The Russians in the Balkans: how Putin’s friends are corrupt Europe

Русские на Балканах: как друзья Путина коррумпируют Европу

Russia corrupt officials and businessmen around the world to spread their so-called “national” interests. Often these actions are carried out and for their own sake. “Apostrophe” found out more blatant scams in a poor Balkan country Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Russia is shamelessly interfering in the internal Affairs of other States, and geography for the Kremlin does not play a role. Aggression against Ukraine is, of course, the most glaring example of such intervention, but not the only one. The most brazen, perhaps, was the intervention in the US presidential elections in 2016.

What can we say about such “trifles” as the coup attempt in the tiny Montenegro (population of just over 600 thousand people) in October 2016 under the leadership of the FSB and GRU in order to prevent the entry of this country into NATO or the organization of protests in other Balkan country – Macedonia – also with a view to hindering its progress in the Alliance.

Soft power corruption

But Russia’s actions aimed at destabilizing in different countries, not limited to these methods, and also include soft power in the first place, bribery and corruption. Thus, the Italian media revealed the conspiracy, was Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini. He supposedly at the end of 2018 has been negotiating with the Kremlin on the allocation of the party “League” of three million euros on a campaign for elections to the European Parliament. Salvini is known for its euroscepticism, the flattering remarks of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling to remove European sanctions against Russia for aggression against Ukraine and criticism of our country. What is the reason for such biased behavior is one of the most odious politicians of Europe was clear before, now no doubt remained at all.

However, there is nothing fundamentally new – the Kremlin has in the past tried to wreak havoc among European politicians, compromising some and bribing others. As I recall, in the presidential elections of 2017 in France, the candidate from “Republican” françois Fillon and the leader of “National front” marine Le Pen did not hide his sympathy for Russia and “friend” Putin. Of course, not free.

But Russian politicians and businessmen (often one and the same) are often involved in corruption in other countries in their own interests – as they say, is business, nothing personal.

Fertile field for such activities, in particular, are the Balkans, where, on the one hand, the Russians still feel quite at ease, on the other, there is prone to corruption mentality.

Big Pharma

One of the poorest countries in the region is Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the state system which is a complex conglomerate of the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska. It is here played out drama with elements of Comedy, which became known as “Apostrophe”.

In order of publication were the materials of the law firm that accompanies large-scale investigation at least large-scale fraud in the pharmaceutical market of BiH.

Русские на Балканах: как друзья Путина коррумпируют Европу

The story is briefly as follows. In 2012-2013, registered in Luxembourg offshore investment Fund Haden S. A. acquired nearly 30% of the shares of the largest pharmaceutical company in Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnalijek.

Shares were purchased on the Sarajevo stock exchange after the efforts of sellers was eliminated other potential buyers.

It turned out that in fact Haden was acting in the interests of the Russian company “Empire-Farma” from St. Petersburg.

At the end of 2014 the Prosecutor’s office of Bosnia and Herzegovina launched an investigation on the fact of illegal purchase of shares of the company Bosnalijek. While the investigation and all that it involves, causes issues. So, in 2015 the Prosecutor’s office issued a warrant for the freezing of assets Haden, JSC “Imperia-Pharma”, and the key figures involved in the machinations with shares of the company Bosnalijek. However, these assets were never frozen.

Debt payment is red

But that’s not all, as for the affair with Bosnian pharmaceutical company. In October 2016 KBC financial company Euro Credit Limited, registered in Malta, became the owner of 19.25% of the shares of Bosnalijek, which previously belonged to the government of BiH.

In 2018, the law enforcement agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina has launched an investigation against the Directors of KBC on suspicion in participation in an organized criminal group, which illegally bought shares of Bosnalijek.

“Imperia-Pharma” has gone bankrupt in 2015 after Bosnalijek shipped her medications at more than 38 million euros. The default of the Russian pharmaceutical distributor, has occurred from-for a debt in front of Bosnalijek on more than 14 million euros.

Русские на Балканах: как друзья Путина коррумпируют Европу

And here POPs up another company, this time Holding Maksimus from Slovenia, which Bosnalijek has sold the said “debt”. That, in turn, resold it to the Russian JSC “International Agency Next Concert”.

It should be noted that Maksimus Holding is a company-“baby’s dummy”, as it has no assets or Bank guarantees, or even employees. Thus, the aim of the operation was to capture Bosnian assets of certain interested parties in Russia.

The threads lead to Putin

Further – more. “The international Agency Next – the Concert” belongs to a Tatiana Polukeeva, which is directly related to Alexander Polukeeva, the former Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg, at a time when the city on the Neva was headed by the speaker of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matvienko. It is known that Polukeev and Matvienko have been friends even since the 1970s. Itself Matvienko is one of the most loyal to Putin politicians.

By “accidental” coincidence, the son of Valentina Matvienko Sergey is the co-owner of a number of pharmaceutical assets, including “Empire-Farma”. Business partner Sergey Matvienko is Omar Gurtskaya. He is listed as founder and General Director of JSC “Imperia-Pharma”.

In 2009, Gurtskaya became a shareholder in Luxembourg referred to “offshore company” Haden.

Interestingly, Omar Gurtskaya – a relative of Russian singer Zara (real name Zarifa mgoyan), which had previously been married to Sergey Matvienko (the second husband of Zara Sergei Ivanov also relates to pharmaceutical business, and now heads the Department of pharmacy of the Department of health of Moscow).

That’s the story of Russian corruption on a global scale. As far as the purpose of this Scam was to establish political influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, as others have mentioned, the Balkan countries have applied for membership in NATO (and the EU), to tell now difficult. Perhaps such influence here and there. And there are “normal” roll and cut.