Titov’s successful businessmen saved 70 million rubles for election campaign
On the upcoming elections in the list of candidates among the old-timers, the new bright party appeared –Partiya Rosta (Party of Growth), headed by Boris Titov. Who are these people, what do they want to achieve and, most importantly, who pays for them?
Businessman, ombudsman and leaderman
Let's start with the fact that Partiya Rosta (Party of Growth) is actually not a newcomer at all: it is the reorganized party Pravoye Delo (Rightful Cause). The initiator of the transformation was the well-known businessman and the Entrepreneurs’ Rights Commissioner for the President of the Russian Federation Boris Titov.
It is worth mentioning that since 2003, he heads the non-profit partnership Koordinator rynka gaza (The gas market coordinator) which is developing a model of transition to a stable regime of the free gas market; since December 2006, Titov's SVL Group owns 58% of JSC Abrau-Durso; since 2010, he holds the position of the Chairman of the Russian Winegrowers and Winemakers Union. As of 2006, Titov had a fortune of 1.03 billion dollars. There is the assumption that over the past 10 years, the businessman became only richer, but, according to the official income declaration, in 2014, the human rights defender earned 16,691,713 rubles. At that, the list of real estate which is owned by Titov looks very impressive.
Boris Titov’s income declaration
Titov's political career began in 2007, when he became a member of the Supreme Council of the party Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia). However, in 2008, the entrepreneur together with the former Deputy Chairman of Soyuz Pravykh Sil (Union of Right Forces) Leonid Gozman and the journalist Georgy Bovt created a new party called Pravoye Delo. In 2011, the co-chairmanship of the party has been eliminated, after which the sole Head of the association was Mikhail Prokhorov. After a series of political machinations, the story of which is worthy of a separate article, Prokhorov was removed from the party management, and in February 2016, the organization was headed by Titov again. Taking the helm, the ombudsman immediately engaged in rebranding of the association turning it into Partiya Rosta.
The formation of the new party was affected by Titov’s colleagues from Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia), the Russian public organization, which is the "union of the entrepreneurs of the new generation of Russian business, operating mainly in the non-primary - processing sector of our economy." The members of the union call their His main objectives the development of modern market economy and creation of favorable conditions for business development.
The Pravoe Delo is dead, long live the Partiya Rosta!
Partiya Rosta (as well as all its previous incarnations) is constantly accused of being paid out and working for the Kremlin, which was confirmed by some of the statements of the Ombudsman himself. For example, in an interview with RBC, Titov said that the newly minted party’s policy was closely discussed with the first Deputy Head of the President's Administration Vyacheslav Volodin. However, in his further interviews, the Ombudsman carefully wormed his way out, explaining what he it is his job to meet with Volodin as with the human rights defenders’ the curator, and the conversation about the party ended simply informing the Administration about the fact of its establishment. In short, Titov repudiated any connection with the state, media distorted everything, but, as they say, there is still a bit of bad taste in the mouth.
The party’s program also raises big question. On the one hand, Partiya Rosta is a community of progressive entrepreneurs. Here is what Titov says about the country's future: "The solution is either reforms, or back to the USSR: erect internal and external barriers, live on the sausage, which will be produced by two factories." On the other hand, the politician supports not the liberal and entrepreneurs’ defender Kudrin, but the supporter of the state's increasing role in the economy Sergey Glazyev (however, his views on economic policy often change). Titov and Glazyev are prominent members of the Stolypin club, named after the famous Russian statesman. In this club, the popular economists have made a joint report on economic growth, which is now a program of the Partiya Rosta.
The members of the organization present themselves as "the community of successful entrepreneurs which will protect the interests of small businesses." In fact, the party includes everything from soup to nuts: apart from the really prominent entrepreneurs (Titov himself, Dmitry Potapenko, Mikhail Valetsky), there are political outcasts (Oksana Dmitrieva, Mikhail Slipenchuk), the politicians popular in the past and who now try to return to the forefront (Irina Khakamada, Sergei Stankevich, Boris Nadezhdin), the popular actors (Leonid Yarmolnik), the doubtful media person (Alexey Sveshnikov (the participant of the Dom-2 show!).
It seems very unlikely that so many different people may have some areas of common interest. The party members, according to tradition, criticize Medvedev’s government, and do not touch the President. In the famous interview with Gazeta.ru, Titov masterfully ignores five straight questions about the party's attitude to Putin, as a result squeezing only that the Growth is dissatisfied with the rigid economic policies supported by the country's leader. "In our opinion, the President still maintains tight fiscal policy in the country, and we believe that this should change. We will prove to the President that his economic bloc holds a wrong policy. We are for a strong-willed and determined policy of the President, but we criticize the old course of the economy. We criticize the President for the government’s work", explained the businessman carefully choosing his words.
On August 24, another embarrassing fact transpired: the two candidates of the Partiya Rosta - Vyacheslav Kazakov and Magomed Shabanov - hid their criminal records. However, the Head of the Central Electoral Commission Ella Pamfilova decided not to withdraw the candidates for the submission of false information, but only informed the voters about the hidden information.
On July 1, the party suffered another serious reputational impact: the candidate for Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Nizhny Novgorod Region from Partiya Rosta Muraz Avdoyan was arrested on suspicion of swindling. According to the investigation, Avdoyan illegally appropriated 4.5 million rubles belonging to a commercial firm. The Head of the party, as well as his party colleagues, talked over: it is a designer case. The Growth Members point to the fact that the detention and criminal proceedings took place in a single day with the writing of an application about the committed crime. As the candidate’s party members claim, 4 days earlier, before the arrest, the police officers extorted 17 million rubles from Avdoyan.
Growth of opposition
Some argue that Partiya Rosta is trying to unite the opposition, or, as the leader of the party say, the democratic forces. However, the businessman does not intend to communicate with any representatives of the so-called non-system opposition. That's what the ombudsman says about Alexey Navalny: "We conducted due diligence. Navalny tried to be the "conman" between the business and the government. As a result, he was trying to get money from both of them. Therefore, it is not very interesting to talk to him." Titov also, to put it mildly, does not like Kasyanov and criticizes him for his failed economic policy after the collapse of the Soviet Union: "Kasyanov is not a very interesting person to talk to for us either. We understand and remember what happened in the 90s..." (in the meantime, we should remember that Kasyanov became the prime minister only in 2000). The possibility of cooperation with the Parnas party, the party leader excludes as well: "No, not with Parnas. There is total negation there. They believe that we have no achievements compared with 90-s: we don’t have million square meters of housing built or have not improved people's lives, there are still no goods in the shops, and there’s nothing good at all in the country. Of the opposition with which Partiya Rosta is ready to communicate Titov mentioned Ryzhkov, Grazhdanskaya Platforma (Civic Platform) (which teamed with Partiya Rosta) and Yabloko.
Wallet from the Edina Rossiya
The richest candidate of the Partiya Rosta is the current State Duma Deputy Mikhail Slipenchuk. According to his income declaration for 2015, the former businessman and the owner of IFC Metropol earned 294.5 million rubles. In addition, he owns 383 land plots, of which two are located in Congo and one in France.
Mikhail Slipenchuk’s income declaration
However, on the eve of the elections, Slipenchuk quit the Edinaya Rossiya Party and did not take part in the primaries by the ruling party. There are many different guesses about the reasons for such a step, but among the most popular is the tycoon’s name in Panama Papers and the major theft associated with FSUE Almazuvelirexport and the Mezhdunarodny aktsionerny bank (International Joint Stock Bank) controlled by Slipenchuk.
After quitting from the Edinaya Rossiya, the businessman decided to find a new platform for nomination for deputy. As a result, the tycoon has decided on the Partiya Rosta, which, as mentioned above, is the union of successful people, which is exactly what Slipenchuk is. It is obvious that such a wealthy candidate will not take handouts from the state itself will finance a powerful campaign himself. So he did, spending in Buryatia...as many as four million three hundred thousand rubles to promote himself.
Slipenchuk’s election fund’s money
It is still unclear why Slipenchuk stint at promoting himself to such an important post for him. Apparently, he relies on his own influence and contacts accumulated for years.
On July 4, 2016 the party adopted a list of their candidates for the State Duma. After Titov, the second number in the list is Oksana Dmitrieva, the third is the businessman Dmitry Potapenko. The top ten also includes Dmitrieva’s husband Ivan Grachev.
About the narrowly known Dmitrieva we want to talk a little more in detail. Oksana Dmitrieva is one of the most famous political turncoats. In recent years, she was the member of such parties as Yabloko, Otechestvo – Vsya Rossiya (Fatherland - Whole Russia), Spravedlivaya Rossiya (Fair Russia), Natsionalnaya Bezopasnost Rossii (Russia's National Security), Partiya professionalov (Party of professionals) and, finally, the Partiya Rosta. In addition, she was repeatedly elected to the State Duma as an independent deputy. Abrupt change of the platform can only say that the politician’s main goal is to get into the State Duma, and it does not matter in what way this will be achieved.
In addition, another ugly information about the former SR-member transpired. As we learned from Alfred Koch’s and Boris Nemtsov’s conversation that was leaked to the network, Oksana Dmitrieva actively cooperated with the office, i.e. with the secret services. "Yes, she is a good woman, she is skilled enough and all that jazz, but she is a total office whore!", says angry Koch.
In addition, the Deputy was also suspected in the use of black cash. The Residents of St. Petersburg observed that the agitation in Dmitrieva’s support hung on hundreds of billboards throughout the city even for a month or two before the President gave a start to the beginning of the election campaign. Advertising is not cheap. According to journalists’ estimates, such agitation would cost a pretty penny: about 20 million rubles. According to the official income declaration of the Deputy, the couple Grachev-Dmitrieva couple earned about 12 million rubles. It is doubtful that the politicians saved money for two years to hang billboards all over St. Petersburg. It is logical to assume that the posters in support of the well-known candidate were funded by the party itself, but this version has not been confirmed, Partiya Rosta’s the reports include nothing like this as well as the reports of the coalition partner of the Party of professionals. Moreover, the total amount of finance of the regional offices of all parties in St. Petersburg by the end of March amounted to 26.87 million rubles.
Business genius from Sevastopol
Among the candidates listed from the Partiya Rosta’s, there is the narrowly known Sevastopol businessman Oleg Nikolaev. After graduating from the Kuban Institute of Physical Culture (KGIFK), he, already at the age of 22, established his first company, the cooperative Aquarium where he produced glass products and sold aquarium fish. It is known that in the 90s, the merchant earned his first million dollars, as he claims himself, in the retail trade.
In the Sevastopol oligarch’s life, there are many dark spots. His work in the 90-s and 2000-s and the value of his wealth right now remains a mystery. It is also unknown how many companies he owned. The database Kartoteka provides one with the small diagram of the businessman’s activity. For the sake of brevity, Nikolaev is the founder of 55 companies, most of which continue working.
Companies established by Oleg Nikolaev
Despite his own words about the fact that he was not involved in politics, he actively participated in the Russian spring in Crimea and supported his friend, the Head of the city Legislative Assembly Alexey Chaly, and then suddenly nominated to the State Duma. Moreover, "not a politician" Nikolaev is the head of the regional branch of the NGO Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia), the member of the ONF, the Head of the working group of the Dialog vlasti i obschestva (Dialogue between authorities and society), the Chairman of the NGO Za chisty Sevastopol (For clean Sevastopol) and Zastroyki.net. Just like Titov, the entrepreneur works in the field of high-end wine production.
Who takes the girls out for dinner
Watching the actions of the controversial election campaign, one might want to ask a question: who pays for all this activity? The main sponsors of the Partiya Rosta are considered to be the oligarch Mikhail Slipenchuk, who is running from Buryatia, the millionaire Oleg Nikolaev from Sevastopol and the Vice-President of Alfa Bank Vladimir Senin. After Titov carelessly spat out the words about the discussion of the party line with Volodin, the media sources included the presidential administration in the Partiya Rosta’s income source as well. In addition, in the party such figures as the former minister of economy Andrey Nechayev (worked in the Gaidar-Chubais government) and the former leader of the Moscow regional branch of the Union of Right Forces Boris Nadezhdin work, in connection with which there was an opinion that Chubais added some money to the party’s piggy bank .
The official website of the CEC has information on income and expenditure of election campaign of each party. The Partiya Rosta’s revenue sources column is empty, but it contains the figure of 49 million rubles.
Frankly, these is slim for the party of such successful entrepreneurs, given the place some members hold on the Forbes list. Other parties, more modest ones, have much more impressive budget: for example, in the Yabloko’s bank, there is 143 million rubles, their colleagues from the Fair Russia have 97 million rubles, not to mention the record-holder, the Liberal Democratic Party with 521 million rubles.
During the last week of August, the party cash got up to 70.5 million rubles. Sources of income are still not mentioned.
Information from the CEC website
The political analyst Dmitry Oreshnikov quite sharply and openly judged on the essence of the party. He voiced what most of other political scientists would love to say: the Partiya Rosta is a spoiler party quickly established on the eve of elections. The expert believes the union to be an openly pro-government project which collected the populists of various stripes. At that, the party’s success is not impressive: the negotiations involving the really big business, such as Prokhorov and Deripaska, have failed. Drawing famous politicians also failed: the dialogue both with the Mayor of Yekaterinburg Roizman, and Sevastopol entrepreneur and politician Alexey Chaly has never happened.
The Head of the Political expert group Konstantin Kalachev supported his colleague. The expert believes that the ideological pantophagy is Partiya Rosta’s hallmark, which will unlikely find understanding in the Kremlin.
According to the opinion of the Director of the Socio-Economic and Political Studies Institute (ISEP) Research Foundation, Alexander Pozhalov, the only thing that the Partiya Rosta can hope for is having several of its single-seat deputies in the Duma. The Partiya Rosta, says the political scientist, is a great option for the regional businessmen and politicians.Our note
An excellent example of such a candidate is the nominee from Buryatia Mikhail Slipenchuk who has his own serious interests in the region, namely the extraction of minerals (e.g. Ermakovskoe beryllium deposit) and about the rest of the details, apparently, he does not care. Initially, it was said that the tycoon will be nominated by the Liberal Democratic Party, but then it turned out that, by coincidence, by the Buryat branch of the Liberal Democratic Party Slipenchuk’s brother-in-law Sergey Dorosh (who denies all kinds of family relationship with the businessman) was put forward.
The Deputy Director of the Center for Political Technologies, Alexey Makarkin, on the contrary, believes that Growth’s promiscuity is its trump card. He draws a parallel with the situation of Fair Russia in 2011. Then, the young party has been successful due to the fact that it could combine the prominent representatives of the authorities (Mironov, Levichev, Mizulina, Mitrofanov) with well-known opposition (Gudkov, Ponomarev, Zubov). The expert believes that the Partiya Rosta relies on the same scheme.
As a result, we get the hodgepodge party. On the one hand, it is new, on the other hand, it operates on the already proven technology. It involves different people with different views, incomes, popularity, which has its pros and cons. It is obvious that the establishment of the Partiya Rosta was given the green light by the Kremlin, but now one cannot see much support from the authorities. Despite the fact that the Partiya Rosta is a group of successful and wealthy people, the party budget, to put it mildly, is very little, in comparison with the other parties, it is simply not serious. In this case, one candidate of the Partiya Rosta Dmitriev in St. Petersburg only runs a campaign which, according to estimates, is equal to the half of the total election budget.
Apparently, the project is short-term, and as soon as certain people will get what is theirs and become the parliamentarians, the Partiya Rosta will be forgotten in a few months. Although in 2011, no one expected success of Spravedlivaya Russia, but, once in the Duma, the party has not been able to properly dispose its advantage, and now its fate is obscure. In any case, it will certainly by interesting to watch where the political ambitions of the Partiya Rosta’s leader will bring the party.