In one touch. Crash of Yandex shares, ‘beer' lobby, and other initiatives of Deputy Gorelkin
Most people consider Deputies featureless executors of ideas developed on Stararya square – but every rule has an exception. Anton Gorelkin is a truly unique person, including both his appearance and law-making initiatives. In a couple of days, Gorelkin managed to ruin Yandex shares and, apparently, made some enemies.
Anton Gorelkin, a Deputy of the State Duma, literally burns out at work. He is nearly the sole Deputy not only writing laws – but rewriting those as well. Last week, the lawmaker https://vc.ru/finance/77462-kak-menyalas-stoimost-akciy-yandeksa-na-fone-novostey-ob-ogranicheniyah-dlya-znachimyh-it-kompaniy-v-rossii?from=yandex his own creation – a bill limiting the involvement of foreign shareholders in socially significant information resources to 20%. Too bad, Gorelkin forgot that the information medium and resources are global nowadays – and introduced the bill to his colleagues.
Idea № 1: If they refuse to surrender, we'll shut them down
Prior to going on holidays, Deputies submit their ‘creations' that will be examined and approved in fall. For instance, Deputy Klishas has already submitted a bill on identification of e-mail users – and now he is free to leave. In anticipation of the holidays, Gorelkin had worked in a hurry; as a result, his bill is pretty shoddy.
Any information resource is going to ‘feel' its ‘social significance' – especially if it is funded by foreign companies. Interestingly, the bill does not stipulate the ‘social significance' criteria – the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) is going to invent them. ‘Socially significant' resources will be forced to reduce the share of foreign capital to 20%. If a resource does not comply with this requirement, it would be prohibited from selling ads on its information platform.
Maksim Akimov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation:
"In its current state, the bill is devastating for the Digital Economy National Program."
Even the State Duma, nicknamed ‘the crazy printer', was shocked by this bill. The market was the first to react to it – Yandex shares dropped by six points on NASDAQ. Apparently, Yandex, being the largest search engine in Russia, has been automatically recognized ‘socially significant'. Too bad, this resulted in considerable financial losses. It is necessary to keep in mind that the value of Yandex had drastically – by $3 billion – dropped last year amid rumors about the possible acquisition of its control block of shares by Sberbank. However, that deal fell through making Sberbank CEO German Gref very upset.
Yandex is the leading Russian IT company; 85% of its shares are traded on NASDAQ. Its founder Arkady Volozh still owns 48.4% of company's shares, but in 2009, Sberbank has purchased the golden stock in it.
The failed acquisition of Yandex by Sberbank has resulted in both corporate and personal conflicts between Arkady Volozh and German Gref. In revenge, Sberbank established a joint venture with Mail.ru and invested 54 billion rubles ($830.6 million) in Delivery Club and Citymobil services competing with Yandex.
Now experts expect the largest Russian search engine to become a state-owned company. The price of its shares continues dropping – and at some point, Yandex may be cheaply purchased by somebody. It may seem that German Gref is avenged. But the initiative of Gorelkin affects not only Yandex – but also projects implemented by Rostec, Skolkovo, Innopraktika, and Tinkoff Bank; all these companies are very powerful and resentful. In fact, Gref was offended most of all – Deputy Gorelkin hinders the development of artificial intelligence. According to some sources, Sergei Kirienko, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia and a passionate supporter of high technologies, is also displeased with the innovations suggested by the creative Deputy.
Idea № 2. Advertising is not the engine of everything
Some experts believe that the bill was introduced before the State Duma on Kirienko's birthday not coincidentally. They remind that Yandex was the main Russian investment of Baring Vostok fund belonging to detained American businessman Michael Calvey. In this context, the meeting between the Deputy and Elena Bunina, Director of HR and Educational Programs of Yandex, seems pretty scarily.
Even Gref could take a fresh look at the human intellect: not only is Gorelkin able to instantly ruin shares of a large company – but discover new economic laws as well. In late 2018, the Deputy decided for some reason that advertising does not affect the volume of consumed alcohol – but only the distribution of customers' preferences between various trademarks. Apparently, this decision was made in anticipation of the New Year celebrations. In addition, the media report that Gorelkin became a Malta resident last year and was very excited about that.
Not all colleagues share the lightheartedness and euphoria of the Deputy. Many of them interpret the proposal of Gorelkin as lobbying of somebody's interests. Evil tongues claim that he has done this for a remuneration. The Maltese citizenship costs some €1 million under the golden visa program – especially taking that the Kemerovo Deputy does not have any Maltese roots. In December 2019, the Maltese Government is going to publish the list of persons naturalized last year – and all doubts should be dispelled.
On the other hand, Gorelkin was involved with advertising in the past. Since 2011, he was in charge of the Press Service of Aman Tuleev, Governor of the Kemerovo Region, and had actively advertised his boss. Gorelkin had even waged cyber-wars in the region. He has registered LentaRegion.ru web site and published his own gubernatorial ratings always topped by Tuleev. The father of Gorelkin owns Delovaya Kniga (Business Book) company in Kemerovo. This business is pretty humble – but it brings governmental contracts to Gorelkin senior. The Gorelkin family never leaves such favors unanswered. Prior to the election of Anton Gorelkin a Deputy of the State Duma, Delovaya Kniga had controlled MediaKuzbass portal – another propaganda outlet praising the successes, vigor, and tirelessness of Tuleev. Currently, the resource is controlled by Bipiar Limited Liability Company. Up until 2017, its director was Inessa Kostyakova – a sister of Anton Gorelkin. The girl has also inherited from her brother the Press Service of Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia) Party – but quickly got tired writing about just the same – i.e. about Tuleev – all the time.
But her brother was unstoppable. After mastering all merciless PR techniques (other techniques were unable to affect the Governor's rating) on Aman Tuleev, Gorelking switched to self-advertising. After the tragedy in Zimnyaya Vishnya (Winter Cherry) Trade Center, the people's choice from Kemerovo said that he knows personally nearly all corrupt officials in the city – but won't name any of them. According to the Deputy, the identification of crooks is the duty of investigators – i.e. not his responsibility. When asked why does not he use his Deputy's powers, Gorelkin failed to provide a meaningful answer and just noted that all people in Kemerovo know each other.
Idea № 3. What was yours will be ours
If that is the truth, then Anton Gorelkin should be familiar with billionaire Gennady Kozovoy put on the international wanted list. Kozovoy senior is a major shareholder of Raspadskaya mine – Kemerovo residents will never forget it, while Deputy Gorelkin is trying his best not to remember it. In fact, his entire skyrocketing career was made under the auspices of Kozovoy. The notorious Kemerovo oligarch is a Maltese citizen; his wealth is estimated at $950 million; and he owns Evraz Group amalgamating various assets, including media outlets. For instance, a humble Kemerovo newspaper – Kuznetsky Krai – where ‘advertising tycoon' Anton Gorelkin was raised belongs to it.
Kuznetsky Krai used to be the sole opposition newspaper in the region. Then Provintsiya (Province) Publishing house belonging to Evraz Group purchased it. Young journalist Gorelkin made the right career choice. Kuznetsky Krai had operated in the region for several years – and was liquidated nine years ago. But its spirit is still alive and loyal to Tuleev – and, accordingly, antagonistic to Governor Tsivilev.
Interestingly, liquidated Kuznetsky Krai Publishing House included Finansovy Konsul'tant (Financial Consultant) and Nashi Zemlyaki (Our Fellow Countrymen) newspapers. Anton Gorelov has mastered the skills of a successful Deputy in these outlets in strict accordance with instructions of his boss Kozovoy. Zemlyaki (Fellow Countrymen) newspaper had existed in Kuzbass for a long time; it survived through the freedom of speech in the region and its subsequent transformation into unfreedom. But it failed to survive the zealous Press Secretary of Governor Tuleev. After the arrival of Gorelkin to the regional administration, Media Center company was established in the region and started publishing Nashi Zemlyaki newspaper – a doppelganger of the original one.
Shortly after that, new Nashi Zemlyaki has issued a supplement entitled Finansovy Konsul'tant that announced the liquidation of Zemlyaki newspaper. The old newspaper addressed the Federal Antimonopoly Service and even won that case – but ultimately, the youth and impudence prevailed.
Media Center was liquidated, and a twin company created; it continued publishing the clone newspaper and announced again the liquidation of Zemlyaki. Anton Gorelkin was the editor of that milestone issue – in that period, he had combined several jobs. Together, the administrative resource and creativeness of Gorelkin made it possible to achieve the desired result. The regional administration ‘forgot' about its old partner – Zemlyaki newspaper – and started awarding all governmental contracts to Nashi Zemlyaki. Furthermore, a familiar name appeared among the founders of Media Center.
Who could imagine that, several years later, Gorelkin will ruin Yandex in the same familiar way... Ideas and technologies can be different – but in the case of Deputy Gorelkin, they are universal: sass is the key to success.