Governor Drozdenko's way out: stone ghetto, deceived interestholders and oligarchs
The blacklist of governors who are waiting for rotation and resignation hits the Internet and the Leningrad region political circles. Alexander Drozdenko, the Leningrad region Head, joined it. The CrimeRussia finds out the reasons.
Electorate and scandal
The ranking of governors who will end their political careers in 2020 due to the expiration of the term of office is at issue today. The Head of the Leningrad region, Alexander Drozdenko, also fell into the risk zone. However, this is not surprising, because he was at the center of a scandal all the reign. The resignation of the Leningrad leader was predicted in 2015. However, the Leningrad region is a complex region, and it’s also not easy to choose a specific political figure that would keep up with both the elite and ordinary voters. Kremlin argued that topic several years ago, allowing Drozdenko to finish working.
Today the situation is different. Over the years, the economic successes of the Leningrad region, scandals with the sale of land, uncontrolled development and aggravated social problems have been added to the political piggy bank of the official. The oligarchic circles have cooled down to Drozdenko as a political figure and are actively looking a more suitable replacement. Moreover, the Head of the region does not favor his inhabitants, and journalists have already written volumes about his 'graceful' way of communicating with the population. For example, residents of three settlements of the Vsevolozhsk district - Murino, Kudrovo, and Novodevyatkino - were forced to write an appeal to the President demanding the resignation of the Governor.
The fuss broke out after the population complained about the lack of social infrastructure - a clinic, kindergartens, schools, a fire department. In response to complaints, Drozdenko said that "residents of Murino, Kudrovo, Novodevyatkino complain about the lack of infrastructure to the government, instead of contacting local officials who permitted such a dense development."
Kudrovo is called a “ghetto” today. These are kilometers of randomly built stone houses, a sizeable human anthill, without roads, with huge pits, where everything is buried in mud after rain. There is no fire station.
This year, residents of this settlement also wrote a letter to the President of Russia asking him to remove the Governor from his post.
Land and building
A separate topic is the sale of land in the Leningrad region. Good building plots go off like hot cakes. The most high-profile scandals of recent years were connected with the former grounds of the Rzhev landfill of the Ministry of Defense, sections of settlements of the former farmland of the Vyborg state farm. It became apparent when 300 hectares of land were suddenly taken out in the vicinity of the Devyatkino metro station (the only metro station that enters the zone of the Leningrad region). As analysts say, hectares will be chopped and sold to developers to compact the already housing area.
Today, there are 24 developers who disrupted the deadlines for delivery in residential complexes. They are undergoing various stages of bankruptcy.
Another misfortune of the Leningrad region is deceived interest holders. Hot political fights are broke out between the regional government and the security forces. The owner of LenSpetsStroy LLC Dmitry Astafyev, the director and owner of Normann, Vladimir Smirnov, were arrested. Both are accused of fraud. The investigation is being actively conducted, but interest holders from the Leningrad region can remain without apartments because the security forces cannot oblige to complete the construction of objects. Now completion is a problem of the administration of the Leningrad region. The problem is so acute that Governor Drozdenko urged law enforcement agencies to put “bracelets on their feet” on the accused businessmen. We add that there are about 10 thousand deceived equity holders today in the Leningrad region.
Director and owner of Normann, Vladimir Smirnov
Two years ago, a multi-billion dollar business was found in the ownership of Governor's wife Irina; it is associated with the construction of a terminal for transshipment of oil products and a base for ships in the infamous port of Ust-Luga. The oil terminal is co-owned by the head of Kingisepp district, a relative of Alexander Drozdenko - Viktor Geschele. The latter left his post in 2018, just after the scandals with smuggling in the port of Ust-Luga and the arrest of the Head of the Kingisepp Customs,
Port of Ust-Luga
Residents of the region discommended with the Governer's family welfare growth. So, the wedding of the daughter in 2015 in France on the Cote d'Azur miffed the inhabitants of the villages. No one was happy for the newlywed, whose festive event was held at the villa Efrussi de Rothschild, built by Baroness Beatrice Rothschild in 1905-1912. The cost of renting is 16 thousand euros, which is more than a million rubles. This amount does not include refreshments, rental of a Rolls-Royce, and other pleasant expenses.
Wife of Alexander Drozdenko
For some reason, the wealth of Alexander Drozdenko's wife, Irina, does not please the residents. The first lady of the Leningrad region owns four plots of land with a total area of 5.3 thousand square meters, as well as a 300-meter apartment and a residential building of 328 square meters. Alexander Drozdenko only realizes his wife’s property. The welfare of the Governor's family has only increased over the years. A separate topic is the collection of various vehicles. In addition to elite foreign cars, the Drozdenko fleet keeps a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a snowmobile, an ATV and much more.
Another scandal with the current Governor concerns a great scandal with smuggling in the port of Ust-Luga. The criminal events unfolded around the ULS Global company of Russian businessmen Igor Khavronov, Leonid Kuzmin, as well as Turkish oligarch Dzhabrail Karaarslan. The amount of smuggling reached the billions. High-ranking security officials were involved in the criminal scheme, which ultimately led to the arrests of Pavel Smolyarchuk, Vadim Uvarov and the resignation of FSB General Voronin, “complicated” negotiations with Turkish intelligence services, which also had their financial interest in this smuggling scheme.
Then high-profile arrests at Kingisepp Customs, where most goods are cleared, followed the case. After all, about 16 billion rubles were invested in the development of the port, some of which were allocated from the budget of the Leningrad region. Before that, the port was steadily increasing freight traffic, but after contraband scandals, the situation changed dramatically. The cousin of Governor Drozdenko Viktor Geschele had to leave his post as the Head of Kingisepp.
Prosecutor of the Leningrad region Stanislav Ivanov investigated criminal financial flows. According to sources, he got the jump on Governor Drozdenko in the case of controlling the garbage processing market. The fight began with the arrest of businessmen from the inner circle of Governor Semyon Kuzmin and former chairman of the Management Company board for waste management of the Leningrad region Alexey Varichev. They were accused of especially large-scale fraud. However, the situation turned further, and businessmen testified against prosecutor Ivanov, and he went on trial and investigation, and then he died suddenly. His illness and death gave rise to many rumors. After all, the police were looking for traces of poison. The order to check Ivanov’s office was given to the specialists of the Rospotrebnadzor by the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yuri Chaika. Representatives of the sanitary department arrived at the call of the First Deputy Prosecutor of the Leningrad region Magomed Debirov. Until the very end of the investigation, the prosecutor Ivanov considered himself a victim of slander. However, before his death, he managed to talk with representatives of the FSB. They received a substantial appendage to the incriminating evidence against Governor Drozdenko and his relatives.
Nest and chair
At the very beginning of Alexander Drozdenko’s reign in 2012, many political analysts considered his candidacy a compromise between several elite clans. He was supported by the family of the former Governor Valery Serdyukov, the Kovalchuk brothers and a whole nest of the respected business community of the Leningrad region. That same business community, whose authoritative members live on the golden land of the Vsevolozhsk district. But during his tenure as head of the area, everything has changed. Also, the danger is threatening Drozdenko because he has serious conflicts both at the federal and regional levels. I
In other words, oligarchic influence groups in the Northwest are interested in another candidate.
The parliament of the Leningrad region has allegedly fired the Head of the region. According to sources, Vice-Governor Mikhail Moskvin and State Duma deputy Sergey Petrov are already actively sharing the portfolios за MPs. Since 2015, Mikhail Moskvin has been the head of the building block in the government of the Leningrad Region and has put a lot of effort into ensuring that the scandal with interest-holders led to some consequences. Deputy Sergey Petrov, a member of the United Russia faction and deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on land relations and construction, is running for that position too. Meanwhile, political scientists are already calling the name of a possible successor to Drozdenko. It will be a woman, the current head of the cabinet of the interim Governor of St. Petersburg, Lyubov Sovershaeva. The main events and subsequent resignations and appointments will occur only after the gubernatorial elections in the Northern capital.