An investigation into how Vladimir Putin’s family got 2.6 million serfs and a billion-dollar business to boot
Roman Badanin, Mikhail Rubin, Mikhail Maglov, Dmitry Sukharev and others, January, 19, 2022
Vladimir Putin rules Russia like a feudal state, distributing resources to relatives and friends. The scheme uncovered by “Agency” looks incredible: the president of the country gave his family a huge business, and then an entire region with 2.6 million inhabitants.
“Kremlin halls have seen a lot of events, but this conversation is definitely one of the toughest and most dramatic […]. Putin immediately made it clear that a detailed analysis was ahead.” With this phrase, television propagandist Pavel Zarubin began the story of a meeting on December 2, 2021, where the Russian president discussed with coal miners the causes of the disaster at the Listvyazhnaya mine in Kuzbass a week before. Host of the program “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” complimented the head of state, admiring the decisiveness with which he scolded the members of the government and the owners of the exploded mine. The only one who escaped the president’s criticism was the governor of the Kemerovo Oblast, Sergei Tsivilev.
And there are secret reasons for this.
One of the reasons for the disaster at Listvyazhnaya was that the management of the mine neglected safety measures in order to increase coal production
Growth of production and export of Russian coal
Over the past ten years, coal exports from Russia have almost doubled, and production has increased by 20%. This was made possible thanks to a trade war between China, which needs “black gold” for its growing industry, and Australia, one of the largest exporters of coal.
For the sake of increasing coal exports, the government is investing a lot of money in the construction of ports and coal terminals in the Far East, the reconstruction of the BAM and the Trans-Siberian Railway
Does the president really only think about budget revenues and income of ordinary miners? To answer this question, one has to look at the main beneficiaries of the coal boom in Russia.
Lagerst mining companies in Russia
by coal production in 2020, млн tons
CC Kolmar LLC, a company little-known to the general public, has seen a 15-fold increase in coal production over the past seven years, much larger than the average for the coal sector. The company invested huge amounts of money in the development of its deposits in Yakutia, opening new mines, processing plants and transport infrastructure. If Kolmar fulfills its plan for 2022
Growth of Kolmar’s production rates
Kolmar opens its new objects solemnly. In 2020, when the company launched the Inaglinskaya mine, the largest in Russia, the ceremony began with the traditional Yakut rite “algys” — a request to the “upper deities” to send grace. Officials and company executives who spoke after the shamans admitted that Kolmar had huge financial difficulties in the past, and foreign consultants considered the development of the company to be economically inefficient and advised not to build new mines
The role of a deity was assumed by the Russian state — Kolmar received such significant support that it is simply impossible to calculate its exact amount. According to “Agency”, the government spent at least 11 billion rubles from the budget to help the company. In addition, it received a preferential loan for another 4 billion rubles. Kolmar was also exempted from many taxes, thereby saving them even more money.
Government support of Kolmar
1. Direct support
allocated from the budget to built a power transmission line to the Inaglinsky mine in 2016
were allocated for the construction of railway infrastructure facilities for the export of coal from mines owned by Kolmar in 2018
allocated by the Far East Development Fund to expand the capacity of the Inaglinsky mining and processing plant and build a coal terminal in Muchka Bay in the Khabarovsk Kra, also in 2018
were spent on the construction of a railway line to the Inaglinskaya-1 factory, administrative buildings and warehouses, as well as the construction of buildings near the Denisovskaya mine, within the framework of the program “Development of the transport system of Russia (2010-2020)”
2. Preferential loan
In January 2018, Kolmar received through VEB.RF structures concessional financing for the Inaglinsky mining and processing plant in the amount of 4 billion rubles for 10 years at 5% per annum
3. Tax exemption
Within the South Yakutia priority development area — exemption from taxes on land, profits and organization property. The tax on extraction of minerals is reduced. Insurance premiums are reduced from 30 to 7.6%.
A special attitude towards Kolmar was felt in everything. For example, the presidential envoy in the Far East, Yuri Trutnev, was personally responsible for the creation of a “territory of advanced development” in Yakutia, which gave “Kolmar” large tax benefits, on Putin’s instructions.
The press usually associated the success of Kolmar, which appeared back in the 2000s, with the fact that in 2012 60% of the company was bought by companies associated with billionaire and Putin’s close associate Gennady Timchenko
The Kremlin supported this conviction and kept entrusting Tsivilev with new responsible tasks. At the beginning of 2018, he was appointed vice-governor of the main coal region of Russia — the Kemerovo Oblast, and soon — when the governor Aman Tuleev resigned after 20 years of rule — Tsivilev was also entrusted with the governor’s chair of Kuzbass. “You started from a rather modest position and achieved serious results in a very short period of time, ” Putin said, praising Tsivilev’s work at Kolmar.
However, the president, like no one else, knew to whom Kolmar really owed its success. Now we know enough to tell the truth about the most mysterious company in the Russian coal market.
It all started in a psychiatric hospital.
We can’t be frightened, but we can be helped
Investigations is the work that’s not only dangerous, but also is very expensive. It requires the efforts of a large number of people, difficult business trips and long months of work.
In the Soviet Union, it was customary to build psychiatric hospitals away from the eyes of the inhabitants, on the outskirts and in the suburbs. In Ivanovo, the lunatic asylum is aso located on the outskirts, in the village of Bogorodskoye, which gave its name to the institution — regional psychiatric hospital “Bogorodskoye”. Nothing seems to have changed since Soviet times there — old buildings stand behind a concrete fence. Anna Loginova, a 24-year-old graduate of the Ivanovo Medical Institute, came here in 1996 to work as a simple psychiatrist
Anna grew up in a family of doctors: her mother, father and older brother were doctors. Many years later, Anna will heroically help a person who has become ill on board of a plane. However, this episode is known to the public only from complimentary articles about our heroine, which began to appear in abundance in recent years, when her husband, Sergei Tsivilev, became the governor of Kuzbass.
Anna worked as a psychiatrist for a short time. Shortly after President Putin came to power, she moved to Moscow, where she also received an economic education. In the capital, Anna began a new career — she was engaged in the supply of medical equipment, working as a manager, first in the state-owned Medtekhsnab, and then in the private company Digimed. It is unlikely that this work could bring Anna enough money to buy a stake in a large coal business
“My husband and I purchased the coal asset in 2012, ” she proudly told the “Vedomosti” newspaper. That time the company was worth $400 million. However, the journalists did not ask her where the money that she and her husband used to buy the shares of Colmar came from.
Perhaps the money in this family was kept by the spouse, Sergei Tsivilev?
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– Here, you see — this is me on the navigation bridge of a warship, a senior lieutenant, a watch officer, — these are the words of Tsivilev from an interview obsequiously taken from the governor by the Kremlin journalist “Komsomolskaya Pravda”
Having entered civil service in the 90s, Tsivilev made a career common for the former military — he became the head of the security service of the St. Petersburg bank Aeroflot and co-owner of the security company Ekipazh, also in St. Petersburg. Gradually, Tsivilev began working with Putin’s acquaintances — he established the Nortek law firm, at first together with Oksana Ierkho, a business partner of Putin’s classmate Igor Sobolevsky. Later, Sobolevsky himself became a co-owner of Nortek.
In 2007, a really important event happened in the career of a retired sailor. He became a co-owner of the Lenexpoinvest company — it was supposed to build the Lenexpo halls, where the St. Petersburg Economic Forum is held every year. This is a responsible role — the forum is called “presidential”, Putin always delivers a keynote speech there. The sailor’s partners in this business were also responsible — these are Viktor Khmarin and Vladimir Khodyrev. The latter previously headed the Leningrad City Executive Committee, and Khmarin is another former classmate and cousin-in-law of Putin
Lenexpoinvest was created right at the time of Tsivilev’s wedding with Anna Loginova, which happened in the same year. It was as if the “upper deities” gave the newlyweds a wedding gift. However, the deities did not stop there and a few years later also gave the couple of an officer and a psychiatrist a share in the coal business, where none of them had ever been seen before and which, if we focus on the revenue of those firms where they worked, none of them could afford.
The thing is that the deities have nothing to do with it.
At least two of Putin’s friends helped arrange the life of the Tsivilev family — the already mentioned classmate Khmarin and the owner of Gunvor Gennady Timchenko, whose stake in Kolmar eventually went to Tsivilev
In 2018, a certain Mikhail Putin, a doctor by training, received a very high position — he unexpectedly became the deputy head of Gazprom. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov was then forced to admit that he was a “distant relative” of Putin, with whom the president “actually does not communicate.” This is not entirely true. To see this, just look at this photo, which has been in the public domain for almost 20 years.
The photo, presumably taken in the mid-80s, shows the Putins — the future president himself, his parents, his wife Lyudmila, and the family of the president’s cousin Yevgeny. Yevgeny Mikhailovich himself is sitting on the right in the bottom row, his wife Dia is standing behind him. It is their son Mikhail who will become Alexei Miller’s deputy at Gazprom — he is not in this photo, perhaps because he took it.
The only person in the picture who we haven’t named is a young girl standing next to mother Dia. As Agency established, her name is Anna Evgenievna Putina aka Tsivileva, the president’s niece.
Ivanovo Putins and Leningrad Putins were much closer to each other than Peskov claimed. In Oleg Blotsky’s book “Vladimir Putin”, published in 2003, President Putin himself advises the author: “I don’t know the history of the family very well. You’d better contact Yevgeny Mikhailovich. He is a great storyteller and knows much more about relatives than I do.” Yevgeny is called in the book nothing less than the “keeper of the ancestral memory” of the Putins. Yevgeny, whose son Peskov called a “distant relative”, lost his father in the war and was brought up for three years by the grandfather of the future president, Spiridon Putin. Evgeny Putin called him “old dad”.
The family of Yevgeny Putin lived in Ivanovo, on Sakko Street, 33. A gray panel house surrounded by garages and an old playground nearby — the Putins’ house looks now just like it did years ago. In the document on the ownership of the Ivanovo apartment from Rosreestr, Anna Evgenievna Loginova is listed along with Evgeny and Diya Putina. This is still the same Anna Putina-Tsivileva
The document on the ownership of the Ivanovo apartment from Rosreestr
The fact is that back in the 90s, Anna married psychiatrist Lev Loginov
The life of the family changed dramatically with the advent of the uncle to power. In 2002, the Putins got rid of the cheap housing in Ivanovo and moved to the capital after their children. But the neighbors down Sakko Street still remember Anna and her family very well. In a conversation with the “Agency”, Nina Zhandarova, a former neighbor of the Putins from Sakko Street, recalled how Yevgeny Putin let slip to her at the beginning of the 2000s that he was the cousin of the new president. Four years ago, Anna and Diya Putina came to Ivanovo by car, Nina remembered the last meeting with her neighbors. Another neighbor and childhood friend of Anna, who asked not to be named, recalled how, together with a relative of the president, she jumped from garages and rescued cats from trees. “Say hello to Anya, ” she asked us as she said goodbye.
Anna Tsivileva has kept the secret of her last name for many years, but at the same time she does not hide at all that she has a huge influence on her husband’s affairs. Government officials were able to verify this when they came to the Kemerovo Oblast in August 2018 to discuss the development of the local cultural sphere. The capital’s guests were very surprised that not only the head of the region, but also his wife, who did not have any formal positions, discussed matters with them.
She participated in one of the meetings closed to the media, interrupted the speakers, made suggestions and even gave instructions to her husband’s employees, recalls with surprise a former federal official who participated in that event: “Tsivileva behaved like a full-fledged mistress of the territory, while the governor did not contradict her ‘.
An interlocutor who is close to the leadership of the region also believes that Tsivileva is behind many important actions of her husband. And he recalls an interesting example. In 2018, the head of the Kemerovo Oblast, Aman Tuleev, despite forced to leave his post after the tragedy in the Zimnyaya Vishnya shopping center
The head of the region appreciates the efforts of his wife so much that in 2019 he solemnly awarded her with the medal “For Service to Kuzbass”.
This service was manifested in the fact that a year before the award, she headed the regional council for social welfare issues. Formally, this is an advisory body that “prepares proposals for the development of the social sphere and creates conditions for conducting charitable activities.” However, in practice, the council attracts money from businesses that want to operate in the region for the PR purposes of the governing Tsivilev spouses. And there are businesses to raise money from — the council includes representatives of SUEK, EvrazHolding, as well as Mikhail Fedyaev, the president of the Siberian Business Union, at whose mine the tragedy that claimed the lives of 51 people occurred in 2021
On the Internet, you can find many complimentary videos that tell how Putin’s niece, who received a huge business and a whole region with 2.6 million inhabitants from her relative, helps ordinary people. For example, in 2019, the council gave motherless triplets… new glasses. Which they did not hesitate to report.
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The history of the Tsivilevs is just one example of feudal customs in contemporary Russia. In 2013, Putin married off his daughter Katerina. After the wedding, the family of her husband Kirill Shamalov, already close to the president, received a royal dowry: the Shamalovs were given a stake in Sibur, a private petrochemical company that was once separated from the state-owned Gazprom with Putin’s help. A few years later, the marriage of Katerina and Kirill broke up and Shamalov’s “dowry” was taken away
The president probably also treats Kolmar as his property. At least one of the interlocutors of “Agency”, who is well acquainted with the circumstances of the transactions around the company, pointedly answered the question of who owns “Kolmar”: “It’s him…”