Bird investigation: why did Russian top managers get in touch with the Bulgarian mafia
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Bird investigation: why did Russian top managers get in touch with the Bulgarian mafia

11 September , 10:22SocietyPhoto: IStories
The Bulgarian Center for Investigative Journalism Bird published an investigation according to which the heads of the Russian state-owned companies Rostec, Gazprom, VTB and others bought real estate in the resort, which is controlled by the Bulgarian group TIM with a difficult criminal past.

Yelena Ivanova

The journalists discovered real estate in the ancient Black Sea resort of Varna, which was bought by the relatives of the general director of the state corporation Rostec Sergey Chemezov, his acquaintances and subordinates. Some top managers of other Russian corporations - Gazprom, VTB Bank - also bought apartments in the complex that belongs to the TIM group.

"Estreya Palace", on the territory of which an elite residential complex is located on the Black Sea coast, writes IStories, is located in an area known for its healing springs since antiquity. They also practiced "grape cure" here. The construction of the hotel began in 2007, and three years later the buildings and apartments were put into operation. According to the Bulgarian real estate register, 15 Russian families own 20 apartments from 100 square meters and above. Among them is the son of Sergey Chemezov, Alexander. He owns an apartment of over 200 square meters, with an under-roof pool and a terrace of another 300 square meters. For them, Alexander paid only 6 million rubles at the exchange rate to the lev in 2008. The ex-wife of Mr. Chemezov, Lyubov, owns a more modest apartment, only 110 square meters. It was bought for 9 million rubles.

The family of Sergey Chemezov's friend Andrey Belyaninov bought an apartment for two daughters and his wife. Andrei Belyaninov is a longtime acquaintance and colleague of Putin and Chemezov in the KGB and service in the GDR. Andrey Belyaninov also worked with Chemezov at Rosoboronexport. For this property, 42 million rubles were paid.

The Russian government officials and their families who have settled on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast are not poor people, and they own real estate in other, more expensive resorts, for example, in Spain, where Chemezov's stepdaughter Anastasia Ignatova bought a villa for 15 million euros. But as Belyaninov explained, he likes Bulgaria with a “Soviet flavor” and the fact that everyone speaks Russian.

The Chemezovs' neighbor turned out to be the wife of entrepreneur Konstantin Goloshchapov Ira Gilmutdinov. She purchased her apartment for 38 million rubles through the Dutch company Denkraam Holding. Interestingly, Goloshchapov is adjacent to Chemezov both in Akulinino near Moscow and in the building of the Moscow Hotel overlooking Red Square. They also own very spacious apartments there.

There are also representatives of Russian top officials in the residential complex. The wife of the head of Rostekhnadzor Alexey Alyoshin, a former subordinate of Chemezov in Rostec, also invested in this residential complex. Rostekhnadzor does not hide real estate in Bulgaria and explains that the apartments were bought "in order to reduce costs during the summer holidays of family members and relatives". But they added that Aleshin himself had not been to the resort since 2013, and he knew nothing about the owners of the resort.

Next to the family of Sergey Chemezov, other responsible managers of companies included in Rostec have also settled: General Director of Azimut JSC Asker Saidov; Former member of the board of directors of Azimut Vladimir Maslov, wife, brother and niece of Vasily Kichedzhi, former vice-governor of St. Petersburg and head of the Moscow Department of Transport; Alexander Bespalov, former head of Gazprom's information policy department; daughter of Leonid Bochin, former head of the Moscow Department of Natural Resources; Valery Lukyanenko, Deputy Chairman of the Board of VTB and other Russian officials and top managers.

Little is known about the owners of the resort in the Russian media.

TIM, or rather PJSC "Invest-Development", which is associated with the Bulgarian authoritative businessman Ivo Kamenov, the letter "I" in TIM, has long been cooperating with Tatarstan. He scandalously left the project for the reconstruction of the airport in Kazan, but did not disappear. Now Kamenov is preparing the construction of two multi-storey buildings in the very center of Kazan.

Invest-Development has two majority shareholders - Eskana Rusia LLC (49.34%) from Varna and Neo London Capital JSC (27.84%) from Sofia. It is closely related to Ivo Bank, which is 86.2% owned by Ivo Kamenov. Kamenov was brought in by the authorities of Tatarstan by Yuri Trutnev, the current presidential envoy to the Far East. Trutnev and Kamenov met in the field of martial arts: Trutnev heads the presidential council of the Kyokushinkai Association of Russia, and Kamenov heads the Bulgarian federation.

Kamenov's cooperation with the Republic of Tatarstan in the field of air transportation ended tragically. His company Himimport received shares in the airport and handed over to Tatarstan AK four old Boeings, one of which crashed at the Kazan airport in 2013.

The TIM grouping is well known to Western intelligence services. It was created in the early 90s as a security and collection company and was named after three leaders: Tikhomir Ivanov, Ivo Kamenova and Marina Miteva. In 2005, the WikiLeaks platform and the Bulgarian bivol.bg published a secret dispatch from the American ambassador to Bulgaria, James Pardue, who called TIM “the new leader of the Bulgarian criminals” doing business on money laundering, drug trafficking and prostitution.

Atanas Chobanov, an investigative journalist at bivol.bg, recounted back in 2013:

“Until recently, the Bulgarians did not know anything about TIM. This topic was taboo for the Bulgarian media. The situation changed after the 36-year-old Plamen Goranov set himself on fire in front of the Varna City Hall. Varna is the base of TIM, and the mayor of Varna, the corrupt official Kiril Yordanov, was associated with the TIM. In Bulgaria, people took to the streets and protested against high electricity prices. TIM also owns energy companies in Bulgaria. But this time it was different - it was an act of desperation in the fight against the mafia".

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