Chelyabinsk Governor resigns to avoid arrest 

Chelyabinsk Governor resigns to avoid arrest
Would ‘voluntary resignation’ get Dubrovsky off the hook? Photo: The CrimeRussia

Boris Dubrovsky successfully survived two waves of gubernatorial terminations. His dismissal was expected for so long that an arrest perspective started looming over the horizon as well. To avoid it, the Chelyabinsk Governor decided to resign ‘voluntarily’.

Leave me alone

On March 19, 2019, the Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region has made a landmark decision. In the evening, he announced something like: “I am tired, I resign”. On the same day, the President has officially removed him from office. Later Boris Dubrovsky addressed his fellow countrymen and explained that his resignation was a personal decision. The people haven’t expressed much sympathy – they had seen such things in the past. The previous Governor – Mikhail Yurevich – has also quit ‘voluntarily’ when the clouds started piling up above his head. Dubrovsky had held down the job to the utmost – and now he faces a severe storm.

A day before his resignation, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of Russia has charged Boris Dubrovsky with a cartel agreement – as a result of this conspiracy, 95% of road contracts totaling over 22 billion rubles ($340.6 million) were awarded in the recent years to Yuzhuralmost. The company's revenues have skyrocketed after the appointment of Dubrovsky the Acting Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region. The significance and cost of the roads, as well as sums of respective contracts, had been steadily growing under his supervision. Concurrently, all competitors of Yuzhuralmost dwindled to nothing. In fact, there were not many of them. Yuzhuralavtoban gained notoriety after bribing Yurevich. Then Yuzhuralmost has superseded it and received more than 37 billion rubles ($572.8 million) from the budget in four years – without any competition, but, according to the Federal Antimonopoly Service, with the personal support of the Governor. 

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Yuzhuralavtoban Holding was the road construction monopolist in the Chelyabinsk region throughout the governorship of Mikhail Yurevich. Its formal beneficiaries included Viktor Rashnikov and other prominent figures. After the relocation to the UK, Yurevich has been accused of bribe-taking, including bribes received by representatives of Yuzhuralavtoban. The total amount of holding’s kickbacks was estimated at 3.4 billion rubles ($52.6 million). According to the investigation, Yurevich and Vadim Belousov, ex-Deputy of the State Duma, received this amount through the mediation of Maria Butakova, Belousov’s mother-in-law.

Retiree Butakova was outraged to hear this and submitted an open letter to Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma, and Yuri Chaika, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. The letter, full of legal terms, dismisses all allegations brought against Yurevich and Belousov. It names Sergei Vil’shenko and his ‘right hand’ Ekaterina Krasnikhina the authors of this slander and accuses them of siphoning off the budget funds abroad. By the way, a decision of the Arbitration Court of the Chelyabinsk Region of March 30, 2018 in relation to the case № A76-9905/2017 confirms that monetary funds of Yuzhuralavtoban were siphoned off to offshore companies. 

The stolen amounts are huge – and this is not the first attempt to interfere made by the Federal Antimonopoly Service. Last year, information about a case instituted against the Governor of the Chelyabinsk Region was posted on the official FAS web site. However, the only result of that case was the visit of operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation to the FAS Administration for the Chelyabinsk Region. Dubrovsky dismissed all charges laid against him by the Federal Antimonopoly Service as “their personal opinion”. His own stance on that matter was staunch. Dmitry Mikulik, Minister of Road Construction of the Chelyabinsk Region, was in agreement with the Governor. During the rule of Dubrovsky, Mikulik had to attend court hearings on a regular basis amid the business successes of Yuzhuralmost. Before one of such sessions, company’s co-owner Ekaterina Krasnikhina had encouraged the Minister assuring him that “there will be nothing new” there. Now Minister Mikulik has resigned – together with all other members of the regional government – in a hope to get off the hook.

Heritage investigation 

Since the last attempt of the FAS to uncover the cartel conspiracy involving Dubrovsky, Yuzhuralmost has won several more tenders totaling a few billion rubles. Its beneficiaries – Sergei Vil’shenko and Ekaterina Krasnikhina – also have to defend themselves in court on a regular basis. These two persons – who managed to ‘find common grounds’ with two Governors of the Chelyabinsk Region – are considered suspects in two criminal cases: misappropriation of 146 million rubles ($2.3 million) belonging to Berdyaush Non-Metallic Company and bribe in the amount of 3.4 billion rubles ($52.6 million) given to Yurevich and Vadim Belousov, ex-Deputy of the State Duma. Krasnikhina had tried to move the court to pity posing as a woman of difficult fate raising a little baby and having a humble apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. Vil’shenko, currently residing in London, has also got tired and sick with the extradition threat. Therefore, billionaires Krasnikhina and Vil’shenko have shared with the court everything they knew. 

It became known inter alia that the suspects have drawn up wills while being under investigation. Ekaterina Krasnikhina, a lawyer of difficult fate, and London dandy Sergei Vil’shenko are willing to leave their most profitable businesses to single mother Tatiana Solonchak. The female inheritor would get shares in TekhnoPark, Yuzhuralmost, and Amarant companies. Amarant used to partially control Yuzhuralavtoban Holding whose collaboration with Yurevich was so fruitful. The father of Sergei Vil’shenko, who used to be the Head of the Department for the City of Zlatoust of the FSB Directorate for the Chelyabinsk Region, is in charge of Amarant.

Vil’shenko and Krasnikhina are taking good care of Solonchak: the lady comfortably resides in Switzerland, while her daughter studies at TASIS School in London; the education cost in this school for the first two years is some 1.6 million rubles ($24.8 thousand).

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The girl, whose future is guaranteed by two wills, has a father – Boris Aleksandrovich Dubrovsky, a full namesake of the former Chelyabinsk Governor. So, the antimonopoly service could be wrong accusing him of a cartel conspiracy: Dubrovsky had likely paid alimonies to the mother of his child by awarding contracts to her company.

Next to nothing 

As a decent man, Boris Dubrovsky cares well about his children. His older son won’t become a London snob – but he is a respected figure in Chelyabinsk. Dubrovsky senior has transferred nearly his entire business – i.e. Sinai construction empire – to the son. Sinai is not very successful in residential construction – ‘lucky’ owners of apartments built by it refuse to move in. Therefore, Dubrovsky junior prefers to build kindergartens and schools – and the father supports him by all means.

In the end of 2018, Boris Dubrovsky has allocated 1.5 billion rubles ($23.2 million) for construction of two schools and over 7 billion rubles ($108.4 million) to resettle people from dilapidated housing. It is safe to assume that all these funds were intended for Sinai. The first tenders confirmed this. After the explosion in Magnitogorsk, the Governor realized with tears in his eyes that the entire budget has already been ‘used’. Taking money back from his own son was not an option. Therefore, Dubrovsky had tried to push residents of the blasted building back to their unsafe apartments – but the President has interfered. 

The CrimeRussia already wrote that the Governor could easily resettle the victims on his own without spending a penny from the budget. Dubrovsky owns a deluxe apartment in St. Nicolas Residential Complex located on Nikol’skaya street in Moscow. The apartment is on the last floor of an old mansion – therefore, Boris Dubrovsky calls it an “attic” and does not disclose in his income and asset declarations. This ‘attic’ is worth $2.8 million, which is more than enough to resettle all people whose residences were damaged by the explosion. 

The Kremlin disbelieved the tears shed by Dubrovsky after the tragedy – perhaps, because such persons as a ‘classmate’ of Igor Shuvalov and other prominent figures live next door to his ‘attic’. Now the ex-Governor is likely going to pay dearly for his crocodile tears.

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