Creators of ‘wineglasses’ on Tverskaya street of Moscow to illuminate Boulevard Ring 

Creators of ‘wineglasses’ on Tverskaya street of Moscow to illuminate Boulevard Ring
The Boulevard Ring illumination project was dubbed “detrimental squander” Photo: The CrimeRussia

The Moscow Government has signed contracts for landscape illumination of the Boulevard Ring for the total cost of more than 3 billion rubles ($51.3 million). The illumination idea was rejected on the public hearings in summer, while Deputies of the State Duma suggested to spend funds allocated for the project in a more rational way. However, the Moscow authorities decided to split the general tender into 10 smaller ones and already selected the contractors through online bidding. The CrimeRussia performed an inquiry into these tenders and found out who is going to receive billions of rubles from the budget.

The Department of the Fuel and Energy Sector of the City of Moscow has summarized the results of online tenders for “construction and installation works to establish landscape illumination of the Boulevard Ring”. According to the project documentation, this improvement should transform the Boulevard Ring into the “main linear park of the city”. The project states that the landscape illumination must “emphasize this idea”. The illumination is supposed to have four regimes: workday evening, regular night, holiday, and seasonal.

Despite its name, the Moscow Boulevard Ring consists of ten consecutive boulevards that don’t form a closed circle. The tenders to distribute governmental contracts for “construction and installation works to establish landscape illumination of the Boulevard Ring” were conducted in three days. On November 11, a tender for Tverskoy, Strastnoy, and Nikitsky boulevards has been carried out. On November 13, Petrovsky, Rozhdestvensky, Sretensky, and Chistoprudny boulevards have been distributed. And finally, on November 16, a tender has been conducted for Gogolevsky, Pokrovsky, and Yauzsky boulevards. Only two bidders participated in the tenders: Spetsstroy Limited Liability Company (not affiliated with the Federal Agency for Special Construction (Spetsstroy of Russia)) and Agency for Development of Advanced Technologies (ADAT) Joint Stock Company. 

Бульварное кольцо

The Boulevard Ring in Moscow city centre    

In fact, the tenders involving two contractors were carried out in different days in the most convenient way for the bidders. It is difficult to understand where is the catch based on the documents. But the map vividly shows that Spetsstroy has got three consecutive boulevards: Gogolevsky, Nikitsky, and Tverskoy with the total cost of works of 1.284 billion rubles ($21.9 million) – while ADAT received the seven remaining consecutive boulevards: from Strastnoy to Yauzsky with the total cost of works of more than 2 billion rubles ($34.2 million). This is really convenient for the contractors – no need to move the machinery, materials, and workers between different sections of the Boulevard Ring. Is it a coincidence? Or, perhaps, a conspiracy with pre-distributed work sites?

The Administration for the City of Moscow of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) had already instituted in June 2017 a case against Agency for Development of Advanced Technologies Joint Stock Company and Praim Servis (Prime Service) for violations of the antimonopoly legislation. At that time, a tender to establish artistic illumination of the buildings surrounding the Kremlin had been carried out. The antimonopoly agency has found out that the competing companies were making several price offers and then finished the bidding, thus, maintaining high prices and reducing those by 1–5% maximum (paragraph 2 of part 1 of Article 11 of the Federal Law On Protection of Competition). Unfortunately, the outcomes of that case remain unknown.

A similar situation is observed with the tenders to establish landscape illumination of the Boulevard Ring: ADAT has reduced the price of its bids by 2.5%, while Spetsstroy won its contracts with a 5% discount.

The both contractors are known to the governmental customer for a long time and considered ‘domesticated’. They have an extensive experience in the implementation of governmental contracts awarded by the Moscow Government. Both of them were involved into the notorious My Street program dubbed “mayhem of squander”.

Established in 2003, Spetsstroy used to be a humble company not participating in governmental tenders. But in February 2015, it has won 11 contracts to improve the areas surrounding subway stations for the total amount of 354 million rubles ($6 million). Then it was retained to improve Leningradsky Avenue and Leningradskoe and Kashirskoe highways. The total cost of these governmental contracts was 4.9 billion rubles ($83.7 million). Immediately after signing contracts with the Department of Capital Renovation of the City of Moscow, Spetsstroy has changed its owner. Instead of company founder Gennady Pak, some Anton Bazanov became the General Director and owner of Spetsstroy. RBK Group links his name with Capital Group construction holding controlled by businessmen Vladislav Doronin, Eduard Berman, and Pavel Te. Kommersant reported earlier that Aleksander, son of Petr Biryukov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Housing, Utilities, Amenities, and Improvement, had started his career in Capital Group as well.

In 2016, Spetsstroy became the champion of governmental contracts in the framework of My Street program. In April 2016, the company has won a tender to improve the Boulevard Ring worth 4.7 billion rubles ($80.3 million).

It is necessary to note Spetsstroy had shown some variations in pricing in the first tenders won by the company in the framework of the project “1200 Meters around Subway Stations”. At that time, the cost of a contract was reduced by 5–5.87%. But all the further contracts were won by Spetsstroy with the same discount – strictly 5% of the customer’s maximum price. In the largest tenders, Spetsstroy had always competed with the same rival – Stroy Tvik Limited Liability Company.

Interestingly, the building leased by the Federal Road Agency (Rosavtodor) is located on Strastnoy boulevard and belongs to structures controlled by Pavel Te – while the contract to illuminate Strastnoy boulevard has been won by Spetsstroy.

Initially, it was planned to spend almost 3.47 billion rubles ($59.3 million) on the “decorative illumination of the vegetation in order to reveal its decorative and artistic features” on the Boulevard Ring. The mandatory public hearings were held prior to the acquisition. Based on the protocol published on the governmental acquisitions web site, 2 comments were received at the first stage of the hearings. Both residents had stated that there is no need to spend billions of rubles to illuminate the Boulevard Ring that is already sufficiently lightened. One of the authors named such spendings a “detrimental squander” and suggested to use the funds for restoration of historical monuments or urban greening. The author of the second comment proposed to use the money to purchase medicines and provide aid to cancer-stricken children. The both comments have received an identical response referring to the tourism significance of the Boulevard Ring and endeavor of Moscow to match Tokyo, New York, London, and Paris by the street illumination level. Allegedly, this would “result in an upgrade of the overall status of Moscow as the capital and growth of the municipal budget revenues”.

The State Duma had also suggested the Moscow Government to limit its appetites. Yaroslav Nilov, Chairman of the Committee for Labor, Social Policy, and Veterans’ Affairs of the State Duma, and Igor Lebedev, Vice Speaker of the State Duma, (both represent the Liberal-Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR)) have submitted a petition to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asking not to spend 6 billion rubles ($102.5 million) on decorative illumination of trees and lawns. The amount provided in the petition included the Moscow Government’s plans to illuminate Vorobievy Gory (Sparrow Hills) at the cost of 2.5 billion rubles ($42.7 million). No tenders were carried out for that project yet.

“Taking the social tension throughout the country amid these plans, we would like to ask You to consider a possibility to abandon this project and use the funds for other purposes,” – the authors of the petition wrote.

Following the results of the public hearings, the Boulevard Ring illumination tender has been cancelled. Instead, it was decided to split it into ten independent acquisitions ‘on the boulevard to boulevard basis’. Apparently, this was done to make the cost of each individual project not so gross in the eyes of the participants of the public hearings.

Overall, over 8 billion rubles ($136.7 million) have been spent in 2016–2017 on the Boulevard Ring reconstruction, including renewal of underground utility lines, tile laying, replacement of lighting poles, tree planting, and renovation of building frontages. In addition, 300.1 million rubles ($5.1 million) have been spent on artistic illumination of the buildings. Now Spetsstroy and Agency for Development of Advanced Technologies are going to improve the boulevards with landscape illumination “for visual comfort and artistic distinctiveness of the evening light-colored medium”.

Проект устройства ландшафтного освещения на пересечении МКАД с Ленинградским шоссе

Landscape illumination project at the intersection of the Moscow Ring Road and Leningradsky highway

For the first time, the landscape illumination of lawns and trees has been created in Moscow on seven junctions of outbound routes and the Moscow Ring Road in 2016 in the framework of My Street project at the cost of nearly 470 million rubles ($8 million) (additional 1.4 billion rubles (23.9 million) have been spent on the illumination of the junctions). According to Meduza Internet portal, the new initiative has a considerably larger scope. “The illumination of trees on the Boulevard Ring and Vorobievy Gory is a pilot project. Should the Mayor be pleased with the results, the project can be extended to new parks established in Brateevskaya floodplain, Yuzhnoe Butovo, Mar’ino, and other dormitory neighborhoods,” – an official from the Mayor’s Office told.

It is necessary to note that the Boulevard Ring illumination project has been developed by Arkhkom company belonging to 24-year-old Georgy Golubkov, owner of Names Models modeling agency. This company had earlier developed several urban improvement projects in the framework of My Street program. The project for Vorobievy Gory has been designed by Kaskad-Energo, a member of Tashir Group of Companies – another major contractor for My Street program.

The landscape illumination tenders are carried out by the Department of the Fuel and Energy Sector of the City of Moscow chaired by Pavel Livinsky – the richest functionary in the Mayor’s Office. He has earned 203.8 million rubles ($3.5 million); this is twice as much as the income of the richest official of 2015 – Sergei Cheremin, Head of the Department of External Economic and Foreign Relations. Livinsky owns 32 apartments with the total living space of almost 2.4 thousand square meters, four parking spaces, and nonresidential premises with the area of 1.3 thousand square meters. The functionary also has two apartments in use; their total living space is 309 square meters.

Праздничная иллюминация на Тверской улице в 2017 году

Festive illumination on Tverskaya street in 2017  

The same department of the Moscow Government was responsible for the New Year decoration of the Russian capital in the previous year, including the illumination of Tverskaya street. At that time, decorative ‘wineglasses’ were purchased at the price of 2.24 million ($38.3 thousand) per unit. The garlands were supposedly overpriced by five times. However, Pavel Livinsky, Head of Department of the Fuel and Energy Sector, said that the city has, in fact, saved money because, according to the price-list, “these decorations cost 3.3 million rubles ($56.4 thousand)”. The majority of the funds under that contract fell to Forum company managed by Olga Keretsman, a lawyer for SMP Bank belonging to billionaires Arkady and Boris Rotenberg.

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