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How Vladimir Putin’s ‘top missile adviser’ got rich on Russia’s nuclear defense industry

Meduza
Tactical Missiles Corporation CEO Boris Obnosov and Prime Minister Dmity Medvedev visit the company’s assembly shop in Korolyov, March 10, 2015
Tactical Missiles Corporation CEO Boris Obnosov and Prime Minister Dmity Medvedev visit the company’s assembly shop in Korolyov, March 10, 2015
Alexander Astafev / TASS / Vida Press

The Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV) is one of the biggest state corporations in Russia’s military industrial complex. Among other things, the company manufacturers hypersonic weapons, air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles, and naval weapons systems. Sergey Prikhodko (Dmitry Medvedev's current first deputy chief of staff) served as KTRV’s board chairman until 2013, and former State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov has had the job for the past several years.

Since 2003, KTRV’s CEO has been Boris Obnosov, a former member of Russia’s permanent mission to the United Nations and a proxy for Vladimir Putin in recent presidential elections. In a new investigative report, the newspaper Novaya Gazeta claims Obnosov is also Putin’s “top adviser on missiles.”

For the past six years, KTRV has made all its purchases through a company based outside Moscow in Korolyov called “TRV-Engineering” (which went by a different name before 2017). Roughly 20 percent of this firm is owned through other companies by Obnosov’s 29-year-old daughter, Olga Zorikova, who works as a makeup artist and hairstylist at weddings and fashion shows.

Olga Zorikova
Olga Zorikova

The company affiliated with Zorikova earns a ton of money on KTRV’s purchases. In the past five years, TRV-Engineering has signed contracts with the Tactical Missiles Corporation and its enterprises worth more than six billion rubles ($90.8 million). Novaya Gazeta cites a court ruling that says TRV-Engineering collects a whopping 12-percent broker’s fee for every contract with a KTRV-connected factory. On at least one occasion, TRV-Engineering delivered goods to a defense plant that turned out to be counterfeit.

Another 20 percent of TRV-Engineering belongs to other companies owned by KTRV board member Vladimir Maslensky. Maslensky is also the head of the Taganrog-based company “Zvezda-Strela,” which receives money from KTRV to build residential housing in Taganrog. Zvezda-Strela takes these homes (built with money provided by the state) and sells them back to the state, namely to Taganrog City Hall, as part of various social programs. Additionally, Zvezda-Strela formed a cartel with another development company to sell apartments to the city at the highest possible prices.

Zvezda-Strela’s various projects also included the construction of a grain elevator at the Taganrog seaport. When the project was virtually finished, the company sold the elevator on the cheap to “Agroprime,” one quarter of which belongs to Rostislav Zorikov, the husband of Olga Zorikova and the son-in-law of Boris Obnosov. Another fourth of Agroprime is owned by Ivan Sadchikov, the son-in-law of former Deputy Prime Minister and former KTRV board chairman Sergey Prikhodko. Sadchikov and Zorikov owned other companies together, as well. Today, Agroprime belongs to Vladimir Maslensky and the director of a KTRV subsidiary.

Sergey Prikhodko’s son-in-law also owns a ski cottage in the French Alps worth at least 2.1 million euros ($2.4 million). Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation previously filmed Sadchikov’s alpine home from an aerial drone. According to Novaya Gazeta, Sadchikov owns another 69 acres of “premium ecovillage” in Latvia’s Vidzeme region, which he bought in 2013 for roughly 30 million rubles (about $960,000 at the time).

How Putin’s missiles turn into ski cottages
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Summary of Novaya Gazeta’s report by Alexander Gorbachev, translation by Kevin Rothrock