The novel coronavirus might help Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan, get re-elected for a third term. Kazan companies belonging to his inner circle are involved in the scandalous deliveries of COVID-19 tests with the help of which he might collect 500 mln dollars for his re-election. Chances are it will become the fraud of the decade.
The election of the President of the Republic of Tatarstan will be the main political event of 2020. Rustam Minnikhanov, the appointee of the United Russia party, is highly likely to gain a majority of votes. So, in the previous elections in 2015, a total of 94.4% voted for him. However, as Napoleon III once said, “I care not who casts the votes of a nation, provided I can count them.”
Some people realize that the decision on who is going to take up the post of regional President in Tatarstan, the most important constituent entity of the Russian Federation, during the next term will be made not by the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Tatarstan and not by the voters, the residents of the region, but by a small group of people holding the real power. Moreover, any changes are highly unlikely in this group. This fact is guaranteed by the new amendments to the Constitution (if they are adopted, but who doubts this?).
However, if the new Constitution nullifies Vladimir Putin’s term limit as Russian President, then the President of Tatarstan will have to ensure his own victory in the elections, meeting political and financial requirements of the federal center, as it was before. Since the State Council of Tatarstan approved future amendments to the Constitution almost faster than the State Duma of the Russian Federation, one may conclude that Minnikhanov copes with the political part well. However, there might be financial problems. They are not likely to be associated with the revenues of the Republic’s budget. It involves the price that Rustam Minnikhanov will have to pay in order not to retire in September 2020.
Several Telegram channels cited their own sources saying that the Kremlin had named a price for Minnikhanov. In order to remain in office, Rustam Minnikhanov must collect 500 mln US dollars in cash. Seemingly, this is the bill that the officials from the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation have issued to the incumbent Tatarstani President. Moreover, our sources in the Presidential Administration say that both the sum of the “contribution” and its form are quite credible. Cash dollars are still valued more than offshore or cryptocurrency schemes. Criminal cases of Dmitry Zakharchenko, the former deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s economic security and anti-corruption office, and former FSB official Colonel Kirill Cherkalin only confirm this.
Telegramm channels also report that negotiations on the “voluntary contribution” were held in the fall of 2019. Allegedly, Minnikhanov was even outraged at the sum of the “donation,” hinting that he could report to higher authorities about the “unbridled appetite” of their colleagues from the administration.
Minnikhanov’s discontent is understandable. Even in fat years, the “personal cash register” that the President of Tatarstan could count on, when the Republic's finances were managed by Robert Musin, rarely exceeded $4 mln.
In early 2020, Rustam Minnikhanov received a “warning.” Navalny's The headquarters of the Russia’s leading off-parliament oppositionist, Alexei Navalny, released an investigative film focusing on the private jet of Tatarstan’s leader. Navalny said nothing new about Minnikhanov. All information had already been published earlier, back in mid-2019. However, the story about the elderly leader of the Republic of Tatarstan flying on a personal business jet to exotic islands in the company of a young employee that was verified by the main fighter against corruption on the Russian Internet, kicked off a revision of his image. At least in monitoring of the news that is prepared for the country's leadership. People’s perception of Navalny might be different, but on the political Olympus everyone understands that it was his “investigations” that made Yuri Chaika leave the comfortable Moscow office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation for the job of the Russian President’s plenipotentiary representative in the North Caucasian Federal District in the city of Pyatigorsk – a position dubious from all points of view. Apparently, Minnikhanov got the hint and came to Moscow in a completely different mood for holding negotiations.
Even if all this is true, $500 mln is not too much of a burden for Rustam Minnikhanov. Especially given the fact that the large part of the economy of Tatarstan is under control of Ivan Yegorov, Minnikhanov’s golf partner and CEO of AK Bars Holding. He started his career receiving Tatarstani President’s guests, and now he is considered to be the holder of the very “cash-desk.”
The timing is the only thing that might darken Rustam Minnikhanov’s working days. Apparantly, Tatarstan might face an urgent general mobilization of the “wallets” and “partners” of the incumbent Tatarstan President. Additionally, the situation is aggravated by the fact that Minnikhanov's entourage has been recently losing rather than achieving.
In the near future Robert Musin, the “main wallet” of the Tatastan President, who controlled the activities of Tatfondbank and AK Bars Bank, has all chances to turn up in jail. His criminal case for more than 50 bln rubles ($7.2 bln) is being reviewed in court. Ravil Ziganshin, the main owner of the Kazan Production and Construction Association, might become bankrupt and follow Robert Musin in the footsteps, at least, in terms of legal procedures, if he does not finalize construction of the Vostochny spaceport in the Russian Far East. Last year's inspections in his company only confirmed this possibility.
It is unlikely that the President of Tatarstan will be able to address his former “business partners” Rinat Khayrov and Rinat Gubaidullin, a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation and adviser to the CEO of Agrosila Group, respectively for the solution his financial problems. Khayrov lost his political and financial “weight” after the resignation of Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov. The scandalous publications about his daughter Elsina in connection with expensive real estate in the UK did not put any gloss on him either. Minnikhanov could dispense with it to get money for his new presidency, were the UK government uninclined to take the mansions to the treasury. Additionally, Rustem Magdeev, Minnikhanov’s another “wallet,” is suing members of the Khayrov family for much less money and so far without any progress. British businessman Dmitry Tsvetkov, Elsina's husband, is suing Rustem Magdeev for $ 15 mln in London.
Rinat Gubaidullin, former deputy of the State Duma and a Tatarstani “VIP-bankrupt,” is also concerned about saving his last non-working assets. After becoming bankrupt, his brother Rashit Gubaidullin is mired in enforcement proceedings and court hearings.
Of course, there is a faint hope to get money from Tatneft and Tatenergo. Nail Maganov, Tatneft’s CEO, talked a lot about expanding the financing of social projects in Tatarstan. No doubt the re-election of Minnikhanov might mean social support for the future honored pensioner. However, current oil prices do not look very promising for implementing this scenario.
The situation around Tatenergo is not very easy, too. In 2017, Prime Minister Ildar Khalikov retired. In 2015, the Khalikov family acquired expensive real estate in Cyprus. The Sobesednik newspaper has obtained the documents for ownership of property issued to Guzel Khalikova, the wife of the Prime Minister, and their three children Timur, Kamila and Amina. Minnikhanov is highly likely to be aware of these documents. Perhaps now is the time to present old bills to the former Prime Minister of Tatarstan. However, there is no certainty that the Cypriot real estate will be sold out quickly to help with the future elections.
Against this negative financial background, the novel coronavirus came in very useful perfectly matching the well-prepared plans for the healthcare industry. Last year, Rustam Minnikhanov provided Farmmedopolis-RT with resources and assets. This company belongs to Rustem Magdeyev, former Health Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan, and Ramil Khabriyev, former head of the RUSADA anti-doping agency. wek.ru said previously that Moscow heard about Farmmedopolis-RT only in the summer of 2019, when Minnikhanov awarded the medal of the order of Merit for the Republic of Tatarstan to Magedeyev, the chairman of the board of directors of this medical firm. Many were surprised in Moscow how Farmmedopolis-RT managed to get this privilege. The answer to this question became obvious in the fall. It has been established that the company announced its plans to build a medical cluster in Kazan producing some Japanese diagnostic chips for flu under license. Rustem Magdeyev, an eminent figure in Tatarstan, publicly signed an agreement with the Japanese company K. K. Mirai Genomics. The scandal was juicy. The company had neither a website, nor any mentions of LifeRing chips, nor description of the technology. Nevertheless, Farmmedopolis-RT got an opportunity to control Kazan-Expo, the main exhibition area with an area of 64,000m2 in Kazan.
Recently, the anti-corruption policy center of the the Yabloko party discovered the purchase of the Moscow Health Department. It signed a contract “with a single supplier” for COVID-19 tests for 192 mln rubles ($2,753,280.) Based on our publication, the Novaya Gazeta newspaper conducted an investigation and found out that Kazan’s Medpromresurs, the supplier of the Health Department, has links to the company that owns the LifeRing trademark. The Japanese chips for flu diagnostics were supposed to be produced under this trademark in Kazan. The investigation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty made it clear that Rustem Magdeyev and Ramil Khabriyev or more precisely, Farmmedopolis-RT, are involved in the scheme. While Moscow buys tests for 1,500 rubles ($21.51,) the supplier declares that it has a contract with the Kazan company SmartLifeKea, the alleged developer of these tests. But there is no SmartLifeKea in the WHO list of global suppliers of COVID-19 tests, although there are some Russian developers (none from Kazan).
The list contains data on almost 200 firms, mainly from China, which are producing the necessary tests for diagnosing the coronavirus infection. Their prices differ, but the COVID-19 tests for Moscow could simply be purchased for 3 euros (260 rubles), not be produced. That is, the profit from the speculative trading might be almost 125 mln rubles ($1,792,500) for 100,000 sets only. The delivery includes 56 more portable mini-laboratories that Moscow is going to buy for 750,000 rubles ($10,755) apiece.
The COVID-19 pandemic is developing rapidly and causing a massive, almost hysterical panic. It is obvious that these 192 mln rubles ($2,753,280) are just the tip of the iceberg that covers the scandalous Farmmedopolis-RT. Moscow is only one of the 85 federal constituent entities in Russia. At present, every region requires mini-laboratories and tests. Therefore, everyone is likely to buy what is delivered to Moscow. In addition, in the near future, there might be some statements about “breakthrough chips” for diagnosing of the novel coronavirus that were made on the basis of the notorious Mirai chips. Preparations for this have already begun. Albert Gaifullin, Farmmedopolis-RT’s CEO, told BUSINESS Online that the Japanese group Mirai Genomics “has a unique technology for the diagnosis of coronavirus.” The problem is neither WHO nor FIND (the WHO-affiliated international Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics) know anything about these “unique technologies” or the Mirai company. Isn't that very strange?
Add to it that Vladimir Putin was not only informed about “breakthrough” technologies, but also spoke about state investments and potential orders from all over the world. However, the website of the Russian Direct Investment Fund misspelled the name of the Japanese company for some reason. As they say, “there are always some problems.”
By the way, after the scandal last autumn the K.K. Mirai Genomics company got its own website. However, judging by the construction of sentences, it seems that the information on the Japanese site was written in English by native speakers of Russian and made on a simple website builder with the pictures from a free stock photo site. Predictably, the buttons “download a pamphlet,” “download a data-sheet” and “download clinical trial results” do not work. Nor do the links to a certain application in AppStore and GooglePlay.
The “unique technology” stated on the website is called LifePad, but there are no details about it. The domain name is registered in Moscow, but the site itself is located on the Russian Timeweb hosting. In the meantime, the poorly made fake website has already brought multi-million profits to its creators. It looks like a safe bet that Farmmedopolis-RT is highly likely to officially declare that this site was made by its competitors, namely, opponents of the Russian-Japanese COVID-19 tests. And yet K.K. Mirai Genomics has no other. If it turns out that the Russian Direct Investment Fund made a decision to invest in “unique technologies,” and even presented this information to Vladimir Putin, using this hastily made fake website, we might be witnesses of a scam of the year, or even of a whole decade.
Who might be the ultimate beneficiary of the entire scheme with tests and chips, if not Rustam Minnikhanov? “I am a businessman by nature,” he told reporters at a recent meeting. However, one can hardly call the Tatarstani schemes with diagnostics a business. In an interview with TASS, Vladimir Putin called businessmen of this kind “swindlers by definition.” It is difficult to disagree with him in this case.
It is to be hoped that the Kazan dealers bought the real COVID-19 tests for resale to the Moscow Health Department. Otherwise, we might see an explosion of false positive test results for the novel coronavirus. Or vice versa, false-negative. Then the collapse of country's healthcare system might be worse than in Italy. In any case, medical enterprises and Minnikhanov’s “wallets” are likely to receive a huge profit in just a couple of months, which might provide the “Kazan Khan” with the opportunity to embrace a new term of office.
The original article: https://sobesednik.ru/politika/20200320-zolotoj-tron-kazanskogo-hana