Raiders make Kuzbass Koksovaya-2 manager silent forever?
The sister of Evgeny Lazarevich, former manager of the Kemerovo mine Koksovaya-2, appealed to the Chairman of ICR Alexander Bastrykin with a request to take the case of her brother, who disappeared two years ago, to the central apparatus of the department. Anna Lazarevich believes that her brother was a victim of raiders, among whom there were some of the defendants in the case of seizure of the Inskoy section. The CrimeRussia decided to figure out who the mine manager could testify on and who of those involved in the situation around Koksovaya-2 is still at large today.
The story with the change of the owner of the Kemerovo coal mine Koksovaya-2 started in 2012. According to the engineers of the mine, its "careful approaches" to industrial safety always made it different from the other mines in Prokopyevsk. However, six years ago, for some unknown reason, it began to cause "unhealthy interest" for the local department of Rostekhnadzor. In 2012, the supervisory authority blocked the work of the mine, which supplied coal to the largest metallurgical plants in the region, for a total of 171 days. Forced downtime led Koksovaya-2 to financial collapse.
In July 2012, the procedure for the bankruptcy of the mine was initiated. In December, the decision of the Arbitration Court for the Kemerovo region introduced external management on Koksovaya-2. Evgeny Lazarevich was appointed as the bankruptcy supervisor. He had the necessary experience: previously the PhD was appointed for similar positions more than 20 times when other Kemerovo mines were getting closed. The court set a monthly salary to the manager at 30 thousand rubles ($1,000 at 2012 rate, $430 at the current rate).
Koksovaya-2 coal mine
In December 2012, Lazarevich prepared, and the creditors of Koksovaya-2 approved a plan of measures providing for the continuation of production and economic activities. However, Rostekhnadzor did not approve the mining development plan: in the opinion of the supervisory authority, the mine lacked the necessary security systems. The management of Koksovaya-2 tried to dispute the decision in court, but the Central District Court of Prokopyevsk banned the descent into the mine and the extraction of coal. 1,500 miners lost the opportunity to work and earn money.
Koksovaya-2 coal mine
Soon the situation became even more complicated: for an unknown reason, in 2013, an endogenous (internal) fire started on Koksovaya-2. It first arose because of spontaneous combustion of coal in 1973, and it had to be extinguished until October 1990. When the flame for some reason broke out again, Lazarevich and the general director of Koksovaya-2 Andrey Grekov managed to find a way out of the situation, which seemed hopeless. They signed a contract with SibProjectGrupp for the development of a project to eliminate the fire. Specialists proposed to extract coal from the fire seats, and then fill them with incombustible rocks. The developed plan gave the mine a chance to survive: the extracted coal was sold, and the received profits were sent to pay wages and conserve the mine. So, Lazarevich managed to repay debts on salaries and social payments to 1360 employees, and then to reduce them civilly, paying all the compensations due. "The excessive efforts of the bankruptcy administrator made it possible to avoid a social explosion and observe the social guarantees given to the dismissed, stipulated by labor legislation, sectoral tariff agreement and collective agreement," the chairman of the trade union committee of the mine Igor Ivanov commented on Lazarevich's actions.
Koksovaya-2 coal mine
During the first year of the bankruptcy proceedings, the workers of the mine were paid 249.5 million rubles ($3.6 mln) of wages and severance pay. The bulk of the amount was obtained through the sale of coal, extracted from the hotbeds of the rock mass. Another 160 miners continued to work: they extinguished the fire and pumped water out of the mine workings.
Koksovaya-2 coal mine
The situation on Koksovaya-2 normalized, and then the owner of the mine – the Moscow businessman Boris Yakubuk – got under attack. He owned OOO Zenkovsky mine management, which included several coal mines and a coal-dressing factory in Prokopyevsk. The raiders acted in the same way as when capturing Anton Tsygankov's Inskoy mine. In April 2013, the management of the ICR in Kemerovo region initiated a criminal case against Yakubuk in accordance with Part 2 of Art. 201 of the Criminal Code (Abuse of Authority). The reason was the non-payment of wages. The suspect was detained in the capital and taken to the Kemerovo region. It was stressed that the case was initiated by the appeal of Governor of the Kemerovo region Aman Tuleev. And the head of the region himself proudly declared that "the detention of Yakubuk should become an example for unscrupulous owners."
Yakubuk came out from jail in Kemerovo region only two months later at the end of June. To obtain freedom, he had to sign documents on the sale of his assets. In July, the right for the mine Zenkovskaya was transferred to the Municipal Budget Institution Office for Civil Defense and Emergencies of the city of Prokopyevsk under the direction of deputy of the regional council Pyotr Yatsukhno. Another deputy was appointed as the director of the mine – Deputy Chairman of the territorial coal trade union Anatoly Ryzhkov. OOO Coal-preparation plant Koksovaya was transferred to Novokuznetsk ZAO TopProm. Having achieved the required result, the raiders stopped the criminal prosecution: in 2014 the case against Yakubuk was terminated, but not for rehabilitating reasons.
Seizing the control of the Zenkovskaya mine was rather easy. But at the Koksovaya raiders were confronted immediately by two uncomfortable people – Lazarevich and Grekov. At first, they tried to negotiate with the bankruptcy supervisor. According to sources, lawyer Timur Frank was appointed to negotiate with Lazarevich. He repeatedly successfully represented the interests of the local coal oligarch Aleksandr Shchukin, using the support of his relative – then-Deputy Head of the Main MIA Directorate of the Kemerovo region for economic security Aleksey Ivanov. Soon Ivanov will become the vice-governor, and then he will get arrested together with Shchukin for extorting the shares of Inskoy. Another influential patron of Frank was Vice-Governor of the Kemerovo region Maksim Makin, who was considered to become the successor to Aman Tuleev.
Timur Frank (second right)
Vice-Governor of the Kemerovo region Maksim Makin
Frank announced to Lazarevich: Shchukin plans to include Koksovaya-2 in his coal empire. Therefore, the bankruptcy administrator has only two options: either to help the oligarch or go to prison. Lazarevich refused, and then he was threatened by both the siloviki and high-ranking officials from the administration of the Kemerovo region. According to sources, Sergey Kalinkin, Head of the Investigative Department of the ICR for the Kemerovo region, Vladimir Shepel, Head of the Investigative Unit of the Main MIA Directorate for the Kemerovo region, Viktor Kutylkin, First Deputy Head of the MIA for the Kemerovo region, Andrey Leontyev, the former employee of the MIA Directorate for Combating Economic Crimes in the Kemerovo region, and representatives of the criminal world could blackmail Lazarevich associated with them. On the part of the administration of the region, the Vice-Governors of the Kemerovo region Andrey Gammershmidt and Aleksey Ivanov could take part in blackmail.
The sister of the bankruptcy administrator confirmed in her appeal to Bastrykin the information about regular threats that came to Lazarevich. According to Anna Lazarevich, the manager told his relatives: all his interlocutors – officials, siloviki, representatives of local criminals – allegedly unequivocally made it clear that they were acting in the interests of Shchukin.
Kuzbass oligarch Aleksandr Shchukin
Lazarevich did not give up, and then they created new problems for him. In August 2013, the local Rostekhnadzor issued another order: immediately withdraw all people from the drainage chambers. The supervisory authority referred to the threat to the lives of miners. Pumps had to be stopped, and underground workings began to get flooded. By August all electrical equipment was completely destroyed by water. The situation became critical. Flooding of the Koksovaya-2 itself and associated mines with groundwater began to threaten the whole of Prokopyevsk: a large part of the city could have gone underground. And the ongoing endogenous fire created the danger of a methane explosion. In October 2013 it got necessary to declare regime of an emergency situation of technogenic character at the mine.
The result was expected: Kuzbassnedra suspended the license of Koksovaya-2 for coal mining. And right after that, the siloviki came to the mine – allegedly to check the information that coal is illegally mined at Koksovaya-2. "On December 17, 2013, the employees of the Department for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in the Kemerovo Region conducted operational search activities on the territory of the mining site of the Koksovaya-2 mine, having detected in the way of extinguishing fire No. 611 illegal mining of coal by the open method," told the chief mechanic of the mine Aleksandr Loran. And on December 23, law enforcement officers returned and took out of storage all the supplies of coal mined under the firefighting program. Siloviki did not bother to explain on what basis they operate so. According to Andrey Grekov, "no one gave me as a director any document, and I made official inquiries everywhere why coal was taken from the mine."
The management of the mine planned to sell the taken coal to pay the December salary to the employees. The siloviki deprived the enterprise of coal reserves for 17 million rubles ($250,000) and a chance to pay the miners. Lazarevich asked the city and regional budgets to give Koksovaya-2 a loan to repay the debt, but he was refused.
The emergency situation and wage debts became the basis for removing the inconvenient leader. Head of the Prokopyevsk department of Rostekhnadzor, Sergey Sleptsov, initiated the case of Lazarevich's disqualification, and in December 2013 the magistrate court temporarily suspended the bankruptcy administrator for a year. The decision was appealed, but the appeal had to be postponed due to Lazarevich's health condition – he had to do two cavitary operations.
Head of the Prokopyevsk department of Rostekhnadzor Sergey Sleptsov
In January 2014, Lazarevich was still in the hospital. And at that moment a criminal case was opened against him in accordance with Art. 171 of the Criminal Code (Illegal Business). Lazarevich was declared a "black digger" and accused of illegal coal mining and causing damage to the state in the amount of 19 million rubles ($280,000). The manager was facing up to 5 years of imprisonment. The siloviki came to Iskitim hospital, where the patient lay under a dropper and anesthesia. Ignoring the doctors' objections that it is impossible to transport the patient in this condition, they transferred Lazarevich to the Kemerovo hospital.
Lazarevich's attorneys describe the further events as follows: "At 6:00 am on 01.02.2014, Shchukin's lawyers – Timur Frank and Ivan Povoroznyuk, as well as notary of Kemerovo, Tarasov S.V. came to Evgeny Lazarevich's hospital room. These persons demanded that Lazarevich issues a power of attorney to Povoroznyuk to convene an extraordinary meeting of creditors in order to elect a new bankruptcy administrator." According to Anna Lazarevich, her brother was required to provide not only a power of attorney but also a statement on the dismissal from the managing position. "Having received a categorical refusal, this group expressed a threat that in such case Lazarevich will go to prison directly from the hospital. After that, Lazarevich was placed in the detention center of Prokopyevsk, although such a preventive measure as the detention of a suspect under Art. 171 of the Criminal Code is not provided by law," lawyers said.
Lazarevich did not give up, and then he was threatened with another criminal case. And the raiders acted with the support at the highest level: in February 2014 Aman Tuleev called on law enforcement agencies to deal with delays in wages at the Koksovaya-2 mine. The governor asked to bring the bankruptcy administrator to criminal liability and stated that, unlike the workers, he gets wages on time. "According to the financiers, it is possible that Mr. Lazarevich has a "golden parachute" beloved by many top managers," the press service of the Kemerovo region administration told journalists.
Then Mayor of Prokopyevsk Valery Garanin joined the harassment. The head of the city openly declared: both Grekov and Lazarevich did not save the enterprise, but only stuffed their pockets, receiving wages ten times higher than the mine's workers, "200 and 300 thousand rubles ($3,000 and $4,000)." Therefore, "it is necessary to eliminate" unscrupulous leaders, as previously law enforcement authorities had to detain and remove Yakubuk from the management of coal enterprises. "All the siloviki are engaged in this issue, so the natural finish on these leaders - they will be treated by those who should be treating them," Garanin summed up in an interview with a local television channel.
Former Mayor of Prokopyevsk Valery Garanin
After Garanin's speech, Lazarevich and Grekov's lawyers sent a request to the administration of Prokopyevsk to refute information about the huge salaries of the management of Koksovaya-2. Lawyers recalled that the remuneration to the bankruptcy administrator is determined by the arbitration court and Lazarevich receives only 30 thousand rubles ($500) for his work. However, the mayor's office simply ignored the document.
While Lazarevich remained in the detention center, the general director Grekov had to resist the pressure of the raiders alone. On February 27, they tried to seize the mine by force. "Arbitration managers T.V. Frank, D.A. Kotin, I.N. Povoroznyuk, A.S. Matyushin, and General Director of OOO Zenkovsky Mine Management Vadim Danilov tried to break into the administrative building of the mine under the guise of a meeting of shareholders. They almost broke open the main entrance and threatened the mine workers," Grekov said in his address to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and Chairman of the ICR Alexander Bastrykin. "There was intimidation of company controllers, at the same time threats of physical violence were expressed and psychological pressure was exercised," the general director of Koksovaya-2 underlined in this document.
Grekov's appeal had an effect. What happened in Prokopyevsk began to raise interest at the federal level. The ICR began a check of the employees of the control bodies, whose actions can lead to anthropogenic catastrophe. And the Prosecutor General's Office revealed "numerous violations" from the Siberian department of Rostekhnadzor. And then a full-scale harassment against the leadership of the Koksovaya-2 was organized in the media. Many federal media published articles where the bankruptcy administrator was accused of almost all deadly sins.
It was Lazarevich who was found guilty of both the threat of an explosion, the flooding of excavations, and the non-payment of salaries.
Meanwhile, the bankruptcy administrator was finally deprived of the opportunity to influence the situation at Koksovaya-2. "The investigator in charge of the criminal case on illegal entrepreneurship initiated the removal of the bankruptcy administrator Lazarevich from the management of the mine for the investigation period," said Ivan Pleshivtsev, deputy director of the mine for legal issues. The remaining workers of the mine applied with a collective statement about the inadmissibility of removal to the investigator and to the court. There was no reaction to the appeal with 162 signatures. In March, Lazarevich was completely removed from the position of bankruptcy administrator of Koksovaya-2.
Andrey Matyushin, one of Frank's employees, was appointed new bankruptcy administrator of Koksovaya-2. It was Matyushin who sold the property of OOO Taldinskaya Coal Company to one of the structures of Sibuglemet in the dispute of the owners of the holding. The only one of its founders, who did not become a criminal defendant and who did not die in a mysterious catastrophe, was Aleksandr Shchukin.
With the change of administrator, the actual management of the mine was transferred to Timur Frank and Anatoly Maleev, who was the Vice-Mayor of Prokopyevsk and headed the committee for the management of the municipal property. Kuzbassnedra did not renew the license of Koksovaya-2, however, coal began to be extracted in the mine in an open way, and in bigger volumes, than the fire-fighting project envisaged. But now there was no question of "blacksmithing": both the siloviki and Rostekhnadzor suddenly ceased to be interested in what was happening at the mine. Illegal mining brought no less than 6 billion rubles ($90 mln) to the new owners.
Just a month later, in May 2014, the judge of the Rudnichny District Court of Prokopyevsk, Nadezhda Popova, canceled the decision to disqualify Lazarevich. But it did not help, it was too late to save the mine. Soon the assets of the mine were sold with a huge discount to persons controlled by Shchukin and Frank, and then to AO Siberian Coal Industry Company jointly founded by them. According to Anna Lazarevich, the coal oligarch was interested not so much in the Koksovaya-2 itself, as in the prospects that opened the control over it: "My brother, as the bankruptcy administrator of the mine, has issued all the necessary documents to receive a new deposit for coal mining on preferential terms by the mine liquidator. The prospect of developing a new field, and obtained without an auction, attracted Shchukin. And he used the opportunity by getting rid of Evgeny Lazarevich." As a result, the right to develop a new field was obtained by a company controlled by Aleksandr Shchukin. In early 2016, AO Siberian Coal Industry Company was declared the winner of the auction for the use of subsoil in the field Chernokaltanskiy-2.
Eliminated Lazarevich has ceased to interest siloviki; in the spring of 2016, the criminal case against him was closed. The former manager repeatedly wrote statements to the police on the organizers of his unlawful persecution.
But the hope of achieving justice appeared only in November 2016, when Shchukin and some of his patrons were under arrest in the case of extortion of shares in the Inskoy pit. The figures of the criminal case on extortion in an especially large amount were the head of the Investigation Department of the Kemerovo region, Sergey Kalinkin, two deputy governors of the region Aleksandr Danilchenko and Vice-Governor Aleksey Ivanov.
Aleksandr Danilchenko and Vice-Governor Aleksey Ivanov
Lazarevich decided to take advantage of the chance and go to the federal law enforcement agencies with the story of the seizure of Koksovaya-2. As stated in the appeal of Anna Lazarevich to the head of the ICR, Lazarevich believed that in Prokopyevsk the raiders acted in the same way as during the seizure of the Inskoy section, and among his opponents, there were some of the persons involved in the loud investigation. In particular, Lazarevich was sure that a criminal case against him was instituted if not at the direction of, but at least with the knowledge of, Kalinkin.
In December 2016, Lazarevich was to be heard in the ICR. The former manager decided to prepare for the meeting and stock up another proof of his words. He decided to talk with a notary Sergey Tarasov, who was closely connected with Frank and who took part in the events around Koksovaya-2. Lazarevich was going to record a conversation with him and on December 12 he went to a meeting with Tarasov from Prokopyevsk to Novokuznetsk. No one else saw the bankruptcy administrator ever again.
Three days later, a Ford Explorer car, driven by Lazarevich, was found at No. 16 on Druzhby Street in Novokuznetsk. There were no numbers on the car, the salon was obviously dry cleaned, and then it was covered with red pepper – apparently, to make it impossible to use service dogs. The observation cameras recorded some unknown people parking the car outside the house.
Missing Lazarevich's car
On the fact of the disappearance of Evgeny Lazarevich, a criminal case was instituted in accordance with Part 1 of Art. 105 of the Criminal Code (Murder). Later it was transferred to the first department for especially important cases of the regional directorate. But the investigation did not establish its defendants, although one of the answers received by Anna Lazarevich states that within the case 13 inspections of the scene of the incident, about 50 searches were made and about 100 witnesses were interrogated.
Evgeny Lazarevich still appears on the list of missing persons on the website of the Investigative Department of the ICR for the Kemerovo region. However, according to his relatives, the investigators did not check all the versions and did not use all the possibilities to search for criminals. So, contrary to the petition of Anna Lazarevich, former Vice-Governor Aleksey Ivanov and the former chief investigator of the region Sergey Kalinkin were not interrogated. The sister of the bankruptcy manager, as she claims, has not yet received a response if her brother's iPhone had been traced on the day of his disappearance, although Apple has expressed willingness to help in case of a request from the investigation. The billing of the phones of people who drove the car to Druzhby Street was not conducted either. One of them was talking on his mobile phone at that moment, and his face is clearly visible on the records of the surveillance camera. However, the fotobot was not made, and according to Anna Lazarevich, the man was not put on the wanted list.
Person involved in Lazarevich's disappearance
For information on the whereabouts of Evgeny Lazarevich, his relatives announced a reward of 500,000 rubles ($7,400). They have already expressed their opinion on who would benefit from getting rid of Lazarevich in numerous announcements about the loss of their father and brother: "His disappearance coincided with the initiation of high-profile criminal cases against Kuzbass policemen, officials and oligarchs for whom he had information in connection with his professional activities (arbitration management of a number of coal enterprises of Kuzbass)." Lazarevich's daughter repeatedly appeared in local media with the following statement: "Dad said that he had information about a certain circle of people and that he was going to share it with the police." Lazarevich's relatives also drew the attention of the press to the fact that his disappearance coincided with the beginning of the trial of the former mayor of Prokopyevsk, Valery Garanin, who was later found guilty of abuse of authority.
Outside observers believe that not only some of the defendants in the case of the capture of the Inskoy mine may be involved in the events around the Koksovaya-2 mine. Perhaps Shchukin was not a true beneficiary in either the Inskoy case or the capture of Koksovaya-2. And one of the telegram channels shared this version of events: "During that period, more precisely in September 2016, Tuleev was forced to get rid of his deputy Maksim Makin, the main "fixer" of the region. Many volumes of information on Makin were collected, but no one was ready to testify – Makin's group was famous for its cruelty. And Lazarevich was ready, so he got "cleaned up". A couple of months before the assassination, Maksim Makin lost influence in the region and was already in a tough case development, and Lazarevich could tell a lot of interesting things about the mine Koksovaya-2 and about how Makin and his accomplice Timur Frank took control and extracted cache from the mine, sentenced to closure." Timur Frank is still at large with money.
So, the relatives of the missing are right: only Moscow investigators, independent of local authorities, can disclose the case of the disappearance of Evgeny Lazarevich.