‘Vodka baron’ Pavel Klimets: what put Ukrainian businessman behind Russian bars
Investigators with the Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Central District of Moscow detained prominent Ukrainian businessman Pavel Klimets on suspicion of Bribe-Giving on an especially large scale (part 5 of Art. 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Marina Syrova, judge of Khamovnichesky District Court of the capital, sent him to the pre-trial detention center on April 12, but the lawyers appealed the decision in Moscow City Court, which canceled the detention order due to violations of the Code of Criminal Procedure, sending the case for a new consideration. That said, Pavel Klimets himself was left in custody. The CrimeRussia has found out what could have caused the detention of the Ukrainian businessman in Russia, what business he was engaged in, what assets he has lost since 2014 and what could have brought him to Moscow.
Court declined the request
A new trial in the case of Pavel Klimets has not yet been scheduled, the investigators do not specify the details, and the businessman’s lawyers do not comment on anything. Yulia Trester, his media adviser in OLYMP company, of which he is president, confirmed the information about the boss’s arrest in Moscow, but denied the bribe. “There was no bribe. Lawyers are working.
Given the relations with the neighboring state, the Klimets family refrains from commenting and begs the media not to build any versions, this can be harmful, since the security and life of Pavel Klimets may be in jeopardy,” the spokesperson for the entrepreneur said on a social network. She also stressed that recently Pavel Klimets has gradually departed from the company, focusing on public activities for the sake of developing the Ukrainian economy and on searching for investments.
This comment of Yulia Trester is not official, but, nevertheless, it raises a legitimate question: if Ukraine’s “relations with the neighboring state” did not work out, what did the Ukrainian politician and oligarch do in Moscow, risking, according to his representative, his life?
Let us begin with a small political file of the prisoner. 51-year-old Pavel Klimets is a native of Donetsk, where he graduated from the Donetsk Industrial Automation Technical School and Donetsk National University and even worked in Donetskshakhtoprokhodka.
Gor Chudopalov betrayed Klimets
Inconspicuous political career
He moved to Kiev in 2006 after being elected people's deputy of Ukraine from the Party of Regions (many suggest that he bought a place on the party list), where he headed the parliamentary subcommittee on regulation of alcohol and tobacco markets and the committee on financial and banking activities.
Pavel Klimets was born in Donetsk
In 2007, in early elections, he again became a deputy and member of the committee on agriculture and land policy. In 2010, after Viktor Yanukovych was elected President of Ukraine, he left the Party of Regions "because of disagreement with certain actions of the party leadership." Then, the deputy career did not pan out, although the businessman went to the polls in a majority constituency. But in the fall of 2014, he managed to get his 24-year-old flame Alena Kosheleva - the daughter of Vladimir Koshelev, Director of the Kharkov distillery, into the Verkhovna Rada from the Radical Party of Oleg Lyashko. At the same time, Klimets himself has kept a low profile politics-wise for several years.
Alena Kosheleva, young flame of Pavel Klimets
Actually, the above described covers the entire party career of Pavel Klimets, whose name as a politician is not well known in Ukraine. Therefore, annulling the political component of his arrest, which is discussed in some media, makes sense since even in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in Ukraine, he could hardly kindle anyone’s interest, especially in Moscow.
There is also a version that the businessman allegedly arrived in the Russian capital to discuss the future of his assets in the Donbas, the control over which he lost with the outbreak of hostilities in 2014: in any case, almost all the media that reported on the arrest of Klimets offer this version of events. They say that recently he was ostensibly repeatedly offered either to sign over or sell a part of his business in the Donbas at a low price, or promised the return of certain property and invited for reaching an agreement ... The CrimeRussia attempted to find out what connected (or connects) Pavel Klimets with the Donbass in business.
One of the main assets of Pavel Klimets is financial and industrial corporation OLYMP GROUR, which, in particular, includes alcohol production. Of note, Klimets took up the alcohol business in the wild 90s: then, they say, he managed to buy several KamAZ trucks of lousy alcohol in one of the collective farms of the Sumy region. Having poured it into one-litre jars without labels, the green entrepreneur enjoyed his first deal.
Then resale of foreign alcohol and bottling of ‘his’ vodka on an industrial scale from Oniks company he then owned came into play. His father, Anatoly Klimets, a man well-known in Donetsk criminal circles (he died in 2001), covered all this. Through his connections, he helped to privatize the Donetsk Distillery, on the basis of which in 2000 Pavel Klimets opened distillery LIK (Dzerzhinsky Avenue, 24, Kalininsky district of Donetsk) for the production of vodka under Olymp trademark. After that Klimets Jr. purchased the Kharkov Distillery and the Crimean Wine and Cognac Distillery Bakhchysarai, and by 2006 built modern alcohol complex PRIME, which became the main enterprise of the company, for $ 60 million in Malinovka, near Kharkov.
There is information that Pavel Klimets did not disdain the production of falsification and forgery of excise stamps, was involved in frauds with VAT refunds and fictitious exports, used perfume alcohol in the production and so on, but, nevertheless, there were no official claims from tax and law enforcement agencies to his ‘alcohol empire,’ subsequently, his actions did not fall under the criminal legislation of Ukraine.
ВOLYMP vodka was of poor quality
According to our sources from Donetsk, Pavel Klimets resolved issues with competitors with the help of a local organized criminal group headed by Alexey Chebotarev and Alexander Lischenko, who used to work in the Kiev 'brigade' of crime boss nicknamed Pryshchik. Chebotarev's mercenaries nightmarized businesspeople ordered by Klimets, intimidating and getting them into financial frame-ups.
Once OLYMP company occupied about 80% of the Ukrainian market in the low-price segment. However, a higher excise tax on alcohol products made Pavel Klimets halt LIK distillery in Donetsk and transfer production to the base of PRIME complex under Kharkov by the end of 2009.
“Due to an increased excise tax, our company was forced to optimize resources, restructure production - to close Donetsk LIK and transfer the bottling of the export program to Prime plant,” OLYMP General Director Yulia Samoylova then said.
In 2008-2009, OLYMP company even entered the Russian market: its trademarks were bottled at Buturlinovsky Distillery in the Voronezh region, as well as at Ulyanovsk plant Yupiter Production. But in 2010-2014, the company's revenue plummeted by 45%, and after that, the loss of Crimea with the Donbas affected its market share.
Currently, Donetsk distillery LIK actually remains the property of Pavel Klimets: in any case, there is no information on the sale of the enterprise. Now, distillery Katya-Plus LLC operates at this address: the enterprise produces more than 15 trademarks of vodka, tinctures and vermouth, as well as non-alcoholic products.
This is what LIK distillery looks like now: the enterprise is guarded all the way around the building, and for some reason there is word Polyana written on the gate.
LIK distillery in April 2019
As it became known, this year the enterprise, following the example of Russian Putinka trademark, plans to launch the production of vodka Zakhar in honor of the Head of the DPR Alexander Zakharchenko who died on August 31, 2018. First sketches of the bottle design leaked on the Internet.
Distillery LIK in Donetsk plans to release branded vodka Zakhar
When it comes to the late Head of the DPR, it is known that in June 2016, Alexander Zakharchenko issued a decree according to which he prohibited 46 persons from entering the territory of the republic "in order to protect and ensure the safety of the DPR, as well as protect the rights and freedoms of the residents."
The list of persona non grata, in particular, included Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians Rinat Akhmetov, Andrey Klyuev, Yury Boyko, Boris Kolesnikov, Sergey Taruta, Viktor Pshonka, Yury Ivanyushchenko, and Pavel Klimets. All of them are natives of the Donetsk region.
By the way, before the 2014 war, Pavel Klimets, among other things, invested in a number of Donetsk facilities, such as Africa restaurant, Prague hotel and Golden Ring shopping and entertainment center. In an interview with the Ukrainian publication of Left Bank last year, the businessman, answering a journalist’s question about whether he tried to discuss the return of lost enterprises with “separatists,” stressed the following: “Personally I did not, but our management tried, but it was like talking to a brick wall, if put bluntly.” Thus, we can conclude that after the death of Alexander Zakharchenko, Pavel Klimets could well decide on some kind of business negotiations over his assets in the DPR.
The Ukrainian businessman lost his assets in the Donbass
It is known that Pavel Klimets was also a banker, namely, the Director, Chairman of the board and honorary President of Ukrainian Financial World Bank (UFM JSCB), registered in Donetsk and declared insolvent in August 2014. As it turned out later, he deliberately bankrupted his bank: when the financial institution was already recognized as troubled, Klimets issued new loans to individuals and legal entities totaling 336 million hryvnia, and also carried out almost two thousand banking operations on transferring previously issued loans from debtors’ accounts to the accounts of third parties. Criminal proceedings are still ongoing. At the same time, Klimets repeatedly stated in the media that he allegedly sold his bank before the crisis, but the court found that as of August 1, 2016, UFM JSCB was fully owned by OLYMP corporation, which, incidentally, is registered with the spouse, mother and sister of Pavel Klimets.
In Ukraine, the assets of Pavel Klimets still include the Malinovka glass and cable plants, Bikorm integrated grain processing plant (Kharkiv region), leading design and construction company of the Kiev region ATLANT and Avrora shopping and entertainment center in Zaporizhia.
Ukrainian experts already call Pavel Klimets a “prisoner of Russia,” building a number of assumptions about his arrest. Thus, for example, there is a version that he was allegedly lured into the territory of the Russian Federation by the “agents of the Russian security officials,” after which the businessman was classically framed with a bribe. This version is associated with both Donbass and Russian business assets of Klimets, namely: it has been argued that the previously mentioned Buturlinovsky Distillery in the Voronezh region and the Ulyanovsk Distillery Yupiter Production, which Klimets allegedly acquired at the peak of his alcohol rise, still operate.
The CrimeRussia has found out that Buturlinovsky Distillery JSC is now in fact functioning, but in December 2018 100% of the shares of this company, registered in 2012, were consolidated by regional authorities: Property and Land Relations Department, Voronezhobltekhinventarizatsiya JSC, Oblkomunservis state unitary enterprise, Risk LLC, etc. Pavel Klimets is not among the founders of this distillery.
As for Yupiter Production LLC, which was registered in 2009 as the property of not specified foreign legal entities, for now this enterprise has been listed as not operating since January 2013.
The production of the Crimean wine and cognac factory Bakhchysarai, owned by OLYMP, since June 2014, after the Crimea joined the Russian Federation, was transferred to the facilities of Odessavinprom PJSC, as well as to the Kherson brandy factory Tavriya. Then the Marketing Director of the wine and brandy group of the company, Zhanna Nikitina, reported that “... working in the territory of the 'occupied' peninsula, the producers do not receive Ukrainian excise stamps, as a result of which supplies to Ukraine and Europe may completely cease after stock exhaustion, moreover, working conditions in Ukraine are much more attractive for winemakers than in Russia, where the excise burden is 50 times higher.”
The other day there also appeared a version that Pavel Klimets allegedly arrived in Moscow, where the day before senior executive with OLYMP Yulia Samoylova was detained and placed in the detention center, and reportedly eventually she was released and Klimets was arrested. This assumption could not be confirmed.