2015 Lapkričio 18

What Are Lapdogs of Russian Oligarchs Doing in Lithuania?



“Veidas” has already been writing about the “Consulit” Company registered at Paupio Street 14 in Vilnius; the one that once became an instrument for Jurij Sagaidak, the KGB spy seen off from United Kingdom, to receive a permit to reside in Lithuania. “Veidas” managed to learn that the person and his family successfully headed for Austria recently. The story of Rafael Filinov, another businessman from Russia settled in Paupio Street, is equally catching.


According to information available at the Centre of Registers, owner of the Apartment 9 at Paupio Street 14, where, as “Veidas” has already written, over ten companies not engaged in any actual activity are registered, is the mother of Audrius Butkevičius, the first Lithuanian Minister of National Defence then convicted of an attempt of fraud and wandering in Eastern Europe on the ambiguous missions.

Aiming for permit to reside in Lithuania

Mr. Filinov from Russia, who manages the “Rafael” Company in Lithuania, has made a rent agreement of the said apartment. According to information available in public, the company’s business is artwork, salons and galleries. Contacts of the company with four employees are identical to the ones of “Consulit”, UAB, that is, the only phone number connecting to a firm that manages accounts of the “Rafael” Company. In other words to say, “Rafael” is unreachable.

Information collected by “Veidas” allow to presume that the company managed by Mr. Filinov primarily serves as a way to receive permit to reside in Lithuania, which ensures a possibility to travel in the entire Schengen zone freely among other things. It is no secret that the permit is the primary goal for many aliens thus “settling” in Lithuania.

The stricter policy of issuing such permits came to its effect in November 2014. It requires a company incorporated by an alien to operate in Lithuania for minimum 6 months, offer at least three workplaces, have an authorized capital of EUR 28 thousand, half of which must be own capital of the alien and have minimum three employees. It is hardly a coincidence that, as soon as the policy came to force, “Rafael” increased their authorized capital to the required amount and hired a couple of additional people to fulfil all of the formal requirements.

Mysterious business transaction

According to sources of “Veidas”, Mr. Sagaidak’s company “Vesna Holding S.A.” conducted quite a strange business transaction with Mr. Filinov in 2010. “Vesna Holding S.A.” purchased the painting “Young Man with Brown Hair” (1919) by the famous Amedeo Modigliani for three million US dollars.

However, the company contacted Mr. Filinov in October 2014 to inform him that they organized a documental and technical expertise of the painting in Geneva in May-August of the same year. Experts concluded that their investigation do not allow stating the author of the painting is Amedeo Modigliani himself. Therefore, according to their purchase and sales agreement, the seller must pay almost 6 million dollars to “Vesna Holding S.A.” and take the painting back. As an alternative to the said scenario, the seller was offered to order and carry out a new expertise that might come to new conclusions on authorship of the painting.

It is interesting that “Consulit” incorporated by Mr. Sagaidak in Lithuania is registered at the same Paupio Street 14 and Mr. Filinov rents the neighbour apartment in the same building. Both of the real estate objects belong to the mother of Mr. Butkevičius. The same authorized person Gražina Šalnaitė already mentioned in previous article takes various actions in relation to legal status of both companies. Mr. Butkevičius then referred to her as the one of his “insiders”, when asked by “Veidas”.

Is it just a coincidence that the Russian businesspeople, settled in neighbourhood in Lithuania, conduct mysteriously ending million-dollar artwork purchase and sales transactions?

Close comrade-in-arms of Mr. Berezovsky

Mr. Filinov is a colourful personality mentioned in many stories relating to the Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The British daily newspaper “The Guardian” published an article in March 2015 with new information about the investigation of the activity of Alexander Litvinenko in United Kingdom until being murdered in 2006.

According to “The Guardian”, Mr. Berezovsky claimed that Mr. Litvinenko spent the last years of his life busily gathering information on activities of the Russian Mafia and high rank persons, including Roman Abramovich’s money-laundering and illegal purchase of real estate that threatened him with criminal liability in Spain, for M16 and Spanish law enforcement services.

Michael Cotlick, the close English friend of Mr. Berezovsky, witnessed to the British police after death of the oligarch that Andrey Lugovoy, one of the two killers of Mr. Litvinenko, sent a black T-shirt to Mr. Berezovsky in July 2010 and Mr. Filinov was the one, who handed in the T-shirt personally. The front side of the “gift” was saying “Polonium-210, Lon­do­n­–Ham­burg. To be continued” and the back side was reading “CSKA Moscow, radioactive death is knocking on your door”. There also was a red Communist star and a black symbol of radiation danger.

Mr. Lugovoy, the well-known fan of CSKA football team, was watching the match between CSKA and “Arsenal” in London several hours before the meeting with Mr. Litvinenko to add radioactive agents to his drink as it is supposed. Dmitry Kovtun, the other suspect in the case of poisoning Mr. Litvinenko, was visiting Hamburg before the same meeting. Mr. Berezovsky then gave the T-shirt to the police and, according to Mr. Cotlick, understood the “gift” as a warning and a threat.

Football and noble metals investor

Brazilian media offers more information on Mr. Filinov. Brazilian newspapers of March 2013 were full of stories about the case on San Paulo football team “Corinthians Paulista” and its financial scam. Brazil issued the orders for arrest of Mr. Berezovsky and two of his business partners, the main owner of the club Iranian-born Kia Joorabchian and the businessman Nojan Bedroud, in 2007. Prosecutors suspected that their investment in the club was just a money-laundering scheme. Mr. Berezovsky, the vicious critic of Vladimir Putin, was then keeping explaining it was just another Kremlin-inspired campaign against him.

After a five-years-long investigation Mr. Joorabchian reported to the court that namely Mr. Filinov was the actual and the main investor in the “Corinthians Paulista” club.

According to Brazilian media, Mr. Filinov is one of the many Russian oligarchs, who grew rich in the 90s. He grew up in Ulyanovsk City, 900 kilometres eastward from Moscow and graduated from the higher military school (UVVKUS) in 1988. Less than a decade after that, at the age of 29, he and a couple of his congenial incorporated a telecommunications company “Cityline”, primary value of which, according to the Russian newspaper “Vedomosti”, was 29 million US dollars.

Eme­lian Zakharov, Georgy Shuppe and Demian Kudryavtsev were among his partners in “Cityline”. The company was one of the first to offer unlimited internet access services in middle 90s. “Vedomosti” wrote that the rich Mr. Berezovsky “was standing” behind the company and thus the young incorporators were not afraid to lose their investment.

Relationship of the said businesspeople with Mr. Berezovsky is not just about business: Mr. Shuppe’s spouse Yekaterina is the daughter of Mr. Berezovsky and Mr. Kudryavtsev is considered the right-hand man of the oligarch; the latter has been forbidden to come to Russia since 2001. Mr. Filinov was as close to Mr. Berezovsky as the people above.

Since 2006 Mr. Filinov has been General Manager of the “Kommersant” publishing group owned by Mr. Berezovsky from 1999 to 2006. Mr. Zakharov is a partner of Mr. Filinov in “Triumph” Gallery of Modern Art located in the building formerly owned by Mr. Berezovsky.

Another area of active business engaged in by Mr. Filinov was mineral digging. He has been Executive Manager of a company operating in Kyrgyzstan since 2006. Federal Security Service (FSB) searched the “Triumph” Gallery in 2011 due to his business relations in Kyrgyzstan. FSB agents described the documents they found as a plot for a detective story. One of such documents was the plan to assume control over the Kyrgyzstan region, where metal mining is concentrated.

In the words of “Forbes” article “Who destroyed B. Berezovsky?” the oligarch financed the so-called tulip revolution in Kyrgyzstan by allocating 5 million US dollars to it. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev paid for his victory by offering assets of a gold mine in Jerui field, the second largest gold mine in the country, to the businessman.

The National Agency “Kyrgyz Altyn” transferred the right to do the mining for “Western investors”, that is, the Austrian company “Global GOLD Holding GmbH”, in May 2006 and Mr. Filinov was appointed Chairman and Executive Manager of the Investment Group. True owners of the company were Mr. Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili. According to information by the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia, Mr. Berezovsky himself flew to Bishkek, capital city of Kyrgyzstan, to manage his personal business in summer 2006.

According to “Forbes”, Mr. Filinov settled in Kyrgyzstan for some time. He told the press he had spent 12 million US dollars on making a study and a project of gold mining and then found a good trade. The shares were sold in 2007; 130 million US dollars went to the bank accounts by Mr. Patarkatsishvili and Mr. Berezovsky. After massive protests of opposition in April 2010 President Bakiyev had to leave country. Soon government of Kyrgyzstan suspended the gold mining licence concerned.

Asylum in Austria

Another interesting person in relation to the companies “doing business” in Paupio Street is Mr. Sagaidak’s wife Vera. According to information available to “Veidas”, she received a permit to reside in Austria in August 2015; Austria is in Schengen zone and thus the lady can come to Lithuania without let or hindrance as well.

Biography of Mrs. Sagaidak is none the less interesting. She was studying in the College of Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1989–1991 and began working for the same Ministry right after her graduation, and then she was a personal assistant of Russian Ambassador in Vienna in 1992–1995. After her diplomatic service ended, Mrs. Sagaidak became Assistant General Manager of “Avon Beauty Products Company”, finished her law studies and has worked for “SP-Consulting”, the company incorporated in 2006 and managed by Mr. Sagaidak since then. Within 9 years of business the company has earned about 10 million US dollars.

Part of the funds is invested in Lithuania. According to information available at the Centre of Registers, “Consulit”, UAB owns a drugstore in Dainavos Street in Vilnius and a lot. Pursuant to information from our sources, last year Mrs. Sagaidak took interest in possibilities to receive a permit to reside in Lithuania that would grant a right of free movement in Schengen zone, in particular, taxes of a dummy company, requirements for authorized capital, minimum salaries and social insurance taxes of employees, permit issuance terms, etc. The same Ms. Šalnaitė was helping her to manage all of the issues in Lithuania.

“Veidas” has already written that Maxim Sagaidak, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sagaidak, was appointed Manager of “Consulit” company in February 2015; it is sure now that the heroes of our story headed for Austria.

Relationship of the Sagaidak family with Austria is not limited to their love for Austrian language and culture. There is information in the official page of “SP Consulting” that one of the international partners of the company is the Austrian company “Lansky, Gangzer & Partner Rechtsanwälte GmbH” managed by Lawyer Gabriel Lansky, who loomed up in suicide (homicide?) story of Kazakh officer Rakhat Aliyev.

Mr. Aliyev, the diplomat and later one of the most vicious critics of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, had been married to the eldest daughter of the President till the year 2007. Mr. Aliyev was convicted of kidnapping and killing two bankers in 2008 in Kazakhstan. He had been Ambassador in Austria until then and was trying to escape from pursuance in Malta and Cyprus, when, finally, gave himself up to Austrian law enforcement services. The latter refused to extradite the former President’s son-in-law to Kazakhstan twice and initiated a legal process of their own in Austria.

However, the convict failed to live to the beginning of the process. Mr. Aliyev was found hanging in his prison cell in February 2015. Official cause of death confirmed by the Federal Ministry of justice of Austria as well was suicide; however, his Lawyer Klaus Ainedter questioned such version in public. In his words, Mr. Aliyev was not showing any sign of intention to kill himself and was busily preparing for the upcoming court process.

Respublika-kaz.info, the website of Kazakhstan opposition, stated Mr. Aliyev first met Mr. Lansky as early as in 2008 and was managing all his business in Austria with the help of this particular person exclusively. However, the actual client of Mr. Lansky was, supposedly, security services of Kazakhstan aiming for extradition of Mr. Aliyev to his native land. The kurier.at portal wrote there were suspicions that Lawyer Gabriel Lansky had got 14 million Euro from secret services of Kazakhstan to affect witnesses and falsify evidence in the homicide cases with Mr. Aliyev as a convict.

The whole truth of the story would, probably, never come to light.



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