“Putin’s friends” and Kadyrov: who wants to get rid of God Nisanov?
One of the most successful renters in Moscow, God Nisanov, is in trouble again. For now, it concerns his market business. Some sources say that such heavyweights as the Rotenbergs, Timchenko, Delimkhanov and Kadyrov are ready to join the fight against him, which will leave no chance for the businessman. Therefore, it seems that Nisanov will not remain the king of the main vegetable warehouse in Moscow for a long time, and soon he will have to at least move if not withdraw from this market. The fact that thieves in law will undoubtedly play an important role in this confrontation – Guli, who owns Food City, on the one hand, and Akhmed Shalinsky, looking for opportunities to occupy his niche in Moscow, on the other – adds tension.
The business community is now discussing a new possible redistribution in the market of wholesale vegetable warehouses, as a result of which the current flagship Food City of God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev will have to make room. The revival of Chetyre Sezona (‘Four Seasons’) market is currently under way. Its structures may include the Rotenberg brothers, Gennady TImchenko, and even Ramzan Kadyrov and Adam Delimkhanov.
Recent changes in this business were associated with the closure of the largest wholesale vegetable warehouse in 2013, the Biryulevskaya warehouse, after the unrest caused by the murder of a local resident by one of the market workers. The following year, such new agricultural clusters as Food City on Kaluzhskoe Highway and Four Seasons in Domodedovo appeared.
The pavilions in which Food City is located were originally built for another project, as it was called, the Lotos City trade and exhibition center, which was essentially a covered clothing market.
Plamya LLC was in charge of the project. Its co-owners included ex-State Duma deputy Ildar Samiev (who was subsequently charged with two episodes of fraud) and Andrey Goncharenko, then-first deputy of Gazprom Invest Yug. His father, Nikolay Goncharenko, was associated with billionaires Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, owning St. Petersburg's Atrium LLC, specializing in real estate operations, on equal terms with them. Therefore, an opinion was shaped that this complex was at least in the sphere of interests of “Putin’s friend.” Nevertheless, the Rotenbergs’ representative told Forbes that they did not have anything to do with the facility. Whereas, representatives of TPS-Nedvizhimost, a co-owner of which is Arkady Rotenberg, said that they did receive the proposal to become the management company of Lotus-City, but after studying the concept, they refused this idea.
An area of 90 hectares was to become the new Cherkizon; however, the closure of the Pokrovskaya vegetable warehouse in Biryulyovo disordered arrangements and the already built shopping pavilions were sold to Nisanov. It is now said that this could have been done under pressure. Back then, it looked like Nisanov killed two birds with one stone with one purchase – on the one hand, he prevented a competitor from emerging in clothing markets, and on the other hand, he entered a new niche of vegetable markets, which at that time was becoming very popular. The transaction amount was not disclosed, but as suggested by Colliers International managing partner Nikolay Kazansky, it could be about $1 billion. Given that the annual revenue (including shadow schemes) of the Biryulevskaya base was about 10 billion rubles ($156 million), the investment was still very profitable and could pay off in 6-7 years.
So, exactly one year after the presentation of Lotos-City, Sobyanin was once again shown around the same shopping center by its new owners, who introduced him a new concept.
The story of the final owners of Four Seasons is very confused.
Initially, Finance Invest LLC, registered in Moscow region’s Krasnogorsk, the final owners of which were hiding behind the Cyprus, Seychelles, and British Virgin Islands offshore, became the customer of market construction. However, soon former boxer Timofey Kurgin started introducing himself as the market head, who claimed that the Four Seasons market belonged to him and “Orthodox oligarchs” Aleksey and Dmitry Ananyev's Promsvyazkapital on a parity basis. At the same time, according to official figures, Kurgin was not among the market owners (only Akademia Boksa (‘Boxing Academy’), the Charity Fund +7 (‘Regional Development’) and the Pravoslavia Foundation were listed as organizations headed by him), and he was associated with the Ananyevs by a joint wood processing business holding Rossiyskaya Lesnaya Gruppa (‘Russian Forest Group’, RLG), uniting two plants in the Irkutsk region.
In addition, he has long been known as a representative of the brothers’ interests, including in very sensitive matters. For example, his name was mentioned in connection with the illegal seizure of the agro-industrial complex Ramfood, which came under the control of Promsvyazbank.
In mid-90s, Kurgin miraculously escaped punishment for the murder of State Duma deputy Sergey Skorochkin, who had a conflict with his business partner from Nizhny Novgorod. After Skorochkin sold him a distillery, the buyer still owed $380 thousand. The debtor asked his friend, “power broker” Oleg Lipkin, to help him; the latter proposed to solve the issue by physically eliminating the deputy. In 1995, Skorochkin was kidnapped and killed by gunshots to the head.
In 1998, Lipkin and Kurgin were sentenced to 5.5 and 4.5 years of imprisonment by jury's decision. The prosecutor's office appealed the verdict, and the Supreme Court referred the case for a new trial. Years went by, the jury passed an acquittal several times; eventually, Kurgin was released because the statute of limitations. In 2005, the case was closed.
It was also reported that Kurgin had access to the upper strata of the criminal world; he was familiar with leader of the Orekhovskaya organized crime group iylvester and thief in law Aksen; in addition, he was in the same cell with Shakro Molodoy.
For the market operation, the Mosselprom-Domodedovo operator company was specially created, which was owned by an offshore company Digimia Management LTD (Virgin Islands) and a certain Dmitry Kovalev, whose shares were held by Promsvyazbank. Four Seasons was 3 times smaller than Food City, but had better logistics. Its owners had ambitious plans. They wanted to continue expansion and attract new investors.
In late 2015, it was reported in the media that the world's highest paid boxer at the time, American Floyd Mayweather Jr., was ready to invest in Four Seasons, and Kurgin was negotiating with him. As he told RBC, Mayweather intended to buy 10-25% of the market for $20-50 million, based on an asset estimate of $200 million.
Timofey Kurgin and Floyd Meyvezer Jr.
Nevertheless, instead of participating in the vegetable business of the American boxer, the shopping complex soon switched to Fruit Trade LLC, registered in Krasnogorsk, which subsequently changed its name to the current ORC CHETYRE SEZONA LLC, which is 100% owned by another martial arts representative Pavel Karnaukh (Mixed Martial Arts Federation (MMA), whose share was still pledged to Promsvyazbank, which is currently controlled by the state and headed by Pyotr Fradkov, the son of ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.
However, the acquisition of trading space is not a guarantee of the successful operation of the trade cluster. According to the manager of Slavyanskiy Mir, which owns a huge construction market at the intersection of Kaluzhskoe Highway and the Moscow Ring Road right next to Food City, in the fall of 2013, observing the huge demand for retail space, its owner Vladimir Leshchikov was also going to do some vegetable business, but after seeing how everything worked, he changed his mind.
To attract traders to his site, Nisanov and his partner Iliev asked for help from their friend, whom they had known since working on the Cherkizovsky market under the leadership of Telman Ismailov, thief in law Rovshan Dzhaniev (Rovshan Lenkoransky), who at that time practically controlled all merchants of Moscow (and not only) vegetable depots. With the help of his henchmen - Zaur Akhmedov and Magerram Gasanov (Pokrovka Magerram), he dragged wholesalers from other markets to Food City, which ensured Nisanov a stable cash flow. Naturally, this caused discontent of the competitors, but they could not do anything with him, especially since the Ananyevs soon found themselves in trouble and clearly did not have time for the market.
To recall, in late 2017, Promsvyazbank fell under state reorganization amid serious financial problems. A criminal case under part 4 of Art. 160 of the Russian Criminal Code (Misappropriation or Embezzlement Commited by an Organized Group, or on an Especially Large Scale) and part 4 of Art. 174 (The Legalisation (Laundering) of Funds and Other Property Acquired by Other Persons Illegaly) was initiated against the brothers. The Arbitration Court of Moscow seized their property, including apartments, cars, an aircraft, several land plots, and a collection of paintings, in the amount of more than 282 billion rubles ($4.407 billion). The brothers were hiding in London.
The story with Dzhaniev also ended quite quickly. In August 2016, he was shot dead in Turkey. Among the reasons was revenge for the murder of Ded Hasan, in ordering which Rovshan Lenkoransky was suspected. In addition, the main suspect was, of course, his main enemy, thief in law Guli, with whom they competed for the opportunity to control Azerbaijani merchants and the diaspora as a whole. It could also be Nisanov’s competitors, who thus wanted to end the success of Food City. And finally, it could be Nisanov and Iliev, who allegedly had a conflict with Dzhaniev over money, due to which they risked losing tenants.
According to Rosbalt, in October 2018, in a letter sent to the Russian president, former owner of Cherkizon Ismailov exposed the involvement of the businessmen in the thief’s liquidation. However, later he renounced everything previously written, calling the incident a provocation.
Nevertheless, this “termination of Dzhaniev’s powers” did not really affect Food City’s work. Especially since all merchants soon came under Guli’s control. In late 2017, Nisanov even announced the expansion of this area of his business.
According to him, a new wholesale food market would appear in Khimki, providing the northern front with food supplies. For this purpose, the businessman bought a plot of more than 40 hectares, which would distribute the flows of tenants between these two objects.
After that, they began to approach Nisanov from different angles. In March this year, the work of his markets Sadovod, Moskva, and later Food City was paralyzed due to the raids of security forces. Long before that, in an interview with Vedomosti, Director of the financial monitoring and currency control department of the Central Bank Yury Polupanov said that Sadovod and Moskva “practically became pioneers and leaders in the proposal for the purchase of cryptocurrencies.” Their main buyers are immigrants from China, who thus save and avoid taxes. The scheme is simple; cryptocurrency is acquired for most of the revenue, which is instantly redirected to the merchants’ homeland, where it is cashed. According to Polupanov, about 600 billion rubles circulate there a month. At the same time, there are practically no transfers to bank accounts.
Searches at Sodovod
“The wholesale and retail complexes Sadovod and Food City have become the key platforms in Moscow.” It was also reported that Nisanov’s nephews had prepared their escape routes, issuing themselves European passports, namely Maltese.
Nevertheless, no criminal cases were opened regarding the checks and the markets soon returned to their normal working hours. Nisanov himself later attributed what had happened to the machinations of his competitors.
Recently, his opponents have taken new measures aimed at weakening Nisanov’s position. Now on Telegram channels there is information that Ramzan Kadyrov and Adam Delimkhanov are behind the market in Domodedovo. Their partners are Gennady Timchenko and Igor Rotenberg. Thief in law Akhmed Dombaev (Akhmed Shalinsky), who was released at the beginning of the month after 10 years of colonies, will be responsible for the union’s criminal activity. In this situation, Food City and Nisanov in particular do have much of a future.
It is curious that this all coincided with a jump on thief in law Guli, who is currently in charge of the Food City merchants, by Shakro Molodoy's men, whose interests are represented by Badri Koguashvili (Badri Kutaissky). To recall, the conflict was caused by Guli’s sidekick, crime lord Arman Dikiy, who beat hereditary thief Guram Chikhladze (Kvezhoevich), who came to meet with Guli. After that, Koguashvili said that since Salifov allowed a non-thief in law to raise a hand against a thief, he himself could no longer be called a thief. However, he has yet to enlist the support of others on that matter.
In turn, Chechnya has long been looking for its main thief in law, who could adequately represent the region. To this end, a scheme was even organized at the region’s highest level for the early release and transfer to his historical homeland of thief in law Aziz Batukaev, who was imprisoned in Kyrgyzstan. However, Aziz did not live up to the hopes. Therefore, Dombaev is now becoming a key figure; hardly anyone will be surprised that it is possible that this whole situation with Four Seasons was conceived only for his sake.
At the same time, some sources claim that all this is only the result of a quarrel between Nisanov and his long-standing partners - the Rotenberg brothers - who eventually targeted at the entire Moscow vegetable market, so they may take away Food City.
God Nisanov, Arkady Rotenberg, Ilgam Ragimov
In addition, the Rotenbergs intervened into the project that Nisanov and Iliev conducted in the Moscow City business center. In 2011, their LLC Grand-Titul bought the lease and development rights of the 15th section in Moscow City for 7.22 billion rubles. It was planned to build a multifunctional complex Grand Tower there. However, in 2017, as Kommersant found out, SMP Bank announced that it would become an investor in this project, leaving Nisanov and Iliev’s company the general contractor. By the way, the tower, which was planned to be commissioned by 2018, has yet to be built.
One gets the impression that the Rotenberg brothers and Timcheko try to get their hands on any profitable and promising business project. The area is not important; the main thing is that it can give them instant profit. Due to being restricted to travel abroad because of sanctions, they literally squeeze all the juices here in their homeland, now reaching even food markets.
As for the Chechen wing represented by Kadyrov, Dombaev, and Delimkhanov, it is more likely mentioned to make this whole thing serious, given that the latter is well known to Moscow businessmen as a very influential arbiter in resolving financial conflicts.
In light of all this, it is worth recalling that only recently, Nisanov lost his main patron - Putin's classmate and friend of Nisanov’s father, Azerbaijani lawyer Ilgam Rakhimov, who ceased to be the owner of a share in the companies of Nisanov and Iliev. According to the Uniform State Register of Legal Entities, in March 2018, Ragimov left the list of shareholders of the companies that own the Ukraina Hotel (Vysotka LLC, operating under the Radisson Royal brand), Sadovod Market (Flora and Fauna LLC), Automotive Shopping Center on Kashirka (ATC LLC on Kashirka), and furniture shopping centers Grand and Grand 2 (Grandtitul LLC). In addition, he is no longer among the founders of Kievskaya Ploshchad LLC and Kievskaya Ploshchad 1 LLC (both registered at the address belonging to the group of the Evropeisky SC) and Trade and Industrial Company Avers 3 LLC.
The fact that Nisanov is looking for new support is evidenced even by the fact that just a couple of months ago, he hired the son of Roskosmos’s Head Dmitry Rogozin, Aleskey, who was previously dismissed as general director of the Ilyushin Aviation Complex. The latter will manage the project for the construction of the Nagatinskaya transport interchange hub in Nisanov’s structures. But frankly, hardly this will help him.
It is not for nothing that rumors have been circulating about the preparation of a “reserve airfield” in the United States by Nisanov. Moreover, these rumors find confirmation. The CrimeRussia found the businessman’s father Semyon Nisanov and his mother Margarita Nisanova among the residents of Brooklyn – one of the largest areas of New York – although not as prestigious as Manhattan, but it is the place of compact residence of the Jewish community.
So, in spite of the fact that Nisanov is still trusted to conduct objects that are significant for Moscow – for example, the reconstruction of the Olimpiysky sports complex – his mind is most likely far from the Russian capital.