Search exchange: Clan wars of Omsk region’s political elite
After State Duma Deputy Andrey Golushko demanded that Vice Governor Stanislav Grebenshchikov is brought to account for a roe deer he killed in the hunt, security officials paid a visit to the companies controlled by the deputy. The CrimeRussia tried to figure out the conflicts of power struggle in the region.
Everyone in the Omsk region looked forward to Vice Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit. Top public officials are rare guests in Western Siberia. That is why every such visit is seen as a sign of either upcoming improvements or shock waves. This particular Medvedev’s visit coincided with political struggle between two regional clans.
On the one hand, there was a criminal case against Omsk Vice-Governor Stanislav Grebenshchikov opened for exceeding official powers. Grebenshchikov was Governor Viktor Nazarov’s protégé and an Omsk Mayor candidate. On the other hand, Omskgorgaz and Aktsiya Companies supported by Omsk Legislative Assembly MP and entrepreneur Sergey Kalinin and Russian State Duma MP Andrey Golushko were searched by the police. Political commentators predicted Omsk Governor Viktor Nazarov would be dismissed in the wake of Medvedev’s visit. But he dodged the bullet this time.
“One is to do their job decently and on time, not spend money”
The Prime Minister officially arrived to Omsk on April 25. He went there to attend the Kultura – Natsionalny Prioritet Forum. However, the main question he wanted the Governor to answer when holding a working conference with the local government was about condition of local roads. Viktor Nazarov promised to spend all the money allocated from the budget, prompting the Prime Minister to say: “One is to do their job decently and on time, not spend money.” Medvedev had his car delivered all the way from Moscow and had Nazarov ride in it and listen to him criticize Omsk roads to make a point. It is worth mentioning Medvedev took the wheel himself.
Medvedev and Nazarov ride through Omsk on the PM’s car
It is obvious it is not Governor Nazarov who is to blame for bad quality of roads in Omsk but rather Omsk Mayor Vyacheslav Dvorakovsky. However, they did not see eye to eye working as the Governor and Mayor respectively. Maybe that is the reason the Governor tried making his protégé the Mayor, especially considering the current Mayor’s term ends this summer. Nazarov tried making his deputy Stanislav Grebenshchikov the next Mayor, but a criminal case was opened against Grebenshchikov mere days before elections that ended up failing. New elections are to be held soon. It is worth mentioning that authorities denied investigative agencies were after Grebenshchikov.
After Grebenshchikov was told about the criminal case he felt ill and was taken to hospital from his work by an ambulance. The Deputy Governor was suspected of breaking article 285, part 2 (Abuse of Official Powers) of the Russian Criminal Code, as later reported by the Russian Investigative Committee. The case was concerned with turning the Salamandra building into the Hermitage-Sibir Museum Project, particularly with allocation of 14 million rubles from the budget to the Project contractor StroyInvestKomplekt Company that failed the deadline, as earlier reported by the CrimeRussia. Grebenshchikov kept allocating money despite knowing the contractor did virtually nothing, according to investigators. It is worth mentioning that Grebenshchikov supervised the Omsk Ministry of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector. The contractor was technically hired by the Omskoblstroyzakazchik Public Company. Unsurprisingly, this company was also brought under scrutiny. The investigators searched the Omskoblstroyzakazchik Deputy CEO Olga Khorzova, Deputy Minister of Construction Industry, Housing and Utilities Sector Bogdan Masan and his predecessor Evgeny Skrudzin.
As for Stanislav Grebenshchikov, the 5th Novosibirsk Office of Investigations together with Office of Investigations of the Russian Investigative Committee in the Omsk region and Department of the FSB in the Omsk region searched his immediate family’s houses, as well as his house and office. He was then summoned for questioning. Grebenshchikov was then released; no one arrested him. However, he was imposed travel restrictions on and could not leave Omsk. However, the restrictions were not officially executed. That is how the governor got away.
The investigators rode this minibus when visiting Grebenshchikov
It is worth mentioning that while Grebenshchikov was talking with the investigators, the police searched his main political opponents. Russian State Duma MP Andrey Golushko demanded the Vice-Governor is prosecuted for pouching as far back as in February of 2017. The Vice Governor allegedly shot a roe deer when it was not hunting season time. A photo was presented as an evidence. It shows a snowmobile with a dead roe deer and a person standing with their back to the camera. Some said the person was Stanislav Grebenshchikov. When telling about Grebenshchikov’s pouching, Andrey Golushko said no self-respecting hunter would hunt roe deer in February, since the animal gets stuck in snow.
All the region residents know Golushko is politically ambitious and is the main rival of the current Governor Nazarov. That is why he tries to damage his public image every now and then. It seems he managed to pull it off this time around, judging from the scandal surrounding Grebenshchikov and outcome of the mayoral elections.
Masked police officers searched Omskgorgaz and the Aktsiya Group of Companies controlled by MP Andrey Golushko the same day the police searched Grebenshchikov’s house. These searches were instituted in the framework of a criminal case opened against unknown people for breaking article 159 (Swindling) of the Criminal Code, according to some reports. The case has something to do with gas transportation, according to the CrimeRussia’s source.
“I suppose an investigation is under way and the reason it was instituted is nominal. I think the main reason is pressure resulting from famous Omsk political events,” Aktsiya co-owner Sergey Kalinin commented.
The investigators held employees indoors for the whole day to finally leave the building with confiscated documents.
The investigators leave Aktsiya's building
A copy of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service’s answer to a request submitted on December 13, 2016 from the Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of Department of the Russian MIA in the Omsk Region leaked to local media. It touched on the Omskgazset’s rates for transportation of gas related to Aktsiya. Rates approved by the Russian Federal Tariff Service in December of 2012 factored in expenses for salaries, dividends payments, depreciation, and office space and gas pipe lines renting, as it turned out. It is worth mentioning that Omskgazset was located in the same building as Aktsiya and is owned by Aleksandr Orlov, the husband of Andrey Golushko’s sister. The company has 22 employees all of whom are managers. That is why the Federal Antimonopoly Service believes there is too much staff. Especially considering the fact their salaries – 55,000 rubles a month – are 2 times higher than the average salary in the region. The company rents 300 m2 from Aktsiya for its office. The rent is also obviously way too high and amounts to 800 rubles per m2. Money is written off for depreciation of 3 pretty new cars: 2 B-Class Mercedes-Benz and a KIA SLS. All this expenses are factored in when calculating prices for customers.
However, gas pipe lines renting is the main expense. Omskgazset signed 3 agreements with the Omskgazstroy Company (incorporators: Sergey Kalinin and Andrey Golushko’s wife Elena), Sibirskaya Truboprovodnaya Stroitelnaya Kompaniya Company (is a part of Omskgorgaz), and Omskgorgaz. Prices for the first 2 items of the agreements are 2 times higher that they should be, while price for the 3rd one is 4 times higher, according to the Federal Antimonopoly Service. Almost 206 million rubles were overpaid for gas pipe lines rental in one year. More than 800 million rubles were overpaid in 4 years. It is worth mentioning Omskgazset does not maintain the pipelines. The job was outsourced. All this expenses are factored in when calculating prices for customers, too.
Aktsiya’s ‘pocket’ company pumps someone else’s gas into rented pipe lines at a favorable rate while only having employees, 3 cars and desire to work.
Aktsiya co-owner Sergey Kalinin tried offering excuses by saying Omsk gas rates are the lowest in Siberia anyway.
“Moreover, it is important to understand gas prices for big and medium consumers are calculated based on various factors. Transportation is responsible for only 16% of the price. Omskgazset is only responsible for 0.5% of the said 16%. In other words, it has no significant impact on the gas prices, let alone on the end product,” Kalinin explained. He then linked the searches to pressure Golushko had to deal with before Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Omsk.
However, Moscow had had enough of these political battles and the head of the Russian government was going to go there to dismiss Viktor Nazarov, according to some media quoting their sources. But for some reason they forgot it is not Medvedev who decides these things.
The Prime Minister’s visit to Omsk did not result in a shift of power. It has yet to be known what will come out of the criminal cases against Grebenshchikov and unknown people from the gas companies. Yet another rating of Russian governors had been published the day before. This story has had some impact, if the rating is to be believed. The Omsk governor lost 28 positions compared to the previous month and went down to the 66th place.