Russia's mafia state Alexey Navalny's group publishes startling revelations linking the Attorney General's son to the mob
The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), run by opposition activist Alexey Navalny, has published a large investigation into the illicit actions of Russian Attorney General Yuri Chaika and his family. According to the report, the Attorney General's son, Artem Chaika, has business dealings with his father's deputy's ex-wife—a woman known for her involvement in the Kushchevskaya mob town, where 12 people, including four children, were massacred in November 2010. Artem Chaika reportedly owns a home in Switzerland and a villa in Greece. FBK says he began his wealth, moreover, by capturing control over a state enterprise. For those without the time, inclination, or language skills to read FBK's massive text (or watch its 40-minute film), Meduza present a short summary of what Navalny's people have discovered about Yuri Chaika and his kin.
Artem Chaika owns the Pomegranate luxury hotel in Greece on the Chalkidiki peninsula. One of his co-owners is Olga Lopatina, the ex-wife of Deputy Attorney General Gennady Lopatin. FBK investigators believe that the couple divorced for purely technical reasons, noting that Lopatina still wears her wedding ring. Also fueling speculation that the two remain a pair is the fact that the Lopatins still play games with each other on social media, where Gennady recently "visited Olga's magnificent castle."
Olga Lopatina owns part of the Sugar Kuban company, in which the wives of Kushchevskaya gangsters Sergei Tsapok and Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz also have shares. Another piece of the company belongs to Nadezhda Staroverova, the wife of Alexander Staroverov, the former head of the Attorney General office's administration. (Staroverov left his post after revelations that members of the murderous "GTA" gang were hiding from police, living in a house he owned.) The headquarters for Sugar Kuban is located in the same building that housed Tsapok's main office. Tsapok and Tsepovyaz were convicted of murdering 12 people in 2010, including four children. The two were sentenced to life in prison. (While in jail, Tsapok died of heart failure in July 2014.)
In Greece, Artem Chaika owns a villa that's still under construction. Not far from the site of Chaika's future home, Olga Lopatina is building a villa, too. FBK studied Lopatina's income declarations up to 2011 (filed while she was still married to the Deputy Attorney General), and found that she earned 18 million rubles ($270,000 by today's exchange rate)—too little, the group says, to afford a share of the Pomegranate hotel and the new villa, which incidentally is located not far from Mount Athos, where Attorney General Chaika likes to "recharge spiritually" on vacations.
Artem Chaika owns a house in Switzerland that FBK says is worth roughly $3 million, though his Swiss registration documents place his residence at a far more modest home. Artem Chaika keeps his money in Swiss accounts managed, since the early 2000s, by the law firm of Marat Khapsirokov (the son of Nazir Khapsirokov, a former head of the Attorney General office's administration). Today, Marat serves as a senator in the Federation Council, representing Russia's Adygea Republic. FBK says Artem Chaika's money management scheme allows him to avoid revealing the origins of his wealth. Subsequently, he bought 40 percent of his brother's law firm to help supervise his accounts. One of the partners at this firm is a Swiss citizen named Francois Taran, who once helped broker a home purchase for Sergei Mikhailov, a leader of the Solntsevskaya Brotherhood—the biggest and most powerful crime syndicate of the Russian mafia.
Between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Artem Chaika was busy capturing the Upper Lena River Shipping Company in Irkutsk, reappropriating its 12 ships. This is how the Attorney General's son won his startup capital, which he took with him to Switzerland. FBK details the intricacies of this reallocation. Most significantly, Artem Chaika's forcible seizure of the shipping company led to the death of its former CEO in 2003. The local coroner determined that the man had been murdered, but the district attorney refused to open an investigation. At the time, the deputy district attorney in Irkutsk was Albina Kovaleva, who the newspaper Novaya Gazeta says is very close to the Chaika family. (Yuri Chaika himself used to work in Irkutsk.)
Today, Artem Chaika has a holding company that manages hundred of millions of dollars in commerce. He buys new assets seemingly at random: salt and sand mining enterprises, construction companies, brick manufacturers, and legal offices. FBK's investigation complements earlier reports by Forbes and Vedomosti, which have published information about Yuri Chaika's other son, Igor, who is the winner of several state procurement contracts. There is speculation, readers will be unsurprised to learn, that Igor's good fortune with these contracts is somehow connected to his father.