Together with Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an international organisation uniting investigative journalists in Eastern Europe, Novaya Gazeta sets forth in its quest for real estate belonging to bureaucrats, parliamentarians, the authorities and businessmen close to them in resort countries. We begin with Montenegro, already ubiquitously known as the Russian VIP resort. We were able to get our hands on a complete state cadastral land record, which indicates both landowners and the real estate built on this land.
Even after have a quick look at the cadastral, we got the feeling that almost half of Montenegro belongs to Russians. We have already unearthed roughly 40 rather intriguing figures among them: bureaucrats, parliamentarians, state-company executives, etc.
“Montenegro has been one of the most popular places for Russians for a long time now: Anyone can buy land and apartments here, since the prices are very reasonable. The most desirable places were bought up a long time ago, and Russians to a large extent were the ones to buy them”, says Andrei Sazonov, the director of Mont Estates, an international real estate agency focusing on Montenegro.
The ancient town of Budva, nestled on the Adriatic Sea, has a terrific climate, many various entertainment centres, boutiques and casinos. Together, they make this town one of Montenegro’s most appealing places. The town’s real-estate record is home to dozens of famous Russians.
For example, we discovered that 50% a flat 76 square metres large on the top floor of a large, two-storey building belongs to a one Lyubov Sliska, whose name corresponds completely with the name of the State Duma deputy chairwoman, deputy administrator of the United Russia Party, and member of the State Duma commission for considering federal budget expenditures meant for defence and state security. The other half of the flat belongs to Sergei Sliska, whose name coincides completely with the name of the State Duma chairwoman’s husband. Sergei Sliska is a former judge with the Moscow Region Court. There is no public information on the property of Lyubov Sliska and her husband. Sliska is one of the few parliamentarians remaining whose income and property declaration has yet to be presented on the State Duma website.
Sazonov says, “Everything on the coast in Budva was bought up long ago. The price on the secondary housing market varies from 500 to 1,500 dollars per square metre of land and 1,500 to 3,000 dollars per square metre of flat space”. These, as other real-estate agencies believe, are the average prices that do not factor in the flat’s layout design and location, which have a huge impact on the prices.
The city of Herceg Novi lies in the prairie by the foot of the Orjen Mountain on the coast of the Bay of Kotor, situated on the Adrian Sea. This city is one of the most popular tourist regions in the country. It is called “the botanical garden of Montenegro” thanks to its epibiotic trees and shrub vegetation. Herceg Novi is also popular for its health clubs and therapeutic mud spas.
M.V.E. Adriatika, founded in 2009, is one of the largest owners of land in Herceg Novi, according to the cadastral. The property of this company (registered in Budva) includes a rather big, for local standards, land plot of 57.7 thousand square metres. Two Russians, Yevgeny and Stanislav Shlychkov, are the founders of M.V.E., according to the commercial record of Montenegro. These names file in line completely with the names of well-known politicians in the Saratov Region: Yevgeny Shlychkov has been a deputy for three assemblies of the Saratov Region Duma, and is a member of the budget and taxes committee, the economic policy, property and land relations committee, and is a secretary for the United Russia party, as the Saratov District Duma website states. Yevgeny Shlychkov owns Transmash-GROUP (according to the last annual report, the company’s chief operation is renting real estate).
Shlychkov’s son, Stanislav, is also a member of the United Russia Party, and is a deputy in the Engels Municipal District of the Saratov Region. He owns Arktika (information from a list of affiliated entities of the factor for 30 September 2011), a company that produces household cleaning products.
Lyubov Sliska is joined in Budva by the Engovatov family, owners of a flat measuring 56 square metres. A third of the flat belongs to Andrei Engovatov, the same name as that of a state inspector of the department for the surveillance of energy-supply organisations, hydrotechnical structures and heating plants for consumers of the Federal Service for Environmental, Technical and Nuclear Surveillance. The remaining two thirds belong to Svetlana and Aleksandra Engovatov, whose names coincide with those of the wife and daughter of Mr Engovatov. His income declaration on the federal service’s website does not list any foreign real estate, but rather only land plots and apartments in Russia.
The company Aurora Development was founded in April of 2010 in the city of Igalo (in the administrative centre of Herceg Novi and is considered to be one of the largest Mediterranean therapeutic and tourist resorts). This company owns a modest 700-square-foot land plot in Herceg Novi. The plot has a building several stories high with a few flats that Aurura Development owns. The company’s founders are five Russians, four of whom could be connected with the Russian Ministry of Finance. Yevgeny Cheburayev, the same name as the deputy head of the department of state debt and state financial assets of the Ministry of Finance, owns 20.1% of Aurora Development. Vedomosti reported that Cheburayev was named in a criminal case several years back on the repayment of Russia’s debt to the Czech Republic.
Another 20.1% in the company belongs to Sergei Mironchenko, the same name as a man who not too long ago was the interim director of the law and legal departments of the Ministry of Finance.
Another of the stakeholders, also with a 20.1% stake, in the Montenegrin company is Artyom Simonyan. The name is the same of a man who worked as the deputy director of the Ministry of Finance’s law department.
Last but not least, another 20.1% in Aurora Development belongs to Yuri Sokovykh. His namesake is on the list of arbitration judges of the non-commercial partnership “Science and Practice”. The partnership’s website states that Sokovykh used to work as the deputy director of the Ministry of Finance’s legal department. Andrei Sazonov says, “In Herceg Novi you can treat yourself to a flat at 1200 to 2000 dollars per square metre”.
The town of Krašići is a popular destination for Russians as well; the town is located in the administrative municipality of Tivat. Real estate agencies describe Krašići as a place for being able to vacation in peace and solitude, with a unique view of the deep Tivat Bay is capable of accommodating even the most luxurious of yachts. Russian Viktor Sulima is the owner of 272 square metres (adjoined with the sea) of this peaceful Mediterranean corner. This is the same name of the deputy director of the state company “Directorate for the construction of the St. Petersburg by-pass”. The directorate is building the ring road in St. Petersburg, a project that has been the subject of numerous uproars.
Another popular place in Montenegro is Petrovac, located in the Budva Riviera. Sazonov says, “Petrovac is a peaceful, elite little town where well-off people can have a good vacation. The knockdown price for a square metre in a flat is around 2000 dollars”. You can find bureaucrats from the Moscow government among the flat owners in Petrovac. We were able to find several flats and garages in the cadastral record that belong to Anatoly and Galina Kochetkov. The name Anatoly Kochetkov and the address in the cadastral record are a complete match with those of the deputy administrator of the department for the consumer market and services of the Moscow government (he was serving in such a capacity at least as of 2008). He has a wife named Galina, which also matches the cadastral record for land.
Real estate agencies have announcements on the sale of luxury real estate in the village of Trebesinj, part of the Herceg Novi administrative centre. Agencies describe the village as “a picturesque, ancient village in the mountains with an incredible view of the Bay of Kotor”.
Among the real-estate owners here, we found Sergei Ulin, the owner of 7.8 thousand square metres, whose name is a perfect match with that of the president of the Diamond Chamber of Russia and vice-president of ALROSA, which is 83% state-owned. Ulin’s land plot has a house measuring 175 square metres and two garages (100 and 150 square metres, respectively).
The village of Milovići is another popular little place that can be found around the Tivat Bay. It offers “peace and tranquillity to those searching for solitude”, as agencies describe the place. We found a land plot in the Milovići cadastral records by the sea measuring 5 thousand square metres that is split between two residents of Moscow. Galina Kanyuka owns half of this plot. Her name and address are a match with those of the wife of the first deputy general director of Gazprom Komplektatsiya Valery Kanyuka. This company, owned outright by Gazprom and the centralised supplier of the gas monopoly and its subsidiaries, provides 80% of al product supplies for gas transport and production companies of the holding, as the Gazprom Komplektatsiya website says.
The intermediate report card is that today we have looked at just a sliver of the cadastral records for land in Montenegro. Even so, the list of people already found makes an impression, if not with its high-ranking posts, then at least with it breadth and colourfulness. The fact that there aren’t any famous Kremlin or Duma names on the list is not surprising: Montenegro is somewhat average as far as resorts go. We will continue to look for people higher up on the pecking order, somewhere around Cote d’Azur or Sardinia, after we finish with our Montenegrin dwellers.
The following people participated in the project:
Roman ANIN, Andrei SUKHOTIN, Zinaida BURSKAYA (Novaya Gazeta), Miranda Patrucic (Montenegro, OCCRP)