“The arrest of Khasan is just the first step.” Downfall of Ingush clan Tumgoev
In late December 2018, operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation detained in Barvikha, Moscow region one of the wealthiest businessmen of Ingushetia – Khasan Tumgoev, owner of Achaluki mineral water bottling plant and ex-General Director of Rosatomstroy Concern Open Joint Stock Company. Tumgoev has been charged with embezzlement of funds allocated for reconstruction of a research institute subordinate to Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. In the framework of this case, FSB officers have performed, with the support of SWAT troopers, over 40 searches in Moscow, the metropolitan area, Republic of Ingushetia, and Nizhny Novgorod.
According to the investigation, in 2016, Sedakov Scientific and Research Institute of Measuring Systems subordinate to Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation has signed a governmental contract worth 355 million rubles ($5.3 million) with OKS company. The contractor was supposed to reconstruct a facility of the institute to adapt it for various researches and tests. Acceptance certificates for a portion of the works have been signed. However, FSB operatives believe that the majority of the works, including the installation of expensive cables, were not performed. Officially, Tumgoev has nothing to do with OKS – but the investigators consider him the factual owner of this company. Furthermore, according to a source of Rosbalt.ru, the FSB is currently reviewing other contracts awarded by Rosatom; some of those are valued at even higher sums.
Khasan Tumgoev is one of the wealthiest people of the Republic of Ingushetia; for many years, his family (brothers Salman, Isa, and Ruslan and father Ali) have been involved with the nuclear industry. Khasan used to be the General Director of Rosatomstroy Concern Open Joint Stock Company; he owns Achaluki mineral water bottling plant. In an interview to Forbes, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, Head of the Republic of Ingushetia, said that structures belonging to Tumgoev had financed the construction of three mining and processing enterprises and a glass factory in the republic. In addition, Khasan Tumgoev has built Artis Plaza Hotel in Magas. Yevkurov estimates his investments in the above projects at 7 billion rubles ($105.4 million).
Artis Plaza Hotel belonging to clan Tumgoev
The CrimeRussia found out that Khasan Tumgoev has ascended to power in the town of Kurchatov, Kursk region. The Ingush clan consisting of the four brothers started building its family business empire there.
It is not a secret that the father of Khasan Tumgoev – Ali Tumgoev – managed to establish ties with the Kursk chapter of the elite group of the Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation consisting mostly of representatives of the Communist nomenclature – who had seized the control over the nuclear industry after the collapse of the USSR, thus, gaining powerful levers of influence.
A prominent member of this elite group was Vladimir Khoklov, an Advisor to the Minister of Atomic Industry, shot dead on December 11, 1997 in Moscow. This person had ties both with governmental functionaries and the criminal world; he had patronized the Tumgoev family and appointed the brothers in charge of companies affiliated with him, including Rosatomstroy Concern Open Joint Stock Company, AES-Proekt-II (Nuclear Power Station Project II) Closed Joint Stock Company, Department of Production and Technological Supply (UPTK) of the Town of Kurchatov Limited Liability Company, Atomenergomontazh Engineering Company, etc.
Slain Vladimir Khoklov, Advisor to the Minister of Atomic Industry. Photo: MK
Prior to the murder of Vladimir Khoklov, Ingush clan Tumgoev had performed the ‘money pump’ function assigned to it by siphoning off funds to Atom-Stroy Limited Liability Company offshore company. After the death of Khoklov, the family became, in fact, independent and started actively working – seemingly for itself. As usual, Khasan, Salman, Isa, and Ruslan have divided functions between themselves. Khasan continued climbing up the career ladder, thus, fulfilling the protection function and acting as the ‘brain center’, while the other brothers appointed in charge of companies working in the nuclear industry had been making money on governmental contracts. At least, this is how the situation had looked from the outside.
This ‘policy’ turned out to be very profitable because the state invests great money into the nuclear industry under all circumstances.
The family business of brothers Tumgoev started quickly developing and crushing all competitors standing in its path. At some point, no one in the Kursk region could stop them – neither the generously bribed local law enforcement authorities, nor the criminal world nailed to the wall by the Ingush natives who had clearly explained local overseer Gnom (Dwarf) the futility of any attempt to oppose them.
According to The CrimeRussia sources, the enforcement unit of clan Tumguev consisted of former rebel fighters from the war-ridden North Caucasus recruited using their connections in Ingushetia.
These fighters were hiding from the federal authorities and needed to change the region of residence. The local criminals have backed down – they had neither spirit, nor desire, nor resources to oppose the ‘invaders’.
The above successes were achieved amid a windfall of governmental contracts generously awarded to companies controlled by the family and its expansion to other spheres of business. After seizing the full control over nuclear enterprises of Kurchatov, Kursk region, the brothers decided to expand their influence to the national atomic industry. In 2002, they had tried to gain control over Atomenergostroy Management Company Limited Liability Company in order to monopolize the entire nuclear construction sphere. The attempt failed – but still, for many years, the majority of nuclear facilities in the country were built by structures controlled by clan Tumgoev.
The emergence of a new independent and powerful player able to achieve its goals and pretending to become another political force in Russia seemed inevitable. But the reality set things straight.
The law enforcement authorities delivered a blow to brothers Tumgoev, while other Kursk-based ‘moneybags' turned against their dominance. The clan failed to withstand these challenges. Kurchatov became now only the symbol of clan Tumgoev's triumph – but also the place of its first defeat in a battle against local elite groups. For several years, the brothers had tried to recover from losses and regain their influence in the region – but in vain. This happened because of their excessive ambitions – in addition to the money, brothers Tumgoev were seeking political power.
Despite the factual control over Kurchatov, the brothers were not accepted in the official circles of power – they were supposed to fulfill the function assigned to them by Vladimir Khoklov, and that’s it. Kurchatov Mayor Yuri Kosarev hadn’t sympathized with the Ingush family as well – according to him, brothers Tumgoev “went rogue”.
Yuri Kosarev, ex-Mayor of Kurchatov
After the State Duma elections in 2007, one of the brothers (reportedly Isa Tumgoev) was amazed by the success of a technology used in Kursk and involving vertically integrated bribery of voters making it possible to elect a person totally unknown to the general public. Therefore, he decided to appoint in Kurchatov his own ‘pocket’ Mayor and Council of Deputies using for that purpose the municipal and mayoral elections in spring 2008.
A former law enforcement officer, who had ‘overseen’ that scandalous election campaign, has shared with The CrimeRussia some details and background of that story unknown to the public yet.
— What had happened in Kurchatov in winter 2008?
— We have to start from the beginning. Khasan Tumgoev, eager to seize control over the town, agreed with Isa’s proposal to participate in the elections. Too bad, Isa and the entire Tumgoev family council had overestimated their powers and capacities. They understood what had to be done – but had no idea how. The brothers hadn’t taken into account the public hatred toward them, their enormous negative rating, and the power of the administrative resource used against them. As a result, the clan sustained an epic failure. But this was later. In spring 2007, clan Tumgoev started preparations to the elections by ‘recruiting’ people dependent on them and employed at their enterprises and organizations as candidates for Deputies. It may seem funny, but plenty of people were on the hook of the Ingush ‘invaders’ – from directors of factories to Ivan Sitnikov, a former racketeer and current boxing trainer. The main ‘star’ of this campaign was Aleksander Nesterenko, head of the local branch of Edinaya Rossia (United Russia) Party and a Kurchatov mayoral candidate ‘tamed' by clan Tumgoev. Furthermore, being aware of their unpopularity among the potential voters, some of the brothers decided to use a ‘twin candidate' to pull votes away from the acting Mayor. They found a local criminal born in 1977 – a full namesake of the Mayor: Yuri Sergeevich Kosarev. The only difference was in the birth date: the Mayor was born in 1961 – not in 1977. However, the regional election committee has promptly interfered, and the ‘twin candidate' failed to pass the registration.
— What was the response of the acting Mayor?
— It was not only about the Mayor – the situation had rapidly escalated. The FSB made a mistake in its risk assessment. To counter the plans of the ‘invaders’, Yuri Kosarev has assembled a team of ‘young nuclear specialists’ intending to fill the Municipal Duma with his people. To withstand the enforcement resource of his opponents, Yuri Kosarev engaged local kickboxing and karate clubs by asking Valery Akin’shin, director of the boxing club and former tax police SWAT trooper, to become a mayoral candidate and support him at later stages of the election campaign. ‘Quiet campaigning’ started in the city; interethnic hostility was escalating. Leaping ahead, it is necessary to note that, after that election, Kurchatov nearly became a ‘new Kondopoga’ – this would definitely cause the termination of many regional functionaries by the Kremlin.
— Why this happened?
— For a number of reasons. First, the election campaign launched by Ruslan and Isa Tumgoev went out of control. The brothers, eager to win the elections by all means and totally unfamiliar with campaigning technologies, had engaged everybody they could. Both serious regional PR agencies and swindlers of all kinds were present in their campaign headquarters. Famous Kursk troublemaker Aleksander Fedulov was frequently seen with Ruslan. In that period, his health was pretty poor – but he had still actively ‘milked’ the potential sponsor. Lawyer Vyacheslav Tetervyakov, earlier convicted for swindling, had also assisted the brothers – of course, for remuneration. Other headquarters staff were not better. The old tale about the swan, cancer, and pike came true...
— Did brothers Tumgoev understand that something was wrong?
— No, unlikely... It was not their specialty. According to their ‘ideological platform’, everything and everybody could be bought and sold. The brothers could not imagine that this might be not true. They had physically felt the hatred of the city dwellers and concurrently hadn’t considered those having less money than they had humans. This had caused some discord – although not a critical one.
— How was the campaign intensity manifested?
— In many ways. Some unknown people had shot election posters of Aleksander Nesterenko, the ‘tamed’ candidate of the Ingush clan, with paintball guns at night time. In order to change the situation somehow, desperate Isa has staged on February 16, 2008 a meeting in support of presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev. But this became his another failure – Yuri Kosarev has seized the agenda, delivered a speech to the crowd of people summoned to that meeting against their will, and presented them his election program.
— So, have the brothers stopped?
— No. To avoid a catastrophe, Isa and Ruslan had tried to use the voter bribery technology – that was so effective at the Kursk elections. But there was a paradoxical situation in Kurchatov. The retained ‘leaders of public opinion' – chairmen of residential boards of trustees and local activists – could not persuade the people to take money, even after showing them the cash. The number of bribed voters was less than two hundred. Candidates for Deputies dependent on brothers Tumgoev also failed to achieve success. One of such candidates, Stanislav Kurpeev, was nearly beaten at a meeting with voters and named "prostitute" and "traitor". In other words, a total defeat. In the meantime, we received analytical materials from the FSB stating that the interethnic hostility in Kurchatov has escalated beyond all boundaries – should clan Tumgoev decide to carry out a ‘violent action', an explosion of public anger was more than likely. Mailboxes were full of leaflets – both calling for the struggle against the ‘invaders' and persuading to vote for "bona fide Ingush businessmen”. The people were getting increasingly outraged. Some one-third of Kurchatov residents were employed at enterprises controlled by the Tumgoev family – and they knew the brothers’ attitude toward ordinary people first-hand.
— What attitude? How could brothers Tumgoev incite such hatred?
— This is the kind of persons they are. But the public reacts simply to an irritating factor. The majority of people don't bother to analyze the situation. If they had, they would understand that brothers Tumgoev were not independent figures. Other persons stood behind their backs.
— Why weren’t they independent? And who was behind their backs?
— I won’t tell you who was behind their backs – otherwise, I may expose myself. Why weren’t they independent?.. Independence implies self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency, in turn, implies the ability to see the entire picture and self-criticism. I think that brothers Tumgoev don’t possess such traits. Over the course of many years, they have mastered the art to make money on governmental contracts – and forgot about everything else, started mistaking the budget for their own pockets. They hadn’t seen what was going on around them. Concurrently, they had accurately paid a certain share of the revenues to their patrons and masters – who were absolutely happy with the existing situation. If brothers Tumgoev wanted to attract the public hatred to themselves – no problem. Less public attention to the puppet masters. And nobody had limited the brothers in their ways of making money.
— If there were no financial limitations, then the brothers were not completely dependent on somebody?
— This is not about the complete control over the clan. Nobody had such control. You misunderstood me. They had obeyed the ‘vassal oath’ and remitted a portion of the revenues to the superiors. In exchange, the superiors had allowed them to exercise some initiative. Yes, they had looked after brothers Tumgoev – but not controlled them like small children.
— So, what was the result? What was the outcome of the elections?
— A complete defeat. Almost all ‘proteges’ of the Ingush clan have lost the election. Ivan Sitnikov has won. Their mayoral candidate – Aleksander Nesterenko – has spectacularly failed and lost his party office and influence. After the election, he had to undergo a serious abdominal surgery due to an illness caused by the stress. The election results and inability to lead people and work in a team demonstrated by the brothers became a signal for Kursk elite groups: Akela missed his kill! Therefore, he is now a legitimate target for attacks. Troubles began a few months later – arrest, temporary detention facility, etc. The failure of the investigation to remand them in custody (the brothers had to dip into their pockets), seizure of some assets, expulsion of their businesses from the region, dissociation of ‘enforcement brigades’... Such things happen when you try to bite more than you can chew. After losing the majority of their grounds in Kurchatov, the brothers had to transfer their assets to the Republic of Ingushetia – and started new dangerous games there in the field of interethnic relations. Ultimately, they have paid for that. I think that the arrest of Khasan was just the beginning of the neutralization of ‘players’ who had crossed the line. The first blow has been delivered to them in Kursk.
After the relocation to Ingushetia, brothers Tumgoev launched frenzied activities. Khasan with the republican leadership
— What blow? What was the situation there?
— A pretty trivial one. As I said earlier, the loss at the elections became a signal for many powerful figures that brothers Tumgoev are weak. And their fame is mostly fictitious. In fall 2008, some six months after the Kurchatov elections, the conflict between clan Tumgoev and the local business elite has reached its peak. A number of prominent regional businessmen and other power brokers have gained the support of police general Viktor Bolushev, Head of the Administration for the Kursk Region for the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation in 2006–2011, and launched a counteroffensive. On November 12, brothers Ruslan and Isa were arrested by MIA operatives accompanied by SWAT troopers and remanded in a temporary detention facility. Shortly after that, they were released and forced to leave the Kursk region.
Isa and Ruslan Tumgoev
The brothers were charged with swindling. According to the investigation, in April–August 2007, in the course of two purchase and sale transactions involving assets of Ton Creative Alliance Limited Liability Company, Vladimir Kryazh, General Director of Ton Creative Alliance, has sold a 5-room corporate apartment to Atomenergomontazh Engineering Company Open Joint Stock Company. In that period, Atomenergomontazh Engineering Company was controlled by brothers Tumgoev and had no rights to the above apartment. The Prosecutor’s Office of the Kursk Region and MIA Administration for the Kursk Region have interpreted this as an abuse of authority detrimental to the company. The second episode involved a conspiracy between Isa Tumgoev, General Director of Atomenergomontazh Engineering Company, Ruslan Tumgoev, Director of Department of Production and Technological Supply (UPTK) of the Town of Kurchatov, and Vladimir Kryazh, General Director of Ton Creative Alliance: they have sold TV-6 company to Kursk businessman Vadim Polunin for 30 million rubles ($451.8 thousand) – and then attempted to return it back using machinations with forged documents.
This was an internal conflict between elite groups – a high-ranked official from the Administration of the Kursk Region, one of the ‘patrons’ of the Ingush clan, was behind the attempted seizure of the TV company. This story coincided in time with the request of businessman Vadim Polunin to prosecute Aleksander Zubarev, Head of the Government of the Kursk Region. Aleksander Chetverikov, Deputy of the State Duma, has quoted his requirement of the air of TV-6.
This has put an end to the ever-growing ambitions of the Ingush brothers–businessmen who had lost the battle against the old regional elite.