“24 billion rubles were stolen.” Who benefits from media hype around DPR?
Authoritative Nezygar ((@russica2) Telegram channel has recently published yet another portion of insider information received from its source allegedly linked with the group of ‘Moscow auditors’ involving the Control and Audit Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Ministry of Economic Development, and Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation and carrying out an investigation into activities of Zakharchenko and Timofeev in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). According to the released information, the former DPR leaders have embezzled and appropriated over 24 billion rubles ($367.2 million); the monetary funds in rubles and foreign currencies were transferred to various foreign banks via offshore schemes and delivered in cash to Russia and Spain.
After the death of DPR President Aleksander Zakharchenko in a terrorist attack that still remains unsolved, the DPR has been frequently mentioned in the criminal news. The media sling muck at the former republican leaders, including its late President, and accuse them of corruption and other crimes.
It is necessary to note however that a month and a half after the tragedy resulting in a political upheaval in the region, no reliable facts confirming the crimes allegedly committed by so-called ‘team of Tashkent–Zakharchenko’ were presented. It is commonly understood that Aleksander Timofeev and his team made good money on the war by robbing the region – but all accusations against them still remain unsubstantiated. It seems that some supervisors of the DPR have ordered to discredit the predecessors of Denis Pushilin, Interim Acting Head of the DPR, in order to adjust his image for the November elections in accordance with voters’ expectations.
Authoritative Nezygar ((@russica2) Telegram channel frequently cited both by Russian and foreign Internet media has recently published yet another portion of insider information received from its source allegedly linked with the group of ‘Moscow auditors’ involving the Control and Audit Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Ministry of Economic Development, and Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation and carrying out an investigation into activities of Zakharchenko and Timofeev in the DPR.
According to the released information, the former DPR leaders have embezzled and appropriated over 24 billion rubles ($367.2 million); the monetary funds in rubles and foreign currencies were transferred to various foreign banks via offshore schemes and delivered in cash to Russia and Spain.
“There is information on repeated disappearances of railroad trains loaded with coal, including the cars; the funds allocated for acquisition and breeding of 11 thousand purebred cattle at a husbandry farm located in the Starobeshevo district have disappeared and no cattle can be found; the list of companies and enterprises seized by Aleksander Zakharchenko and Aleksander Timofeev takes two A4 sheets printed on both sides using the 12th font; the former DPR leaders have purchased and almost completed the construction of 4 villas in Italy and Spain with hectares of land (each of them was supposed to have two villas – one in Italy and one Spain),” – Nezygar reports.
Aleksander Zakharchenko and Aleksander Kazakov
In addition, Nezygar authors claim that the ‘auditors’ have allegedly discovered a job application signed by Aleksander Kazakov: “Please accept my candidacy for an advisor to the DPR President with a salary of 800 thousand rubles ($12.2 thousand)”. Aleksander Zakharchenko struck through this sum and wrote above: “Too much. A salary of 500 thousand rubles ($7.6 thousand)”.
Billion-ruble embezzlements ‘without fingerprints’?
24 billion rubles ($367.2 million) is an impressive sum. However, the figure spread inter alia by the Ukrainian media remains unsubstantiated yet. In this context, the question is: if there is documentary evidence of large-scale embezzlements and transfers of stolen funds to offshore territories, why is Aleksander Timofeev still on the loose? His whereabouts in the Russian Federation are well-known.
Just in case: Tashkent, who has fled the DPR, is currently in Crimea, Dmitry Trapeznikov – in Moscow, while Aleksander Kazakov – in Khimki, Moscow region. The above persons frequently meet together at the country home of Zakhar Prilepin in the Moscow region. Therefore, it seems that the law enforcement authorities have no reasons to detain them.
"I think, it makes no sense at all – nothing to comment. Those spreading this information have no idea what is 24 billion rubles ($367.2 million) for the DPR. I assert that there was no such money in the DPR throughout the four years, including all the aid and humanitarian convoys," – Aleksei Martynov, well-known Russian political expert and analyst, told The CrimeRussia.
With regards to the disappearance of railroad trains loaded with coal, The CrimeRussia wrote earlier that in winter 2015, 2757 railway cars have disappeared from Debal’tsovo-Sortirovochnaya station. A special commission chaired by Timofeev has recognized the cars ownerless – and then they vanished without a trace. Nearly 3 thousand railroad cars are not a needle in a haystack. But the law enforcement authorities haven’t made any official statements on this subject yet. It can’t be ruled out that in this particular episode (and, supposedly, in others), the team of Tashkent ‘hasn’t left any fingerprints’, while the direct perpetrators of the criminal scheme are already dead. The cars could be sold to Russia as well – if so, the ‘Moscow auditors’ are not interested in raising this issue. Overall, all these statements and suppositions are just speculations because no official information is available.
Secret project and mythical cattle
The allegations of Nezygar pertaining to the embezzlement of funds allocated for acquisition and breeding of 11 thousand purebred cattle at a husbandry farm located in the Starobeshevo district also seem dubious.
After reviewing agricultural activities in the DPR and speaking with residents of the above district, The CrimeRussia has ruled out this information. For instance, in November 2015, Ivan Mikhailov, then-Head of the Starobeshevo District, has announced his animal husbandry development plans. The sheep and poultry breeding perspectives were not good at all. Mikhailov has emphasized the need to support local producers through privileged taxation.
No references to a giant animal husbandry complex were made at that time. Nor was it mentioned on March 1, 2018 at a conference of Donetsk Republic Public Movement where Aleksander Zakharchenko, Chairman of the Movement, has identified the need to produce a long-term development strategy for the state based on a broad public discussion – this project has been named Strength of Donbass.
Larisa Shinkareva, an agricultural producer from the Starobeshevo district and participant of the above conference, has noted that livestock breeders of the district need funds to lease premises, purchase purebred cattle, and maintain the animals.
“Because the war is still ongoing and not all farmers have required funds, the state support, including privileged credits and subsidies on animal products, is essential,” – she said.
Residents of the Starobeshevo district had never heard about the acquisition and breeding of 11 thousand purebred cattle. Such investments can’t be concealed in a district suffering from artillery shelling. It is unclear therefore what could Tashkent embezzle in the framework of a mythical project in the absence of a business plan, etc.
Furthermore, what big investors would risk to provide funds for a beef and dairy complex if the livestock is supposed to be kept in the near-front zone where the red line goes?
Petrovskoe settlement near Starobeshevo is located on the front line
It is equally hard to confirm or refute the information on how many A4 sheets are required to print the list of enterprises seized by Zakharchenko and Timofeev – because no one had ever seen this list. The same applies to the 4 villas allegedly purchased by the former DPR leaders in Italy and Spain: no information on these acquisitions is available. Taking that both Zakharchenko and Timofeev are personas non grata in the EU, they could not ‘expose’ themselves in real estate deals in Europe.
Aleksander Timofeev (Tashkent) and Denis Pushilin
With regards to the salary of Aleksander Kazakov, advisor to the DPR President, it was known that his monthly wages had amounted to 500 thousand rubles ($7.6 thousand) long before the death of Aleksander Zakharchenko. The personnel of the Executive Office of the DPR President, his close circle, and friends of Kazakov were aware of this.
So, who can benefit from the media hype around the DPR? To answer this question, we are going to use a recent example.
“The DPR authorities had frequently provided false information on the socio-economic situation in the republic to Moscow. The operations of the previous authorities are currently being reviewed in Donetsk; all the discrepancies are reported to the Russian partners who are going to adjust the humanitarian program accordingly. Apparently, the former authorities had tried to pose for Moscow as effective managers able to handle the crisis on their own. This is how they had striven to get more independence,” – Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper cites a statement issued by Denis Denisov, Head of the Institute of Peace-Making Initiatives and Сonflictology, on October 12, 2018.
“Moscow accuses Aleksander Zakharchenko of regular frauds,” – the media are enthusiastically spreading the ‘expert opinion’ of Denis Denisov.
What is this institute about? The Research Institute of Peace-Making Initiatives and Сonflictology has been incorporated on June 28, 2017; its legal address is: apt. 181, 1–36 Bolotnikovskaya street, Moscow. The director and owner of this autonomous noncommercial organization is Denis Denisov; its cofounder is some Andrei Sukhobokov.
In other words, a ‘research institute’ located in a private apartment involves two persons (in fact, only one – Denis Denisov). Within the 1.5-year period since its incorporation, the institute managed to give scientific credence to the entire spectrum of issues plaguing the war-torn region and publicly accused its leaders of fraud.
Of course, late Zakharchenko cannot refute the allegations brought by ‘the director of the institute’ – too bad, but some people are inclined to believe such statements. Furthermore, Denis Denisov poses as ‘a Moscow–Donetsk political expert’. He is a native of Donbass indeed – but Denisov had also lived in Kiev for a long time. In April 2015, he fled Ukraine because, according to his own words, he has received a mobilization notice and could be enlisted for the Anti-Terrorist Operation. Upon arriving at Moscow, Denisov told RIA Novosti that "if he returns to Ukraine, he would be immediately arrested".
However, in August 2016, Denisov gave an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper from Kiev – and no one was going to detain him there. Six months after that interview, he has established a ‘research institute’ in Moscow.