Defrauded homebuyers of the Skhodnya Park residential complex, located in Khimki, 30 kilometres to the northwest of central Moscow, have been trying to make local authorities finish construction of the compound for the fourth year. Despite the long struggle and the direct Vladimir Putin’s order of to solve this issue, people have not received the keys to their apartments.
According to the data provided by the press service of the Ministry of Residential Policy of the Moscow region to RIA Real Estate agency, a meeting of homebuyers with local authorities will be organized in the short term. Previously, desperate buyers, who continue to invest in the protracted construction, organized a campaign near the office of the head of the city administration of Khimki. This incident caused amassed rumors, gossips and, as a result, the organization of a meeting of the authorities with the protesting homebuyers.
Sad Story of Skhodnya Park Residential Complex
It should be recalled that the history of the Skhodnya Park residential complex began in 2014. The first problems with it started in 2016, when Zeminzhkonsult, the first developer, left the construction site. A total of more than 500 mln rubles ($6,406,650) of people’s investments disappeared along with it. The construction project was frozen, and people began to seek justice in courts and government offices. In December 2016, the shareholders filed a query with law enforcement agencies. Only a year later, criminal proceedings were initiated against Zeminzhkonsult. However, the individuals responsible for the situation were not initially identified.
Later on, charges under Clause 4 of Article №159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation was issued to three people: Victor Yudichev, CEO of the company, as well as Nadezhda Kosolapova and Elena Kozlova, the two owners of the real estate company FIRMA RIXON. According to the homebuyers’ lawyer, the former defendant is simply a capegoat who naively or foolishly agreed to become a manager and signed the documents on behalf of CEO of the company. The sisters who are the owners of the real estate agency, signed agreements for the purchases of apartments in the residential complex under construction.
According to the latest data, Yudichev pleaded guilty. However, Vitaly Belochistov, the lawyer representing homebuyers, is confident that he is covering up businessman Oleg Turovsky who is the main culprit. Nadezhda Kosolapova and Elena Kozlova claim that they have long planned to stop cooperating with Zeminkonsalt just because of the pressure that Turovsky put on them.
It should be noted that the story of Khimki homebuyers was mirrored in the township of Razvilki where a similar situation happened with investors of InvestCity. The latter invested in the Novaya Razvilka housing estate. Oleg Turovsky is a founder of this company, too. It is important to mention that other real estate development companies where he is the founder continuously go bankrupt, leaving behind debts and defrauded homebuyers.
According to the forensic accounting findings № 8/76 dated 18.05.2018, the total amount of funds received for the construction of the residential complex was almost 700 mln rubles ($8,969,310.) The documents confirmed the expenditure in the amount of 157 mln rubles ($2,011,688.1.) Thus, the damage amounted to 537.5 mln rubles ($6,887,148.75.) Even if we deduce employees' salaries and office expenses from this amount, the damage will still be more than 100 mln rubles ($1,281,330.) However, at the moment, the law enforcement documents include a much more modest amount of 98 mln rubles ($1,255,703.4.) That is, even calculating the amount of damage and stolen funds is problematic.
Appeal to President as Cry for Help
Under the current circumstances, it is impossible to bring Turovsky to justice in the case of fraud in the Skhodnya Park residential compound. All that is left to do is to rely on the help of law and the authorities. In April 2019, after people realized that Turovsky may easily get away with the help of his superior patrons, they filed a complaint with Vladimir Putin. The 140-page letter was augmented with documents and video files, which contained evidence confirming that Turovsky was the main organizer of the fraud. In addition, the papers list the facts of deliberate procrastination of law enforcement agencies.
In order to draw the attention of authorities to the issue, the desperate homebuyers of the Skhodnya Park residential complex more than once went to various and sometimes shocking actions. Numerous hunger strikes, protest actions and posters demanding resignation of Khimki mayor and other the town’s other officials continued. Hopeless people even came with posters to the Kremlin. For this action, they were accused of "wild hysteria" and "outrageous and boorish behavior" by Andrey Obukhov, deputy head for town-planning department. In fact, the appeal to the Russian president was an act of desperation and a search for any help from the upstairs.
At a meeting with members of the Russian government, Putin said that the question of defrauded homebuyers should be solved as soon as possible. Thereafter, the very combination of these words will vanish from people’s vocabulary. In addition, Putin promised that the authorities will take this issue under special control. However, the town administration of Khimki has decided that the problem is more visible and understandable at their level. Obukhov's statement “Let's not talk about President. You came to me, didn't you? Then there is no President here” has spread all over the regional news sites and media.
It is very likely that this statement caused Obukhov's resignation. On December 26, 2019, a fifth deputy for urban planning in a row accepted this post since Dmitry Voloshin took the office of Khimki mayor. The homebuyers of Skhodnya Park got a new hope. They believed Timur Mamedov, a new deputy for urban planning, might help them finally get the much-desired keys to their apartments.
Current State of Affairs in Skhodnya Park Residential Compound
A year and a half ago, at a meeting with the shareholders, Andrey Vorobyov, governor of the Moscow region, promised that construction of the entire complex would be completed in late 2019. However, the terms constantly keep changing and are put off. The next key handover that was promised in February is again being postponed.
In November last year, Dmitry Voloshin assured that the first building of the residential complex was 98% ready and by the beginning of 2020 would be put into operation. However, at the moment, there is information that the first building is 95% ready and it will be commissioned in the second quarter. The second building is 70% ready. The completion of construction works here is expected by the end of the third quarter. In general, given the fact that the complex is quite large, the date of facility commissioning becomes vague. In particular, the fifth building will be commissioned only in 2022.
So, what is the problem now? A year ago, in March and April 2019, Prisma, a new developer of the residential complex from the Stroygroup group of companies, had to sign additional agreements with shareholders to the co-investment contracts. These agreements were supposed to be legally valid documents for the shareholders and to approve their rights, reaffirming their agreement with the new company. However, the developer seems to be in no hurry to formalize them. Therefore, there has been no guarantee for homebuyers.
Antonina Stetsenko, a deputy of the Khimki town hall, shared her opinion on the situation with the problem housing complex on her VK account. According to Stetsenko, odd things and mismatches began to occur from the very start even when choosing a developer company. Besides, the operations of Stroygroup themselves raise many questions. There are also homebuyers who were defrauded by the company. In addition, mildly speaking, Stroygroup turned out to be neither economically nor generally prominent. Seemingly, Khimki administration made a strange choice.
As a compensation for finishing the buildings, Stroygroup was offered a plot of land near the Putilkovо highway. According to the administration, the land plot was put on cadastral registration in March 2019. However, as it turned out later, the Stroygroup company formalized the plot at its own expense solving bureaucratic issues in various agencies for more than six months. Then the administration stated that another developer had laid claim to the land plot. As a result, it turned out that it was not intended for construction at all. That is, Stroygroup has not yet received the promised compensation. According to the documents, the company invested 100 mln rubles ($1,281,330) in the construction from its own funds, while the land plot was not transferred to it. By this fact the deputy explains the refusal to put the almost finished building into operation.
Stetsenko's statements on his personal page and a publication on the Yanovosti website prompted Voloshin to file a lawsuit against him. He demands from Stetsenko to remove two articles and compensate for moral damage in the amount of 2 mln rubles ($25,626,600.) It is noteworthy that Mr. Voloshin hired a very expensive lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, at a price of 30,000 rubles ($384.4) per hour to solve the issue. Veselnitskaya’s reputation is also very dubious. She is accused by the U.S. Prosecutor's Office with providing false information on the Prevezon Holdings case.
A huge number of bizarre facts ranging from businessman Turovsky escaping from justice to the unexplainable situation with the land plot and the murky position of Khimki administration makes one think that the answer to the question of when the shareholders of the Skhodnya Park residential complex will get the keys to their apartments and when their ordeals in the courtrooms and with officials will end, becomes extremely vague.