Gangsters move Primorye sport forward

Gangsters move Primorye sport forward
Ilya Spokoynov Photo: Artem Korotaev / TASS

A businessman and spin doctor from Vladimir Miklushevsky’s team was arrested.

In Vladivostok, the court arrested the former CEO of the hockey club Admiral Ilya Spokoynov, better known as the political strategist Ilya Mitkin. The Investigative Committee suspects him, along with his wife and another businessman, of embezzlement of dozens of millions of rubles during the implementation of the regional state program called Development of Physical Culture and Sport. Moreover, all persons of interest belong to the inner circle of Primorye Governor Vladimir Miklushevsky. Spokoynov believes that this case is used as an attempt to compromise the Primorye Territory Administration’s officials and personally Miklushevsky. The investigation, in turn, suspects that the thefts could be committed also outside the sports program.

By granting the request of the ICR Investigative Directorate’s for the Primorye Territory, the Vladivostok Leninsky District Court sent the entrepreneur and political consultant Ilya Spokoynov to Predetention Center No. 1 for two months. A couple of days earlier, the same district court extended the term of arrest of other persons involved in the investigation for four months: Ilya Spokoynov’s wife Marina Sviridova, the CEO of Teleradiokompaniya Novaya Volna (TV and radio company New Wave), and the founder of the company, the chairman of the Primorsky Territory Union of Miners Aleksey Avershin. All of them were charged with Swindling committed on an especially large scale (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code).

The regional management of the ICR and the central office of the investigative agency refused to provide any information on the criminal case. However, as Kommersant found out, they are suspected of embezzlement during the implementation of the state program Development of Physical Culture and Sports of the Primorye Territory for 2013-2020 (provides total funding in the amount of 14.974 billion rubles.). In particular, Marina Sviridova is charged with overstating the value of simulators purchased for one of the children's and youth sports schools. The total amount of several contracts was 194 million rubles. "Investigators believe that prices were inflated by 30%, but it does not explain how the amount of damage was counted," Natalya Belovtseva’s lawyer told Kommersant. She added that her client did not admit his guilt.

Aleksey Avershin and Ilya Spokoynov (Mitkin), who are charged with theft during the construction of sports fields within the same program, entrench the similar attitude. According to the investigators, the persons of interest "by false pretenses persuaded the officials of the Primorye Territory Administration to conclude contracts for the supply of complete sets of equipment for sports sites at prices higher than the market average, and the remaining money was pocketed." At the same time, the investigators are checking the information about other episodes of theft, which they got from the FSB.

Ilya Spokoynov said the prosecution was an act aimed at "compromising" the Regional Administration officials headed by Governor Miklushevsky. Aleksey Avershin, during the court hearing where the question of the extension of his arrest term was addressed, said he was "repeatedly told that he had to testify against friends and colleagues."

The persons of interest in this high-profile criminal case belong to the inner circle of Primorye Governor Vladimir Miklushevsky. In the begging of 2016, a scandal emerged after the video of a joint flight of Avershin, Miklushevsky, and Spokoynov on Robinson R66 helicopter was posted on the Internet. Before the take-off, the helicopter was loaded with bags with expensive champagne. Sergey Obukhov and Valery Rashkin, State Duma deputies from the Communist Party appealed to the Prosecutor General and the Presidential Directorate on Anti-Corruption with a request to check the information on the Governor’s flight on a private helicopter for violations of Russian legislation (see Kommersant February 5, 2016 issue). The Governor’s spokesman Albina Okhrimenko confirmed that the flight did happen, saying “everything else” was a fiction. At the same time, she said, "Governor always paid for all his personal travel at his own expense." Aleksey Avershin stated on social media that he "indeed, spent a weekend with friends flying on his helicopter and even drank champagne." He explained that "the helicopter was acquired in 2014" and is leased to everyone interested. One of his customers was probably Ilya Spokoynov, whom the law enforcement officials brought to Vladivostok from the Republic of Altai, where the businessman-spin doctor participated in the search operation for another R66 helicopter fallen to the lake; his friend Anatoly Bannykh was on the helicopter board.

It is worth noting that last year, the two Vice-Governors of the Primorye Terrotory were arrested: Oleg Yezhov, who supervised the construction industry, and Sergey Sidorenko, who was in charge of agriculture. The former was accused of office abuse during the payment for construction and installation works under the state contract – the amount of damage is estimated at 24.5 million rubles. The latter was accused of attempted fraud at the distribution of compensation to flood-battered agricultural enterprises. The estimated damage is at least 10 million rubles.

Arrests of people from the inner circle could not but affect the stability of Miklushevsky’s position. It seems that in order to stop rumors about the possible resignation, during the report-election conference of the regional branch of United Russia held in late December last year, the head of Primorye announced his intention to run for governor in the 2019 elections. "Your obedient servant, if he comes with good results and the public supports, is ready to participate in these elections," said Miklushevsky. At the same time, the head of Primorye is not commenting on new arrests within his inner circle.

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