Prosecutor-General’s Son Implicated in Corruption – Alexei Navalny
An investigation published by anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny’s Anticorruption Foundation (FBK) alleges the Russian Prosecutor-General’s son is implicated in corrupt business dealings.
The report, published December 1, alleges that Artyom Chaika, the son of Russia’s Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika, owns a luxury hotel and property in Greece, as well as a house and a legal firm in Switzerland worth tens of millions of dollars. According to the Anticorruption Foundation, these assets were financed by Artyom’s forcible seizure of an Irkutsk shipping company in the early 2000s.
Documents obtained by the FBK show that Artyom has invested tens of millions of dollars in the Pomegranate luxury hotel located on the Chalkidiki peninsula in Greece.
Pomegranate is co-owned by Olga Lopatina, the ex-wife of Gennady Lopatin who is the Russian Deputy Prosecutor-General. The Lopatins recently divorced but the Anticorruption Foundation say this is purely for technical reasons, as investigators claim the couple still interact on social media and Lopatina still wears her wedding ring.
The Anticorruption Foundation claim Lopatina is linked to organized crime through her part ownership of the Sugar Kuban company. Two of the other company shareholders are the wives of Sergei Tsapok and Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz, who in 2010 were convicted of murdering 12 people, including four children, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The foundation’s investigators also claim that both Artyom Chaika and Olga Lopatina own villas on the Greek peninsula.
The investigation of Artyom’s dealings in Greece also reportedly led to revelations about the businessman’s property in Switzerland. The Anticorruption Foundation alleges Artyom acquired a house in Switzerland that it values at roughly US$ 3 million. By March 2015, he had also allegedly acquired 40% of the shares in a Swiss law firm, bought from his brother Igor Chaika.
Anticorruption Foundation’s investigators claim that Artyom’s initial start-up capital came from his forcible seizure of an Irkutsk shipping company in the early 2000s. This coincided with the bizarre death of the company’s former CEO in December 2002, who was found hanged in his garage.
As the Anticorruption Foundation’s investigation notes, no criminal case was filed and the death was treated as suicide. However, in 2012 Novaya Gazeta published an investigation into the death in which they claim to have evidence the man had been murdered.
The investigation has also been documented in a 40 minute film, which has now been viewed on YouTube more than 1.5 million times since it was released December 1.
Artyom is the son of Yury Chaika, who was appointed as the Russian Prosecutor-General in 2006, and reappointed to the role in 2011. According to his official biography, much of his early career was spent in Irkutsk, where he became the regional prosecutor in 1992.
Yury Chaika December 3 responded to the Anticorruption Fund’s allegations, claiming that they were “false” and had been “ordered” by someone, Interfax Russia reports. “It is obvious to me that this is an order clearly carried out for money by its executors. Big money! The stated information is of a deliberately deceitful character and is completely baseless.”- he said.
Speaking at a meeting of the CIS Interstate Anti-Corruption Council in Kazakhstan last month, the Prosecutor-General said, “the fight against corruption in the country [Russia] has been intensified substantially recently”, TASS reports.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Pskov, said the Kremlin was unaware of the Anticorruption Foundation’s accusations.
There is no other significant reaction of the Russian competent authorities on the investigation yet.
As of December 2, the Swiss Attorney-General’s Office has begun “no criminal proceedings against” Artyom Chaika, RFE/RL report.
by Beth Lacy