Unsinkable Construction Minister of Krasnoyarsk region – too tough for law enforcement?
Nikolai Glushkov, the Minister of Construction, is a symbol of corruption in the Krasnoyarsk region. He has ‘outlived’ four Governors. He performed capital renovations of a concert hall in Krasnoyarsk at a cost comparable with the construction of the Sydney Opera House. Currently he supervises the preparation of Universiade facilities. Why the law enforcement authorities can do nothing to him?
Nikolai Glushkov has started his way to the heights of regional power during the Soviet period, steadily climbing the career ladder.
He is a veteran politician of the Krasnoyarsk region; had been working in various construction institutions of the city. In 1985, has transferred to the Krasnoyarsk City Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In 1992, was appointed the Director of the Department for Architecture and Urban Planning of the Krasnoyarsk Administration. In 1993–1996, was the Chairman of the Committee for Architecture and Construction and Deputy Head of the Administration of the Krasnoyarsk region. In May 1996, became a Deputy Governor of the Krasnoyarsk region.
The functionary has suffered his first setback in 1998, when General Aleksander Lebed, the elected Governor of the Krasnoyarsk region, removed him from the Deputy Governor’s post for supporting his electoral competitor. Glushkov has found a new job instantly. He became a Deputy General Director of Slavneft-Krasnoyarskneftegaz Closed Joint Stock Company and supervised the reconstruction of the company office. However, he failed to perform this task properly – apparently, during the years of administrative work, Glushkov has lost practical skills. The Deputy General Director had repeatedly missed completion deadlines, and his service competence has been questioned. Then Glushkov has resigned voluntarily and was immediately appointed a Deputy General Director of Omega Production and Construction Company Limited Liability Company. He had been working in that organization only for a short time: newly-elected Governor Aleksander Khloponin offered him to become his deputy again. The official has returned to the Regional Administration only 6 months after the death of Aleksander Lebed.
Upon returning to his lofty perch, Glushkov had been supervising the construction industry in 2002–2010; in the period of 2004–2008, he had been concurrently managing the housing and utility sector. Major scandals in the regional construction industry have occurred in these years. The most high-profile scandal was related to the reconstruction of the Big Concert Hall of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Philharmonic, which had started in 2006 and lasted for almost five years – instead of two. In 2007, the Regional Administration of the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation has stated that the contractor selection tender had been carried out with violations. The design estimate documentation was of poor quality, the completion deadlines had been disrupted, and the final cost of works exceeded the original budget by three times and amounted to 3.4 billion rubles (over $130 million). The Chamber of Audit of the Krasnoyarsk region has found severe violations in the spending of budget funds in the framework of this project; auditor Svetlana Aldashova compared the concert hall modernization cost with foreign construction projects. By the amount of funds spent, the reconstruction of the Big Concert Hall matched Teatro Real of Madrid and La Scala opera house in Milan. The entire construction of the famous Sydney Opera House was cheaper than the reconstruction of the Big Concert Hall – only $102 million. As a result, at a huge cost of 3.4 billion rubles, Krasnoyarsk has got not an architectural masterpiece, but a concert hall with poor acoustics where picky guest stars refuse to perform. The sound insulation of the building still raises criticism.
The Big Concert Hall of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Philharmonic
The following facilities have been built in Krasnoyarsk during the epoch of Glushkov: Sportex Center for Extreme Sports, Arena Sever Ice Stadium, Academy of Biathlon, and oncological, perinatal, and cardiological centers. All these crucial for the region facilities have been commissioned with disrupted completion deadlines, over budget (e.g. the final cost of the Ice Stadium exceeded the original project budget twice), and construction defects. The federal cardiological center constructed in the framework of Zdorovie (Health) National Project had been contaminated by black mould from the very beginning, which has nearly resulted in starting over all the works. The construction of the regional oncological center has also resulted in a federal-level scandal. The Federal Antimonopoly Service has found in the construction tender elements of a secret deal between Sibagropromstroy Closed Joint Stock Company and Medkon Limited Liability Company – apparently, founded with the sole purpose to participate in that tender. A governmental contract worth over 6 billion rubles had been signed with a dummy company. An investigation has been initiated jointly with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation due to this fact; its results remain unknown.
Glushkov has not demonstrated much success in social projects as well. In 2007, he eagerly defended the interests of hoodwinked investors in Krasnoyarsk. As a result, the cheated residents have paid the rest of money for their partially constructed apartments to some Gradstroy company. Still, they did not get their housing and had to complete the construction on their own and at their own expense.
After such epic failures, Lev Kuznetsov, then-Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, has decided to transfer the notorious deputy to another job and appointed Glushkov to supervise external affairs. The disgraced functionary has returned to the previous post only after another change of the regional leader. Viktor Tolokonsky, a native of Novosibirsk involved into a number of corruption episodes, has re-appointed the official with tarnished reputation the Regional Minister of Construction and Housing and Utility Sector. This allowed Glushkov to gain control over Universiade-2019 projects worth billions of budgets rubles. As the CrimeRussia wrote earlier, it is not surprising that the construction of sports facilities has been marred by scandals from the very beginning.
It is surprising, however, that during the many years of his ‘dedicated’ work, Nikolai Glushkov had rarely attracted attention of law enforcement authorities and managed to get off the hook every time. The last such episode has occurred in February 2015, when Vladimir Sedov, the Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk region, was arrested. The parliamentarian was suspected of bribe-taking in the amount over 10 million rubles from Zlata Limited Liability Company. The company had been building Zlatoulochka suburban settlement and needed his patronage to settle issues with watchdog authorities. Roman Trofimov, the Development Director of Zlata, has transferred the first installment of the bribe – 1 million 100 thousand rubles – to a company controlled by Sedov, and then Sedov was arrested. A criminal case has been initiated against the parliamentarian under part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Bribe-Taking on an especially large scale).
Vladimir Sedov, Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk region
After the initiation of a criminal case against Sedov, Roman Trofimov has stated that Nikolai Glushkov had earlier approached him with a similar offer. Audio records of conversations with Glushkov have been uploaded on the page of Zlatoulochka project on VKontakte social network as a proof. The Minister of Construction had offered his patronage and asked Zlata to pour concrete for the foundation of his home for free. The works have been performed, but Glushkov did not keep his promise and set a new condition: Zlata had to take another company – selected by Glushkov – as a partner in the Zlatoulochka construction project. Zlata Limited Liability Company refused to cooperate with an unknown partner who would be able to control the financial flows. Glushkov was outraged by the refusal and told the Development Director: “Who are you? I am a Minister, while you are Romka Trofimov”. In retaliation, the Minister started ‘harassing’ Zlatoulochka project; a series of pre-arranged checks has been carried out by various watchdog authorities – while the auditors did not really know what are they looking for. Deputy Vladimir Sedov has become aware about the issues and offered Trofimov to give him a bribe. The parliamentarian had promised to settle the situation with assistance of his “high-ranked patrons” in the Government of the Krasnoyarsk region. The investigation has found that the people’s representative had been telling truth: he really had patrons among high-ranked functionaries. Shortly after his arrest, Igor Napalkov, the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) in the Krasnoyarsk region, has confirmed that the corrupt Deputy had ‘patrons’ in the Regional Ministry of Construction and Building Inspection. Some Krasnoyarsk developers have admitted on social networks that they had been dealing with Sedov in the past: the Deputy had helped many of them to settle issues with watchdog authorities using a smoothly-running scheme involving his friends in the Ministry of Construction. The developers supposed that these patrons were Nikolai Glushkov and his deputy Sergei Kozupitsa.
After the arrest of Sedov, the Main Investigations Directorate of the ICR in the Krasnoyarsk regionhas initiated a check due to the fact of corruption; a face-to-face questioning of the Minister of Construction and Director of the construction company has been performed. The Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation has joined the investigation: in April 2016, jointly with the ICR, FSB operatives have conducted searches in the office of Glushkov, his apartment with the living space over 200 square meters, and his mansion located in Udachnoe elite settlement with the living space over 500 square meters. However, no search results have been reported. Glushkov has admitted that the searches had been performed in connection with the case of Sedov and provided the following comment to a local TV channel: “Being a Minister, I think that myself and my colleagues would do everything to prove: contrary to somebody’s allegations, there is no corruption scheme in the Ministry of Construction and Housing and Utility Sector; it never existed there”.
In May 2016, Glushkov had been offered to pass a lie-detector test, but the Minister declined. Neither the Regional FSB Directorate, nor the Main Investigations Directorate of the ICR in the Krasnoyarsk region had ever reported any results of the audit carried out against the Minister of Construction and his Ministry.
In October 2016, Vladimir Sedov was found guilty of a crime under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling) and sentenced to 3.5 years in a general regime penal colony and fine of 200 thousand rubles. The parliamentarian has fully admitted his guilt – but refused to confess the name of his patron in the Regional Government. The name of Glushkov was not mentioned in relation to this case anymore; somehow he managed to smother up the scandal and settle issues with the law enforcement authorities.
Anton Glushkov, Head of Kultbytstroy Limited Liability Company
The most experienced Minister in the Government of the Krasnoyarsk region has raised his son in the best family traditions: similarly with his father, the descendant of the functionary steadily climbs to the heights of power. For a long time, Anton Glushkov was the Head of the Developers Union of the Krasnoyarsk region; this year he has been unanimously elected a Vice President of the National Developers Union in the Siberian Federal District. The grounds for such an advancement is the position of the Director of Kultbytstroy Limited Liability Company – the largest developer in the city – held by the heir of the dynasty since the age of 25. This post allows Anton to control financial flows channeled to the company by his father. Immediately after his appointment the Director of Kultbytstroy, the company business has got a boost: currently this enterprise and its numerous subsidiary companies – whose cofounders always include Anton Glushkov – gets best locations and most profitable governmental contracts. Kultbytstroy wins contracts to build the majority of schools, kindergartens, and other social facilities in Krasnoyarsk. The company has mysteriously become the sole bidder and winner in a number of construction and design tenders – although all construction projects performed by Kultbytstroy cost the budget at least twice their market price. According to CrimeRussia sources, if another company boldly submits an application to participate in a tender conducted solely for Kultbytstroy, it is being nicely hinted to withdraw the application and keep out of the way. The Minister of Construction personally speaks with most stubborn competitors and explains that they will not survive on the regional market should they disobey the “orders from above”.
Kultbytstroy receives best sites in the center of Krasnoyarsk and rapidly erects typical panel high-rises there. However, the closeness to the regional authorities allows the developer to sell apartments in panel buildings at a price of monolithic or brick housing. The company of Anton Glushkov has also got a juicy slice of the Universiade pie: it will build a medical center for 370 million rubles.
If Kultbytstroy is unable to beat the competitors on his own, the Minister of Construction and Housing and Utility Sector is always ready and willing to assist. For example, when the son’s company decided to engage into the project design business, it could not surpass the largest regional project institution – Krasnoyarskgrazhdanproekt Territorial Urban Planning Institute established back in the Soviet period. Then Nikolai Glushkov has initiated a reorganization of the institute; his logic was pretty simple: while the institute is under renovation, its contracts would be awarded to somebody else. And the Minister would ensure that this ‘somebody’ is Kultbytstroy.
After the episode with the developer of Zlatoulochka, it became clear what had happened back in 2007 with Stroytekhnika company – which used to be one of the best developers in Siberia. Own production facilities and a concrete products plant allowed this company to sell housing cheaper than its competitors: Kultbytstroy was charging 42–45 thousand rubles per square meter, while Stroytekhnika offered it for 32 thousand. Therefore, the share of Stroytekhnika, with its 16 years of experience on the regional construction market, had been growing rapidly – which was unacceptable for the Glushkov family. The Minister of Construction and Housing and Utility Sector had personally tried to persuade Anatoly Bury, the General Director of Stroytekhnika, but in vain. After this, the competitor company has been driven to bankruptcy through endless audits by the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service (Rostechnadzor) and lawsuits from subcontractors – while shared construction investors of 11 apartments buildings have been deprived of the promised housing.
Not only is the Minister of Construction ready and willing to help his son, but to son’s friends as well. According to a CrimeRussia source, Ivan Luk’yanchikov, a fellow alumnus of Anton, had founded at some point Be-To-Be Development construction enterprise. He has wisely offered his old friend to become a cofounder in this company – thus, ensuring his support.
The new company hasn’t lasted for long at the regional market due to regular violations of the legislation and subsequent fines. Ultimately, Ivan Luk’yanchikov decided to use a proven scheme: transfer the company to the neighboring – Irkutsk – region and close it there due to lack of business operations.
Luk’yanchikov has not paid out debts to the subcontractors prior to the closure of his enterprise. Therefore, many of those, including companies whose cofounder was Anton Glushkov, have been left with nothing. One of the victims – Andrei Kvyatkovsky, the Head of Ekonom-Stroy Limited Liability Company, – has been deprived of a small – in terms of the Glushkov family – amount of 5 million rubles. However, this debt was crucial for the businessman, and he attempted to recover it in court. Arbitration courts of all instances have recognized the debt of Be-To-Be Development; 7 execution writs have been filed with the Inter-District Bailiff Service. However, it was impossible to recover funds from the closed company; therefore, Kvyatkovsky has submitted a criminal complaint against friends Anton Glushkov and Ivan Luk’yanchikov to the Prosecutor’s Office. No response has been provided to him so far.
Then the businessman attempted to discuss with Nikolai Glushkov the unlawful actions of his son. The Minister has granted him an audience, listened to his story, and then laughed and said that Kvyatkovsky does not understand that Be-To-Be Development operates within the bounds of the law. The robbed contractor has addressed Viktor Tolokonsky, the Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, but in vain. The Glushkov dynasty has escaped the liability again.
This family does make a secret of its financial achievements. For example, Anton Glushkov proudly calls himself an “eager car enthusiast”: he owns a large collection of retro vehicles. “Most cars in the collection represent the Soviet automotive industry of the pre-war period,” – Anton Glushkov tells. The vintage cars include such a rarity as GAS-12 ZiM with the length of 5.7 meters – a former ‘nomenclature’ vehicle produced only for first secretaries of regional executive committees of the Communist Party. According to his fellow alumni, Anton Glushkov had started collecting expensive retro cars being a student of the Economic Faculty of the Krasnoyarsk State University – i.e. long before his appointment the Director of the largest construction company in Krasnoyarsk with an appropriate salary.
Anton Glushkov admits that he does not restore the old cars by his own hands, but instead retains specialists: “I am very lucky, these people are true craftsmen – although there are no specialized car restoration shops in Krasnoyarsk able to rejuvenate old cars from the beginning to the end”. Anton only ‘ strolls’ his rarities.
All the restored cars are running, so, when possible, I drive them. This is another advantage of such a collection – it is ‘alive’. In addition, it is important to ‘stroll’ the cars for prophylactics, to prevent interior aggregate corrosion. From the price perspective, today, the most valuable item in my collection is Chaika executive car. Putting aside the monetary value, my favorite cars are the hump-shaped Zaporozhets 965 and Moskvich 400.
The expensive collection required a proper garage. Therefore, the Glushkov family has privatized the former Community Center of the Krasnoyarsk Rubber Products Factory – that used to belong to Stroytekhnika company bankrupted by them. The abandoned building with columns required major renovations – but the Glushkov family has not spent any money on it. According to the CrimeRussia source, a Krasnoyarsk-based construction company has performed all the works for free. Just a ‘friendly favor’ to the Minister of Construction... Today the luxury mansion stores not only the collection of retro cars of Anton Glushkov, but a huge assortment of rare wines as well; it is also used for accommodation of high-ranked guests visiting the family.
Garage in the former Community Center of the Krasnoyarsk Rubber Products Factory
Members of the Glushkov family are so infamous in Krasnoyarsk that the recent appointment of the household head the Minister of Construction and Housing and Utility Sector has raised eyebrows among the public. Why did Tolokonsky re-appoint a functionary with such a questionable background to supervise the construction industry in the region? The only version is: he needed a trusted person to siphon the Universiade funds off without leaving a trace.