Establisher of Mirax Group, Sergei Polonskiy, and founder of the hotel chain Azimut Hotel, Alexander Klyachin, are among the largest land owners near the route from Moscow to St. Petersburg that is being constructed through Khimki forests. They own over 700 hectares of land worth about 420 million dollars. A total of 140 hectares is now for sale. Environmentalists, who oppose to the route construction, stress that these lands are in the forest and the Russian government has promised to leave them virgin.
In late 2010 despite the protests from environmentalists, a government commission headed by First Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov, decided that the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway with toll system would pass through the Khimki forest. At the same time Ivanov promised that there would be no infrastructure units built along this part of the route. But in early April 2011 the leader of the Movement for Khimki Forest, Evgeniya Chirikova, pointed out that part of the forest was already for sale. The stated owner of these land lots was KHSP Khimki JSC, final beneficiaries of which were unknown.
According to official information, 95.42% of the shares of KSHP Khimki belong to Management Company Khimki. Collected information shows that in early 2010, 70% of shares in the Management Company belonged to the owner of hotel chains, Alexander Klyachin, and 30% was owned by Sergei Polonskiy. This is stipulated in the preliminary agreement on land consolidation in Khimki that the two businessmen signed in January 2010. According to the document, in February 2010 the parties intended to set up a joint venture on parity basis. Some sources say that in August 2010 Polonskiy and Klyachkin founded and registered Somestnoe Predpriyatie company (“Somestnoe Predpriyatie” is the Russian for “joint venture”). This happened at the same time with the conflict between Polonskiy and Alfa-Bank.
Alexander Klyachin confirmed that he indeed owns a number of land lots near the airport Sheremetyevo. But he refused to discuss his agreement with Polonskiy concerning joint development of these lands. According to Klyachin, he began buying up the land lots in the late 1990s, when building a new highway was out of the picture. Some sources claim that the businessman owns a total of 385 hectares in the area. Another 350 hectares are owned by Polonskiy. He began to buy up land in Khimki in the early 2000s.
The land lots for sale at the moment mostly belong to Sergei Polonskiy who was forced by the crisis to revise his plans for the development of the mentioned lands. Total debt of Mirax is 593 million dollars. Land sale has to be held with a discount, at the price of 6 to 8 thousand dollars for a hundred square metres. It is 40-50% below market prices, experts say.
When asked whether land sale stemmed from the Khimki scandal around the route of the highway, the press service of Mirax Group advised to address the question to the Federal Institution Roads of Russia, which in 2009 had bought all the land for the road construction. Avtodor government-owned company (customer of the road construction) reported that any building in Khimki forest was prohibited with the exception of approved areas of the route. In this case control over land lots outside the forest is beyond the responsibility of the route construction customer.