Fish spots in the muddy creek of the Governor of Sakhalin 

Fish spots in the muddy creek of the Governor of Sakhalin
The main assets of Sakhalin Governor Oleg Kozhemyako are registered in his family members Photo: The CrimeRussia

The Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Agency for Fishery are addressing the issue of revising the allocation of quotas for fish production in the Far East. The new principle of work, which is “one river – one owner”, as it turns out, is promoted by Sakhalin Governor Oleg Kozhemyako, who is associated with the largest fishing business in the region. The CrimeRussia looked into the intricacies of the family business of the head of Sakhalin.

One river – one owner 

The Government of Russia is considering the possibility of changing the rules for issuing quotas for wild capture fishery in the Far East. The Ministry of Agriculture and Federal Agency for Fishery were instructed to analyze the financial and economic indicators of the river fish market in the region by March 20 and make certain proposals. Fishing companies are offered a new working principle: “one river - one owner.” Up to now, the rivers have been divided into several fishing areas, which are distributed among different companies. The new mechanism is submitted with the implication of the company's sole responsibility for fishing, maintaining its population and environmental protection. This will, according to the initiators of the reform, observe the principles of careful development of the territories, combat poaching and create incentives for the conservation and reproduction of fish. It is primarily related to the rivers of Sakhalin and Kamchatka. And the main lobbyist of the idea, as it turned out, is the current Sakhalin Governor, Oleg Kozhemyako. 

In order to understand the motives for promoting the new principle of quota allocation, it is enough to know that the annual turnover of the Far Eastern river fish market is estimated at $1.5 billion. These days, in one river, there are several fish production sites assigned to different companies. The principle called “one river – one owner” assumes that a single river will be a single fishery site assigned to a single enterprise. 

In 2008, about 400 fishing sites in Sakhalin and the Kuriles were distributed between 282 enterprises for a period of 20 years. At that, only about twenty companies were operating on salmon rivers, the rest were fishing in the coastal marine areas, noted business ombudsman of the Sakhalin region Andrei Kovalenko.

Андрей Коваленко

Andrei Kovalenko

Last year’s outcomes of the fishing business in Sakhalin were disappointing. Governor Kozhemyako was dissatisfied with the fact the salmon yield in the region decreased three-fold, to 40 thousand tons, while in the neighboring region, Kamchatka, the figures remained at the level of 230-300 thousand tons over the past few years. 

The Head of Sakhalin is well known as the owner of the largest fishing business in the Region. However, officially, before taking office, Oleg Kozhemyako got rid of all his assets. Now they belong to his family – they own a dozen companies with billions in turnover. 

Muddy family status 

In Oleg Kozhemyako’s declaration of property, in addition to the land plot of 4.5 hectares, several houses and apartments, the only thing that stands out is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which is his only vehicle. But what the declaration lacks is a legitimate spouse.

In the information about himself the Governor did not indicate her when he was nominated for the governor's office, and in subsequent declarations of incomes. The Sakhalin Administration assured journalists that he was not married. However, Kozhemyako himself spoke with great warmth about his wife and her parents.

Олег Кожемяко на мотоцикле

Oleg Kozhemyako on his Harley-Davidson

At the first big press conference, answering the question about his marital status, he confirmed that he had a wife: "Why not? I have one. I live with my wife from the third year of university, we’ve been together for 26 years. We have two children: a boy, who is 24 years old, and my daughter is in the ninth grade. We are sticking to the planned course and are not going anywhere so far.”

The official biography of Oleg Kozhemyako in the column “marital status” explicitly states: “Married, has three children” (Oleg Kozhemyako himself says he has two children). But so far, the regional administration has failed to explain the lack of information about the wife's income. Moreover, while Kozhemyako was the governor of the Amur region, he did not indicate his spouse in the declaration, without any damage to himself and his reputation. 

However, local media have long learned that the Governor's wife is Irina Gerasimenko, the owner of several large fishery enterprises in the Far East. Also, with her, he shows at some official events.

Ирина Герасименко и Олег Кожемяко

Irina Gerasimenko and Oleg Kozhemyako   

Oleg Kozhemyako also publicly speaks of his twin sister Olga Kravchenko: “Now, my sister lives in another region, at the place of service of her husband, who is a general and whom she married when he was a lieutenant of the border guard. But we often talk on the phone, meet and continue to consider ourselves a single family.” We can only guess who is that general with the surname Kravchenko, who is the spouse of Kozhemyako’s sister. The Chief of the Volgograd MIA’s Main Directorate, Lieutenant-General Alexander Nikolaevich Kravchenko, could fit the description. But he has been divorced for several years with his wife Tatyana Shishkina. And his entire track record is related only to the Southern Region of Russia. There is also General Sergey Kravchenko, who was appointed acting head of the Security Service in the Caucasus (SOK) of the FSO instead of General Gennady Lopyrev, who was arrested for corruption. But there is too little information about this person due to his profession to assert something for sure.

Income details 

So what does Sakhalin Governor Kozhemyako own through his wife and sister? The main asset is PJSC Preobrazhenskaya Baza Tralovogo Flota (Preobrazhensky Trawl Fleet Base). The joint-stock company was established in 1992 as part of the state enterprise with the same name located in the village of Preobrazheniye, the Primorye Territory. But because of the difficult economic situation in the country, the number of the ships has been greatly reduced and the coastal production has been curtailed. In 1997, a new Board of Directors was elected headed by Oleg Kozhemyako (until 2002). The company's revenue in 2016 (the latest published data) amounted to 6.9 billion rubles. 

According to the official data, after the company's securities were issued in November 2017, the main holders of the enterprise’s shares were: Irina Gerasimenko - 28.0529%, Olga Nikolaevna Kravchenko - 27.4209%, Torgovy Dom Fili (Trade House Fili) (owned by Irina Gerasimenko and Olga Kravchenko) - 26.5811%, Vympel LLC (owned by Irina Gerasimenko and Olga Kravchenko) - 13.7013%. The rest of the shares (about 1%) is in the hands of the company's CEO Sergei Yeremeev and a member of the Board of Directors, Deputy Director Nikita Kozhemyako (Oleg Kozhemyako’s son). Among the members of the Board of Directors is Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Kravchenko (possibly Olga Kravchenko's daughter) with a zero share in the enterprise’s capital. 

Irina Gerasimenko, Olga Kravchenko, Nikita Kozhemyako and Alexander Litvinenko are also shareholders of other large companies engaged in the fish business: Severo-Kurilskaya Baza Seynernogo Flota (The North Kuril Base of Sein Fleet), the mentioned Trade House Fili LLC, Tymlatsky Rybokombinat (The Tymlat Fish Factory) and others.

Kommersant associates Oleg Kozhemyako with Ozernovsky Rybokonservny Zavod No. 55 (Ozernovsky Fish Cannery № 55), as well (revenue in 2016 – 3.5 billion rubles). The plant is part of the Salmonica Holding along with Tymlatsky Rybokombinat (Tylmat Fish Processing Plant), OJSC The North Kuril Base of Sein Fleet, Rybholkam LLC and Morskiye Resursy (Marine Resources) LLC. 

Irina Gerasimenko also owns 55% of Bereg Nadezhdy (The Coast of Hope) LLC, 40% of KIT LLC, 20% of Termoplast LLC, 41% of Concord LLC, and 18% of Preobrazhensky Fishery JSC. And Olga Kravchenko owns 35% of KIT LLC and 25% of Bereg Nadezhdy. In addition, each of these companies has many subsidiaries associated with the fish business. 

Who’s interested? 

It is worth noting that all these companies specialize in the production of sea, not fresh-water fish. Also, they have not nothing to do with Sakhalin (except for The North Kuril Base of Sein Fleet and Marine Resources). However, in 2014 (before Oleg Kozhemyako was appointed to the post of the acting governor of the region), Preobrazhensky Trawl Fleet Base was considering opening a branch in Sakhalin. The media wrote about the complete change of the legal address and the transfer of production. 

In the autumn of 2017 (before the initiative to change the rules for the distribution of quotas was sounded), rumors emerged in business circles about the sale of the mentioned company to the holding Gidrostroy associated with a Sakhalin senator, Alexander Verkhovsky. But instead, the enterprise issued more securities, which the main owners – the Kozhemyako family – bought out. Gidrostroy could also occupy a solid niche with a new distribution of quotas. In addition, the new principle, as it is believed, could also be interesting to the Russkaya Rybopromyshlennaya Kompaniya (Russian Fishery Company) owned by Maxim Vorobyov and Gleb Frank.

Максим Воробьев и Глеб Франк

Maxim Vorobyov and Gleb Frank

Overall, the biggest players in the market will benefit from the innovation, while small and medium-sized businesses will find themselves overboard. In addition, it is not entirely clear how the potential of a single river will be determined – by its length? And most importantly, by what criteria will be selected companies that will become “owners”? 

The situation is also complicated by the arrest of the director of the territorial department of Federal Agency for Fishery, Alexander Taratenko, which took place in March 2017. Against the official, a criminal case was initiated under the article Exceeding Official Powers (Art. 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). He is suspected of receiving numerous bribes and kickbacks. That is, an honest distribution of quotas in the region is not even an issue.

Александр Таратенко

Alexander Taratenko 

If the initiative “one river – one owner” spreads to neighboring regions, then, the idea looks quite absurd. Who will get the Amur River, the length of which is almost 3 thousand kilometers? By the area of the basin, Amur is the fourth largest among the rivers of Russia. 

In any case, the Federal Agency for Fishery has almost 2 months to make proposals or give reasoning to the initiative. Moreover, some experts and businesses have already strongly criticized the new idea.

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