich Godilo, heads the Sudak municipal control department) and others.
In addition, law enforcement officers were interested in 9 land plots in Sudak, Novy Svet, and at the foot of Alchak Mountain, which received the type of permitted use for public catering, shops and hotel services. And, finally, a bribe, in the mediation of the transfer of which they suspect the disappeared Vladimir Serov.
Protracted corruption trail
However, there is nothing extraordinary in the above described, because corruption in Crimea is so widespread, and the land frauds are so large-scale that the regular arrests of Crimean officials are no surprise to anyone. In five years, 655 persons were convicted for corruption crimes in the Crimea, of which more than 120 officials were charged with taking bribes, as the Crimean Prosecutor Oleg Kamshilov recently reported at the All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference in Yalta.
As for Vladimir Serov, he had previously been suspected of abuse of power: back in February 2018, the anti-corruption bureau of Sudak requested a prosecutor’s check that Serov and his trusted “bureaucratic pool,” which included local deputy Alexander Koval, chief physician of the City Hospital Konstantin Skorupsky and ex-chief of the SBU Vasily Rudakov, use urban resources for personal gain.
Then, The CrimeRussia reported on the blatant fact of the illegal construction of a 9-storey residential building in the recreation park of the Sudak hospital complex on Gvardeyskaya Street. The owner of the construction is Crimea-Dalia Ltd., whose founders are Tamara Serova (mother of Vladimir Serov) and Aleksey Skorupsky (a relative of the chief physician of the city hospital Konstantin Skorupsky), and the director is Andrey Rudik (Serov's son-in-law). In addition, Andrey Rudik is the founder of OOO Primorye, OOO LB Consulting, OOO Sudak-Aquamir, OOO Alleya, which have trading places on the Cypress Alley of Sudak. He is also the owner of a recreation center in the village of Solnechnaya Dolina and the director of the Sudak football club Surozh, which owns urban sports grounds.
As for the wife of Vladimir Serov Ivanna, she, thanks to her husband, is the founder of OOO Sugdeya Cruise (boats, steamboats and beach service), OOO Firma Soyuz-Crym (retail trade in Simferopol), OOO Elephant (a huge hotel in Sudak), as well as OOO Catalia, OOO River, OOO Marina VAY Max, OOO Ktek.
An activist of the All-Russian Popular Front in Sudak, Vazgen Yermolovsky, in particular, notes that Vladimir Serov, nevertheless, did something useful for the city, but “...he profited on this, using all the levers of power, crushing all the structures under him who looked, saw nothing and were silent. In this he has no equal today. Therefore, what is happening in the city today – the Soviet-era stadium was in the hands of the Serov family, tidbits of parking lots are also in their hands – this is unacceptable, and everyone must rally to win the land.”
Take refuge in the mountains?
“... Through my abilities, I check the fact of the possible crossing of the border by Serov, perhaps using a Ukrainian biometric passport obtained for such a case. Additionally I will inform you. Three other defendants under a subscription to leave the place, I think, will soon be detained. The damage from their actions is colossal,” said Crimean public man Alexander Talipov.
“Serov's accommodation was searched last spring, then – dismissal, he dodged the city for a year, and no one detained him. And here it is – gone! He was specifically allowed to escape, because if he had started talking, there would be many more episodes, and it would have been necessary to put in prison not one deputy, but all Sudak "servants of the people" who had been plundering the city for 20 years!" Sudak blogger Dmitry Demchuk shared his opinion.
It is no secret that almost all former and current Crimean officials have Ukrainian passports (including passports for abroad trips). Just in case, because with the passports of citizens of the Russian Federation, issued in Crimea (and, accordingly, the ones for abroad trips) it is unrealistic to escape outside of Russia. However, as it became known, yesterday the security forces received official information that Serov did not leave the territory of the Russian Federation, and the unofficial – about his possible stay in Crimea, in the Holy Stefano-Sourozhsky monastery, located in the village of Kiziltash, the reconstruction of which the official actively sponsored. Fugitive ex-mayor turned off the phone, so it cannot be checked by billing. Actually, this is how his accomplice was arrested – the deputy of the Sudak city council Boltunov, who was hiding in apartments for VIP pilgrims on the territory of the Holy Trinity Paraskeevsky Toplovsky convent.
Kiziltash Monastery – the place of the alleged shelter of Vladimir Serov
Vladimir Boltunov was detained in the Toplovsky Monastery
Locals say that the alleged place of Vladimir Serov’s shelter, the Kiziltash Monastery, is in the mountains, where a rather dangerous route is provided. Most likely, Serov just waits until high patrons defend him, or he is developing further escape routes, being sure that law enforcement officers will not dare to organize a raid in the holy monastery.
At the same time, there is information that the lawyers of the arrested deputy Vladimir Boltunov are trying to get him out of the jail through cooperation with the investigation. So, the operatives have already a lot of confession testimony of Serov’s colleague in the cushion, and all of them, as is not difficult to guess, directed against the former boss.
Sudak Berezovsky and Rainbow Toad
In the summer of 2016, the then head of the FSB Directorate for the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, Lieutenant-General Viktor Palagin suggested that a program called the Crimean Gambit operates in the Republic of Crimea, the purpose of which is to introduce into power those agents who formally swore Russia, but actually serve the Ukrainian regime. By the way, in November last year, he was replaced by Lieutenant General Leonid Mikhayluk.
Former head of the Crimean FSB believes that many supporters of Ukraine remain in Crimea
However, for many Crimeans this is not a secret. For example, according to sources of The CrimeRussia from Sudak, all employees of the city department of the FSB are former SBU employees. And the ex-mayor Serov himself, being a member of the United Russia party, was awarded with the medal of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation “For the Return of the Crimea”, has nothing to do with the “Crimean Spring” or Russia. Locals say that on the eve of the March 2014 referendum, Serov sent SBU people to pro-Russian activists, accusing people of terrorism. Thus, he tried to intimidate, for example, for hanging the flags of the Russian Federation in Sudak and for helping the residents of the surrounding villages to connect to Russian television. All statements on Vladimir Serov about the facts of his Russophobic activities (as well as about the facts of corrupt activities) were postponed “on the back burner”, and the initiators of the “clashes” became objects of pressure from Serov and his subordinate security officials.
In the Ukrainian Crimea, Vladimir Serov was a member of the Party of Regions
“Vladimir Serov is a protege of Boris Davidovich Deich, a former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, a Crimean oligarch, one of the richest people in the Ukrainian Crimea. In the Ukrainian period, he lobbied for the integration of Ukraine into the EU and NATO. Deich is a Crimean counterpart of Boris Berezovsky: a significant part of the current Crimean officials of the Ukrainian generation are the people of Deich, his “houseling” is even ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who started his political career in the Crimean Council of Ministers ”, explains the head of the Sudak Anti-Corruption Committee, public activist Dmitry Dzhigalov.
Boris Deich – Crimean oligarch and pro-Ukrainian politician
It is known that in the “dashing 90s” Boris Deich was known by the nicknames Ded and Papa. Actually, it was under his careful supervision that Sudak was shrouded in a criminal corruption web, in which Vladimir Serov played the role of the key gofer for the last decade.
“In Russian Crimea, “Sudak Berezovsky” remains one of the most influential people, it is he who is behind all property and financial affairs in Sudak, he is called the “mayor of the night” and “fixer.” It is reasonable to believe that the red tape of anti-corruption lawsuits is also a consequence of his “work.” Unfortunately, the “big dad” in the city has more power than the laws of the Russian Federation,” Dmitry Dzhigalov notes. In his opinion, Palagin was right, and what is really happening in Crimea now represents a great threat to the security of Russia.
Resident of Sudak, social activist Dmitry Dzhigalov
We emphasize that the official symbol of Sudak still remains the logo of the Ukrainian times – a rainbow toad, painted in the colors of LGBT. This brand of the city “VAMSUDAK” was presented in March 2012 in Kiev as part of the opening of the International Tourism Exhibition UITT-2012, and to this day this is a hallmark of the Russian resort Sudak: there have been no back moves over the years...
"Unconventional" Ukrainian logo, rooted in Russian Sudak
Residents have repeatedly appealed to the head of the Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, and the local municipality with a request to change this dubious logo to the Genoese fortress. Nevertheless, the toad continues to be an element of decor on houses, beach umbrellas and flags in Sudak.
Former Head of the Losino-Petrovsky district of the Moscow region, Oleg Fetyukov, did not enjoy his power in the local administration for a long time. Just a year after his appointment, the long-term deputy of Andrey Vikharev voluntarily resigned. The courageous step did not save Fetyukov from arrest. Immediately after this, a number of media outlets stated that Fetyukov was “set up”– the charges seem too small to his defenders. The enemies attributed to Fetyukov did not achieve too much either. So whom does the ex-head of Losino-Petrovsky “replace” under investigation and how long will the investigators be content with the replacement?