This spring saw CSKA Moscow FC defeated in the round of 16 of the Europe Cup, quite a mediocre performance for a team with biggest annual budget. All the more so as the club won the 2005 UEFA Cup. Some ten years ago CSKA Moscow was no more than a makeweight to Moscow's CSKA market, controlled by Dagestan and Chechen dons. It all changed utterly when a new president, Mr Yevgeny Giner, brought mysterious shareholders to the club. Their names have not been made public yet.
In fact, CSKA Moscow is owned by Giner and his business partners, including Deputy State Duma Chairman Aleksandr Babakov. Yet not all the president's men are public figures: Georgy Ugolnikov was a treasurer for Orekhovo gang godfather Sergey Timofeev (nickname: Silvestr), Alkhas Alkhasov is a brigade commander. Russian Mafia have carried out its own investigation into the dark affairs of people who run Russian football, determined the results of key matches and chose the winners of national championship for almost ten years until Vitaly Mutko, a protégé of the St Petersburg Kremlin clan came into power.
Prosecuted in Kharkov, Prosecuted in Moscow
Evgeny Giner is reluctant to reveal his background until CSKA: “I come from Kharkov. I was born in 1960. Entered Kharkov Public Building Institute, but has not received a degree. I have been living in Moscow since 1986. Like many others I launched my business in the early 90s. In my case it was car dealing. At the same time I have begun cooperating with the Russian Football Union”. And then he goes on with his achievements in the sports realm.
His reluctance to speak up is understandable. According to Russian police agents, in the 1980s Giner was affiliated with the members of criminal circles of Kharkov (Ukraine). His associates were Gennady Kernes, nicknamed Gepa, Sergey Batozsky, nicknamed Baton, and Vasily Salygin, who later became the chairman of Kharkov oblsovet (local legislative authority). Giner helped Batozsky to control Barashovo (the largest merchandise market in Kharkov), restaurants and car market. The factories producing unlicensed vodka were under control of Giner and Salygin. All this business activity was bound up with Moscow. The unlicensed vodka was being smuggled to Moscow, hijacked cars and merchandise from Luzhniki market were coming to Kharkov. As a result Giner frequented to Moscow and got well-networked in Russia's capital. All the more so as life became harder for him in native Ukraine.
In 1986 Frunzensky District Department of Kharkov militia brought charges against Giner under Article 86.1 of the Criminal Code of the Ukranian SSSR (large scale embezzlement of public funds). Newly-made businessman got away with a suspended sentence. On August 29, 1990, the same department initiated criminal proceedings under the same article against Giner. That is why very soon he found himself in Moscow. In 1991 he was put international wanted list, but the arrest warrant was recalled due to the termination of the proceedings.
In New Russia’s capital a comer from Kharkov made his home in Sivtsev Vrazhek Street, in a flat of his friend Anrey Skurikhin, at the time a debutant entrepreneur. Nothing is known about how two businessmen met each other, but the police agents believe they were partners in moonshine business. In 1999 Skurikhin became First Deputy Director General of Soyuzplodimport close corporation, a main exporter of Russian vodka to foreign consumers. In 2003 he became the President of S.P.I. Group, Soyuzplodimport successor. Now he is on the international list of most wanted criminals. He faces charges of stripping the state off the rights of such acclaimed brands of vodka, as Stolichnaya.
At the beginning Giner’s life in Moscow went along familiar Kharkov’s line. In the mid 90s he was put into the database of Moscow police as a “member of crimional group committing extortion”. In Moscow Giner became a member of Lipetsk gang, which controlled Luzhniki market.
Luzhniki market had been under control of the Soltsevskaya group. Later the group targeted Novolipetsky Metal Plant. To avoid clashes they handed the market over to local, Lipetsk gangsters. First the Lipetsk group included only local gangsters, but very soon gangsters from Ukraine seized the leading positions.
According to a police officer, the process of infiltrating Ukranians into Lipetsk gang began in the early 1990s. At that time Moscow was full of con artists, who fleeced people. Almost all those artists came from Ukraine, sometimes whole villages migrated to Moscow to make their living by «raffle». Ukranian bandits guarded the spots for con artists worked. Luzhniki market was most important venue. As a result with the death of criminal bosses of Lipetsk gang that controlled the market more and more Ukranians became foot soldiers and brigade commanders in the gang. Soon the power in the gang belonged solely to Ukranians. The gang was nicknamed «Lipetsk topknots» (topknots is a slur for Ukranians) by the police and members of criminal groups.
The legal cover up for Lipetsk gangsters was Bavas limited partnership, founded by criminal don Maksim Kurochkin (a.k.a. Maks Furious) and Aleksandr Babakov, at the time businessman and lecturer of Moscow State University. Kurochkin was once a member of the Izmaylovo criminal group and had connections in criminal circles, the FSB and the police. By turn Babakov had connections in Moscow city government. As a result Bavaz obtained legal right to manage the market. Then the firm arranged a grandiose swindle.
In 1996 Babakov lobbied the city authorities to launch “Lotbi” instant lottery. Officially it aimed at “attracting additional resources for reconstruction of big arena of the Luzhniki stadium”. The rights to hold the lottery was granted to Lotby firm, a full subsidiary of Bavas. In fact the lottery was a scam legalized! People who were involved in organising the lottery could tell the police or the victims that they were acting according to the orders of the city government.
Yevgeny Giner, Sergey Shapovalov and Mikhail Voevodin (both criminal dons) represented the Ukranians in the Lipetsk group. Giner and Kurochkin founded Garant Security Company, which was in fact the fight brigade of the Lipetsk group. Their violence became drastic and is still remembered by the police agents. Fighters from the “security company” put the squeeze on the vendors at Luzhniki, shook the money tree for the gang, wrested debts, abducted and killed people and so on... In 2001-2002 the gang lost most of its soldiers. Baton and another criminal don Yury Filatov were killed in Moscow. Though the police thinks that the murders were ordered by their associates, namely Maksim Kurochkin.
The money pumped out of the market was invested in profitable assets in Ukraine. The gangsters bought up a number of fashionable hotels, including «Premier-Palace», «Dnestr» and «Oreanda». Mr Babakov, Giner, Voyevodin and Shapovalov swifted to the power economy of the Country. They became owners of Khersonenergo plc, Odessaoblenergo plc, Kirovogradoblenergo plc, Zhitomiroblenergo plc and Sevestopolenergo plc.
For resolving conflicts which the new owners could face in Ukraine the gang sent to the country Maks Furious with a squad of fighters. The gunmen flew on board of private airplane of Dinamo FC (the Surkis brothers who owned the club were Voevodin and Giner's friends). They visited local cities raiding the offices of power companies and driving the top-management out. Soon Kurochkin finally settled down in Ukrain, whereas Giner сhose Moscow. He was in charge of the building business of the Lipetsk topknot, helped them to force their way to CSKA flea market, owned by the club of the same name.
Criminals from Chechnya
Anyone who owned the market on the CSKA premises also owned the football club. This tradition began in 1994 when Colonel Alexander Baranovsky became head of the sports department of the Russian Army Central sports club (CSKA). He arranged a long term lease from the Federal Property Management Agency of sports facilities where there were markets. Such cheap price leased facilities included CSKA sports complex. Part of the trading floors was under control of a criminal from Chechnya, Shahroudi Dadahanov a.k.a. Shah.
In 1994 FC CSKA issued shares. Ministry of Defense had 51% of the shares and the other 49% belonged to Concordia-Golf, a company owned by Oleg Kim. The latter was very influential in the criminal world. He was also a shareholder of KrAZ and had a conflict with Anatoly Bykov. Alexander Tarkhanov became the team’s coach. He was often seen with such kingpins as Oleg Shishkanov, Raven (Vorona), and Alimjan Tahtahunov a.k.a. Tayvanchik.
However, already in 1996 Baranovsky had a conflict with Tarkhanov and Kim. Since Baranovsky was supported by Shah and other prominent Chechens, it was the colonel who won the battle. As a result, 49% of the shares that used to belong to Concordia-Golf were brought into ownership of an offshore company Army sports group LLC, controlled by Dadahanov, who by that time controlled the whole CSKA clothing market. However, he was not the only shareholder among criminals. The club’s co-owners whose names were previously unknown to the press were such people as Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, Chevalier Nusuev, and Ruslanbek Khusainov, who were all well-know in the criminal world. According to investigators, a meeting of shareholders of FC CSKA at the time resembled gang gatherings. At one of these gatherings it was decided that the Ministry of Defense would sell another 25.9% of its CSKA shares to Shah and his men.
According to the information gathered by Moscow RUBOP officers, the football club’s funding scheme was as follows. Central Insurance Company was set up in Moscow, Trust Company AIS LLC being one of its establishers. The LLC was headed by chairman of the board of directors of FC CSKA, Andrew Trubitsinm who was an old friend of Shah. All vendors working at the sports complex market were obliged to insure their work spots with the Central Insurance Company and pay contributions that ranged from a couple hundred to several thousand dollars a month. Then the money went abroad.Two offshore companies were established for this purpose in Uruguay and Cyprus. These entities and the Central Insurance Company signed mandatory insurance contracts under which the entire insurance risk to customers is fulfilled by the offshore companies. These agreements provided for legal transfers of money abroad. Part of the laundered millions returned to Russia and was spent on the needs of the club, and the remaining amount was deposited on the private overseas accounts.
This business was quite successful until 1998 when Federal Security Service (FSB) and Moscow RUBOP began investing into Chechen owners of the CSKA football club. As a result, Baranovsky was dismissed from office with the Defense Ministry and was replaced by an Olympic wrestling champion Mikhail Mamiashvili.
After that the owners of the market and the football club face the most serious problems. There was a murder attempt against Chevalier Nusueva. General Prosecutor’s Office initiated a case against Dadahanov. Khusainov fled to France where Tayvanchik had settled. But a FSB officer found him there and demanded to give up control of the club. Chechen top dogs tried to fight back but in 2000 they suffered another blow when a case was filed against Andrew Trubitsin and Dadahanov. The two men were accused of creating a criminal group and money laundering.
After lengthy consultation and negotiation the parties found a solution that suited everyone. FSB was satisfied with the fact that Giner, Babakov, and Voevodin became new owners of the football club and gained a share of the CSKA market. Dadahanov and his men retained control over part of the market floors and all criminal cases against them were closed. It should be noted that most top dogs like Tayvanchik, Nusuev, and Khusainov are still on good terms with Giner.
From the point of view of law the deal was arranged as follows. An pffshore Company Bluecastle Enterprises Limited (controlled by Giner, Babakov, and Voevodin) took out a loan from Tembank (controlled by Babakov) and with this money acquired shares of the FC CSKA from the offshore company Army sports group LLC (owned by Dadahanov). Another package of shares went to ABO-Capital (controlled by Giner).
FC CSKA became the springboard for Lipetsk topknots who from criminal businessmen turned into eminent persons at the federal level. Babakov was for some time chairman of the board of directors of the club and then he invested in the political bloc Rodina headed by Dmitry Rogozin. Later Babakov’s political career evolved very rapidly. At present he is deputy chairman of Russian State Duma from the Just Russia party. Giner turned from a businessman with past criminal record into the president of football club, a member of the UEFA Executive Committee; at one time he was head of the Russian Premier League. However, his sports career did not go all smoothly.
President Giner’s cruel intentions
Most of Giner’s major mistakes stemmed from his recruitment policy under which he initially filled jobs with associates in the criminal world.
Yevgeny Giner became FC CSKA president 2001 and two years later he became head of the Russian Football Premier League. There was mush fuss about Giner appointing his longtime friend Tatevos Surinov CEO of the Premier League. "I nominated Tatevos Surinov because I have known him for a long time to be a person who knows how to make money", said Yevgeny Giner at that time.
Surinov also gained control over Football Travel Agency (FTA) closed JSC. Distribution of much of the tickets to the games of the national team and teams participating in European competition was the responsibility of Ibrahim Suleymanov a.k.a. Ibrashka, who has long been in the focus of attention of the Moscow RUBOP. Back in 1990 he was detained on suspicion of money extorting from one of the USSR President’s advisers, Mikhail Gorbachev. After that he was suspected of similar crimes several more times.
In the 2000s his business was closely linked with Surinov. Giner helped another friend of his, a distinguished wrestler from Dagestan, Alkhas Alhasov, to become vice president of football club Fakel. Soon these appointees began to bear fruit, so to say. In 2003 Alkhas Alkhasov beat the referees right on the football field and was removed from office. Scandals were springing all the time. Those involved in football and the press constantly suspected and accused FC CSKA management of giving brides to referees in key league games. Fans even came up with a slogan " Giner bought them all”. As a result, he was forced to resign from his position of head of the Premier League. At the end of 2004 the General Prosecutor's Office arrested Surinov and Suleymanov on charges of fraud, with no relation to sports.
At the same time Voevodin, Babakov, and Giner had an argument with Kurochkin, who began to act against their political and business allies while he was in the Ukraine. The conflict turned into a war in which Max the Violent allied with Chechen top dogs including one of the leaders of the Lazanskaya group, Lom-Ali Gaytukaev. There were casualties on both sides.On February 8, 2005 Giner’s Mercedes car was fired at by unknown persons. Yevgeny Giner was not in the car but Vadim Giner, son of the FC CSKA President, was injured as well as Alexei Nikonov, his bodyguard, employee of PSC Garant. The criminal war lasted until November 2006, until the arrest of Max the Violent in Ukraine over charges of extorting 10 thousand dollars. When this happened all people who ensured safety of Kurochkin in Ukraine were murdered, and in March 2007 Max the Voilent was shot by sniper. The gun fired when the convoy was leading him out of a Kiev court.
After what happened with Alhasov and Surinov, Giner, clearly understood that people from his criminal life should not appear near him in his official life. Moreover, they should not be involved in his football work. Apart from Lipetsk topknots, Giner is linked with the Kapstroy LLC, one of the few entities that the FC CSKA president is officially among the founders of. The other founders of the LLC are Alkhas Alkhasov, who is now the coordinator of Sambo Federation of Dagestan, and 63-year-old George Ugolkov, legend of the Russian criminal world.
A Military intelligence accountant of the bloodiest Moscow Mafiosi
George Ugolkov’s career is truly one of a kind. During the Soviet times he was chief of administration and maintenance of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense and even was behind the bars. At that time security services did not go to prison for noting as the Soviet government closed eyes to small scale misdemeanors of its law enforcement agents. But Ugolkov was convicted on three counts including embezzlement, failure to report a crime, and illegal currency transactions.
When he was let free he came to an acquaintance of his, Gregory Lerner, who also was incarcerated for embezzlement during Soviet times. Lerner was quick to adapt post-perestroika life anddid business under protection of Orekhovskaya group leader, Sergey Timofeyev a.k.a. Sylvester. Sylvester even married the secretary of the businessman, Ms Olga Zhlobinskaya.
As a result, at the beginning of 1990s Lerner, Ugolkov, and Ms Zhlobinskaya protected by Timofeyev carried out a large scale scam. They founded a Moscow merchant bank that took out loans from 20 other banks. All these funds were then transferred to the accounts of companies controlled by Lerner in Switzerland and Israel. Bankers were not paid back but they also did not rush to law enforcement agencies as Sylvester was very persuasive in his arguments against filing complaints.
Lerner and Ugolkov first faced problems when a structure they controlled took out a 1 billion rubles loan from All-Russian Automobile Alliance, owned by Boris Berezovsky, and did not pay it back. The Security Service of the business magnate worked out who was behind the scam and had a serious conversation with Ugolkov. Moreover, Berezovsky was not scared by Sylvester’s meddling and still filed a complaint to the law enforcement agencies.
Sylvester is considered to be the bloodiest of the Russian mafia in the 1990s. On June, 7, 1994 Boris Berezovsky’s car detonated. The magnate was not injured but the Moscow RUBOP initiated a case. The officers detained Ms Olga Zhlobinskaya. Sylvester had to intentions to be involved in a conflict with the police and so soon Berezovsky paid his money back. Ms Zhlobinskaya was then released. But another explosion followed, this time it was the magnate’s office. The war ended only when Sylvester was murdered in Moscow in September 1994. Despite the described situation, organizations controlled by Lerner, Ugolkov, and Ms Zhlobinskaya continued to take out loans from banks. They now acted under the cover of Fiftieth Anniversary of the Great Patriotic War Victory Fund, Joseph Kobzon being one of the fund’s managers. Money was going to the same foreign enterprises of Lerner.
However, all this did not last long. Bankers became bolder after Timofeyev’s death bankers and began to increasingly demand their money back. Lerner and Ugolkov replied. In April 2005, there was a murder attempt on the chairman of the board of directors of Mezhregionbank, Albert Shalashov, who had already suffered from scammers. And in October 1995 Mikhail Zhuravlev, the president of Mosstroybank, who also pressed for money return, was murdered in Moscow.
After that Lerner, a.k.a. Zvi Ben Ari, and Ugolkov continued scamming but now in Israel. Companies under their control were collecting money from the Israeli residents at high interest rates or for beneficial projects. People never saw their money again. These millions of dollars were transferred to Russia. As a result, Lerner was being arrested very frequently in Israel. He served the sentence and when he was free again he would continue the scams. Ugolkov lived in the shadow of Zvi Ben Ari until the accomplices did not a new financial pyramid, Rosneftegazinvest that promised 30% interest rate on deposits.
When in 2006 Lerner was arrested again, investigation found out that Ugolkov was one of the Rosneftegazinvest founders, which prompted him to leave Israel urdently. In Moscow Ugolkov addressed an acquaintance of his, Giner. According to investigators, they knew each other through top dog Baton, who was a friend of Sylvester. As a result, Ugolkov and Giner are involved in construction business together.