Flood of the year. Recent embezzlements and old problems of Moscow ‘surfaced’ in Tushino Tunnel
The new year clearly shows: there is no light – only flood – at the end of the tunnel. At least, in Tushino Tunnel flooded by ground waters. Dozens of millions of rubles drowned in that flood. The tarnished reputation of some officials is going to the bottom as well.
Everything flows, nothing changes
Tushino Tunnel in Moscow has been flooded. Smelly ground waters burst under the moving cars. Luckily, no one was injured. The flood was caused by a ground failure in the canal lock № 8 in the Moscow Canal. The neutral term ‘ground failure’ used by rescue services conceals a huge hole some 50 square meters in size (according to some sources, even 75 square meters). The ground waters have flooded not only the tunnel – but a pedestrian crossing near Svobody and Vodnikov streets as well. Therefore, the absence of victims should be considered a true Christmas miracle.
The accident occurred on January 10, 2019, and Petr Biryukov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow, has identified the guilty party even before the completion of water pumping from the tunnel. He said that mistakes made in the early 2000s during the expansion of Volokolamskoe highway could cause the water breakout. Biryukov was so proud of his quick wits that he has even smiled – now the blame can be shifted on former Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
The first two sections of Tushino Tunnel have been launched in 1936. It was laid because the Moskva–Volga Canal (currently, the Moscow Canal) built in the same period had crossed Volokolamskoe highway leading to Tushino Airfield (at that time, the main airport of the city). The tunnel was built in unstable ground – but its first sections withstood the test of time. In 2001, two additional 300-meter-long tunnel sections were laid due to the insufficient traffic capacity of the existing ones. The accident occurred with one of the new sections.
However, later Biryukov remembered that he was a Minister in the Moscow Government in those fabled times. Recent scandals involving Biryukov are still well-remembered as well. Yuri Luzhkov, in turn, has stated that the Moscow Government has nothing to do with the accident. Taking that the tunnels built in 1936 are still safe and sound, the structural reliability of the new underground passages raises serious doubts.
Yuri Luzhkov, ex-Mayor of Moscow
The former Tushino Airfield on Volokolamskoe highway is currently under development. Leonid Fedunin, co-owner of Lukoil and FC Spartak Moscow, promises that his Tushino-2018 Gorod Na Reke (City on the River) Residential Complex will feature an enhanced comfort level. However, this statement is not consistent with endless traffic jams on the highway and risks to drown in the municipal waste at the city’s exit. Sergey Chemezov promises even more – and not only to Moscow residents.
Rostec intends to build at the place of the former airfield Rostec City Technopark accommodating not only A-class offices – but 1 million square meters of deluxe housing as well. Vi Holding belonging to Vitaly Mashchitsky is going to be the general contractor in this project. Mashchitsky openly flaunts his friendly ties with Chemezov. In this context, the development project looks differently – not only does not it involve risky investments, but the state literally guarantees the sale and lease of the future premises. Most probably, the main leaseholder will be Rostec itself; its annual payments to the landlord may reach 3 billion rubles ($45.3 million).
Such a favorable investment climate attracts even foreign investors. For instance, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is going to invest $100 million. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) intends to provide additional $400 million to the childhood friend of Sergey Chemezov. Still, Chemezov does not want to lose the Saudi millions – so, the Rostec CEO has ordered to hush up the scandal around the flood in Tushino Tunnel.
Maksim Liksutov replaced Biryukov in TV news – but he also failed to inspire optimism in Moscow dwellers. Even the news of the possible return of former Mayor Luzhkov hasn't surprised the public. The performance of Moscow Drain Sewerage Plant (Mosvodostok) was not appreciated as well – the people supposed that the water has receded by itself in six hours. On the other hand, the public interest to the maintenance of Tushino Tunnel in the last years is steadily growing.
Where are the millions?
Moscow stands on ground waters – and its builders know very well how to control those. The venerable age of Tushino Tunnel launched in 1936 confirms this. The creation of Soviet engineers is currently maintained by Moscow Canal Federal State Budgetary Institution. Too bad, but in recent years, its managers were mostly busy with financial calculations – not engineering surveys. As a result, plenty of people are currently concerned about the safety of Tushino Tunnel and Volokolamskoe highway – from some unknown businessmen to the family of Evgeny Shulepov, ex-Mayor of Vologda.
Evgeny Shulepov, ex-Mayor of Vologda
In 2018, Moscow Canal Federal State Budgetary Institution has signed four contracts with GidroSpetsElektroMontazh company for the total amount of 26.5 million rubles ($400.1 thousand). One of these contracts included repairs of the canal lock № 8 in the Moscow Canal – the contractor was supposed to repair segment gate actuators there. At the time of the accident, the contract was under implementation; no information on funds already transferred to the contractor is available. Similar repairs had to be performed with the canal lock № 9 as well.
GidroSpetsElektroMontazh (GSEM) belongs to some Viktor Grigor’evich Rokhman’ko. No information can be found about him. However, Rokhman’ko is mentioned in other governmental acquisitions of Moscow Canal Federal State Budgetary Institution. Four years ago, it has held three tenders to repair the above-mentioned canal lock № 8. Baltik-SGEM-Komplekt company affiliated with GSEM has won all the three contracts (tender 1, tender 2, tender 3). In total, Rokhman’ko has earned in 2014 almost 34 million rubles ($513.4 thousand) on contracts with Moscow Canal Federal State Budgetary Institution.
The quality of works performed by Baltik-SGEM is vividly illustrated by subsequent contracts of Moscow Canal. As early as in 2016, a water gate had to be replaced in the ill-fated canal lock № 8 earlier serviced by Baltik-SGEM-Komplekt. Unable to find a contractor in the vicinity of Moscow, the customer has retained Vologda Machine Tool Plant to produce the required water gate. Vologda Machine Tool Plant belongs, via affiliated structures, to Elena Nikolaeva – a daughter of Evgeny Shulepov, ex-Mayor of Vologda, who had suggested Russian citizens to eat nettle. In addition to the water gate, the plant has produced a bulkhead gate for the canal lock № 10 located near Kolomenskoe Manor. The daughter of Shulepov has earned 2.3 million rubles ($34.7 thousand) on this governmental contract.
However, a week after the accident, not even a cloud of suspicion has fallen on the above-mentioned persons. In the absence of other versions, the explanation proposed by Petr Biryukov remains the main one: the recent flood is the fault of the contractor responsible for the reconstruction of Volokolamskoe highway back in 2003. That contractor was Transstroy Design and Construction Company controlled by Oleg Deripaska. As is known, many people had tried to recover losses from Deripaska. Good luck to Biryukov in this.