Everything was used - administrative resources, budget and even sectarians.
Until September of this year, the forest in Russia was at the mercy of the regional authorities. Therefore, few "forest" governors could resist if they had everything in their hands to turn the chips from deforestation into golden rain. Governor Alexander Uss had everything for his family to build a timber processing empire. Forest areas are allocated by the regional administration. Felling quotas are received there. An export permit is also issued in Krasnoyarsk. Companies are not audited in Moscow. Everything is in their hands. Actually, this is what happened: KLM KO, owned by more than 52% of people close to the governor , has become the largest woodworking enterprise in the region and the second in Russia.
In September 2020, the free movement came to an end. By his decree, the President banned the export of round timber from the country. In fact, this decision can be seen as a gesture of despair, as forest corruption has become rampant in Siberian regions. Timber is cut without looking back, export quotas are given to themselves. In Krasnoyarsk, it got to the point that the "partners" were the sectarians of Vissarion, people who do not recognize either the state or passports, working in black.
The company KLM KO JSC was registered in Krasnoyarsk 23 years ago with an authorized capital of 65 thousand rubles. The shareholders were the wife of the governor Uss, the governor's advisor. KLM KO has registered another company KLM-EKO, which is entrusted with developing the timber industry in the region. According to local observers, this firm was given the three best areas of commercial forests for a period of 47 years. The firms are supported by the Krasnoyarsk Krai Union of Timber Industry and the Krai authorities. When Alexander Uss worked in the Legislative Assembly, in 2003 KLM KO received 30 million rubles of state support, or in terms of the exchange rate of that time, 1 million dollars. And this help was not the only one.
If the plots are only leased, firms must monitor the safety. Cut down - plant new trees as required by law. Only who will check how the governor's firm works. Administrative resources are given to spit on the laws from the high bell tower - or cedar, as in this case. And traces are often covered with fire. Verifiers know these tricks. First, the forest is cut through and taken out, and then the taiga burns, you never know from what. Maybe a thunderstorm, maybe a fire. And you won't prove anything. So, on June 23, 2020, a fire was recorded in quarter 651 of the Yarkinsky district forestry of the Khrebtovsky forestry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The plot was rented by OOO KLM-EKO. The official version says that the storm is to blame. Ginpis experts do not exclude the human factor. Nobody knows why lightning bolts are aimed at the governor's districts. But the Accounts Chamber in 2019 revealed that in 2018 there were one third more forest fires than in the previous year.
What is surprising is that the timber companies are free of charge, they receive help from the edge, and there are donut holes in the accounts - for 2019, both the parent and subsidiary companies showed a loss. Where did the money go? Observers suspect that Uss's son Artem could have taken them to offshore companies belonging to him. Tatiana Davydenko, the former head of the Krasnoyarsk Accounts Chamber, speaks about this :
- Last year I assumed that when a clearing for felling is allocated, fires appear exactly where there is an investment project. I assume this is done on purpose. And there are more than enough such fires in the Krasnoyarsk Territory in 2019 and 2020. I guess it was set on fire. The KLM-ECO company, founded by Artyom Uss with an authorized capital of 10 thousand rubles, receives sales proceeds of 1 billion 780 million, 635 thousand rubles. Net profit - minus 102 million 133 thousand rubles. Asset value - minus 338 rubles. What is it? Huge sums go into the shadow economy.
The Accounts Chamber went to the forest
A year ago, the chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Tatyana Davydenko, told in an interview about the results of the audit conducted by the chamber and the Regional Department of the FSB for the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The fact that the forest in the region is being stolen and the laws are being violated is not news. Struck by the scale of theft. In 2018, wood was exported for 48 billion rubles, and the regional budget received only 1.6 billion. In the work of the forestry, the inspectors revealed collusion and corruption. Over the year, 1.6 million hectares were burned down in the region - a third more than in 2017. In a new interview, Tatyana Davydenko already speaks about the current situation:
- The theft hasn't stopped. The felling volume has increased. The illegal sale has tripled. Last year, for the sanitary felling of the forest, we gave a figure of 362,000 cubic meters. In 2019 - 2 million cubic meters of sanitary cuttings. As Uss's wife was the founder of one of the companies, she remained.
Krasnoyarsk authorities have responded to alarming signals. After the check, the Minister of Forestry of the Territory Maslosudov asked the prosecutor's office to check the activities of the Accounts Chamber itself. A year later, the head of the Accounts Chamber, Davydenko, was invited to a session of the Regional Legislative Assembly. The auditor repeated the main points of the report to the deputies. The governor was indignant: the stolen 47 billion is a cynical slander, this is a "run over", it is necessary to "create tension and make the governor compliant."
When asked where the regional prosecutor Savchin, who had already retired, was looking, the answer is simple - he was looking towards the forest. As it turned out later, the former prosecutor also had interests in the forestry business.
Marat Bashirov , who covered in detail the scandalous business of the governor's family, believes that it was only thanks to people like Tatyana Davydenko that the secret finally became clear:
- The investigation began only now, because there were bright speeches of those people who began to notice that something was going wrong in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. First of all, this concerned the conclusions of the Accounts Chamber, which cited figures of disproportionate felling of the number of companies involved in this process and those fires that were in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, the number of which was increasing, but they were not extinguished. A common thread is the question of why forest fires were poorly extinguished, despite the fact that the Krasnoyarsk Territory is one of the largest in terms of forest resources. Enough money was allocated for this.
We saw the forest behind the trees
Fires in the taiga have illuminated the situation in the forest industry of the Krasnoyarsk Territory with new light. When the industry was ruled by the Minister of Forestry Maslodurov, the taiga in the region burned like never before. In 2019, the area of fires was over 1 million hectares, in the first half of 2020 - 100 thousand hectares. The minister hastily resigned, but this did not help. Maslodurov was arrested three days later. The former minister is accused of taking bribes on an especially large scale with the help of his brother. For two years, the merchants transferred 7 million rubles to the corrupt minister. Further more - an interdepartmental audit revealed inappropriate spending of more than 100 million rubles from the budget. It was found that land plots were illegally seized, and under the guise of sanitary felling they were logging.
Local media write that corruption in the regional forestry ministry was an open secret, but the governor of Uss defended his protege with his chest. It is hard to believe that the governor had no idea what his subordinate was doing.
The Vissarionov brothers and the Krasnoyarsk "Family"
On September 22, 2020, the Russian FSB conducted a special operation and detained the founder and head of the Church of the Last Testament Vissarion, a former traffic police officer Torop and two other community leaders Redkin and Vedernikov. The community was developed for two years, after in one of the villages of the Vissarionites a baby was found dead, whose parents Vissarion forbade to go to doctors. They found a lot of money in cash, a gold crown, weapons and ammunition at the sectarians. Marat Bashirov says:
“The Vissarion case revealed a story with forest violations. He and his accomplice were arrested in a completely different matter. It was later revealed that there is a connection through forest projects. If they did not violate the criminal code, it would remain hidden. They just pulled one thread, and immediately climbed at home, and baths, and felling, and privileged issuance of permits for felling.
The Vissarionov brothers, denying the state, not having passports, not paying taxes, worked for the good of the high regional authorities, not forgetting themselves. Tatiana Davydenko says:
- They (Vissarionovites - NI) were subcontractors for a number of Universiade objects. Vissarion residents live in the place where very good cedars grow. They were engaged in cutting cedars and building houses. They are building cedar houses for high-ranking officials.
Sectarians could harvest the most valuable cedar species, build elite houses for regional officials. The officials themselves could drive millions of cubic meters of the most demanded and expensive species to China, allowing the taiga to be overgrown with weed birch. And no one saw or knew this?
- I think they knew about the partnership with Vissarion. But the policy of rotating security officials does not always work. When a stranger arrives in the region, and there is such a turnover of money, the entire apparatus does not understand, - explains the political scientist Bashirov.
What awaits Governor Uss
The Krasnoyarsk Territory has always been a tasty morsel for Russian business. There is practically everything here - oil, aluminum, gold, timber. Insiders say the battle between lobbying groups for governor has been fierce. Therefore, the president needed to appoint someone temporarily. This is how Alexander Uss ascended, says Marat Bashirov :
- He ran several times, but did not win the elections. And here is a purely situational story. Everyone understands that Uss will retire. The whole question is whether he will sit through the entire term, or will not. In my opinion, there will be an early resignation in the coming months.
Observers suspect the case will end in a string of criminal cases.
- In addition, the situation with felling will be thoroughly investigated. What these fires are aimed at - to conceal the volume of felling forests. Accordingly, if it is established from testimony or expert examinations that they were not cutting down what they should have cut down and sent to the wrong place, then, of course, there will be this line of criminal cases.
- The situation in the region is aggravated by theft of forests and the oil spill, the economic and political situation is deteriorating. The population is ready to explode even now. How rich Krasnoyarsk Territory could have been brought to! This is, of course, the fault of the governor of Uss, - says Davydenko.
One thing is clear: the green light from Moscow is given. There is a hope that no amount of Moscow support will help. It's time to end the barbaric treatment of the forest. Krasnoyarsk hopes that Moscow has taken up the region's problems seriously.