Source Checks and criminal cases in Vodokanal could have been the result of a struggle for a concession between VEB.RF, Vitaly Kochetkov and the people of the former vice-mayor Alexander Kovalchik. Several criminal cases have been initiated in Yekaterinburg based on the results of an inspection by the Prosecutor General's Office in relation to the city's Vodokanal. There are no figures. The first relates to the unrealized project for the restoration of Lake Zdohnia and the cleaning of the Verkh-Isetsky reservoir, the second concerns the obstruction of entrepreneurial activity. No details given.
A check can have several interests and “goals” at once. “Vodokanal” is going to give in concession. The local oligarch Vitaly Kochetkov, who is considered close to Yevgeny Kuyvashev, and a number of other players joined the fight for it. The former vice-mayor of Yekaterinburg, the ex-minister of the region's economy, and now the head of Sredneuralsk, Alexander Kovalchik, may also be interested.
Evgeny Luzgin, the head of Vodokanal, was interrogated as part of the criminal case. However, he took up the post only in 2019, after which work on cleaning up Zdokhni intensified. The investigators have no complaints against him. It is difficult to say whether anyone could “order” the inspections, but the order was given personally by Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov.
Details are in the material of The Moscow Post correspondent in the Sverdlovsk Region. >Who is at Vodokanal?
The issue of transferring Vodokanal to the concession is resolved, the question remains unresolved to whom. The annual turnover of MUP is 10-11 billion rubles. The volume of government contracts as a supplier – 7.7 billion rubles, the customer – 34 billion rubles – this is a huge “piece of the pie”.
In August, the transfer of Vodokanal to the concession was approved by Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev. Previously, permission for this was given by the City Duma. The question of the fate of the enterprise has long been a key issue in Yekaterinburg politics. It is generally accepted that the refusal of the previous mayor Alexander Vysokinsky to transfer the enterprise to business was one of the reasons for his conflict with the city parliament.
Vysokinsky was considered an opponent of Kuyvashev. But the conflict was settled, he became vice-governor. Aleksey Orlov, a compromise figure between Kuyvashev and the elites, took up the post of mayor.
The main contender for the enterprise was the owner of the mobile operator “Motiv” and many other businesses, an authoritative businessman Vitaly Kochetkov. He is considered a person close to Yevgeny Kuyvashev and is even called a “shadow governor”.
It is highly likely that he did not abandon his plans. But both Vysokinsky and Orlov may have their own interests, and Kuyvashev in this situation could simply withdraw himself. The reason is banal: not less, but even more influential players at the federal level are playing against Kochetkov.
Shortly after Kuivashev agreed to the transfer of Vodokanal to private hands, something happened that Kochetkov could hardly have expected. The mayor's office, headed by Orlov, sent the draft concession for consideration not to him, but to the state corporation VEB.RF, which is headed by Igor Shuvalov. Ura.ru writes about this.
And Shuvalov just has his own battered “concessionaire” – Otto Sopronenko. Until 2018, he worked as Deputy General Director for the sale of assets of LLC Investment Company Vnesheconombank – VEB Capital (100% owned by VEB). Then he came in handy for Shuvalov in new areas of work.
Now Sopronenko is engaged in concessions for the construction of schools, but he can easily switch to public utilities. You can read about his adventures and scandals in the material “School “divorce” from Shuvalov and Sopronenko”.
It is possible that Orlov's possible desire to give MUP VEB coincides with the desire of Vice Governor Vysokinsky. And if so, it is clearly agreed with Kuyvashev, which certainly would not have been to the taste of Vitaly Kochetkov.
The latter may have his ally in the mayor's office. Immediately after the City Duma adopted a provision in the summer of 2021 allowing the transfer of Vodokanal facilities to a concession, Vitaly Kochetkov organized a meeting with Deputy Mayor for Economics Dmitry Nozhenko. The latter is also responsible for public utilities. What they were talking about is not clear, but it is obvious that the two above-mentioned events must be connected.
At the same time, the transfer of Vodokanal to VEB is not a settled matter. In the spring of 2022, representatives of the Moscow holding Tashir came to Vodokanal. Its owner is a businessman with an ambiguous reputation Samvel Karapetyan, one of the richest people in Russia. According to evil tongues, allegedly Karapetyan wanted to take over the treatment facilities, and compensate for the costs invested in their modernization by increasing the tariff.
That is, Vitaly Kochetkov has extremely serious competitors. So much so that even Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev, allegedly close to him, did not dare to openly support the claims of the businessman.
Another question is where the funds will go if Vodokanal goes to Kochetkov, because his business is associated with offshore companies. Fininvest LLC, which is now owned by Amersham Invest LTD (95%), an offshore company from the island state of Saint Kitts and Nevis, was called the key investment structure of Kochetkov. The remaining 5% belongs to the partner of the oligarch
Until April 2021, 95% of the company belonged to the British offshore Glanton Projects. Apparently, it was necessary to change jurisdiction due to sanctions risks.
For understanding: it is on Fininvest LLC that a number of key companies with billions in assets are registered, which are attributed to Kochetkov. These are Mobifon-2000 LLC (revenue at the end of 2021 – 980 million rubles, assets – 830 million rubles, 151 million rubles of government contracts), EAM LLC (revenue 274 million), and others.
There is a high probability that the company, which can be created under the concession agreement between Kochetkov and Vodokanal, will be a subsidiary of OOO Fininvest. And this means that the money from the concession can “float” to the islands of St. Kitts.
Lay low in Sredneuralsk
Another interest who can work in the interests of major federal players, or even Kochetkov, is the former vice-mayor of Yekaterinburg, Alexander Kovalchik. It was under him that the court ordered the restoration of Lake Zdohnia, about which the Prosecutor General's Office is now indignant. Subsequently, he became the head of Vodokanal (2010-2018), after – the ministers of economy and territorial development of the Sverdlovsk region (2018-2019), now – the head of Sredneuralsk.
Judging by his career, Kovalchik is from the team of Evgeny Kuyvashev. It is logical to assume that the initiated criminal cases, since he was related to Vodokanal of those years, may affect him.
Moreover, he was already a defendant in a criminal case related to Vodokanal. It was launched in 2019. The official was suspected of abuse of power. The legality of the tender for the removal of the company's waste was checked. In 2020, the case was dismissed, it was not possible to prove his guilt.
But even before that, in 2013, Kowalczyk had already served six months in a pre-trial detention center on another criminal case, also related to abuse of power, and, as a result, was fully acquitted. Apparently, it was about a case, which, on the grounds of fraud, was requested by the Yabloko party in the same 2013.
The functionaries pointed out that the inspection carried out at Vodokanal revealed serious violations. Allegedly, under contracts dated November 15, 2008, an advance payment in the amount of 61.8 million rubles was transferred to the accounts of the Italian offshore company VOM Impianti e Processi S.p.A. The company did not fulfill its obligations, MUP “Vodokanal”, allegedly, did not conduct the lawsuit.
At the same time, Vodokanal was owed a large amount of money (9.3 million) by Saus LLC, the money to whose accounts was received in 2009. Both in the first and in the second case, the money was intended for the investment program for the development of infrastructure in Yekaterinburg. In the same 2009, the court ordered Vodokanal to fulfill its obligations to clean up Zdokhnya, which was not done.
budget funds,” Yabloko calculated.
After all the ups and downs, Kovalchik became the head of Sredneuralsk. Considering the previous positions of bread, it is unlikely that the official was satisfied with the position he received. And for Governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev and his team, Alexander Kovalchik, obviously, became a toxic character – it was simply unreasonable to keep him “close to the body”. what the journalists of UtroNews wrote about.
He was also connected with the death of a local “authoritative” businessman and politician, the ex-head of the local “United Russia” and the head of “REMP Sredneuralsk” (a large management company) Vasily Borisenkov. The amount of state contracts of the company is almost 220 million rubles – rather big for a small town in the Urals. Such serious players as the corporation “Atomstroykompleks” and UMMC could take part in the redistribution.
Scandals did not leave Kovalchik in Sredneuralsk. In 2019, they began to build treatment facilities there at the budget expense, but in the end, the contractor affiliated with the former mayor abandoned work after the official resigned. And after that, several people died from poisoning with sewer gases during the cleaning of the building. Pravda UrFO writes about this.
It is not known whether the current mayor Kovalchik could have prevented the tragedy, there were no complaints from law enforcement officers against him.
However, in Sredneuralsk Kovalchik is clearly cramped . But he thoroughly knows Vodokanal, its problems and weaknesses. And he could well offer his knowledge to one of the major stakeholders in the concession agreement: Vitaly Kochetkov, Samvel Karapetyan, and anyone else. Hoping for personal gain. And they – “excite” the prosecutor's office. However, let the investigation deal with it.