Smuggling genius from Rosreestr absconds 

Smuggling genius from Rosreestr absconds
Boris Avakyan has plenty of talents Photo: The CrimeRussia

More ‘star suspects’ have been added to the ‘criminal collection’ of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR): Boris Avakyan, a notorious St. Petersburg broker, businessman, and ex-civil servant; and his business partner Dmitry Zarubin, the owner of Cartier Jewelry House, have been arrested in absentia. They have joined, together with many other prominent businessmen, the ‘big smuggling circle’ of oligarch Dmitry Mikhalchenko. Charges pertaining to the participation in a smuggling organized criminal group are pending.

Skyrocketing career

Ex-dandy of St. Petersburg, ex-governmental official, and ex-broker Boris Avakyan currently resides far from his motherland and Russian authorities who are eagerly waiting for his return to charge with evasion of customs payments in the amount of 4.5 billion rubles ($75 million). Charges pertaining to the smuggling and participation in an organized criminal group are more than likely to be laid as well. According to CrimeRussia sources, such a twist in the career of the Armenian businessman was absolutely predictable.

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Dmitry Zarubin

The fate has always been propitious to the businessman. By the age of 34, Boris Avakyan has acquired three higher education diplomas, honorary doctor of law degree, and the hand and heart of a daughter of Armen Arakelyan, the ex-Deputy Prosecutor of the Leningrad Region. Avakyan always liked to mix business with pleasure and, according to Novaya Gazeta, was so talented in trades that could “sell air”.

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The Rosreestr official was known for his glamorous lifestyle

The marriage to a daughter of the second most powerful person in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Leningrad Region has opened up new avenues for Avakyan not only in business but in the law enforcement system as well. These ties became especially strong after the christening of his daughter whose godfather was Aleksander Gutsan, the current Deputy Prosecutor General. This has strengthened his authority both in Armenia and among the Armenian diaspora of St. Petersburg. The media had written a lot about his luxury lifestyle and shocking escapades. According to his wife Julia Ionina, Mrs. Queen Beauty World 2014, Boris Avakyan had been working in the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr) virtually pro bono and for the sake of the people.

Our
notes

Boris Avakyan was born on October 6, 1981 in Yerevan. Currently works with integration projects of the Eurasian Union. Avakyan is a supporter and advocate of the Russian–Armenian relations, including cultural, scientific, and political exchanges between the two countries. Since 2010 and until 2014, Boris Avakyan was the Deputy Head of the Administration for the Leningrad Region of the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushestvo). In the period of 2014–2016, was a Deputy Head of the Chief State Inspector of St. Petersburg for Land Use and Protection.

Barrier reef

The criminal prosecution of Boris Avakyan originates from his collaboration-turned-clan war with notorious broker Igor Khavronov currently remanded in custody.

This joint multifaceted smuggling business became possible after a betrayal of Igor Khavronov, the head of the St. Petersburg branch of Turkish company ULS Global, by former law enforcement officers Ivan Lapshin and Pavel Nikolaenkov. Lapshin used to serve in the 3rd Department of the Anti-Corruption Service of the North Western Customs Directorate of the Federal Customs Service and worked as a Deputy Head of the Security Service of ULS Global. Nikolaenkov, the ex-Deputy Head of the Vyborg Customs Post, also used to hold a significant post in ULS Global. Taking how useful they were for the business, Khavronov, according to some information, had treated them as his nearest and dearest people; some media even claimed that he had paid for expensive medical treatment for their relatives. But there are no ‘former’ law enforcement officers, and the friends decided to pass their benefactor on a curve. Large salaries, incentives, and bonuses were not sufficient for them, and they started trading behind his back. Khavronov reportedly was so outraged with this black ingratitude that had nearly killed the former friends in a blaze of anger. Then Lapshin and Nikolaenkov have defected to Boris Avakyan.

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Igor Khavronov

Our
notes

Some sources say that Igor Khavronov had started his business career from the customs escort of shipped vehicles under friendly supervision of Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin. Then he had served customs interests of the law enforcement structures for a short period of time. Only in the 2000s, Khavronov switched to the big business. Up until 2016, he had officially owned 17% of shares in Universal Logistics Systems Russia (ULS Russia) Limited Liability Company. Currently Khavronov owns 50% of shares in ULS Broker.

Long before the high-profile arrests, Igor Khavronov started collaborating with billionaire Dmitry Mikhalchenko. But businessman Dmitry Zarubin, a major transportation carrier and friend of Boris Avakyan, had obstructed the complete seizure of the smuggling market by Khavronov and Mikhalchenko. The defection of Lapshin and Nikolaenkov to Avakyan, has further fueled tensions between the two rival groups. But the conflict has been resolved in a most unexpected way. The two former law enforcement officers could not get along with Avakyan and one fine day decided to share the details of the northwestern smuggling business with their colleagues from the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. Apparently, they had expected to replace the ‘sunken Titanics’ and provided testimonies against Khavronov and Avakyan.

Crux Procession

The result, however, was unexpected as well. Initially, Lapshin and Nikolaenkov were witnesses in the criminal case instituted against Avakyan for evasion of customs payments – but then the turncoats have shared the fate of their former benefactors and were remanded in custody. According to the CrimeRussia sources, Avakyan managed to use his administrative resource and, after being placed under home arrest by the Kronstadt District Court of St. Petersburg, has absconded abroad.

Our
notes

Boris Avakyan was arrested by the FSB in July 2016 in a Moscow trade center during a meeting with a journalist of Dozhd (Rain) TV Channel in the framework of a criminal case instituted by the Administration for Transport for the North-Western Federal District of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation under part 2 or Article 194 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Evasion of Customs Payments collected from organizations or natural person). He was suspected of complicity in illegal imports of electronics in the amount of 800 million rubles ($13.3 million) disguised as cheap materials. After the arrest, Avakyan was escorted to St. Petersburg. On August 25, 2016, the Kronstadt District Court of St. Petersburg failed to find grounds to remand him in custody and placed Avakyan under home arrest. The suspect has absconded and miraculously fled to Austria. Later Boris Avakyan and his spouse Julia Ionina, Mrs. Queen Beauty World 2014, were spotted in Switzerland and France. Thanks to modern technologies and social networks, Fontanka.ru could track his location within the accuracy of one meter.

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Avakyan and his spouse were spotted in Switzerland and France

The case against Boris Avakyan is investigated together with cases pertaining to embezzlements and participation in an organized criminal group incriminated to businessmen having ties, either direct or indirect, with Dmitry Melnichenko. As we wrote earlier, the investigation would likely add more criminal cases to this ‘agglomeration’ and unite their suspects into one big criminal community. The cases can be linked together through various persons and episodes. To do this, testimony from Avakyan is required – but he is not willing to return home. It is necessary to note that the investigation team is making Herculean efforts to reach the fugitive businessman. But according to Fontanka.ru, “it is necessary to pull the case out of the procedural oversight” of Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksander Gutsan who concurrently is the godfather of the daughter of Avakyan.

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Boris Avakyan at the entrance to the Kronstadt District Court

Time will show whether the investigation is able to return the suspect home or not. But the family of the most enterprising Armenian businessman ever is optimistic. His crowned wife told in an interview: “Basically, Boris would like to join politics. He has plenty of ambitions. Today everything is so unpredictable – people with criminal records become governors, many things happen”.

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Boris Avakyan in court

No one can say what do the investigators think about the political ambitions of Boris Avakyan. One thing is clear: one of the parties in this big game – either the investigation or disgraced businessman – overestimates its administrative resource. The CrimeRussia will keep an eye on that stor

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