Senator-in-law. Aleksander Shishkin determined to return to the Council of the Federation
By approving the pension reform, Russian lawmakers have admitted the frailty of life. For instance, 62-year-old Viktor Ozerov, Senator from the Khabarovsk Krai, has suddenly got tired and decided to retire. ‘Authoritative’ businessman Aleksander Shishkin is eager to succeed him. A former Senator and member of the Committee for Defense and Security, Shishkin is concerned about his personal safety and immunity.
Don’t touch me!
The Council of the Federation is a friendly and comfortable place. The more distant is your region, the more difficult it is to leave it and return home. Viktor Ozerov, Senator from the Khabarovsk Krai, has been promising to retire for several years by now – but every time, something prevents him from this step. Rumors started circulating recently that the Senator sitting in the Council of the Federation for 18 years is finally going to quit. The question is: who will succeed him?
Viktor Ozerov, Senator from the Khabarovsk Krai
Last time, experts had considered general Viktor Bondarev the most likely successor to Ozerov – but a lot has changed since then, including the regional list of Senators. Newly-elected Governor Sergei Furgal has apparently reviewed the criminal statistics of authoritative Senators, who are beyond the reach of the policing structures, and decided to help the law enforcement authorities. Aleksander Shishkin, ex-Senator from the Khabarovsk Krai, has attracted their close attention a long time ago. Furgal does not sympathize Shishkin because of dilapidated Amurmetal Plant that used to belong to Shishkin and now belongs to the Furgal family. Therefore, the new Governor relieved Shishkin from the duty to represent the region and concurrently stripped him of the parliamentary immunity.
Sergei Furgal, Governor of the Khabarovsk Krai
For six months already, Shishkin has been living light-handed – and this is difficult for him. The billionaire was a lawmaker for the last 14 years. He has done a lot – but still, his troubled relations with the law did not improve. For a long time, Shishkin had effectively fenced himself off from the judicial system – initially, by Deputy’s immunity and then by Senator’s immunity. Now the fence has disappeared, and the former lawmaker feels himself pretty uncomfortable because many of his deeds are not forgotten.
The former Deputy had never complied with the Law on the Status of Members of the Council of the Federation and Deputies of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation prohibiting people’s choices from running business. Contrary to this law, Shishkin demonstratively remains the official owner of all his key assets. It was too hard for him to hand those over under trust management: Shishkin highly values his business status – especially taking that Forbes wrote a nice new biography for him. The old one had mentioned such nicknames as Ital’yanets (Italian) and Sasha-Metallist and had references to organized criminal groups. In fact, Shishkin hadn’t made a secret of this in the past.
According to Anatoly Klinkin, Dean of the Faculty of Culturology of the State Academic University for the Humanities, the businessman from the Top 100 Forbes List used to introduce himself as a former member of an organized criminal group. This information should be of utmost interest for investigators – apparently, it refers to Edinstvo (Unity) Public Organization led by Vladimir Podatev and reportedly arranging criminal skirmishes throughout the Russian Far East. The photo archive of this organization – for some odd reason, Deputy Shishkin is not present on the pictures – confirms its reputation.
Pudel’ (Poodle) and Yaponchik
Nugzar Torchinava (Torchik), Otari Totochiya (Batya (Papa)), Pudel’, and Valery Farizov (Valera Tbilissky)
Pudel’, Georgy Diakvnishvili (Giya), and Vitaly Turbin (Turbinka)
Evgeny Vasin (Dzhem (Jam)) and Pudel’
The outstanding organizational abilities and skills acquired in Edinstvo enabled Shishkin to seize control over “a significant part of the construction business” in Moscow and appropriate his primary asset – Amurmetal Holding. But it is not sufficient to lay hands on a huge city-forming enterprise – it is necessary to manage it somehow, which is much more difficult. Shishkin became a food technologist only at the age of 36. Should he get a sausage factory or bakery, he could be of benefit to the Khabarovsk krai. But what can a food technologist do with ferrous metals?
Therefore, Shishkin had to remember lessons learned from Podatev. Incompetent and grabbing management practices caused predictable results: in 2006, the name of the Amurmetal owner and indebtedness of the enterprise became known to the public. The majority of its debts were loans guzzled away by Shishkin. His growing appetites are reflected in the Deputy's declarations showing increasingly expensive Ferrari cars and apartments. After spending the money, Shishkin decided to draw the public attention away from the suspicious combination of his Deputy's mandate and business activities and asked for financial aid to save the plant plundered by him.
The hungry food technologist has personally asked the President for help. Vnesheconombank granted him a loan in the amount of 5 billion rubles ($77.5 million) in exchange for 100% of Amurmetal shares, while the team led by Shishkin retained the reins of power at the enterprise. Then Sergei Khokhlov, ex-Director of Amurmetal, adopted the ‘food practices’ used by his boss and announced that the funds had been guzzled away. Why was the discredited management team left in power with 5 billion rubles ($77.5 million)? This is another puzzle to be solved by the investigation.
Adventures of Ital’yanets in Russia and Ukraine
However, Shishkin had no intention to give up the enterprise. There is an indirect – although official – evidence of this: the Order of the Federal Customs Service № 1514 of December 2, 2008 On Declaration Locations for Certain Categories of Goods. The order permits the export of ferrous metals to countries of the Asia Pacific Region only via Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Krasnoyarsk. It resulted in huge lines at the customs stations, growth of production costs, and cargo storage issues – that have effectively decimated the medium metallurgical business.
Who could be the beneficiary of this order? Of course, somebody willing to buy raw materials for next to nothing and become the monopolist in the Russian Far East. This person had to have sufficient administrative resource and use predatory merger techniques. Amurmetal was named the primary beneficiary of this document even before its enactment. The Order of the Federal Customs Service № 1514 ceased to be in effect as early as in 2009. But this period was sufficient for Shishkin to guzzle away billions of rubles and consume competitors.
In 2013, after swallowing Amurmetal, Aleksander Shishkin relocated to the Council of the Federation. Surprisingly, but the Senator has considerably improved his legal skills there – although still abstained from handing his assets over under trust management. Jointly with another successful businessman – Mukhtar Ablyazov, who had stolen $5 billion from Kazakhstan-based BTA Bank, – Shishkin managed to outsmart the British judicial system. Ablyazov was actively laundering the embezzled funds – for instance, he has built a pharmaceutical plant in Borispol. Too bad, the businessman was unable to sell it because the British court had frozen his assets. But Ital’yanets came to help the Kazakh entrepreneur.
Eurasia Finance belonging to Ablyazov and a Cyprus-based offshore company belonging to Shishkin have jointly established Pharmex Group. Eurasia Finance transferred the pharmaceutical plant in Borispol to Pharmex Group as its share in the charter capital – and then was liquidated. As a result, Shishkin became the 100% owner of Pharmex Group (i.e. the plant in Borispol). For his smartness, Shishkin was awarded in Ukraine the title of an Honorary Citizen of Kharkiv – this happened in the midst of the ‘Crimean spring’. Unfortunately, the achievements of Shishkin haven’t been duly appreciated in Russia yet. But the investigators still have some time – up until the departure of Senator Ozerov from the building on Bolshaya Dmitrovka street.