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Relatives of Tatarstan’s leader own millions of dollars in luxury real estate, anti-corruption activists reveal

Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has released a new investigation into the multi-million-dollar properties belonging to relatives of Rustam Minnikhanov, the head of Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan.

According to the FBK, the majority of Minnikhanov’s property is registered to his wife, Gulsina Minnikhanova. Her main asset is the Luciano Hotel and Spa in downtown Kazan. Formally, 49 percent of this complex is owned by business structures belonging to one of Russia’s richest people, businessman Ruben Vardanyan, who paid 3 billion rubles ($39.75 million) for this share. But the FBK reports that this was in fact a “straight-up bribe,” since in reality Vardanyan’s business structures aren’t earning any income from the Luciano complex, and immediately after the purchase, Vardanyan devalued his share five-fold in his accounting documents.

“Bribes. Palaces. Airplanes. What the people of Tatarstan were sold for”
Alexey Navalny

There is also another luxury property registered to Gulsina Minnikhanova’s firm: a 1,600-square-meter mansion (that’s over 17,200 square feet), located on a 1.6-acre property in downtown Kazan — the FBK estimates its value at $1 billion rubles ($13.25 million). According to the documentation, Minnikhanova traded a local businessman a 700-square-meter (about 7,500 square foot) basement for it — the FBK describes this deal as a “bribe for the president of the republic from the biggest developer in the region.” 

The FBK also found a house valued at 200 million rubles (more than $2.65 million), belonging to Minnikhanova’s niece, and a 500-million ruble ($6.63-million) country estate registered to Minnikhanova’s sister, as well as another 2.2-acre property with a house valued at 1 billion rubles ($13.25 million). The latter estate includes an adjoining, floating helipad — the FBK points out that according to the documentation, this was a gift to the Republic of Tatarstan from the oil company Tatneft, but in actual fact is the personal property of Minnikhanov’s family.

In addition, Minnikhanov’s family owns two apartments in France, an apartment in downtown Moscow, and another one in Dubai. According to the FBK, Minnikhanov flies to Dubai every New Year, and moreover, he does so on a private plane — Tatneft pays for its maintenance. 

The FBK estimates the total value of the properties belonging to Minnikhanov and his wife at 3.5 billion rubles (more than $46.4 million). The investigation’s authors underscore that Minnikhanov isn’t involved in any business ventures of his own. “The investigation into Minnikonv’s illegal enrichment is like a repair-job that can’t be completed, but only be stopped,” the FBK concludes. 

The FBK released its investigation on the eve of the regional presidential elections in Tatarstan, which will take place from September 11 to 13. Rustam Minnikhanov, who has led the region since 2010, is one of five registered candidates. In addition, Tatarstan will be electing deputies to local self-governing bodies at the same time. Several of the candidates in these elections are supported by the FBK’s “Smart Vote” initiative: a project that offers voting instructions in regional elections to maximize the odds of defeating the country’s ruling political party, United Russia.

Summary by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Eilish Hart 

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