New Ambassador to Belarus left dirty marks throughout Russia
Mikhail Babich, ex-Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District, was rejected by Ukraine but still became the Russian Ambassador to Belarus. He has a strong vocation for that honorary work. In Russia, Babich has changed plenty of jobs and regions – and left traces of corruption scandals and criminal cases everywhere.
The positions of Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoys are considered in Russia a kind of ‘honorable retirement’ for governmental officials. But this is incorrect. Sometimes, such a post may become a career launching pad. A vivid example of this is Mikhail Babich, ex-Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District, recently appointed the Russian Ambassador to Belarus. His achievements are so numerous that two years ago, Ukraine has rejected his candidacy for a Russian Ambassador. But Babich does never despair – and recently the fortune has smiled upon him.
The discussion of the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy’s candidacy for the position of the Ambassador to Belarus was ongoing for the entire summer. The host country wasn’t too excited with such a ‘present’ but hasn’t rejected it. Aleksander Lukashenko has introduced Mikhail Babich as follows: “Perhaps, Babich isn’t a true heavyweight, but he is a seasoned politician. He has passed through certain steps already and knows many problems”. Mikhail Babich has accomplished a lot indeed: he had worked in three regions, was a Vice Governor twice, and is a suspect in two criminal cases.
Tasty and healthy food
Back in 1998, Mikhail Babich became the First Vice President of Rosmyasomoltorg. The company’s name implies its ties with the circles of power. The Russian Government has entrusted Rosmyasomoltorg to distribute humanitarian aid received from Europe and the USA. No one can say how could Babich – a former military captain who had served in Ryazan and resigned three years ago – be appointed to such a high post. In the three preceding years, he was in charge of Moscow-based Antey Corporation Closed Joint Stock Company – and hasn’t forgotten it after the transfer to Rosmyasomoltorg.
Rosmyasomoltorg Headquarters on Myasnitskaya street in Moscow
The story of Rosmyasomoltorg is as mysterious as the biography of the young retired captain. The company had received food aid supposedly intended for Russian retirees. However, the beef, canned meats, and milk powder were ultimately sold to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM), and Ministry of Defense selflessly saving the retirees from over-nutrition. In that story, Babich was accused only of machinations committed during the contract signing – this is how he has made his first billion of pre-revaluation rubles (some $167 million at the exchange rate of that period). Some media had referred to two billion pre-default rubles (some $333 million).
The criminal case № 9247 provides a detailed description of the ‘food chain’ created by Babich and consists of 400 volumes. In brief, the scheme can be described as follows: Babich has created a group of like-minded people, established numerous dummy companies used to resell the humanitarian aid many times under fictitious contracts, and ultimately sold it to the EMERCOM and other enforcement ministries with a service charge of some 100%. The sophisticated ‘food pyramid' has deprived the Russian Ministry of Finance of some 1 billion rubles (some $166.7 million at the exchange rate of that period). Ilyasov and Bogatyrev, top managers of Antey Corporation, as well as Vadim Novozhilov and Alla Polyakova, were employed with Rosmyasomoltorg and became accomplices of Babich. Alla Polyakova was repeatedly named a sister of Mikhail Babich, while Novozhilov appears to be her husband. They were involved in another criminal ‘food story' as well.
At the time of the purchase of the American canned meat, the enforcement ministries were not really interested in the origin of the humanitarian aid sold by commercial structures. Later, the MIA became upset with huge overpayments for the tinned meats and expressed interest to machinations of the former Ryazan officer – but by that time, Mikhail Babich was appointed a Vice Governor of the Moscow Region and enjoyed the patronage of Governor Gromov. In the course of the inquest into the food frauds, Babich has transferred to the Ivanovo region and became its Vice Governor. The Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation has supported the ‘double Vice Governor’ and pointed out the Ministry of Finance’s mistakes to it. The debit and credit have immediately matched each other – it turned out that the budget has received the money in full, while Rosmyasomoltorg has just charged its commission fee.
Nicknamed Myasnik (Butcher)
At that time, the free media openly wrote about the intervention of Ivanovo Governor Vladimir Tikhonov and dismissal of the criminal case against Rosmyasomoltorg. Newspapers had specially mentioned the ability of Babich to gain confidence of such different Governors as Communist Vladimir Tikhonov and general Boris Gromov: Babich was pretty skilled in financial issues and used to serve in the military. By the way, the ‘double Vice Governor’ has seriously edited this period of his biography and transformed himself from a wireman into an airborne commando.
The financial genius of Babich originating from Rosmyasomoltorg was brightly shining in the regional governments. For instance, he has increased tax revenues in the Moscow region within a matter of months. Too bad, now he is unwilling to share this secret with the Ministry of Finance that had offended him years ago. Evil tongues mentioned the official's love for the ‘telephone justice'. However, the high tax collection rate hadn't helped much the Moscow Region Administration chaired by Gromov – Babich caused a quarrel between the general and Guta Bank, then-main source of income for the regional budget. Taking the ongoing criminal case against him, this was too much – and Babich relocated to Ivanovo where ‘red Governor’ Tikhonov was waiting for him with empty regional treasury and trust in his business talents.
Michail Babich, nicknamed Myasnik (Butcher) after the Rosmyasomoltorg scandal, has delivered upon and even surpassed the expectations. He has indeed brought several major investors to the region, including Razgulyai Agricultural Holding. His main achievement in the Ivanovo region was the sale of Petrovsky Alcohol Plant to OST-Alko. The Vice Governor with a passion for the food industry has proudly added $3 million to the regional budget. However, the MIA Administration for the Ivanovo Region believes that Babich has concurrently pocketed $1 million. The public opinion echoed the investigators. A saying was born in Ivanovo at that time: “Babich is always where the money is”.
Another idea of Babich – creation of a representative office of the Ivanovo region in Moscow – has resulted in another police inquest. Tikhonov has established the representative office following an initiative of his deputy and despite the protests of the Regional Duma. A deluxe office on Novy Arbat street had cost the region 5 million rubles (some $210 thousand at the exchange rate of that period) per year – this amount exceeds the total health care budget of the Ivanovo region. Gennady Panin, Head of the MIA Administration for the Ivanovo Region, has taken every effort to submit the evidence gathered against Babich to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation. The materials disappeared there without a trace – similarly with Panin’s belief in honest investigators.
Shortly after that, Mikhail Babich received a new promotion and became the Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic. This was the pinnacle of his career. His business talents have coincided with financial flows going to Chechnya. However, Babich failed to find a common language with Akhmad Kadyrov. He was in charge of the republican government for only three months and then became the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Volga Federal District. It seemed that Babich has accepted the fate of a written-off functionary, while Alla Polyakova came to the fore in corruption scandals involving him.
Governmental acquisition at Serpukhov Meat Processing Complex (the information was removed from the governmental acquisitions web site)
The sister of Mikhail Babich became a public servant in the mid-2000s. The family of Alla Polyakova and Vadim Novozhilov has tasted the beauty of the contracting procurement a long time ago. In 2010, Serpukhov Meat Processing Complex managed by Novozhilov has won a tender to supply dry rations to a military unit of the Ministry of Defense for the total amount of 46.8 million rubles (some $1.5 million at the exchange rate of that period). Using the skills acquired at Rosmyasomoltorg, not only has Novozhilov broken the deadline, but also supplied products of unacceptably poor quality. However, the Ministry of Defense has swallowed this impudence. In fact, corruption scandals were a normal daily routine in the military agency at that time.
Contracts awarded to Russky Tekstil (Russian Textile) Limited Liability Company
The people in uniform have swallowed another insult as well: according to the court verdict, companies reportedly affiliated with Alla Polyakova have nearly left the MIA and other enforcement ministries in birthday suits. Russky Tekstil (Russian Textile), Dialan, Overstil, Kommerts, and Fabrika (Factory) companies have won governmental contracts totaling 7 billion rubles (some $218 million at the exchange rate of that period). Shortly before the contract term expiration, Russky Tekstil has filed a lawsuit to terminate the contract. The company lost the case – but the MIA did not rush to recover penalties and fines from the ill-fated tailors. The majority of the contracts awarded by the MIA to the above companies are registered as completed. Later, the Federal Antimonopoly Service of Russia has accused Overstil and other companies affiliated with Russky Tekstil of cartel conspiracy.
Russian Embassy in Belarus
Now Mikhail Babich is ready to take charge of the family business again – the vast Belarusian market is open to it. Alla Polyakova may expand her textile empire there, while Babich, with his diplomatic passport and special envoy status, can return to his favorite field of work – yummy deals with meat and diary products.