War of two giants
Oil companies in this fight — not a purpose, but a trophy. Background of arrest of minister Ulyukaev.
New round of war between contradictory clans of security officers was provoked by a quarrel of two celebutantes. Arrest of minister Ulyukaev – “respond” of Bastrykin’s group – Feoktistov to competitors from the Federal Security Service. Intermediate results of fights: presidential confidence in the head of Investigative Committee is restored; “liberals” in the government are defeated; Alekperov will probably have to significantly replenish the Russian budget.
Arrestof the acting minister, the first in the history of Russia, became the main news of last week. According to the official version, Alexey Ulyukaev heading the Ministry of Economic Development is accused of taking a bribe, integrated to a racketing, on especially large scale — two million dollars.
From whom exactly the federal minister extorted money —is unclear. it is known that Ulyukaev was detained last Monday at office of Rosneft. It is also known that in the same day the chief executive officer of the company Igor Sechin was at work until late at night, to be exact, till early morning of Tuesday. Ulyukaev arrived to office of Rosneft in five and was detained about seven o'clock in the evening. What happened in those two hours in the headquarters of the state oil company — is still unknown.
According to Investigative Committee of Russia, minister was detained with a suitcase in which there was one million dollars; the second million should have been passed to him in a car. But where and how was the suitcase with 1 million dollars was transferred to Ulyukaev? Was it an operational experiment (the presence of the coloring specifics on the handle of the suitcase brings to this conclusion)? If this took place under criminal records, than who exactly was a participant of an operational experiment – that is the person, who voluntarily cooperated with the investigation and gave a bribe to Ulyukaev.
How exactly and who (employees of what division of what department) detained Ulyukaev? Was he alone at the time of detention, if yes, where was his security, provided by his status? Did the investigators who were carrying out the detention of the minister called a duty-investigating officer? If investigating officer was “ordered” (on an investigating slang it means that field investigators were sure of effectiveness of the experiment and in advance notified the specific investigating officer to be ready), then it is an indirect sign of provocation. If it was a real operational experiment, then there should have been used equipment recording video and sound that significantly simplifies documentation of illegal action. The presence of such recording would have allowed avoiding accusations in provocation. If there are no recordings (that is objective proofs) – then why?
All these and many other moments are still not clear, though detention of the federal minister – is an emergency of a national scale. Lack of information in this case provokes mistrust to accusation.
In subsequent, after Ulyukaev's arrest public opinion was concentrated on Sechin's role in this story. Ulyukaev's cultivation, which ended with his detention was performed by field investigators of the Federal Security Service (FSB). Unlike the police officers, who in their operations pursue one specific narrow goal (detention of a criminal), the FSB employees are often guided by absolutely other logic. They define several goals at once and always solve several problems. The real landscape of this passing move is only clear for narrow circle of people, while the result, shown to the public (in this case — detention of the minister) for the creators of the special operation is not a goal itself. Same happened now:
Ulyukaev's arrest as we can assume — is only a tool that allows all beneficiaries of this scandal to solve much more global problems.
Several sources revealed information according to which Ulyukaev's cultivation was conducted for several months. Surnames of the staff of FSB, which came to light during the minister’s arrest. This is powerful general of FSB Oleg Feoktistov, who was sent on reserve by Putin in summer and head of Administration K of FSB Ivan Tkachyov.
Feoktistov and Tkachyov — natives of the interdepartmental team of security officers, most influential and effective in the recent past, which included the closest associate of the chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Bastrykin, head of Directorate for Personal Security of the ICR Mikhail Maksimenko and his deputy Aleksander Lamonov. On conscience of these two (Feoktistov — Maksimenko) - all loud arrests of the last eight years: governors, vice governors, oligarchs, security officers and so forth. By the way, they were the ones who cultivated six high-ranking Kemerovo officials arrested last week (including the head of regional Investigation Directorate of the Investigative Committee two vice governors of Tuleyev). However, the cultivation was finished by another team of security officers – Administration M of FSB of the Russian Federation which is headed by Sergey Alpatov. Alpatov and his people managed to break the group Feoktistov — Maksimenko in the summer of this year, what gave director of FSB Bortnikov an opportunity to sent to reserve (that is almost on pension) his powerful competitor (according to our sources, Feoktistov was among the security officers who had direct access to Putin) and almost remove chairman of ICR Bastrykin from post.
The conflict between two groups of security officers was provoked by the well-known quarrel between illegitimate daughter of the high-ranking official from Kazakhstan Zhanna Kym and Moscow designer Fatima Misikova.
On December 14, 2015 at restaurant on Rochdelskaya Street lawyers from the side of Zhanna Kym and from the side of designer Fatima Misikova tried to clear the civil conflict. Under the Kim’s order, Misikova completed the design project of the Korean restaurant Elements but the customer refused to pay for the work. In addition to lawyers both parties of the conflict attracted “power” resource to the solution of the question. Former employee of intelligence agencies Eduard Budantsev – well known “fixer” in Moscow was acting on behalf of Kim. According to Novaya, he, presumably, can be a close acquaintance of general Sergey Alpatov. On behalf of Miskova, who is close to the girlfriend of criminal leader Zakhari Kalashovy (Shakro) operated a Private Security Company, performing protection of businessman Andrey Kochuykov known as Italiyanets (Italian), a member of Shakro’s organized criminal grouping, according to media.
The Private Security Company’s fighters arrived to a meeting with traumatic weapon. Only Budantsev had firearm. At some point, a conflict appeared between Kochuykov and Budantsev, which developed into a fight, and then into firing. On video it is clearly visible how Budantsev methodically shoots Kucheykov's fighters, recharging his prize "Beretta" twice.
Video: firing on Rochdelskaya Street
In this firefight Budantsev killed two people and wounded eight. However, soon after his arrest, head of the Administration M of FSB of the Russian Federation Alpatov became worried of his destiny.
Administration M of FSB of the Russian Federation developed and realized graceful passing move against their colleagues from ICR. Bortnikov's report to president Putin about the situation connected with the conflict on Rochdelskaya, was followed by arrests of people from the immediate environment of Bastrykin. Among others Maksimenko, Lamonov, Nikandrov (the first deputy head of capital Main Investigative Directorate) were arrested. They were accused of taking a bribe from criminal leader Shakro (also arrested) – for reclassification of charges against Italiyanets involved in the disassembly on Rochdelskaya. (However, Italiyanets was not released form custody).
It is possible that the following crusade against Feoktistov — Maksimenko began exactly when he did not manage to pull out Budantsev.
Line items of group of Feoktistov, Bastrykin and Tkachyov heading at that time the 6th Adminstration for Personal Security of FSB of the Russian Federation became very shaky.
However opponents of this group obviously did not consider one factor - Igor Sechin's factor.
Right after summer presidential perturbations in law enforcement agencies (first of all in FSB) general Feoktistov, sent to reserve, was accepted to a position of a head of the security service of Rosneft. It is not the first case when Igor Ivanovich helps faithful Feoktistov. Ivan Tkachyov was also impossible to send to reserve. Absolutely unexpectedly (for his management) he received a promotion and headed powerful Administration K of FSB of the Russian Federation. The Investigative Committee was obviously weakened. Bastrykin, according to our sources, lost access to Putin. He had to liquidate the Directorate for Personal Security of the ICR, which was headed by Maksimenko, however, according to Novaya Gazeta, Maksimenko and Lamonov are still registered among the staff of ICR. The Investigative Committee considers the charges brought to them absurd*.
*Five months after loud arrests in the Investigative Committee of Russia, the investigation, conducted by FSB, does not have any details neither about the date, nor about the place and time of bribe taking. All accusation is based on so-called ISO (investigation and search operations of “wiretap of rooms and offices”). What is a doubtful proof, considering that phonoscope expertizes, necessary in such cases were not conducted. Also the investigation has no testimonies from the main people targeted on the case. There is even no understanding of the sum: half a million rubles, or dollars, or euro, or 1 million euros, or 300 000 rubles. All these sums are mentioned in in materials of the criminal cases opened after the conflict on Rochdelskaya Street. The FSB officers did not manage to find any money at Russian Investigative Committee officers, they did not even manage to trace destiny of the bribe (they should have put it somewhere if they received it).
Right after arrests of the high-ranking employees of ICR, secret prohibition on a cooperation and implementation of the operational information from Administration M of FSB of the Russian Federation, which is headed by Alpatov was announced. At the same time the group of kachyov — Feoktistov — Bastrykin (ICR), having lost significant people, after all still retained combat capability. Arrest of minister Ulyukaev - eloquent proof of this.
It is important to understand: Ulyukaev's arrest works not only for Igor Sechin's interests as the head of Rosneft, who met resistance of the economic block of the government to plans of public procurement of Bashneft. This special operation pursues at least one more important aim: this is a “cultivation” of those, who started “Maksimenko-Lamonov’s case”. And right now their case stalled.
Ulyukaev's arrest obviously brings to the stage “disgraced” Bastrykin again. With the help of an old operational resource on behalf of Feoktistov and Tkachyov Bastrykin achieved necessary to the country leaders result. What is the interest of the country's leaders?
It is obvious that the economic component of this story is directly connected with story of privatization of a state block of shares of the Bashneft company. This story began a few years ago and there already was one loud arrest: of chairman of the board of directors of AFK Sistema Vladimir Yevtushenkov. Charges, brought to him, were as serious as those brought to Ulyukaev (money-laundering). Yevtushenkov declared that his arrest was a part of raider occupation of Bashneft belonging to structures of AFK Sistema. The surname of Igor Sechin appeared in this story again. Subsequently the brought charges were dismissed from Yevtushenkov, but only when AFK Sistema transferred 73,9% of OJSC ANK Bashneft to the state (to Rosimushchestvo).
We wrote about what happened to Bashneft after arrest and Yevtushenkov's rehabilitation in April when there was already a preparation for privatization of state-owned shares of the company. In the article It Is Possible to Enter One Pipe Twice we noted that private company Lukoil actually controls the Bashneft state oil company. And top managers of Lukoil belong to the Bashneft almost as a subsidiary enterprise. At the same time the Lukoil private company benefits from such cooperation, while Bashneft state company – no. In the interview, which was not included in this article, our source, close to government office, directly paid attention to the fact that as a result of a cooperation of Lukoil and Bashneft the state probably loses big money. First of all – because of development of the field named after Trebs and Titov, for which Lukoil claimed, but which Bashneft got unexpectedly. The matter is that Lukoil has been dominating in the Timano-Pechorsky oil-and-gas region of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug for long time. All infrastructure of exploration and production of oil in the NAO is controlled by Lukoil. And when Bashneft came to the region, it just had no other options besides of creating an entity, joint with Lukoil, for development of the field named after Trebs and Titov. Legally it looked so: Bashneft registered LLC Bashneft-Polus, which blocking packet was immediately purchased by Lukoil.
In the interview, which was taken at the end of March, our source assumed that Lukoil is mostly interested in preserving the status quo and “will not stand behind the price” to purchase the share block of Bashneft belonging to the state.
The source was sure that Bashneft was “almost doomed” to become part of Lukoil and that the company’s destiny will not be decided at an auction. This, according to the expert, would be an unofficial decision of Deputy Prime Ministers Dvorkovich and Shuvalov accepted contrary to Olga Dergunova's position (who at that time was the deputy minister of Alexey Ulyukaev in the Ministry of Economic Development and at the same time, head of Federal Agency for State Property Management— Rosimushchestvo).
The head of Rosimushchestvo Dergunova really resisted the “controlled” privatization of Bashneft, openly clashing on this matter with her direct cheif Alexey Ulyukaev. The latter did not even try to hide his opinion that Bashneft should have been privatized by “most preferable” buyer – Lukoil.
Ulyukaev did not manage to overpersuade Dergunova. On April 12 she was dismissed.
In April, after analyzing financial and economic activities of Bashneft, experts came to a conclusion that the company is seriously contracted and that yet not extracted and not processed oils and oil products were already realized in the advance payment for hundreds of billions rubles.
It is possible to assume that persistence of Lukoil in acquisition of state-owned shares of Bashneft was dictated also by concerns on the fact that the new owner can carry out serious audit of financial and economic activities of Bashneft. It means that scales of the possible damage caused to the state as a result of close cooperation of Bashneft and Lukoil can be revealed.
Lukoil has its reasons to fear such a development. When the state-owned shares of Bashneft were purchased by Rosneft, the procedure of “transfer of affairs” to the new owner looked more as a special operation. People in plain clothes who strengthened protection and access control, disconnected the Internet and began to withdraw documents appeared at offices of Bashneft in Moscow and Ufa. The source in the Ufa office of Bashneft said: “As we understood they appeared so suddenly not to allow destruction of any financial records”.
But it happened in October. And in April, soon after the publication of It Is Possible to Enter One Pipe Twice, our sources reported that during the operational actions, data on certain “agreement” between owners of Lukoil and the high-ranking officials of the Government of the Russian Federation appeared. Sources of Novaya Gazeta named both allegedly discussed sum and order of its transfer to accounts, information on availability of which, after Ulyukaev's arrest, was declared in the blog of Alexei Navalny. The sum, which was called by our sources, is two hundred times higher than the sum, which appeared in the suitcase transferred to Ulyukaev in office of Rosneft last Monday.
According to the sources of Novaya Gazeta in FSB, information that the high-ranking officials of the economic block of Russia lobby interests of Lukoil was reported to the president in May. However, according to our data, operational development of lobbyists — Ulyukaev, Shuvalov, Dvorkovich and Belousov (special advisor to the president, ex-head of the Ministry of Economic Development) – began in Feburary. Implementation of operational information developed into accusation of bribe taking of the former Minister of Economic Development. Accusation looks doubtfully, however (even if months later it will be removed from Ulyukaev) it will not matter. This loud arrest has already accomplished all the tasks:
1) Influence of so-called “liberals” in Medvedev's government is minimized, while the main aim in this specila operation was of course, not Ulyukaev, but Dvorkovich and Shuvalov.
2) Efficiency of a power linkage of ICR — FSB is shown to president Putin again (of that part of FSB which is, figuratively speaking, controlled by Sechin). Bastrykin is on the political stage again, he had an opportunity to recoup and rehabilitate not only himself, but also his closest subordinates who are under examination.
3) On October 31 Vladimir Putin met Vagit Alekperov. According to a source of Vedomosti, Putin suggested Alekperov to redeem 19,5% of shares of Rosneft. On conditions which till November 15, 2016 the owner of Lukoil would have considered unacceptable. Now it looks like an offer of which it is impossible to refuse. However it is still unclear whether it is already in force or whether it actually existed. At least, the fact is confuted both by Lukoil, and Presidential Administration.
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).