On March 2, 2017, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, established by anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny in 2011, published on its website a new investigation into Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The website reported: "The interactive website and video (with English subtitles) tell the story of the corrupt empire of the chairman of the government of the Russian Federation and the United Russia party Dmitry Medvedev. Some ironically call him pathetic, and use 'Dimon' instead of his full name. But he is not pathetic. Through his puppet 'charity foundations,' Dmitry Medvedev owns real estate around the country, controls giant plots of land in the most elite districts, enjoys yachts and apartments in pre-revolutionary mansions, and receives profits from agricultural companies and vineyards, both in Russia and abroad."
Commenting on the report, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "We have seen the media reports. This is not the first show of creativity by this well-known convicted citizen." Medvedev's press secretary Natalya Timakova called Navalny's investigation a propaganda stunt, saying: "Navalny's material bears all the hallmarks of elections propaganda, as is openly stated by Navalny himself in the end of the video. It is useless to comment on propagandist attacks carried out by a convicted opposition figure, who has already announced the start of some election campaign and who is fighting the authorities."
Ilya Shumanov, a deputy head of Transparency International's branch in Russia, said that the report's claims lack any proof.
Recently, following a retrial prompted by the European Court of Justice, a court in Kirov again found Navalny guilty of embezzlement in the Kirovles case, and imposed a five-year suspended sentence. Navalny has stated that his conviction in the Kirovles case would not pose a legal impediment that would disqualify him from running in the Russian presidential election. "Russia's constitution says that anyone in a place of detention is not eligible to run for election. However, according to the verdict, I will not be sent to prison, which means that I have a right to stand for election," he said. Navalny added that he would ask the Constitutional Court to reconsider the legal rule that prohibits him from running for president as long as his suspended prison term remains effective: "We will be lodging complaints with all courts, including the Constitutional Court. We will protest the legal rule our opponents refer to because it is unconstitutional." Mikhail Barshevsky, the Russian governmental representative in the High Constitutional Court, is convinced that Navalny is mistaken and he will be unable to run in the 2018 presidential elections, because his conviction is now final. The court must lift his criminal record to allow him to run.
Meanwhile, on February 27, Navalny's brother Oleg, who is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence in a general security colony, was denied parole for the second time. Together with his brother, he had been found guilty, on December 30, 2014 by Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky Court, of embezzling funds from Yves Rocher, the French businessman and founder of the renowned cosmetics company that bears his name; the court had given Alexey a suspended sentence of three and a half years. According to media, the colony administration complained that Oleg Navalny "did not comply with the command 'lights out' and failed to make a report pursuant to the statutory form during a check, while bread crumbs were found on the table in his prison cell." According to Alexey Navalny's press secretary, the Russian authorities are trying to pressure Alexey by denying Oleg parole.
Below are excerpts of a summary of the report published on the Anti-Corruption Foundation's website:
Chapter 1 – The Dacha
"The Anti-Corruption Foundation has already presented the investigation about the old Milovka estate in Ples, which is used by Dmitry Medvedev. The estate territory houses a reconstructed 18th century mansion, a modern house with a pool, and some household buildings. There are three helicopter pads, a ski slope and a yacht pier at Milovka. The land and the buildings were originally registered to the Dar Foundation, which is headed by Medvedev's former university classmate, friend and confidante Ilya Yeliseev. The media has written quite a lot about Dar Foundation's connections to prime minister's family, and Medvedev himself has been spotted at Ples quite a few times.
"In 2014, the Dar Foundation transferred the ownership of Milovka to a different foundation — Gradislava Foundation for Preservation of Cultural and Historic Heritage. This foundation doesn't do any actual preservation of heritage, it's necessary to provide a better cover for the fact that Prime Minister Medvedev has a dacha worth over 20 billion rubles ($343 mln). Director of the Gradislava Foundation also works at the Dar Foundation, and the estate wasn't sold, it was simply gifted."
Chapter 2 – A Bribe From An Oligarch
"The founder of the Gradislava Foundation and Ilya Yeliseev turned out to be connected with another charitable foundation called Sotsgosproekt (Foundation for Socially Important Government Projects), which is headed by another former classmate of Medvedev. This foundation is not engaged in any noticeable charity, but it owns a giant house and 4.3 hectares of land in Russia's most prestigious and expensive district. Such real estate at Rublevka Highway costs about 5 billion rubles ($85 million). The workers who maintain the estate regularly publish the pictures of the swanky interiors in their social media accounts and call this place 'Medvedev's residence.
"After closely studying the real estate documents, the Anti-Corruption Foundation learned that the charitable foundation received this very expensive estate as a gift from one of Russia's richest businessmen, Alisher Usmanov. And such present from the oligarch to the government official can only be called a bribe."
Chapter 3 – Ancestral Home
"Medvedev's family hails from the Kursk Region, which is why soon after Medvedev became the president, an 'ancestral home' was built there, and he visits it regularly. In the middle of the field, behind a very high fence, hides an estate with the main house and several guest houses, two helicopter pads and an athletic ground. A chapel has been built in place of the house that used to belong to Medvedev's grandfather.
"But ancestral home wasn't enough, and so a large agricultural complex Mansurovo was organized there as well, and received significant preferences from the local authorities. The preferences aren't helping much, and the agricultural company has posted losses since the moment of its establishment. The Mansurovo agricultural complex and other agricultural enterprises in the Kursk Region are managed by the already familiarly Medvedev classmate Ilya Yeliseev, and the prime minister's cousin."
Chapter 4 – Vineyards A La Tuscany
"In addition to the Rublevka estate, the Sotsgosproekt foundation owns a share in Skalisty Bereg company, which owns 100 hectares of Anapa vineyards. According to one well-known Russian sommelier, 'the views there are such... that you can imagine yourself in Tuscany.' One of Skalisty Bereg's directors was a person who later became the director of the Gradislava Foundation, the nominal owner of the estate in Ples. The board of directors of Skalisty Bereg is also headed by the same Ilya Yeliseev.
"The current director of Skalisty Bereg is Andrei Skok, one of the key asset managers of Alexander Tkachev, current minister of agriculture and former governor of the Krasnodar Region. Since the moment of vineyards' acquisition, Medvedev and Tkachev began lobbying the government for preferences for the winemaking business, in which they both have a financial interest."
Chapter 5 – Trainers
"The agriculture complex in the Kursk Region and the vineyards in the Krasnodar Region are partially owned by a certain company called Tekhinpro. The name of this company's director Vladimir Dyachenko is found in Medvedev's personal correspondence that was hacked and dumped online in 2014. Dmitry Medvedev makes all of his online purchases in the name of this man. The Anti-Corruption Foundation found numerous examples where athletic trainers and shirts ordered for delivery to the address of this confidant were later worn by the prime minister as confirmed by official photographs.
"Vladimir Dyachenko is the key manager and the link between the various assets whose de facto owner is Medvedev. Dyachenko's companies hold controlling stakes in the Mansurovo Agriculture Complex and Skalisty Bereg vineyards at Anapa. Dyachenko also oversees the day-to-day management of Rublevka estate gifted by Alisher Usmanov."
Chapter 6 – Another Foundation And Residence
"We have already discovered three charitable foundations that are supposed to start projects in the Russian regions, preserve the cultural heritage and support socially important projects, but instead are building estates and buying vineyards. Judging by its name, the fourth foundation is supposed to support winter Olympic sports, but instead it «supports» Dmitry Medvedev's winter residence in Sochi.
"The residence with an area of 1,000 sq.m is located next to a ski resort, and in addition to luxurious residential quarters it has steam rooms, saunas, a salt grotto, and something quite mysterious, called a 'shower of impressions.'
"The owners and managers are the same: classmate Ilya Yeliseev and employee of the Dar Foundation Vitaly Golovachev. Dmitry Medvedev regularly visits this residence, as proved by the photos in his Instagram. In his personal correspondence we see that he personally doles out instructions on the management, personnel hiring and purchases for this estate. He's been violating the laws for at least three years by failing to declare this property on his tax returns."
Chapter 7 – Abuse Of Office
"We discovered the next felony with the help of the Prosecutor's Office for Moscow Region. In 2014, it tried to contest the transaction for the sale of government land for a knock-down price. But when the prosecutors learned that the land was bought by Medvedev's empire, they quickly let the matter slide.
"During Medvedev's presidential term, the Department of Presidential Affairs sold for a dime a giant land lot to a company headed by Medvedev's classmate. Twenty hectares of land and a huge house at Rublevka were sold for a price 200 times smaller than its market value. In the course of several months, the land was re-registered to the subsidiary of Dar Foundation, which continues to own this lot. As usual, the buyer's founder and director is yet another classmate of Dmitry Medvedev."
Chapter 8 – Future Seaside Dachas
"If the land at Rublevskoye Highway was acquired through abuse of office, then two valuable lots in the Krasnodar Region were acquired by Medvedev's people with the help of another criminal scheme — phantom bidding by subsidiary companies. Using this method, Medvedev's companies purchased a land lot in Utrish and an old resort at Olginka. Both venues are located on the Black Sea shore and can become excellent new residences.
The similarity of these stories, their connection to the administration of the Krasnodar Region, the Department of Presidential Affairs and the charity foundation of Medvedev's wife allow us to make a claim that Medvedev himself was the real beneficiary of these deals."
Chapter 9 – Charity Acts As A Real Estate Developer
"In 2009, Certum Invest company, headed by the former director of the Dar Foundation and Ilya Yeliseev's student Philipp Polyansky, acquired a historic mansion in St. Petersburg. Three months later the mansion was transferred into the ownership of Dar Foundation.
"The mansion was reconstructed and became an elite clubhouse with 29 apartments. Some of the apartments have elevators for the cars. The apartments and non-residential quarters were divided between the companies of Medvedev's empire. Six of the apartments worth one billion rubles are owned by the Dar Foundation, while 23 are owned by Certum Invest. Commercial properties on the mansion's first floor are occupied by FKK company, which is owned by the Foundation for Support of Winter Olympic Sports and which earlier provided the Mansurovo agricultural complex with some mortgaged land."
Chapter 10 – Startup Investor
"Another proof that the group of companies, discovered by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, is acting in the interests of Dmitry Medvedev was found quite surprisingly. We found a small article that reported that Certum Invest company, which bought the Kushelev-Bezborodko mansion in St. Petersburg and later handed it over to the Dar Foundation, invested some money in an unknown IT startup.
"By some curious coincidence that was the same startup that Dmitry Medvedev liked earlier, when he visited the Open Innovations exhibition. The Anti-Corruption Foundation believes that this is yet another proof of the fact that the intricate system of charity foundations, managing companies, classmates and relatives that we described has just one goal, to serve Medvedev's interest. And his interests, just like for any person, are very diverse — from country houses to gadgets and trainers."
Chapter 11 – Yachts
"Information from the Russian Register of Legal Entities on one of the described companies led our investigators to Cyprus. There, we found an offshore company owned by Dmitry Medvedev's most trusted confidant, Ilya Yeliseev. This offhosre owns two yachts worth $16 million.
These yachts can be seen at the pier of Medvedev's estate at Ples. Medvedev was on one of the yachts when he made and posted photos of celebration fireworks in St. Petersburg to his Instagram. Both yachts are named Fotiniya, that's the church version of the name Svetlana. And Svetlana is the name of Medvedev's wife. The newer and the more expensive yacht is used rarely, but all instances of its use are connected to Medvedev.
"If we suppose that the yacht actually belongs to Medvedev's friend Ilya Yeliseev, then we'll have to allow that Yeliseev is constantly shadowing the prime minister, living at his dacha, and going with him on all the river cruises."
Chapter 12 – A Real Tuscany Vineyard
"In March 2012, Svetlana Medvedeva vacationed in Italy, in Tuscany. Several months later, the same offshore company that owns Dmitry Medvedev's yacht, purchased a winery there. For the price of $10 million the 'Russian investors' got 100 hectares of vineyards and olive groves, a winery and an old villa. After the sale, the winery's management was passed on to Sergei Stupnitsky, who previously was the director of another winery connected with the prime minister, the Skalisty Bereg at Anapa."
Chapter 13 – Financing And Management
"Using open sources, we've been able to confirm the following sources of Dmitry Medvedev's wealth. First, it comes in the form of «donations» or simply bribes from the oligarchs. Leonid Mikhelson, Leonid Simanovsky and Alisher Usmanov invested 38 billion rubles ($652 million) in Medvedev's empire.
"Second, Medvedev's empire receives credits from large companies. In 2007, the state-controlled Gazprombank, whose board is chaired by Ilya Yeliseev, gave Medvedev's Dar Foundation a credit for 11 billion rubles ($463 million). Bashneft and its subsidiaries provided almost 3 billion rubles worth of credits. It's notable, that the oil company's financial records state that these loans were non-recoverable.
"The Anti-Corruption Foundation analyzed the job openings posted online, as well as the information on domain registrations, employees and addresses of the companies, real estate records and the employees' social media pages. We can confidently state that the dacha at Ples, the estate at Rublevka, the secret highland dacha at Psekhako, the lands at Utrish, Olginka and village of Maslovo, the vineyards at Anapa, the count's palace remade into apartments with car elevators, the agriculture business and yachts are all serviced from the single center and the only element that unites this whole system is Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev."
"The conclusion of our investigation is rather sad. The former president, acting prime minister and Russia's second in command has created a corrupt network of charity foundations that he uses to get bribes from the oligarchs and to maniacally build himself palaces and dachas all around the country. He also buys yachts and vineyards abroad.
"People, who have seized power in Russia, have long ago stopped being simple bribe takers. The corrupt officials usually try to hide their activities, but these people are acting almost in the open. Hundreds of people are engaged in servicing Medvedev and his properties. And they all see, know and understand, who owns these dachas protected by the state special services.
"What will happen after this investigation is published? Will somebody be arrested? Will a criminal case be opened? A start of investigation? Nothing, we've been through all of this before. The officials will keep mum at first and will forbid all media from reporting on our investigation. Then they'll try to block the video. Then they'll say that it's a provocation of the foreign intelligence agencies. And if any criminal case is opened, it will be against Alexei Navalny or his colleagues.
"The protagonists of this investigation have been in power for 17 years, and they are not going to change for the better. They will not be reformed. We have to fight them, we have to pressure them, so that they remember that they are not monarchs or czars, that they are regular government officials who have to answer to the people."