The reconstruction of Krasnoyarsk Territorial General Hospital has resulted in a criminal case. Chances are there will deferred political consequences. Some believe it is highly likely to become a problem for Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Uss as well.
As part of the preparations for the 2019 Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade a new building was for the main territorial hospital. Although the facility was commissioned a few months after the winter competitions as the builders didn't meet the deadline, it nevertheless became a historic event for the Krasnoyarsk territory. The project allowed doubling the area of the facility and increasing its capacity to 25,000 patients per year. The building is equipped with up-to-date facilities. Its construction cost 7.4 bln rubles ($100.4 mln.) The funds were mainly provided from the federal budget.
The other day, it became known that a local entrepreneur who was responsible for the supply of equipment to the new building was detained for fraud. According to investigators, in 2018 and 2019, he embezzled about 100 mln rubles ($1.4 mln) with the help of a simple substitution of the equipment. He made an order for certain a thing but delivered some different and cheaper equipment to the regional hospital. The name of equipment item is not specified. Then he pocketed the price margin. As a result, he was detained and taken into custody. "Some instuments were not even registered as medical devices," said the branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee for the Krasnoyarsk territory and the Rebublic of Khakassia.
"Of course, it can be assumed that he was not an expert, and he himself was already cheated by his suppliers as the agreement was in the making. According to the agreement, although the equipment name looked correct at first glance, there is an extra digit in the marking and a letter missing. Allegedly, he did not see the difference in prices. But in this business, there are no inexperienced or naïve people of this kind now. So... He got 10 mln rubles ($135,700) out of the 100 mln ($1.36 mln.) The rest was spent on bribes and on cash withdrawals," said one of the local businessmen in an interview with wek.ru.
However, it was nor the end of the story. The regional Ministry of Health was searched in connection with the criminal case. More importantly, searches were also conducted in the office of Sibiryak, the main construction contractor. It is one of the largest regional real estate companies developing entire neighborhoods in Krasnoyarsk. In addition, it also received all the major sports and infrastructure construction orders for the Universiade. The amount of monies involved is tens of billions of rubles.
Gossip has it that there was some foul play. Sibiryak's top executives were very nervous about the law enforcement officers' inspection. According to the company, this was a provocative act by its competitors aimed at destabilizing its operations. "A total of 50 people accepted the instruments – representatives of the federal treasury, doctors, and experts in medical equipment. If the wrong one was supplied, let the Treasury be responsible for that. Two computer units were taken away from us. They also wanted to take away the electronic keys. In this case, the operation of the whole enterprise would have stopped. I believe that it was a targeted effort. Probably, promulgation of personal goals," said Vladimir Yegorov, the CEO of the Sibiryak construction company.
It is known that Sibiryak appealed to the prosecutor's office with a demand to verify the actions of law enforcement agencies and to give an assessment. However, if one takes a look at the history of the firm, it does not look like a lamb that can be easily humbled.
Sibiryak’s history goes back to the 1990s. At a certain moment, Yegorov got his lucky ticket through friendship with the then Governor Alexander Lebed. It brought the company its first major orders. Sibiryak managed to secure a foothold in the market. Over time it managed to get a room at the top and turned into a behemoth from a second-tier company, pushing aside such big businesses as Sibagropromstroy and Monolithholding. Now Sibiryak’s portfolio includes, for example, the upcoming development of the former Krasnoyarsk Combine Plant. It is a spacious business and residential area. The company has already built the Hilton hotel in Krasnoyarsk. Today, it is building another five-star hotel on Teatralnaya Square in the center of the city. In fact, it won this project from Sibagropromstroy.
Yegorov himself is an extremely tough businessman who knows where his interests lie. Sibiryak is known for numerous lawsuits related to tenders with its competitors. More recently, he has also begun to expand abroad. Thus, in January, it became known that the firm won the bidding contests for 7.4 bln rubles ($100.4 mln) from the Ministry of Health for the construction of a children's rehabilitation facility on the bank of the Ob Sea near Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia.
However, some sources say there is the reason why Yegorov is acting so confidently. Apparently, he feels that he has reliable support in the person of Alexander Uss, the incumbent Governor of Krasnoyarsk territory. This friendship dates back to the time when Uss headed the regional Legislative Assembly. This is why Sibiryak became so successful on the market and won all the bidding contests for the Universiade. If that is the case, then it can be assumed that Sibiryak's possible problems with the law might become a wake-up call for Uss as well.
The reports about a recent Kremlin seminar where the Krasnoyarsk governor was named among the top five regional heads who do not earn the trust of the federal center, add more fuel to the controversy. Together with Valentin Konovalov, the head of Khakassia and a CPFR member, he is an obvious underdog. Time will show whether this is just a coincidence or not.
"So far it looks like coffee cup reading. To my thinking, Yegorov has enough opponents of his own to whose business path he has crossed. In particular, the coincidence of information about Yegorov's issues with Interior agencies and the news about his victory in Novosibirsk is of interest.
As for the damaging material about the Krasnoyarsk Governor's ranking, low as it already is, in my opinion, this is quite another thing. Most likely, it has to do with behind-the-scenes struggles for control over the area between various federal factions," says Krasnoyarsk-based political analyst Alexander Chernyavsky.