Vyacheslav Kantor ProvoCantor

All Russian oligarchs have long been divided into two unequal parts. A minority emigrate - in London, like Berezovsky, or in Vienna, like Smolensky. The big one is in Moscow and openly swore allegiance to the existing government. She has sworn so strongly that she is ready, in the apt expression of O. Deripaska, to “give up everything at any moment.” 

And against this background, we were very interested in the figure of Vyacheslav Vladimirovich Kantor, who clearly does not belong to any of these categories. He is not in exile, although he is an Israeli citizen and has permanent residence in Switzerland, living in the Lukengua villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. But he is not in Russia, he is only visiting Moscow. And in relation to the authorities, he feels absolutely independent. So independent that he allows himself to make statements like “I have a headache in Russia,” and literally, “Israel is the only state where I don’t have a headache.” 

Not so long ago he was a member of the highest echelons of power. V.V. Putin himself visited him three times: in the summer of 1999 and 10 years later at his Akron enterprise in Veliky Novgorod, as well as in October 2002 at his stud farm on Rublevskoye Highway in the Moscow region. 

The peak of his political influence occurred between 2000 and 2002. During this period, V. Kantor more than once accompanied Vladimir Putin on his foreign visits: to Germany, as well as to Sweden and twice to Norway. In Norway, he even participated in trade negotiations. But there was no personal union with the president. A sharp cooling in their relationship occurred at the end of 2002. Their next meeting took place in February 2005 at an event held by V. Kantor in Krakow. And this meeting was not the most successful for Kantor. 

He never became a major oligarch of “federal significance,” although Prime Minister V. Chernomyrdin issued orders that placed huge assets under the management of V. V. Kantor. And the Chairman of the Federation Council E. S. Stroev considered it an honor to see V. V. Kantor as his adviser on economic issues. Governors knelt before him in many regions of Russia, even in those where there are no his enterprises, but only economic interest. 

His collection of paintings by Russian avant-garde artists who worked in Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is legendary. It is known for certain that in his main office in Moscow (historical Kireev-Karpov mansion on Prechistenka) V. Serov’s painting “The Rape of Venus” is kept (without the right to be exported from Russia). 
 

So now we can ask our question - who are you, Mr. Kantor?  

Biography 


Vyacheslav Kantor was born on September 3, 1953 in a family of trade workers. His father, Vladimir Isaakovich, worked in various positions in the trade sector, and in the early 1980s even held the post of director of the Sokolniki department store in the capital. In 1989, according to media reports, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison to be served in a maximum security colony. Vladimir Kantor was charged with speculation, theft of state property on an especially large scale, as well as taking a bribe and forgery of officials (Articles 93, 154, 173, 175 of the Criminal Code). 

Vyacheslav Kantor did not come to commerce right away. In 1976, he graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) with a degree in systems engineer. After completing his graduate studies, Vyacheslav Kantor headed one of the numerous closed scientific laboratories at the Moscow Aviation Institute at that time. The laboratory was engaged in an extremely promising business, as it seemed then - the design of inter-orbital spacecraft. But the career of an ordinary Soviet scientist did not work out. In 1986, a scandal broke out in the laboratory, the reason for which was the sale of defense secrets abroad. The investigation of this case is believed to have threatened Vyacheslav Kantor with at least prison. However, the lab manager was inexplicably lucky. The authorities limited themselves to his dismissal from the Moscow Aviation Institute, and in the same year his career as a businessman began. Vyacheslav Kantor suddenly finds himself in the chair of the head of the Soviet-American joint venture Intelmas (intelligent materials and systems). This organization was engaged in a very fashionable, but then few people understood, business - environmental monitoring. The only thing known about the activities of this enterprise is that in 1992 it was somehow able to acquire ownership of a historical object from Yuri Luzhkov - the Kireevsky-Karpov estate on Prechistenka. 

But Vyacheslav Kantor’s interests were not limited to caring for nature. Vyacheslav Kantor founded many different enterprises at that time. As the newspaper “Russian Courier” writes (No. 102), “in the early 1990s, Kantor was seen in the main store of the country - GUM, where he was in charge of an entire section with lingerie. However, Kantor’s path to millions did not begin with panties and stockings. This path began with useful acquaintances. Among the acquaintances was Gennady Burbulis, who soon became Secretary of State of the Russian Federation. At the instigation of the latter, the future millionaire ends up in Veliky Novgorod, where the most modern chemical production in the USSR was located - PA Azot, a manufacturer of mineral fertilizers. Then, back in 1992, the idea of privatizing the Novgorod chemical plant matured in the heads of statesmen. At the instigation of his patrons, Vyacheslav Kantor, at the head of Intelmas, was called to PA Azot in order to evaluate the assets of the enterprise and help with privatization. Appreciated. Liked. Helped." 

In 1993, Vyacheslav Kantor became the owner of Azot, which then changed its name to Akron. For 35% of the shares of one of the most powerful enterprises in the Soviet chemical industry, Mr. Kantor paid about 350 million rubles, or 200 thousand dollars. While on the market the cost of a ton of Azot products was $140 per ton, and the enterprise’s capacity was 4 million tons per year. 

Of course, the former “inefficient” state-owned enterprise began to generate huge income for Mr. Kantor and showed impressive growth rates. Many analysts explained this by the “unique management team” that Vyacheslav Vladimirovich brought to the plant. 

In 1994, a similar plant, Dorogobuzh, located in the Smolensk region, was privatized according to a similar scheme. He also joined the Akron holding. In addition, Acron acquired an 8% stake in Silvinit, the main supplier of potash raw materials to Acron, a 20% stake in Roskhimterminal OJSC, which built a chemical terminal in the port of Ust-Luga, and even a 7.73% stake in Murmansk. Apatit". 

“These events happened with the direct support of the then Secretary of State of the Russian Federation, Mr. Burbulis, and Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Shumeiko. These enterprises were finally privatized only in 1995, for which Vladimir Shumeiko, then Chairman of the Federation Council, included them in the privatization plan for 1995” (“Version No. 50”). 

However, strange things began to happen. As the same Versiya newspaper writes (No. 50): “in 1997–1998, prices for mineral fertilizers on world markets were very high. Acron produced mineral fertilizers, the price of which went through the roof at $200 per ton. So, during the crisis year of 1998, Acron found itself... at a loss of 202 million rubles, or $25 million at the average annual rate.” 

However, despite the huge losses at the end of 1998, the Ministry of Economy awarded Acron the title of the best Russian exporter. 

As his wealth grew, the circle of interests of Vyacheslav Kantor expanded. In 1999, Kantor took a liking to Moscow Stud Farm No. 1, which was located in the most desirable area of the Moscow region, in the area of Rublevo-Uspenskoye Highway, just in close proximity to the presidential residences “Barvikha” and “Gorki-9”, and with it 2300 hectares of elite land. The market value of all land plots of MKZ No. 1 is at least 4.5 billion dollars and continues to grow from year to year. 

Meanwhile, the country’s power changed, and in order to prove his loyalty, Vyacheslav Vladimirovich created the National Institute for Corporate Reform in 2000, the board of trustees of which included the figures closest to the businessman - Mikhail Prusak, Alfa-Bank President Petr Aven, Anatoly Chubais, Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Nekipelov and 200 other people who fell within the sphere of influence of the “corporate policy” of the Acron holding. 

“During 2000–2002, V. Kantor accompanied Vladimir Putin more than once on his foreign visits: to Germany, to Sweden and twice to Norway. In Norway, he even participated in trade negotiations. But a personal union with the president has not yet developed. Either they can’t get on the first plane of the presidential squadron, or the St. Petersburg planes are being scrubbed,” writes Versiya. 

Vyacheslav Kantor’s relations with other oligarchs do not work out either. Even under the late Boris Yeltsin, Vyacheslav Vladimirovich was an infrequent guest in this company, and now he doesn’t come to court at all. 

The “collapse” of markets in the chemical business in the United States and Western Europe forced Kantor to pay close attention to China back in 1999–2000. In 2002, he bought the Red Sun chemical plant in China, which was later renamed Hongzhi-Akron. 

As the online publication Kompromat.ru writes, “Over the years, he (Vyacheslav Kantor) tried to gain control over the Kirovo-Chepetsk plant, and over JSC Silvinit, and over PA Belaruskali and other chemical enterprises. And here and there he even snatched some small things, but overall a fiasco awaited him.” 

In parallel, a project for the formation of the national company “Mineral Resources” was born. It was assumed that the state would contribute to this company its stakes in the enterprises of the agrochemical complex, and Acron would contribute part of its own shares, receiving in return the opportunity to manage the newly created industrial giant. 

And again, not fate. Independent (from Kantor) officials quickly realized that this was a direct deception of the state. By that time, Akron’s charter had been changed in such a way that only oligarch managers could actually be elected to the holding’s board of directors. So, having acquired a stake in Acron, the country would simply find itself left out of big business. 

In 2005, Vyacheslav Kantor was involved in a detective story related to an attempt to sell X-55 missiles to Iran and China through Ukraine. In the case, traces of two offshore companies appeared - Isofert Trading INC and Transchem International INC, probably owned by Vyacheslav Kantor. In February 2006, according to the media, Kantor was even detained “for a conversation” on the “X-55 case” at Ben Gurion Airport. 

In November 2005, Vyacheslav Kantor replaced Vladimir Slutsker as head of the Russian Jewish Congress. Upon taking office, Kantor was convinced that he would succeed where Slutsker had failed. He promised to "restore the strength and power of the organization" - and, of course, increase cooperation between the community he represents and the authorities. 

Kantor is a major financial donor to the Kantor Center on the History, Culture and Life of Eurasian Jews at Tel Aviv University and holds an honorary doctorate from the university. 

He also made donations to museums and synagogues in Russia and Geneva, and used his own funds to pay for ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Krakow. Until recently, he was vice-president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, headed by Alexander Mashkevich. Kantor also served as Chairman of the Board of the European Jewish Congress until February 2006. Vyacheslav Kantor became Chairman of the EJC in June 2007. 

Currently, Vyacheslav Kantor lives in Switzerland. There, according to some information, he was forced to flee there by fear of sharing the fate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. It is rare in Russia that he decides all his affairs with the property he owns through a trader, whose role is played by the Swiss company Fimochim SA, through which cash flows from the export of mineral fertilizers from the Acron production group go. 
 

What does he own? 


Since 2001, Kantor has been the full owner of the Acron holding. He also owns a controlling stake in CJSC Moscow Stud Farm No. 1, which owned a “golden” piece of land of 2,300 hectares along Rublevo-Uspenskoye Highway, 30 km from the Moscow Ring Road. His fortune is estimated at $1.4 billion. He ranks 717th on the FORBS world list. 
 

Partners 


At various times, important partners of Vyacheslav Kantor were or are Gennady Burbulis, Mikhail Prusak, Vladimir Shumeiko, Vladimir Yushchenko. Later he dealt with Yegor Stroev. 
 

Opponents 


Among Vyacheslav Kantor’s opponents, business competitors are usually named. In particular, at a time when Kantor was still allowed into the Kremlin, he was very active in exposing the allegedly illegal actions of his competitors. In fact, among Vyacheslav Kantor’s opponents one can list all enterprises in the industry that are not part of the Acron holding. These are PhosAgro, OJSC Silvinit, which Kantor unsuccessfully tried to become the owner of, OJSC Uralkali, and Eurochem. 

The structures of Vyacheslav Kantor are actively and so far unsuccessfully opposing Gazprom Bank in the conflict over the Beregovoye field. The Beregovoe field in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, with reserves of 319 billion m3 of gas, is the main asset of Sibneftegaz. 50.63% of the company’s shares belong to Gazprombank’s subsidiary Status LLC, another 27.9% belongs to NGK Itera LLC, 21% is controlled by Acron. Sibneftegaz decided to sell all the gas from the Beregovoye field to two traders - a subsidiary of Gazprombank and Transitneftegaz. The company’s minority shareholder, Acron, failed to block the deal and is now trying to challenge the contracts in court. 
 

Lobby 


Vyacheslav Kantor is an “unrecognized” oligarch with very limited administrative resources. Fear of arousing interest from law enforcement agencies forced Kantor to leave for Switzerland and acquire Israeli citizenship. Cantor’s best years of active lobbying are behind him. 
 

What are the interests focused on? 


At the moment, Vyacheslav Kantor’s interests are aimed at gradually winding down his business in Russia. The possible imminent bankruptcy and sale of Akron, the increased interest of the authorities in the privatization transactions of the early 1990s, as well as the failed deal with the sale of land at MKZ No. 1 are forcing Vyacheslav Kantor to move his business abroad. In the spring of 2007, the media often mentioned Akron’s interest in the Ukrainian Dneproazot. The general director of the Kyiv management company Ineko-Invest, Oleg Morkva, suggests that Gazprom, whose subsidiary, Sibur Holding, recently announced its intention to strengthen its position in the agrochemical industry, could also be a potential buyer of the plant. 
 

Personal 


Vyacheslav Kantor is married and has two sons and a daughter. Vyacheslav Vladimirovich has a rich collection of paintings by Russian Parisians of the late 19th - early 20th centuries, the Lucengua villa in a prestigious area of the Swiss capital with a picturesque view of the expanse of Lake Geneva, worth almost $3 million (price in 1996). He also owns two villas on the Cote d’Azur in Sardinia worth $17 and $21 million, and the Museum of Avant-Garde Art, whose collection is based on works by Russian artists of Jewish origin. 
 

Kantor about himself: 


“We came into business as poor as church mice. We had neither political support nor commercial experience. There was only life experience of surviving in a perverted bureaucratic environment. He turned out to be useful. 
From an interview with “Expert” magazine, 02/09/1998 

“They speculated on computers: they bought at a low price and sold at a very high price.” 

Source:  Vedomosti, 05/27/2008 
 

*** 

Unpredictable provoKantor? 

How to rob your neighbor so that he also sympathizes with you? How to rule - and evoke pity and compassion? Ask Kantor! 


In the list of “100 richest people in Central and Eastern Europe” published in September 2007 by the Polish magazine “Vprost”, Vyacheslav Kantor is in 95th place with a fortune of $600 million. 
 

Moshe Zeevich 


He calls himself Moshe Kantor, which is what is written on his Israeli and Swiss passports. According to his Russian passport, he is Vyacheslav Vladimirovich. Kantor graduated from the Sergo Ordzhonikidze Moscow Aviation Institute in 1976 with a degree in systems engineering and began doing scientific work at the Spektr NPO at the institute. This NGO was engaged, in particular, in the development of environmental monitoring tools and instruments and means of so-called non-destructive testing and technical diagnostics: acoustic, ultrasonic, magnetic, electromagnetic, optical, x-ray, thermal. In 1987, Kantor organized the Composite commercial center, which provided installation of computer equipment at industrial enterprises, as well as environmental monitoring services. 

In those years, our former compatriots literally poured into Moscow, mainly from New York. Who didn’t come back then: from former taxi drivers from Brighton Beach, who saved some money through tax fraud, to dealers in antiques and modern art. They did not hide at all that they had come to buy something. In our country, few people then understood the real value of most of its enterprises. And the dollar was very, very expensive in Moscow. In addition, the emigrants had some business experience and some connections in the Western business world. Vyacheslav Kantor then met Leonid Aronovich Kobrinsky, a mediocre American businessman, the son of Aron Kobrinsky, a Soviet scientist in the field of precision mechanics and biocybernetics who emigrated to the United States in 1989, laureate of the State Prize for 1967. The younger Kobrinsky understood the grocery business and knew people who were ready to fish in the troubled waters of the privatization of industrial enterprises related to agriculture. 

Another partner of Kantor was Yuri Arkadyevich Traisman. He grew up in a Soviet semi-bohemian family: his mother taught gymnastics at the Bolshoi Theater, his father illustrated technical books. Traisman graduated from the construction institute, but did not study so much as participate in “happenings in KVN,” which he still considers “legalized avant-garde.” After college, he worked as a restorer in monasteries - more precisely, as he himself said in one interview, “he provided housing, fed the team and paid people wages.” At the same time, the modest caretaker began to collect a collection of icons, because he was “excited about metaphysics.” In the mid-seventies, he left Russia for the United States and went into business in the field of contemporary art and publishing. He sold and resold works by Ernst Neizvestny, Mikhail Shemyakin, Oscar Rabin, Vladimir Weisberg and Oleg Tselkov. 

Moshe Kantor’s first offshore company, WETECH USA OF OHIO INC., was registered at Traisman’s home address on December 18, 1991. Yuri Traisman became its vice president, and Kantor became its president and owner. This company became a co-founder of a certain Russian-American joint venture "Intelmas" - "Intelligent Materials and Systems", which is still registered in Moscow on Prechistenka, building 37. 

Before their departure to the USA, Traisman and Kobrinsky fussed among activists of Soviet Jewish human rights organizations involved in problems of Jewish immigration. When they returned to Moscow, human rights activists they knew found themselves in the ranks of new democratic organizations supporting Boris Yeltsin. This is how the company met activists of the Moscow “demorossians” - Alexander Muzykantsky, Vladimir Boxer, Vasily Shakhnovsky. And through them, with the main Yeltsin democrat of that time, Gennady Burbulis. 
 

About the benefits of monitoring 


In 1991, the office of Kantor and Traisman, “Intelligent Materials and Systems,” as they said then, “entered” the largest and most modern plant in the USSR for the production of ammonia and complex chemical fertilizers in Veliky Novgorod, having received an order for environmental work. The plant paid Kantor with its products. Kantor and Traisman received it at government prices and sold it in the West at market prices. The partners raised several hundred thousand dollars more for the environment through their connections in the state enterprise Rosagrokhim. Based on the recommendations of officials from the same Rosagrokhim, Kantor’s company was appointed as a consultant on the privatization and valuation of the plant. The value of Russian enterprises in those years was assessed at prices incomparable with the real value of their assets. Few people understood the real cost back then. Especially if you thank the management of the privatized plant for this. The gratitude, as eyewitnesses recall, could have been paid by Kantor through the Novgorod branch of Promstroibank of the USSR, the largest bank in the country, which was also privatized at that time. 

During the privatization, Kantor’s office acquired a blocking stake in the chemical plant, which in November 1992 was transformed into Acron OJSC. 

After gaining control of the enterprise, Kantor transferred Acron’s cash flows to Boris Berezovsky’s bank AvtoVAZ-Bank Moscow, significantly weakening the budget of the Novgorod region. But the main thing is that Kantor installed his managers at the plant, including Leonid Kobrinsky, and the export of ammonia and mineral fertilizers began to be carried out through a number of offshore companies - MMB Center Ltd, SK Enterprises Limited, Wetech Limited, Transchem International INC and Isofert Trading INC, registered in Panama and Gibraltar. This made it possible to withdraw a significant part of the enterprise’s foreign currency earnings to foreign accounts. 

For a long time it was believed that all these companies were controlled by Kantor himself. However, in fact, the Gibraltar offshore companies MMB Center Ltd, SK Enterprises Limited, which owned almost 40% of Akron’s shares, were owned and managed by Irish multimillionaire Dermot Desmond. According to some reports, including with Desmond’s money, Kantor acquired his first stake in Akron. 

Since the early nineties, Dermot F. Desmond, through the Gibraltar offshore company Line Holdings Limited, managed a 39.89% stake in Acron. According to some reports, in the spring of 2003 he sold these shares due to the presence of serious financial risks associated with the stormy political activities of Vyacheslav Kantor. 

At the beginning of 1997, Kantor carried out the “Consolidation” operation with Acron shares and cut off many owners of small blocks of shares - employees of the company - from the assets. Large blocks of 29,000 shares with a par value of 1 thousand rubles were exchanged for 1 share with a par value of 29 million rubles. The point of the trick is that shareholders owning a package of less than 29,000 shares (worth about 6 thousand dollars at that time) were forced to sell it to the Akron board at a “negotiated” price. 

After this, Akron’s charter was changed in such a way that only its managers could actually be elected to Akron’s board of directors. The press wrote a lot, although without providing evidence, that this operation was “covered up” by the former governor of the Novgorod region, Mikhail Prusak. And supposedly he received a nice gift for it. According to the same unofficial data, Mr. Prusak allegedly currently owns up to 10% of Akron shares.
 

Organized Swiss group 


Some journalists claim that, with the help of his managers, Kantor allegedly lowered export prices and thus transferred part of the enterprise’s foreign currency earnings (up to $40 million per year) abroad to personal accounts. But, be that as it may, Kantor began to grow rich by leaps and bounds. And soon he acquired another fertilizer production plant in the Smolensk region - Dorogobuzh. 

While he owns the enterprises, Kantor tries to extract maximum profit from them, by any means necessary. He literally surrounds Akron and Dorogobuzh with a whole fan of subsidiaries. What type of activity do you think Acron was one of the first to receive a license for? You’ll never guess! License to sell alcoholic beverages. Akron also has a cheese production plant, Zadonsky Cheese, and even a network of gas stations in Lipetsk, Lipoil. In total, Acron JSC has almost 30 subsidiaries. 

And who hasn’t been “adopted” by the Smolensk plant “Dorogobuzh”... For example, he owns a small, only 7.5%, stake in a certain Swiss company “Fersam AG”. Its board of directors includes the notorious Alfred Koch, former chairman of the State Property Committee of the Russian Federation and a great specialist in the seizure of other people’s enterprises. He himself, however, calls himself a specialist in “package investments”. But what is interesting is not the presence of Koch in this company, but its true owners. The president of Fersam AG is millionaire Beat Ruprecht, a well-known package investor. Now one of his companies owns a stake of 11.145% of the Togliattiazot enterprise and is seeking to obtain a blocking stake in it. Among the co-owners of Fersam AG is the Swiss businessman Felix Zivy, whose company builds ammonia production units. Zivi has now begun to build a chemical plant on the Taman Peninsula in the Krasnodar Territory. 

Novgorod OJSC Acron (parent company) and OJSC Dorogobuzh (Smolensk region) became the basis of the holding company OJSC Acron. After this, Vyacheslav Kantor and the “package investors” behind him from Ireland and Switzerland began to make numerous attempts to spread their influence to other factories in the industry. All attempts to purchase or acquire new facilities were accompanied by large-scale statements by Kantor about an acute shortage of mineral fertilizers supplied to Russian agriculture, and loud speculation on the topic of “Russian food security.” To more successfully lobby his interests, Kantor got a job as an adviser to the then chairman of the Russian Federation Council, Yegor Stroev, and began to advertise himself as almost the main state-minded businessman in the industry. 
 

Method of systems engineer Berezovsky 


The main idea of almost all of Kantor’s projects was the following: for the sake of “food security,” he proposed that the authorities transfer to the management of the Acron group of companies state-owned stakes in enterprises producing mineral fertilizers. In exchange for Akron shares. Almost all candidates for merger proposed by Kantor are either direct competitors of Acron or suppliers of raw materials to Acron. Kantor’s patriotic lamentations were regarded by the business community of Russia and the West as a cynical move. Experts were well aware that Kantor’s strategy had always been to sell fertilizers for export - today more than 80% of the products go abroad. 

At different periods of his patriotism, Kantor tried to gain control over the Kirovo-Chepetsk Chemical Combine, JSC Silvinit, JSC Belaruskali and other enterprises. Kantor’s proposals were in one way or another lobbied by the former chairman of the Federation Council Stroev, the governor of the Novgorod region Prusak, the then governor of the Smolensk region Prokhorov, the former deputy minister of property relations Pylnev, his successor in this position Breus, the former representative of the “golden share” on the board of directors of OJSC Apatit Krivenko. 

The goals of these operations were obvious to the specialists - either to obtain an essentially free instrument of influence on these enterprises for the purchase of raw materials at reduced prices for their own business (in the case of Silvinit OJSC), or by using a large state package and placing their own management in the enterprise (the favorite method Berezovsky), try to redirect commodity and financial flows in their own interests, as in the case of the Kirovo-Chepetsk Chemical Plant. All these share exchange projects were accompanied by major scandals. Many documents were signed at the level of President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin, Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Viktor Chernomyrdin, Chairman of the Federation Council Yegor Stroev. 

As one of the journalists noted, “only Vyacheslav Kantor invariably remained in an advantageous position from all these scandals, who thus won the reputation of an influential businessman in the eyes of his partners and competitors, entering the corridors of power. It is clear that, even without achieving the final goal - without receiving a government stake in his management, Kantor nevertheless put pressure on the enterprise and forced its management to be “more accommodating” in matters of supplying its products to Acron. 
 

Happy Apatit! 


In mid-December 2002, at the Belorussky railway station, a nondescript, bearded manager nicknamed Dachnikov from a well-known Moscow PR agency was giving journalists tickets for the Moscow-Smolensk train. Along with the tickets, a dozen journalists received envelopes containing three hundred-dollar bills. A similar thing happened at the Leningradsky station, near the Moscow-Novgorod train. Thus began the decisive stage of Vyacheslav Kantor’s struggle “against the monopolism” of the Apatit plant. 

The next day, December 15, in Smolensk and Veliky Novgorod, mass rallies of workers from the Dorogobuzh and Akron factories took place near the regional administration buildings. The people opposed the pricing policy of Apatit OJSC in the Murmansk region, which, in their “opinion,” sells apatite concentrate at inflated prices. 

The authorities of the Novgorod and Smolensk regions provided moral support to the protesting “workers”. Their (now) former governors Mikhail Prusak and Viktor Maslov signed letters to the President of the Russian Federation and the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation. In them, they asked to help an enterprise with which the supplier of raw materials, Apatit, allegedly does not enter into an agreement for the supply of its products directly. The letters were read loudly in the squares. 

The governors of the Tambov and Tula regions also addressed the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail Kasyanov and the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation with similar letters. 

No protest action ever took place in Moscow. The supply agreement itself was soon signed. The price of a ton of Apatit raw materials was reduced by only 35 cents. Considering that, according to some industry experts, $500,000 was spent on the “public” fight, the game wasn’t worth the trouble. But these experts did not take into account that the cunning Kantor pursued several tasks at once in the fight against Apatit. And one of them was “arm-twisting” of the world’s largest petrochemical giant, the Norwegian concern Norsk Hydro. 
 

"I’m looking for a trusting investor..." 


The Norsk Hydro concern began attempting to expand into the Russian mineral fertilizer industry just at the time when Kantor, Traisman and Desmond took control of Acron JSC and Dorogobuzh JSC. 

Norsk Hydro is a large transnational corporation engaged in the extraction and refining of oil and gas, the production of mineral fertilizers, non-ferrous metals and agricultural business in different regions of the world. One of its divisions is engaged in mineral development business in Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. Interest in Russian assets was caused primarily by the low cost of Russian enterprises and natural gas - the main raw material for the production of ammonia and nitrogen fertilizers. 

Gradually, Norsk Hydro managed to acquire a small stake in Apatit OJSC, from which the Norwegians bought and still buy significant volumes of apatite concentrate for their plants in Europe. At the same time, the concern tried to acquire a number of factories for the production of mineral fertilizers in Russia and Ukraine, but these attempts, according to experts, were not successful “due to the lack of efficiency in decision-making and ignorance of Russian specifics.” The Norwegians, unlike Kantor’s Irish and Swiss partners, acted too openly, without front men and offshore companies. 

As Kantor increasingly asserted his exclusive place in the fertilizer industry, Norsk Hydro and the Acron group decided to coordinate business activities in late 1995. Moreover, their interests intersected in several directions at once. Both companies were consumers of apatite concentrate from OJSC Apatit and acquired its shares. By that time, Acron had bought about 2% of the shares, and Norsk Hydro – about 8%. The companies were interested in putting pressure on Apatit’s management to reduce prices for raw materials. The partnership initiative came from Vyacheslav Kantor. He stated that he was interested in Norsk Hydro’s financial capabilities and its experience in international business. But most of all, Kantor and his hidden partners were interested in Norsk Hydro’s shares in Apatit OJSC. Kantor offered to transfer part of Acron’s assets to the Norwegians, promised to coordinate his supplies of fertilizers for export, and promised to provide his connections with politicians and government officials. 

In September 1997, Acron and Norsk Hydro organized a joint venture in Moscow, CJSC Nordic Rus Holding, into which Acron contributed 14% of the shares of the Dorogobuzh plant and 2% of its shares. And the Norsk Hydro concern contributed about 6% of the shares of Apatit OJSC. 

And in November 1999, V. Kantor accompanies V. Putin on his first visit to Norway. And he skillfully throws dust in the eyes of the Norwegians, promising them that now Nordic Rus Holding will turn around, the formation period has passed, the consequences of the 1998 default have been overcome, etc. 

“In this transaction, Mr. Kantor again showed himself to be a talented swindler,” the Stringer newspaper later wrote. Taking advantage of the lack of awareness of the vice-president of Norsk Hydro, Mr. Yakobson, Kantor contributed a 14% stake in Dorogobuzh OJSC to the joint venture, which, in essence, did not solve anything and did not allow the concern to have at least minimal influence on the plant’s policy . But the most interesting thing is that the deal was formalized in such a way that JSC Acron received a controlling stake of 51% in the capital of JSC Nordic Rus Holding, and Norsk Hydro - 49%. For which Mr. Jacobson soon lost his place. 

The new management of Norsk Hydro decided to rectify the situation and tried to begin the procedure for withdrawing its shares of Apatit OJSC from the capital of Nordic Rus Holding CJSC. According to the law, this was not difficult to do, since there was an agreement that Acron managed the joint stake in Apatit OJSC only until April 2002, and then Norsk Hydro could either withdraw from the capital of Nordic Rus Holding CJSC, taking back its stake. Apatit" or extend the agreement. But the Norwegians did not take into account Kantor’s inclination and abilities for sophisticated behind-the-scenes intrigues. 

Fearing that in the fall of 2002 he would have to return the Norwegian stake in Apatit under his management, Kantor loudly offered the state a “lucrative” deal: to create a state management company, where he would contribute 51% of the shares of Nordic Rus Holding CJSC ", and the state - its block of 20% shares of Apatit. Immediately after the start of this operation, Kantor made it clear to the management of Norsk Hydro that if they did not agree to receive money in exchange for the contributed shares, then Acron would contribute its controlling stake in Nordic Rus Holding CJSC to a certain state structure that would be immune to any efforts of the Norwegian side return your property. 

Meanwhile, Kantor accompanied V. Putin to Norway for the second time (November 2002) and made it clear to the “hydraks” from Norway that they had better cool down with their claims to their own shares. The message was simply read: leave me alone, otherwise things will get worse. 

At the end of 2006, Norsk Hydro filed a claim against Acron in Stockholm international arbitration. The Norwegians had no other choice. Indeed, in June 2006, V. Kantor changed the charter of Nordic Rus Holding CJSC in such a way that the Norwegians, according to Russian legislation, lost their right to demand back their contribution to the share capital. The trials are still going on. 
 

“There will be a garden city here” 


In October 2005, Kantor’s people announced that the Northwestern Phosphorus Company, created by Acron, would build a new mining and chemical complex for processing apatite-nepheline ores in the Khibiny Mountains. According to the General Director of NWPC Sergei Fedorov, the project for the development of reserve deposits of apatite-nepheline ores in the Khibiny is ready, and the management of NWPC has already submitted an application to the Federal Agency for Subsoil Use to participate in an auction for the right to use the subsoil of two deposits of apatite-nepheline ores of the Khibiny group - Oleniy Stream and Partomchorr. According to the general director of NWPC, the Russian phosphate market is still dominated by two companies - the PhosAgro holding and the EuroChem MCC, which includes such large mineral fertilizer plants and raw materials enterprises as Apatit OJSC and Kovdorsky GOK OJSC - the only producers of apatite concentrate, which is the raw material for the production of phosphorus-containing fertilizers. According to Fedorov, NWPC will provide apatite concentrate to producers not included in Phosagro and Eurochem, and who are completely dependent on the supply of raw materials from the enterprises of these holdings. Among them are Akron, Dorogobuzh, Minudobreniya from the city of Rossosh, Voronezh region, and the Kirovo-Chepetsk chemical plant. 

The competition for the right to develop deposits in the Khibiny massif was planned to be held in the first half of 2006. Then this date was postponed several times, and it took place in mid-October 2006. “If NWPC wins, it intends to invest about $500 million in the development of these fields,” Fedorov said. This statement caused many ironic statements from experts, since the declared money is unlikely to be enough even for the first stages of work. In addition, experts believe, Kantor does not have that kind of money. A detailed assessment of the costs of developing the Partomchorr field has not yet been carried out, but, according to preliminary data from experts from the RBC agency, it will amount to approximately $1.1–1.3 billion. Thus, after receiving licenses for both fields, the Northwestern Federal Reserve will need to attract about $1 billion in investments. 

So far, Kantor’s people say they are negotiating loans with several banks, but so far no one has announced the success of these negotiations. 
 

Raider attack 


At the beginning of 2000, Kantor acquired Moscow Stud Farm No. 1, founded by Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny. This deal created a sensation among insiders. Kantor received the state share of MKZ in 51% of voting shares practically for free. Where and how he lobbied for this, no one still knows. Together with his property and a herd of selected trotters, Kantor received 2,300 hectares of land in the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region. Newspapers began to hint that the real purpose of the deal was to seize land holdings for speculative resale. The hints became even more transparent when Kantor invited Mikhail Bezelyansky, a former member of the board of directors of Alfa Bank, who became notorious after the raider takeovers of the Moscow paper mill and the largest food industry enterprise, the Moscow Fat Plant, to the board of directors of MKZ. 

Land owned by the MKZ is located on both sides of the government highway Rublevo-Uspenskoye Highway in the area of the village of Gorki-10. The approximate market price of this land is now more than $3.5 billion. 

Slowly, Kantor’s people, under the leadership of Bezelyansky, began to bring MKZ to bankruptcy. The official financial documents of the MKZ constantly emphasized that the enterprise was unprofitable. Two years ago, MKZ management stated that “the share of borrowings exceeds fixed capital three times.” At the same time, for now, Kantor, through his connections, is trying to ensure that local and federal authorities provide state assistance to the MKZ. In 2003, he received 2,373,000 rubles from the budget, and the next year another 670 thousand. These same documents are filled with complaints that elite horse breeding in our country is deeply unprofitable, and the MKZ somehow makes ends meet only thanks to a herd of dairy cows and the sale of their milk. But the profit from milk, the compilers of financial statements complain, cannot cover the interest on loans taken by MKZ. The cynicism of these documents becomes obvious when you read about “insidious” creditors. The main one is JSC Acron. But even Bezelyansky failed to quickly remove the lands from agricultural use. Scandals and trials began around the MKZ. The Moscow Arbitration Court vetoed all MKZ land transactions. After this, in order to save face, the “unpredictable” Kantor literally overnight became a prominent horse breeder. Right and left, he gives interviews about how he cares day and night about restoring the traditions of breeding elite horses and Russian horse riding traditions. Many Akron managers, who are also listed as managers of the MKZ, also become specialists in the equestrian business. They also begin to thoughtfully talk about the great traditions of Russian horse breeding at various kinds of meetings and special events. 

Soon Kantor announces a project to create a National Equestrian Park on the lands of the MKZ with a youth equestrian school and many recreational facilities. Experts believe that in this way he is preparing to transfer tasty lands to newly created organizations and funds. Journalists believe that this is the calm before the next scandal with the MKZ. 

Inserts: 
The two offshore companies mentioned here, Transchem International INC and Isofert Trading INC, will soon receive money for the X-55 cruise missiles sold by Ukraine. 

At one time, the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, Viktor Chernomyrdin, signed a dozen papers that allowed Vyacheslav Kantor to earn his millions. Surely Viktor Stepanovich “wanted the best”, but it turned out “as always” 

Kantor’s chief adviser on “raider attacks” Mikhail Bezelyansky 

Viktor Borovikov 
 

*** 

Kantor withdraws assets 

The fact that the main owner of the Acron holding, Vyacheslav Kantor, regularly withdraws working capital from his enterprises using various financial tricks is no secret to anyone; the press has written about this several times 


Initially, when very modest profits were shown, and sometimes losses, the main mechanism for deceiving shareholders and the state was offshore trading, which even in 2002-2005 accounted for 70-80 percent of production. But after increased government attention to this problem, the share of offshore trading dropped to 40% in 2006, and last year it was slightly above 30%. It would seem that the problem of asset withdrawal has been resolved, and the issue for the state has been resolved positively. But even under these conditions, V. Kantor finds new non-standard methods for diverting funds to the side. 

In the first quarter of 2006, Acron OJSC buys out 51% of the shares of the Hongzhi-Akron plant located in China, which previously was 56 percent owned personally by V. Kantor, i.e. the individual V. Kantor resold the plant to the enterprise in which he is controlling shareholder. Thus, the funds of the enterprise flowed into the personal pocket of V. Kantor. This operation was carried out for a banal reason: a personal asset - a factory in China, living on the edge of profitability - turns into personal money that can be spent without asking the opinion of shareholders. The factory is not worth a good word, it does not have a raw material base, there is no railway, supplies of raw materials go by river (with transshipment in sea ports), export of products, and this is only about 700 thousand tons per year, is carried out only by motor transport. 

The plant does not bring any profit. So why did Akron JSC buy it? To put your money into V. Kantor’s pocket? This is what is called – withdrawal of assets. 

In mid-2006, another Kantor enterprise, Dorogobuzh OJSC, announced its plans to expand production and that it had acquired equipment in Italy to produce 500 thousand tons of ammonia and 450 thousand tons of urea per year. It soon became clear that this equipment was from 1974, that it had been in operation for 30 years, that in 2004 the plant was closed, and the equipment was inactive and rusting for 2 years. The question is - why should Kantor buy this scrap metal? 

A possible answer is that V. Kantor first bought this plant and land for free for his offshore, and then, after waiting for subsidies from the European Commission for Italy, he received Italian government subsidies for the liquidation of the enterprise, and sold the scrap metal to his Dorogobuzh at the price of high-tech equipment. 

As a result, Kantor became the owner of a large plot of land on the Adriatic coast of Italy with excellent infrastructure (road and railway line), located adjacent to the resort town of Monferrato (not a single enterprise, only villas and services). Where should we include the costs of 180–200 million dollars incurred by OJSC Dorogobuzh? How will he write off Italian scrap from the balance sheet? Everything is fine with Kantor - he has land and money. But why should a Russian enterprise pay for this, which will be forced to attribute the costs to production costs, Russian peasants, who will be forced to buy more expensive fertilizers, and even the Russian state, which has not received part of the taxes due to it? 

In 2007, V. Kantor was actively preparing Acron JSC for an IPO on the London Stock Exchange and was wary of one-time operations to withdraw assets, otherwise London stockbrokers might misunderstand him. In June–August 2008, it became clear that the IPO had failed. And that the expected profit of 800–900 million dollars will not happen. So how to withdraw assets now? There is no more property that could be sold to their enterprises, and returning to the offshore trading scheme, especially after the Mechel case, is extremely risky. All that remains is to take out of the pockets of enterprises only what can be obtained legally through the dividend policy. Let us recall that for the entire 2007, Acron paid 3.1 billion rubles in dividends. For the first half of 2008 - 3.8 billion rubles. Isn’t it too much? 

It is appropriate to note here that paying dividends is an absolutely normal operation. There is no crime in it, and de jure everything is according to the law. 

But de facto, here and now, in the situation in which Acron OJSC was in the fall of 2008, this dividend policy must be considered especially carefully from the position of asset withdrawal. 

And that’s why. In 2006 and 2007, Acron allocated 1.2 billion rubles annually for its own development, the rest went into dividends. In 2006 they amounted to 1.14 billion rubles, or about 49 percent of net profit. In 2007 - 3.1 billion rubles, or about 74 percent of net profit. Now in the first half of the year alone there are already 3.8 billion rubles or 80 rubles per share, and in the first half of last year there were only 13 rubles per share, an increase of 6 times. What will happen to Acron’s dividend for the entire 2008? 

Now pay attention. In October 2006, Acron OJSC received a free license for its subsidiary, the Northwestern Phosphorous Company, to develop the Oleniy Ruchey apatite deposit. The cost of development in current prices is 35–40 billion rubles. According to the first business plan, under which the license was given, the mining and processing plant should come into operation in 2010. Nothing significant has been done yet. 

In March 2008, Acron OJSC received a license for the development of the Talitsky section of the Verkhnekamsk potassium-magnesium salts deposit for 16.8 billion rubles. Payment for the license of 16.8 billion rubles has already been made, including through a loan from Sberbank in the amount of 13.4 billion rubles. The cost of development is close to 50 billion. 

A total of 13.4 billion rubles of debt and at least 90 billion rubles of investment obligations. That is, more than 100 billion rubles in total. During this period, more than 8 billion rubles in dividends were withdrawn from the company, and almost half - 3.8 billion rubles in the past six months alone. And if we add a Chinese factory and Italian scrap, then it can reach a quarter of the required 100 billion rubles. Let’s not forget that of all dividends paid, 72% goes to V. Kantor personally as the controlling shareholder. 

What is 20–25 billion rubles withdrawn from the company over 2.5 years? This is the cost of the entire Oleniy Ruchey production complex, which could begin operating as early as 2010. The only thing left to do would be to improve the infrastructure and social services, using, among other things, the income of the production complex itself. Here it is, the national economic price of the withdrawn assets. 

Acron’s dividend policy in 2006 was quite understandable; net profit of 2.4 billion rubles was divided almost in half into dividends and development funds. The Oleniy Brook project has just emerged, there are no other obligations and there is still a lot of time to implement this project. The payment of dividends based on the results of 2007 is already raising questions. Firstly, the size of the dividend - 3.1 billion rubles out of 4.17 billion rubles of net profit, and secondly, the absence of expected investments in Oleniy Ruchey as such and the absence of sources for the formation of such investments. 

The interim dividend of 2008 no longer raises questions, but suspicions of a deliberate withdrawal of assets. After all, the consequences of such a dividend policy completely coincide with the consequences of the withdrawal of assets from the enterprise. Funds that could have been spent on development without attracting external sources of financing are wasted on an extremely high dividend, and obligations will be covered by loans, which will contribute to both the cost price and the taxation of profits. And ultimately on consumers - Russian farmers, who will have to pay for the immense financial appetites of one single individual - Vyacheslav Vladimirovich Kantor. 
And for analysts who decided that the dividend of 3.8 billion rubles compared to the dividends of oil and metallurgists is not so great, here is a simple calculation. A dividend of 3.8 billion rubles for a team of 3.5 thousand employees at Acron means that each Novgorod chemist brought Kantor one million rubles of net income with his work in six months. Who else can boast of such results in Russia? And how much did the Novgorod workers themselves receive in six months? Thousands for 70–80 rubles? 

Insert: 
Today, in January 2009, V. Kantor asks the state for 2 billion dollars 

Ivan Grekov 

Source:  "The Moscow Post", 10/02/2008 
 

*** 

The “Kidai” economic miracle, or How Kantor, having bought a plant in China at a reasonable price in 2002, could not figure out what to do with it for three years, and then came up with... 


Miscalculations in business are a normal, even routine situation. V. Kantor had plenty of such mistakes in Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s. Now we will talk about only one subject - the Hongzhi-Akron plant. Built at the dawn of Chinese industrialization, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the plant was a rather sad sight by the early 2000s. Located in northeast China, far from the main agricultural regions of southern China, the plant had no clear prospects and was put up for sale by the government. 56% of its shares were sold. 

Ammonia production pressed against a coal deposit produced only 150 thousand tons of ammonia per year (according to coal gasification technology). When the Chinese began to develop it themselves in the 1980s, they created such a mess that it is impossible to understand their engineering logic even after a bottle of rice vodka. Instead of increasing the volume of ammonia production, obtaining 450–500 thousand tons of nitric acid from it and developing the production of phosphorus fertilizers based on the nitric acid decomposition of raw materials, the Chinese attached a sulfuric acid workshop (450 thousand tons per year) to the nitrogen production, operating on imported sulfur Note that phosphorites are also imported. 

As a result, by 2000, the plant was a mixture of small, inefficient production: 150 thousand tons of ammonia, 450 thousand tons of sulfuric acid, 130 thousand tons of hydrochloric acid, 200 thousand tons of ammonium bicarbonate, 650–700 thousand tons of various complex fertilizers. If we add dead logistics to this technological jumble - after all, the enterprise does not have a railway line - then the disadvantage of V. Kantor’s acquisition is more than obvious. 

What guided him in 2002 when making a purchase decision is completely impossible to understand if one remains only within the framework of normal economic analysis. But if you take a closer look at the personality of V. Kantor, forgetting about economics, then a lot becomes clearer. After a whole series of business failures in Russia, he begins active work in Ukraine, and a plant in China - this in his eyes (in the perception of that time) is almost a sign of the quality of an international businessman, because all the large corporations invest in China and make good money there, even They are moving their own production there. Well, why is Vyacheslav Kantor worse, why is he not an international business elite? 

The fact that personal ambitions and the pursuit of the image of a major international businessman in this situation clearly outweighed common sense is quite obvious. But here it is appropriate to recall that the period of the beginning of the Putin era in Russia was for V. Kantor a period of vacillation, a period of self-identification, a period of searching for oneself in the structure of the new government. This period will last for him until 2005, then a new stage will begin. He will stop looking for his place in Russia and will find it somewhere abroad. This will be an attempt to transform oneself into a major international politician, whose conferences will attract not only journalists and political scientists, but also presidents and prime ministers. But this quickly ended in scandal in the noble Jewish family, when four Jewish communities, including the largest from France and Germany, left Cantor’s European Jewish Congress. There appears to be some kind of “political misunderstanding” from V. Kantor. 

There’s nothing you can do about it - if normal ambition turns into hypertrophied vanity, right up to portraits of yourself, your loved one on the covers of glossy magazines, then this disease cannot be cured by methods of economic analysis, this is a completely different matter. 

But let’s be objective: for almost three years V. Kantor tried to somehow breathe life into this “chemical misunderstanding.” Akron’s management was installed there and sold 5% of the plant’s shares to Chinese managers (according to Chubais’s privatization scheme) (the Chinese were happy, but not for very long). Akron specialists and designers visited the plant more than once, but they could not offer anything smarter than Akron’s production diversification scheme. Its essence is as follows: methanol production is being created (it was created at 100 thousand tons in 2006), and this is followed by a number of new types of products - formaldehyde, phenol-formaldehyde resins, melamine, dimethyl ether, etc. But this logic turned out to be inapplicable in China with its planned economy, and everything stopped at the methanol processing. And when in 2007-2008 the cost of imported sulfur increased 10 times, and potassium chloride - 4 times, it became clear that Hongzhi-Akron had only one prospect - to be depreciated, closed and dismantled for scrap. 

And here again it is necessary to show objectivity: with an inexplicable instinct, V. Kantor guessed this entire scenario two years before the start of its implementation. He got it right, but then he didn’t act like a businessman. Instead of selling a controlling stake on the open market at a fair price, he transferred this stake to the balance sheet of his own Novgorod-based Acron OJSC. The economic sense is clear, but they won’t give much money to the open market, because the buyer will quickly figure out what kind of “miracle” he is purchasing. But you can order your director, and Akron has accumulated excess fat - it’s time to remove it. 

Since then, V. Kantor’s “brilliant project” to transform himself into a major international businessman has been collecting dust on the balance sheet of JSC Acron, bringing no profit to anyone, including Chinese shareholders. And it is waiting in the wings, when man-made accidents, leaks and other equipment malfunctions will finally put an end to it. 

Sergey Rogozhin 
 

*** 

Bad project or bad managers? 

Experts predict the fate of the Akron Project 


In Apatity, the Northwestern Phosphorus Company held public hearings on the project for the construction of a new mining and processing plant at the Oleniy Ruchey apatite-nepheline ore deposit. The NWPC, which holds the license to develop the field, was established by the Novgorod-based Acron plant. In 2006, the new company won a competition from Apatit OJSC to develop new deposits in Khibiny, which should become a source of raw materials for the production of mineral fertilizers at the plants of the Acron holding. This new and ambitious company is headed by a person known throughout the Kola Arctic - the former general director of Apatit, Doctor of Economics Sergei Fedorov. 
 

"Presentation-declarations" 


In a short time since the establishment of the company, similar “presentations-declarations” were held in Kirovsk (3 times), Apatity (4 times), St. Petersburg (3 times). We can say that holding endless meetings – “round tables” – meetings – presentations and even “declarations” has become a way of life for the general director of NWPC. 

Having submitted a feasibility study to the competition, which was based on the recent developments of the same Apatit and local scientists and geologists, Sergei Fedorov was forced to turn into an exemplary traveling salesman who shows everyone computer cartoons with a view of the future industrial site and color slides with calculations of economic efficiency. No one has seriously checked these calculations, and it is impossible to check them: who knows now what will happen there in 2015–2020. But showing pictures to an inexperienced public can be very poster-like, convincing and theatrically beautiful. 

Once, in November 2006, the show was staged quite officially even in the office of the governor of the Murmansk region, Yuri Evdokimov, during the visit of Acron President Ivan Antonov to the region on a study tour. Antonov failed to convert the head of the region to the “Akron faith.” The governor remained with his dissenting opinion. 
They say that after this visit, as well as after the elections to the Murmansk regional Duma in March 2007, in which Fedorov’s deputy Sergei Frolov outright lost in his native Apatity district, the holding’s management decided to significantly reduce the limits on the content of SZFK and its management team for 2007: according to staff, salaries, gasoline, mobile phones and other things so necessary for the vigorous activity of the team. 

In connection with what? Let’s try to figure it out. 
 

They counted...they shed tears 


Shortly after NWPC won the competition for the development of the field, the brokerage company Aton (Acron’s consultant on shareholder issues) published on its website the parameters of the NWPC project: total costs - $470 million, while "the plant should be fully operational in the next 10 years, the first production line with a capacity of 300 thousand tons of concentrate per year will be ready for launch in 4 years. The estimated payback period for the project is 8 years.” 

It’s hard to argue with professionals recognized in the financial world, but how can you recoup an investment in 8 years if it only takes 10 years to build?! 

And now a little arithmetic. The entire project is designed to produce 1.9 million tons of apatite and 1.8 million tons of nepheline concentrate. In 4 years, only 300 thousand tons of apatite concentrate will be produced. Now on the stock exchange they give about 2,000 rubles per ton of concentrate. Total 600 million rubles (or 23 million dollars) of revenue per year and another 6 years of construction. Claimed effectiveness is not reviewed. 

You can calculate it another way. Let’s assume that the NWPC project was implemented in 4 years at a cost of $470 million and is already in operation; 1.9 million tons of apatite concentrate generate revenue of 3.8 billion rubles. Capital investments of $470 million over 4 years of construction (at present costs) will increase to $540–550 million. If we manage to attract loans at 10 percent per annum, then over 8 years of payback another $100–120 million in accrued interest will be added. 

The total annual payment (payment of interest on the loan and repayment of part of the debt) after the project reaches full capacity for payback alone will be at least $100 million, or $50 per ton. If NWPC can keep the cost per ton (raw materials, fuel and electricity, wages and depreciation) at $20, then the project is truly profitable. But this is not only doubtful, but completely impossible, because 12% depreciation on $470 million gives $56 million per year, or almost $30/ton. And if we add the costs of raw materials, wages, etc., then the total cost of a ton of apatite concentrate will exceed $150. 

It turns out that all of Aton’s calculations are falling apart and the SZFK project is, apparently, unprofitable. After all, revenue of 3.8 billion rubles is not enough even for interest expenses. 

In these calculations, an attentive reader will notice one obvious omission: the revenue for 1.8 million tons of nepheline concentrate, which NWPC is also going to produce in parallel with apatite, is not taken into account. 

The answer is simple: this revenue does not exist and will not exist in the foreseeable future, and the nepheline itself will go into dumps in the same way as is now happening with half of the nepheline produced by Apatit. 

To turn all 1.8 million tons of nepheline concentrate into money, at least two problems need to be solved. First, obtain alumina from the concentrate. To do this, you need either 8 million tons of lime per year, which is simply not available in the Murmansk region, or 4–5 million tons of nitric acid, which is also not available. 

And then, this alumina needs to be sold to someone. And to whom? The merger of RusAl and SuAl has been completed. The Russian aluminum supercompany controls 12.5% of the global primary aluminum market and 16% of alumina production. It has nowhere to put its alumina and even aluminum. Already, the development of bauxite at the Timan-Pechorskoye deposit is being slowed down. 
It should be mentioned that a plant for processing 2 million tons of nepheline into alumina (the output is approximately 550–600 thousand tons of alumina per year) using traditional technology costs almost $1 billion, excluding the creation of a lime quarry. This billion must be added to the declared $470 million. 

The resulting alumina must then be processed into aluminum. An aluminum plant producing 300 thousand tons of primary aluminum per year costs, according to estimates from RusAl and SuAl, almost $1 billion. And for it to work normally, it needs a power plant of 0.9–1.0 GW. Murmansk does not have such free capacity, and creating it at $1,000 per kilowatt of capacity would cost another billion dollars. We add that too - the total is already 2.5 billion dollars in capital investments. Only after such investments can we talk about any profitability. Where will Acron find that kind of money if its maximum capitalization did not exceed $1.3 billion? Maybe Akron owner Vyacheslav Kantor will take them out of his pocket? 

So there is no omission in the above calculations on the effectiveness of the NWPC project. There is only a sober assessment of the situation. 
 

And the dust of the Khibiny... 


After all, there is also such a super-urgent problem as ecology. Residents of Apatity recall recent public hearings held by the developers of the gas pipeline, the construction of which will soon be started by Gazprom. Then all interested parties noted the level of elaboration of environmental protection issues of this, in principle, not the most environmentally hazardous facility - right down to every stream, to the last summer cottage, which could be damaged when laying a pipe. 

A completely different approach to the development of a unique ecological system, in the best traditions of communism construction projects, is demonstrated by NWFC, even though there is an animal on their emblem. 

If nepheline does not find a market and is guaranteed to end up in dumps, then the chances of another powerful environmental problem in the Murmansk region will increase sharply. It is known that during the production of concentrate, tiny sand is formed, which goes into process tailings. In this case, even a not very strong wind is enough to form a dust storm. This problem is well known to Apatity chemists and ecologists, who over many decades have found ways to somehow combat this phenomenon. Another thing is the new field and new production sites of the Northwestern Federal Plant. Considering the enormity of the plans and the short time frame for their implementation, very serious doubts arise about the effectiveness of the NWPC specialists in combating this phenomenon. 

Moreover, if the Apatit mines and the chemical composition of the ore mined from them have been thoroughly studied by scientists for many decades, then there is no confidence in the safety of the Oleniy Brook rock, including radiation. Otherwise, Apatit itself would have started developing them back in Soviet times. 

And who in this situation will guarantee the absence of negative consequences for people’s health in the long term? Maybe Sergei Fedorov himself? And what will his guarantees cost? And isn’t that why the most important industrial construction project, the construction of which the company is starting immediately, is called... a recreation center for a small number of employees? 

By the way, the Murmansk region is an ideal region for almost year-round tourism. Summer fishing on mountain rivers and bays, kayak trips and ski slopes, northern lights and icebreaker cruises to the North Pole - these are just what we already have. And there are also projects to create the Khibiny Courchevel. But all this could collapse overnight if new storms cover the Khibiny land with dust. And the likelihood of just such a development of events is more than high. Why expose the population of the region to such risks? 
 

Are there not enough normal projects? 


The number of projects that are going to be implemented in the coming years in the Murmansk region is simply off the charts: Shtokman alone represents 12–15 billion dollars of investment in the region’s economy, and also a new port on the western shore of the Kola Bay, privatization and reconstruction of the Murmansk fishing port, reconstruction Murmansk transport hub, new sites for the development of the Kovdorsky GOK, polymetals of the Fedorova Tundra, a project for the reconstruction of the Kola Nuclear Power Plant, a project for the construction of the second stage of the Kandalaksha aluminum smelter. The Norwegians also proposed creating a special economic zone at the junction of the borders on the shores of the Barents Sea. 

How does the NWPC project look against this background? It looks like an extra cube in a children’s construction set: no matter where you put it, something turns out wrong every time. 

Who will buy nepheline or alumina from NWPC (if NWPC itself can process nepheline) if plans to build an aluminum smelter in the region are melting away before our eyes because of the joint project of RusAl and SuAla to build the Taishet plant in Siberia? Who will buy this alumina if the new united company Russian Aluminum absolutely does not need it? Build another plant in Kandalaksha for $1 billion and somewhere nearby a power plant of 1 GW (another billion)? Will Acron, its shareholders and Sergei Fedorov cope with all this? 
 

The power may be new, but what about the goals? 


“New power - new solutions” - under this simple slogan Sergei Frolov, deputy general director of the Northwestern Federal District, conducted his election campaign in the recent March elections. 

Rather, he campaigned not for himself, but for the company that had become his own. Together with his patron, he talked about the bright future that awaits the residents of Kirovsk and Apatity, and skillfully speculated on the problems of the townspeople. Primarily on employment and salary levels. 

It is interesting that at that time the NWPC projects aroused the greatest enthusiasm among local officials, who, not without reason, to this day believe that they will get something out of the development of the Khibiny riches. For them, these millions can become anything but mythical. 

The mayoral elections in Apatity are just around the corner. The current city mayor has shown the ability to manage the inherited economy: the city has gradually paid off its debts, and at the very least, the issues of repairing roads and housing stock are being resolved. 

But fragile stability can be destroyed overnight. It has been proven that any election campaign, by definition, is an excellent way to promote the business interests of a candidate, especially if this candidate is a director or co-owner of a company. And it’s not without reason that recently there has been a rumor circulating around Apatity that the activity of Sergei Fedorov himself is connected with his personal ambitions and desire to take the mayor’s chair. Like, how much can you bet on losers! This makes clear the desire to hold endless public events, which could at any moment become the start of an election campaign. 

PS  It is now the beginning of 2009. The SZFK company has existed for more than 2.5 years and has been developing the resulting deposit for almost a year and a half, including two summer seasons. Today we can safely say that nothing will be done at the field in the next two to three years. It would not have been developed as it should even without the crisis, and even more so during the crisis. 

Insert: 
Today V. Kantor is trying to package the NWPC project into a state holding (under his control), obtain funds from the government for the project and transfer commercial risks to him 

Source:  “Our version on Murman”, 05.25.2007 
 

*** 

When does the court replace the market, or who benefits from rising fertilizer prices? 

Why create excess profits in an enterprise that has already increased its profits by more than 6 times in 2 years? 


The rapid increase in world prices for fertilizers in 2006–2007, in conditions when the majority of agrochemical production in Russia has a strong export orientation, inevitably affected domestic Russian prices. Since 2004, they have grown by an average of 3–3.5 times, which is much higher than the inflation rate. And this inevitably caused concern among both agricultural producers and the Minister of Agriculture Alexei Gordeev. 

Against this background, the undisputed leader in terms of “profit growth” among all Russian producers of agrochemicals is the Novgorod-based Acron OJSC. In 2006, according to media reports, his profit increased 2.3 times. And in the past – about 2.7 times. Profits grew much faster than fertilizer prices on the world market. And this needs to be explained somehow. 

In 2005, Acron won a court case against the supplier of apatite concentrate, Murmansk OJSC Apatit. The court ordered the latter to supply its products to Acron for 5 years at a fixed price of 1,600 rubles per ton and in the required volume - 480 thousand tons per year. More than two years have passed since then, the world market situation has changed dramatically not only in terms of fertilizers, but also in terms of raw materials for their production. If at the beginning of 2005 dirty Moroccan phosphates, a raw material of much worse quality than our apatite concentrate, were sold for 45–50 dollars per ton, today it is already 200–230 dollars. Apatit supplies the bulk of its consumers with concentrate at a price recommended by the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). And on the exchange, during open trading, the price of the concentrate reached 11 thousand rubles. 

The price of 1,600 rubles fixed by the court decision, naturally, does not suit the manufacturer. Apatit began a lawsuit to revise it, but recently the Arbitration Court rejected Apatit’s claim, believing that the previous non-market prices established by the court should apply. The court contract was in effect throughout 2007 (and is still in effect - editor’s note) and has already caused Apatit economic damage of at least $110-120 million. In accordance with the court decision, this figure in 2008 will approach a billion rubles. 

This already considerable amount of damages resulting from the court decision hits the enterprise, which operates in the difficult climatic and geological conditions of the polar mountains, especially painfully. We should not forget about the large social burden that lies on the enterprise, which is the city-forming one for two northern cities - Kirovsk and Apatity. 

This court decision will most likely lead to the fact that in the future we can expect an increase in losses of Apatit OJSC and an increase in profits at Acron OJSC, a significant part of which, according to media reports, will end up in the offshores of AgroNitrogen Logistics Ltd and NPKhemical Trading Inc. In fact, by its decision, the court created the conditions for Akron to receive excess profits. 

Comparing global and domestic Russian prices for phosphorus-containing raw materials, it is clearly visible that the dominant manufacturer on the market is pursuing a very balanced pricing policy, creating conditions to curb the rise in prices for fertilizers, at least for Russian consumers. However, this does not happen. The domestic market does not receive enough cheap fertilizers, but Acron receives excess profits. 

The arbitration court’s decision on Apatit’s claim, taken in favor of Akron, not only surprises with its economic component, but also creates non-market competitive advantages for Akron. After all, literally on the eve of the decision made by the Moscow Arbitration Court, the 9th Arbitration Court of Appeal adopted the exact opposite verdict - do not force them, they will sort it out themselves (on another lawsuit against Apatit about forcing it to enter into an agreement with another fertilizer manufacturer). 

We are not given the opportunity to understand judicial logic, neither legal nor economic. Of the four claims against Apatit for coercion to conclude an agreement, three were rejected, and one was satisfied. But according to the satisfied claim, Apatit is simply driven into enslaving conditions; the courts do not even allow it to adjust the price for 2008 to even the level of FAS recommendations. 

Somehow, things don’t add up with economic logic either. Why were super-incomes created at an enterprise that in 2 years increased its profits by more than 6 times, which is awash in super-profits of the global market, but at the same time take away income from an enterprise that follows a restrained pricing policy, follows the recommendations of the Federal Antimonopoly Service, and is burdened with a heap of social problems? in two polar cities and at the same time does not have any super income? 
 

By the way 


To effectively fight competitors and counterparties, to influence the FAS and the courts, Kantor really needs administrative resources. The fact is that in solving problems of this kind, Kantor always relied on the support of Mikhail Prusak and Viktor Maslov - in the recent past, governors of the Novgorod and Smolensk regions. In relations with these two officials, Vyacheslav Kantor did not stand on ceremony, practically “privatizing” their administrative resource. However, both of them lost their governorships. Now Kantor is not giving up attempts to enlist the support of Murmansk Governor Yuri Evdokimov. 

Source:  Rossiyskaya Gazeta, February 28, 2008 
 

*** 

IPO failure 

About how Kantor did not earn a billion dollars in the summer of 2008 


Acron began its IPO in London on July 18, 2008. And it continued until August 2. The moment for the IPO was the most favorable - record prices for fertilizers, reaching 1-1.2 thousand dollars per ton, overheated markets, sweeping away any product, and no symptoms of crisis. 

JSC Acron was simply brilliantly prepared for the IPO. Phenomenal economic indicators for the first half of the year, operating profit alone amounted to almost $500 million, and the entire net profit, taking into account the revaluation of assets, amounted to $1.2 billion. The company owns promising sources of raw materials - apatite ores in the Murmansk region and potassium-magnesium salts in the Perm region. The company’s balance sheet includes the Hongzhi-Akron plant in China and Dorogobuzh OJSC in the Smolensk region. 

Pre-sale preparation was carried out perfectly: a model investment memorandum containing phrases that Acron is provided with cheap raw materials (gas and apatite concentrate) for the long term; an excellent road show of Western underriding banks that adequately showed off their product; the perfect moment - at the peak of the market and before the start of the August holiday season for white-collar banking workers, whose thoughts are already elsewhere. 

And yet the IPO fails, and fails miserably. Initially, in the IPO, Kantor reduces the offering size from 20 to 10 percent, trying to maintain the proposed price range of $120 to $150 per share. But by July 28, it becomes clear that the markets are not reacting. The prices offered by investors were below the lower limit of the placement range. 

The saga ends already in the first ten days of August, when a modest placement of GDRs takes place at a bid price of $2.7 million just to pay off the underwriters. 

With a full placement of 10% of the shares at $120 per share, and such Akron stock quotes were already in Moscow in the spring, V. Kantor would have received almost $1 billion personally. After all, more than 8% of the shares were sold from his own share. But I didn’t receive anything. 

Russian analysts who understand this situation are unanimous. The reason for the failure is only Kantor’s greed. There are no other reasons and there cannot be. Acron’s underwriters and functionaries did everything correctly and in a timely manner. According to analysts, prices of $100–105 per share would allow the placement to be successful. And they would have brought Kantor $720–750 million. 
But as they say, the greed of the fraer ruined him. There’s nothing you can do about it. 

There is an economic crisis in the world right now. Kantor does not know what to do with the apatite concentrate, which he seized in 2005 from Apatit OJSC. He has already tormented Apatit with his requests to reduce supply volumes at the end of 2008 - beginning of 2009. JSC Dorogobuzh is practically standing. JSC Acron operates at 35–40% capacity and sells “judicial concentrate” right and left, because it itself is not able to process it. Acron has a huge debt to Sberbank, about $500 million, which, according to experts, was ineptly spent on purchasing a license to develop the Talitsky potash ore site of the Verkhnekamsk deposit. 16.8 billion rubles were paid for the license, of which Kantor borrowed 13.4 billion rubles from Sberbank and now does not know from what income to pay off the debts. 

Until development of this field begins, requiring at least $1.5 billion, these investments will not yield any return. Both Uralkali and Silvinit have already significantly reduced their production volumes. And now, given all the encumbrances that have arisen and the crisis situation in the global agrochemical market, no one will undertake to predict the fate of Kantor’s holding. 

Analyzing Kantor’s personality as a businessman, one can come to an obvious conclusion. He doesn’t know how to work in the real market and doesn’t want to—he absolutely doesn’t want to. 

The favorite business model is obtaining raw materials at ridiculous prices set by the state (gas and electricity) or by court decision (apatite concentrate). And the goods are sent to the world market at real world prices, preferably through offshore companies. This can be compared with the old Soviet model of cooperative swindlers of the late 1980s: buy in the USSR at state prices, sell for foreign currency, turn the currency into goods and earn 4-6 times more. Vyacheslav Vladimirovich’s managerial talent did not advance beyond this logic. And only God knows how to survive a crisis with such talent without administrative resources. 
 

*** 

Exodus of Kantor 
  
The Jews did not follow the Russian “Moses” 


On December 17, 2008, the day when an extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) was held in Brussels, political scientists predicted a sharp turn in all international Jewish politics. This turn was associated with the fact that EJC President Moshe Kantor would put forward his candidacy for participation in the elections for the post of President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC). The “sharp turn” in the fate of V. Kantor did not take place. 

To be taken seriously as a contender for the WJC presidency, Cantor needed two good stories. And the first of these stories is credit. He was initially not good with this. Any money of Russian origin traditionally arouses suspicion in decent European houses. All the great fortunes in Russia made at the beginning of perestroika have a similar recipe. And only the degree of loyalty to the Kremlin determines whether the author of this recipe is in prison, whether he fled the country, or serves as a standard of social and economic success. Kantor’s social activities were initially necessary for him precisely as a kind of guarantee against the first two options for “career development.” However, over time, “social work” really fascinated Kantor. And it is the history of public affairs that is the second of the necessary “good stories.” 

Until recently, funds for the implementation of well-advertised public initiatives were continuously supplied to him by a mineral fertilizer plant from Novgorod the Great, a city that claims to be the starting point of all Russian statehood. Kantor, who achieved money, long ago discovered a new thirst for fame and recognition. Kantor has been striving for a reputation as the most “socially active Jew” for a long time and, in addition to his considerable funds, also invests in this some help from his overseas friends. This help is not measured in money. Its value is greater. It was the American lobby that helped Kantor overcome the resistance of the largest Jewish communities of old Europe in the struggle for the post of president of the European Jewish Congress. 

However, despite all his efforts, the role of moderator of public sentiment is given to Kantor with great difficulty. Money alone is not enough here. The trust of the elites is necessary, moral weight is necessary, but this is precisely what Cantor sorely lacks. 

Scandals accompany his every move up the ladder of public positions. The election as president of the Russian Jewish Congress took place against the backdrop of espionage against the last president of the RJC and the forced immigration of the penultimate one. And Sol Buckingolts, an “agent of influence” of the US State Department, who became an active participant in criminal disputes in Latvia, was soon appointed one of the vice-presidents. 

The election of Kantor as president of the EJC itself became possible only as a result of serious pressure from the American lobby on the Eastern European Jewish communities, whose representatives voted for him. And some time after his election, Kantor, by his sole decision, extended his term of office, which led to a serious scandal and the withdrawal of the Jewish communities of Germany, France, Austria and Portugal from the EJC. 

Kantor’s main public project – a series of world forums “Life for My People” – got off to a good start. The first forum, held in Krakow in January 2005 in honor of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp, attracted many distinguished guests and received a good response. 

The second world forum was held in September 2006 in Kyiv and was timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the Babi Yar tragedy. To the disappointment of many, it then became clear that Cantor’s social initiatives were too closely intertwined with his economic interests. Forum participants sometimes did not understand who they had to deal with. With Kantor, a public figure experiencing the Babi Yar tragedy, or with Kantor, an adviser to President Yushchenko, who equates UNA-UNSO militants with Red Army veterans, or with Kantor, an entrepreneur, trying to privatize the Odessa port plant. 

Kantor wanted to hold the third world forum in 2008 in Germany and coincide with the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. However, his reputation no longer seemed at all impeccable, and the German people were quite tired of the feeling of guilt imposed on him. In general, German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not support Kantor’s initiatives. Events dedicated to the tragic events of Kristallnacht were modestly held on the German borders - in Brussels and Kaliningrad. 

In a short time, instead of a world forum, Kantor presented to the world a “week of tolerance in Europe,” held hastily organized under his auspices and at his own expense by the European Council for Tolerance and Mutual Respect. Moreover, the members of the Council themselves, mainly ex-heads of Eastern European states, led by the odious Alexander Kwasniewski and, of course, co-chaired by Moshe Kantor at the presentation of the Council, held in October in Paris, could not clearly formulate the difference of their own, and or rather, the Cantor organization from similar ones, of which there are many in the Old World. 

To give additional weight to this emergency project, the Order of Tolerance was invented. But it is not enough to invent and produce an order; it must also be presented correctly. The candidacy must be flawless, because the entire subsequent fate of this project depends on the first presentation. The winner must be a member of the European elite with an impeccable reputation, and be lenient enough to accept the award by sharing his reputation with a new project. Cantor decided to reward the King of Spain, Juan Carlos. The calculation, apparently, was generally correct. But Juan Carlos did not come for the reward. And Kantor, in front of the whole of Europe, sat down with a good face in a big “reputational puddle.” 

The striking discrepancy between the stated goals of public projects, methods of their implementation and real results - this is what Kantor is all about. To talk a lot about the need to prevent a nuclear disaster at the Luxembourg Conference, to join the leadership of the permanent Luxembourg Forum, to subordinate all forum events to the will of American sponsors and, as a measure to guarantee world peace, to demand the only thing - an economic blockade of Iran and sanctions against those European companies who are not eager to participate in this blockade - this is the whole current logic of Kantor’s political and social activity. 

The mistakes made during the planning and implementation of recent public initiatives have already been taken into account by Cantor. The third world forum “Life for My People”, instead of Berlin 2008, will be held in New York 2010, in a city where there has never been a Holocaust, but there have always been generous sponsors. And there is certainly a good administrative resource. 
 

Not to be, to seem so 


Three months before the expected “Jewish coup,” on September 15–16, 2008, members of the International Leadership Reunion, a very interesting structure, gathered in Paris. This is an informal club of the largest Jewish donors in the world, gathering the largest businessmen on the planet, and in a purely private setting, visiting one of the club members. It is almost impossible to find out the list of those present and the list of issues discussed. 

Now the host party is the head of the Parisian House of Rothschild, David Rothschild, and the French multimillionaire Pierre Beschnan, who until the summer of 2007 chaired the EJC and was replaced in this position by Cantor. 

Among the American delegation, Sheldon Adelson, owner of half of Las Vegas and almost half of Macau, stood out. 

Russian businessmen traditionally do not advertise their participation in the work of the club, although it is practically officially known that one Russian is a member of the organizing committee, and the President of the World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jewry (WKRE), Boris Shpigel, actively cooperates with the club on a number of issues. 

Spiegel was definitely not at the event. Which is understandable. Through WCRE, he organized a trip to Tskhinvali on September 15–16 for a working group of international observers and human rights activists. And on September 21–22, the WKRE presidium was held in Tel Aviv, in which leaders of Jewish organizations and communities in Israel, the USA, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and members of the Israeli Knesset took part. But at a meeting in Paris, a message from Boris Spiegel was read out, the contents of which are only known that Spiegel invited those gathered to hold the next meeting of the club in Moscow in 2010. And this invitation was accepted. 

The level of the event can be judged by the fact that the club meeting was attended by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. 

Noteworthy is the fact that Kantor, who is the leader of the Russian Jewish Congress, was absent from the event. His absence is associated with a personal conflict between him and Besnanu, which occurred back in 2005 during the elections for the EJC President, when Besnanu became the winner. After Cantor’s victory in the 2007 elections, the conflict only intensified. 

However, Kantor’s activities as chairman of the RJC in Russia raise many questions among the Russian Jewish community. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, which has not an authoritarian, like the RJC, but a confederal internal structure and stable funding, is already overtaking the RJC in the number of members. It is characteristic that the RJC did not react at all to the genocide of the Ossetian population of South Ossetia, ignoring the complete destruction by Georgian troops of a Jewish street in Tskhinvali and the shelling of the Tskhinvali synagogue, in the basement of which people were hiding. 

But this circumstance was noticed at the WCRE presidium in Tel Aviv, when they adopted a resolution on the creation of the International Tribunal for South Ossetia. 

The split in the EJC, provoked by Kantor, put on the agenda the issue of creating an EU Jewish Congress, which the Jewish communities of Germany and France are inclined to do. The communities of Russian-speaking Jews in Europe, united by the WKRE, can provide them with serious support in this. However, Kantor’s absence in Paris at the International Leadership Reunion meeting has a completely transparent explanation. 

Not being invited to a meeting of the club of sponsors, Kantor initiated a very dubious event - on the same days, a round table of international experts was held in Brussels to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat. This event was widely advertised, and the Russian Jewish News Agency wrote about it more than once. But here’s what’s strange: on the Agency’s website, in the detailed announcement of the event, which lists the participants of the round table by name, there is no American David Wurmser, who until recently was an adviser to US Vice President Dick Cheney on security issues. But it was David Wurmser who set the tone for the work of the round table. Obviously, the AEN did not consider it entirely appropriate to include Mr. Wurmser in the list of participants in the event. After all, the “hawkish” reputation of the former adviser to the vice president is very well known. 

Cantor’s event in Brussels is nothing more than another platform for exercising pro-American rhetoric with criticism of Old Europe, which is in no hurry to support the United States in its anti-Iranian sanctions. It was Kantor who said at the round table that 10 thousand European companies continue to maintain business ties with Iran, and the total turnover of this business is about $100 billion a year. 

Kantor’s expressed pro-American position has already been criticized more than once by the EJC. 

On the other hand, the expected creation of the EU Jewish Congress may end the predominant influence of North American Jews in major international Jewish organizations. Will Kantor find a place for himself in the new architecture of international Jewry? Or will he completely tarnish his reputation with his authoritarianism and one-sided bias? 

Perhaps the best answer to this question is illustrated by the latest meeting of the Board of Trustees of the World Jewish Congress, which took place on September 24 in Ashkelon, Israel. 

During the discussion of the issue at the board of trustees of the WJC, the question was raised about the mechanism for representing millions of Russian-speaking Jews in the work of the congress, in which Americans traditionally play the first violin. At the initiative of WKRE President Boris Shpigel, the question of including the World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jewry among the associate members of the WJC was raised. It was this proposal that caused a strong reaction from Kantor. Having asked to speak, he expressed doubt about the very necessity of the existence of structures of “Russian-speaking Jewry,” called them meaningless and compared them with the creation of organizations of “blind and deaf Jews.” The result of the attack was the postponement of consideration of this issue to the General Assembly of the WJC, which will take place in January 2009. It is obvious that such a step is a continuation of the general line of Cantor seizing positions in the Jewish world at any cost, without regard to the influence of Europe, Russia, and the growing role played by our former compatriots in Israel, the USA and Germany. 
 

Moshe "Raskolnikov" 


The election of Kantor as president of the EJC in 2007 was essentially the forerunner of the actual split that occurred in this organization in February 2008, after an emergency assembly was held in Paris. The three largest Jewish communities in Western Europe - Austrian, French and Portuguese - announced the suspension of their membership in the EJC, protesting against the undemocratic methods of governing Congress, practiced, in their opinion, by Mr. Cantor. Later they were joined by the German Jewish Community. The formal reason for this demarche was the decision taken at the Emergency Assembly to extend the powers of the president and the entire current leadership to 4 years. Richard Prasquier, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations in France, the leading representative body of the Jewish community in that country, called the move "unethical and illegal." 

However, this is only the outer shell of a conflict that began to mature long before Kantor’s election as head of the EJC. It should be recalled that he was elected by 55 votes to 30. As was then reported on the website of the Jewish community of Milan, “the majority of delegates representing Eastern Europe, as well as delegates from England, Germany, Italy and Holland, voted for Cantor’s candidacy, while while representatives of France, Spain, Portugal and Belgium supported Beshnana’s candidacy.” Noteworthy is the fact that the balance in voting on the issue of extending the powers of the EJC President to 4 years was approximately the same: 51 versus 34. However, if in the first case the representatives of Germany voted in support of Kantor, then in the second they, as they say , found themselves “on the other side of the barricades.” 

At the forefront of the disagreements tearing apart the EJC are Cantor and Besnanu. The personal conflict between them began immediately after the election of Besnanu to the post of President of the EJC in 2005. Kantor tried to seize the initiative at the General Assembly of Congress in Prague in February 2006, announcing the provision of 475 thousand US dollars to the organization, which was in dire need of financial resources, but under certain conditions. Besnanu accused Cantor of trying to “blackmail” the ECC by linking the provision of money with his leadership in the organization and the ability to form the composition of the board of governors (from real financial donors), in order to control the budget, and therefore the activities of the organization, through him. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), in particular, wrote about this. Beshnana was supported by the vice-president of the EJC, the Austrian Ariel Muzykant, who said then: “The organization can only have one president. Mr. Kantor is trying to become one without being elected.” The attempt failed, and Cantor was reported to have left the chamber before the end of the Assembly. 

Developing the theme of Kantor’s financial relationship with the EJC, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JAT) wrote at the time that “some Jewish leaders in Europe have privately expressed concern that Kantor, with Russia’s largest fertilizer company, is a mafia leader who with the help of large donations, he is trying to establish control over the EJC.” 
“The conflict around the figure of Cantor,” JAT also wrote, “flashed up at the moment when Besnanu made an attempt to change the character of the JJC, to make it more independent from the World Jewish Congress. He constantly repeated that European Jews, not Americans, should conduct a dialogue with European politicians regarding Israel.” 

The internal disagreements of the EJC, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency also noted, are also caused by the fact that representatives of Russia and other countries of Eastern Europe want to play a greater role in European Jewish organizations, in which until then the decisive word belonged to representatives of Great Britain, France and Italy. 

And here is what was written about Cantor in an article posted on the website of the North American United Jewish Communites. “Like most Russian business tycoons, Kantor spends most of his time abroad, practically settling in Geneva. Those who know him well say he aspires to become an international Jewish leader. When outside Russia, he uses the newly acquired Hebrew name Moshe. In recent years, he has made repeated attempts to occupy key positions, first in the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and then in the European Jewish Congress, in order to be able to play a significant role in international affairs.” 

“Already his presidency of the Russian Jewish Congress can be seen as an attempt to open the door to Europe with the help of one of the largest Jewish communities on the continent,” the article quotes the opinion of an anonymous source expressed by JTA. 

The reason for the split that occurred in February of this year is analyzed in an article posted on the Jewish Policy Research website. Its author, Anthony Lerman, draws attention to one statement made by Kantor: “Israeli leaders must recognize the right of Jews living in other countries to participate in elections held in Israel.” Thus, the article emphasizes, the current president of the EJC “at the same time damaged the status of European Jews, raising the question of their loyalty to their countries of residence, and also struck at the fundamental principle of the sovereignty of the State of Israel.” A few weeks later, continues Anthony Lerman, “Germany, France, Austria and Portugal suspended their membership in the EJC, thereby demonstrating their distrust of Cantor - certainly this was the right move, which could expose the systematic weakness of European Jewish leaders, their inability to solve problems, facing the Jews in Europe." 

“The very fact that Kantor, a Geneva-based Russian businessman and president of the Russian Jewish Congress, was elected as JJC president—the third in recent years—speaks to the strong differences between European Jewish leaders on issues concerning the future of Europe and the role of Jews in it,” writes Lerman, pointing out that such disagreements could lead to the creation of a new, independent and self-financing Jewish organization on the continent, but only exclusively within the European Union. With such a development of events, the need for the existence of the EJC, which largely depends on the American World Jewish Congress, as well as another organization - the European Council of Jewish Communities, will completely disappear. The continent’s largest Jewish communities - France, Great Britain and Germany - already provide them with very limited support. 

That events can develop precisely according to this scenario is stated in a work prepared by a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Susanne Cohen-Weisz, entitled From Bare Survival to European Jewish Vision: Jewish Life and Identity in Vienna. It states that representatives of countries that have suspended membership in the EJC intend to create a Jewish Congress of the European Union.” This was stated, in particular, by the Austrian Ariel Muzykant. 

According to a report in the online newspaper The Jewish Standard (New Jersey) about the suspension of Germany’s membership in the EJC, German Jewish leaders "condemned the methods of EJC President Cantor as highly disorganizing." At the same time, in an interview with JTA, the organization’s secretary, Stefan Kramer, stated that “the history of the EJC must be continued” and this is “better than creating a new organization,” as representatives of a number of countries propose to do. 

Kantor is aware of the danger of the resulting schism. In an interview published on the website of the European Jewish Fund he founded, he said: “We do not have the luxury of engaging in internal struggles,” and added: “We need to stop talking about Eastern European and Western European Jews.” 

Cantor approached Henry Grünwald, President of the Council of Representatives of British Jews, with a request to chair a conciliation commission to try to find ways to return the Representative Council of Jewish Organizations of France (CRIF) and other organizations to the membership of the EJC. 
 

Russian-speaking Jews are not allowed! 


The world Jewish elite, to the disappointment of anti-Semites, is not the secret lodge of the “Elders of Zion.” Instead, the World Jewish Congress, created in 1936 in Geneva, operates quite legally. This Congress “protects” Jews all over the globe, representing the “people of the Book” before the UN and the governments of different countries. 

Although the leading positions in the WJC are occupied by US Jews, old Europe has also staked out a prominent place there. And only three million Russian-speaking Jews, scattered across different continents, still do not have their own voice in the VJK. Moreover, V. Kantor is trying very hard to ensure that Jews who speak Russian are never accepted on equal terms in the global Jewish community. 

How can you technically ignore almost a quarter of the Jewish people? What witty tricks can be used to make them “strangers at the celebration of life” of world Jewry? This entire sophisticated extrusion technique was demonstrated on September 24 at a board meeting of the World Jewish Congress. Almost 130 WJC leaders gathered this time in Ashkelon to express solidarity with the shelled south of Israel. We discussed the Iranian problem, youth policy, and anti-Israeli manifestations around the world. Everything was going smoothly and splendidly until the “Russian question” came up on the agenda. 

At the initiative of Boris Shpigel, who represented the Russian delegation at the WJC board meeting, the question of including the World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jewry, which he heads, among the WJC-affiliated organizations, was brought up for discussion. It would seem that there is nothing simpler than recognizing reality: there are hundreds of thousands of Jews from the former USSR now living in Israel, the USA, Canada, Germany, Australia and further around the globe. People whose characteristics have long been known to sociologists and politicians actually exist. The World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jewry (WCRE) unites Russian-speaking Jews, linking the Jews of Karmiel, Düsseldorf, Boston and Melbourne with one language and common cultural codes. Adoption of the WKRE into the VEK would become a “certificate of kosher” - an entrance ticket for Russian-speaking Jews into the most important planetary structure of the Jewish people. 

But it was not there. Kantor flies up to the podium. He demanded that under no circumstances should the Congress of Russian-speaking Jews be accepted into “decent society.” That’s what they voted at that meeting: “not to let in.” Apparently they haven’t matured yet. Or, what is more likely, the community of Russian-speaking Jews is very disturbing to someone. To whom? 

Yes, and Kantor is in the way. The reason for this was the methods by which Cantor began to command the Jews of Europe. Voices are increasingly heard about the unification of the Jewish communities of the European Union, which will not allow the Russian Kantor to lead the Jewry of the Old World. In the vastness of the former USSR, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, which is the continental section of the WJC, is playing an increasingly active role. If the Congress of Russian-Speaking Jews becomes a legitimate part of the planetary Jewish elite, then there will be no place left for Kantor in the structures of world Jewry. 

That is why Kantor declared at the Ashkelon meeting of the WJC leaders that it was inadmissible to accept these mysterious Russian-speaking people as affiliated members. Just as they were on the fringes of the Jewish world, so let them remain there. They say they have no business sitting at the same table with decent people. Of course, all this was wrapped in the Belgian lace of reflections that it was inappropriate for the WJC to accept as members an organization that unites people according to cultural and linguistic interests. At the same time, the WJC has long had as its affiliated members other organizations built on “interests” rather than on a geographical basis - for example, B’nai B’rith, Sokhnut or the World Union of Jewish Students. 

Until recently, Kantor’s rise came amid speculation about his closeness to the Kremlin. And it is precisely in this situation that it is extremely disadvantageous for Kantor to strengthen the World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jews, because its president Boris Shpigel is a Russian senator with real influence in the corridors of power. In the year 2009, which may become the apogee of the “Iran problem,” Moscow’s words and actions may be decisive for the future of Israel. The World Jewish Congress needs to have a strong representative in Russia, who is “an insider” both for the Kremlin and for world Jewry. And such a person clearly cannot be the half-disgraced Kantor, who has not been able to meet with Putin for almost four years. 

When Jews need to reach out to the Kremlin with requests for help in preventing the Iranian threat, official Moscow will certainly remember the position of Jewish leaders during the days of the Ossetian conflict. Spiegel condemned the actions of the Georgian army and was one of the first to call for the creation of an international tribunal against Mikheil Saakashvili on charges of genocide of the Ossetian people. But Kantor remained silent. This is not forgotten. 

If Lauder and Bronfman need influential opponents of Cantor in their struggle to maintain leadership in the WJC, both will be able to find them among the emerging coalition of European communities that have left Cantor’s rule. They will be joined by the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and the World Congress of Russian-Speaking Jews. 

All these “Jewish wars” are most directly related to Israel, which speaks Russian and seeks its equal place under the Jewish sun. In fact, the delegitimization of Russian-speaking Jewry as a global phenomenon is also an anti-Israeli attack. For every third Jew in Israel speaks Russian. Non-recognition of Russian-speaking Jewry, an attempt to turn a blind eye to the peculiarities of this part of the Jewish people is also a form of discrimination against a significant part of modern Israeli society at the level of big Jewish politics. 

PS  When this issue was in print, a message came that on February 5, at meetings of the bureau and presidium of the RJC, V. Kantor announced his resignation from his post as president due to the desire to focus on more important areas of activity. Apparently, the problems of Russian Jews are not one of these. Nikolai Kaufman 
         

 

*** 

Let My Kantor Live 
Executive Secretary of the Babi Yar Public Committee Vitaly Nakhmanovich about the actions of businessman Vyacheslav Kantor: “This is disrespect for the Jewish community and the Ukrainian public in general” 


The international forum Let My People Live, held in 2006 in Kyiv, unfortunately, turned out to be not as representative as Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko expected. 

66 years ago, near Kiev, the Nazis killed 150 thousand civilians. In the history of the crimes of fascism, Babi Yar was inscribed next to Majdanek, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald. The Ukrainian government, long before the date, decided to seriously prepare for the anniversary of the tragedy. The president had the most extensive plans. It was planned to hold a conference, rallies, processions, organize an exhibition, publish books and albums. And of course, give the event an international status by inviting guests from other countries to it. Naturally, of the highest rank. 

There was no doubt that they would agree. The topic, despite its age, remains pressing for Europe, torn apart by xenophobia; 66 years is not such a long time. There may not be so many participants in those terrible events left, but the memory is still alive. And every European leader understands perfectly well: to prevent this nightmare from returning, it must be supported from generation to generation. 

A similar forum was held in Poland in January 2005. He demonstrated that the Holocaust issue still has global significance. Its participants included heads of more than 40 countries, including leaders of Russia, Germany, the USA, Ukraine, Israel, and Poland. Therefore, there was no doubt that no less representative delegations would come to Kyiv. 

An organizing committee was formed. However, for some reason, neither political scientists, nor sociologists, nor public figures, nor representatives of organizations involved in the history of the Great Patriotic War in Ukraine were invited to it. And in addition, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Tabachnik, who in 2002 became famous for allowing the notorious Heritage Center to be “built on Syrts” (meaning Babi Yar), was unexpectedly asked to head the organizing committee. 

And the most interesting thing is that the conduct of all events was left to the Russian-Israeli-Swiss businessman Vyacheslav Kantor, who, however, is the head of the Russian Jewish Congress, but not the Ukrainian one. 

However, Vyacheslav Kantor took up this matter willingly. President Yushchenko was given promises and assurances that everything would take place at the highest level. Encouraged, Viktor Andreevich immediately signed a decree, according to which Vyacheslav Kantor was vested with the powers of a freelance adviser to the president, and began to wait for foreign guests. 

Month after month passed, and the organizing committee did not even show signs of life. The Ukrainian public became worried. A well-known researcher of Ukrainian-Jewish relations, candidate of historical sciences Zhanna Kovba was forced to publicly state that she was surprised by the open silence about the upcoming anniversary. There was a feeling that it was beneficial for someone to “preserve myths and confrontation between peoples.” 

Probably, Kantor had other, no less important business concerns. In general, there was only enough time to travel to Israel in order to enlist the support of President Moshe Katsav. 

Somehow the rest of the leaders did not get around to it, which did not stop Mr. Kantor from loudly declaring the “Babi Yar” project in all the media available to him. Kyiv,” which will allegedly involve 44 heads of state, including the presidents of Russia and the United States. 

It is still unknown whether Vladimir Putin and George Bush knew about these ambitious plans of Vyacheslav Kantor. Most likely no. Just as, it seems, they did not become known to other presidents and prime ministers promised by Cantor. In any case, only the presidents of Israel, Croatia and Montenegro came to the events in Kyiv, which, given the importance of the date, can only be called a failure. 

And the program had to be greatly cut down. Dashes appeared next to many planned actions. In short, there were a lot of disappointments and grievances. The executive secretary of the Babi Yar public committee, Vitaly Nakhmanovich, did not hesitate to say about them in an interview with the newspaper “Young Ukraine”: “They didn’t even invite a rabbi from Ukraine. They are awaiting the arrival of the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv. But the spiritual capital is Jerusalem. This is a political action organized by a Russian person, for whom Ukraine and Israel are all somewhere abroad. This is disrespect for the Jewish community and the Ukrainian public in general.” 

The forum, of course, was held, and flowers were laid at the memorial to the victims of Nazism in Babi Yar, and even two wonderful exhibitions were opened: “Warning to the Future” and “No Children’s Games.” Only Vyacheslav Kantor had nothing to do with them. They were organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine, the Memory of Babyn Yar Foundation, the Department of Culture of the Kyiv City Administration and the Yad Vashem Memorial Center for the Victims of the Holocaust and Heroes of the Resistance. 

Israeli President Moshe Katsav once remarked that the Holocaust is still a fundamental tool in politics. “Let’s use these tools for the benefit of humanity,” he suggested. We should agree with this, but with one caveat. Such unique instruments cannot be trusted to people for whom the memory of the Holocaust is just a means to satisfy their own ambitions and amuse their vanity. 

Insert: 
By organizing the Let My People Live International Forum, Vyacheslav Kantor hoped to regain the favor of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. But the organizer was not allowed further than the guest stand. 

Petr Potapenko 
 

*** 

Scandal in a Jewish family 
How 20 X-55 cruise missiles disappeared from Ukrainian arsenals 


The detention of the Russian chemical magnate Vyacheslav Kantor on February 8, 2006 at the Tel Aviv airport and his transfer “for a conversation” to the neighborhood creates not only a new turn in the “Bank Hapoalim case”, but may also have a serious resonance in domestic Russian affairs. 

The owner of an agrochemical holding company “ Akron" V. Kantor became widely known not only in Russia, but also abroad, after in January 2005 he showed himself to be a talented organizer of celebrations in Krakow (Poland) dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, as well as as the founder of the International Fund Holocaust memory. 

This clear success was positively assessed by the Russian Jewish diaspora, and in November 2005, V. Kantor was elected president of the Russian Jewish Congress. This event occurred against the backdrop of a scandal that began in Ukraine related to the supply of Ukrainian long-range cruise missiles X-55 to China and Iran in 2000–2001, during the premiership of V. Yushchenko. 

Fragments of official correspondence between the head (at that time) of the Security Service of Ukraine, Alexander Turchaninov, and the Ukrainian arms exporter Ukrspetsexport regarding the supply of the X-55 are widely presented on the Ukrainian Internet. One of A. Turchaninov’s requests directly related to the activities of the Swiss company Far West Ltd in Ukraine in 2000–2001, which, as it turned out, was the organizer of transactions with China and Iran. Ukrspetsexport’s response to the SBU mentions the Panamanian offshore companies Isofert Trading INC and Transchem International INC, control over which is attributed to V. Kantor. Until April 2005, these companies also held large blocks of shares in JSC Acron (Veliky Novgorod), the parent enterprise of the Acron holding. 

The details of the transaction became known to the Ukrainian authorities at the end of 2003 - beginning of 2004. In February 2004 - during this period V. Yushchenko was already the leader of the opposition - a criminal case was opened into the sale of 20 X-55 missiles. In the summer of 2005, even before the start of the scandal, at a closed trial in this case, “switchman” Vladimir Evdokimov, the former general director of UkrAviaZakaz LLC, which organized the transportation of missiles, received 6 years in prison. In addition to him, two dead people also appear in the case: the ex-head of Ukrspetsexport Vladimir Maleev, who died in an accident in March 2002, and an Australian citizen, by the way, of Iranian origin, Haider Sarfraz, who also died in an accident in January 2004. The name of V. Kantor and the name of the companies through which the money moved did not surface during the trial. 

The scandal was raised in April 2005 by the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Stanislav Piskun and the same Alexander Turchaninov. By October 2005, the new President of Ukraine V. Yushchenko dismissed both. But simultaneously with the beginning of the scandal, by his Decree No. 725/2005 of April 28, 2005, V. Yushchenko appoints V. Kantor as his adviser. This appointment clearly had a second bottom - a transparent hint to both the initiators of the scandal and the judicial authorities of Ukraine that the president “will not betray his own.” Perhaps this is precisely what can explain the fact that in the remaining three months before the sentencing of V. Evdokimov, Kantor’s name never surfaced during the trial. 

As a result of an operation carried out by Far West Ltd, 20 X-55s disappeared from Ukrainian arsenals, but only 12 of them were found by the Chinese and Iranians. There is an opinion that for the 2000 operation (delivery of 6 X-55s to China), V. Kantor could have received money into an offshore account and received access for his products to the Chinese market. And not just access, but also the right to purchase for ridiculous money, only $56 million, an agrochemical plant in Shandong province, producing 1 million tons of products per year. This plant is now part of V. Kantor’s holding company called Hongzhi-Akron. 

Some have a traffic accident, some have 6 years in prison, and some have a position, money, and a factory to boot. 

In the 1990s, the right to gray schemes for the supply of weapons from the CIS to problem areas traditionally belonged to Arkady Gaidamak, whose traces are found in many operations of that time. But in 1998, one of A. Gaydamak’s trusted representatives - a certain Shilenko (disappeared in 2003, and his whereabouts are still unknown) - defected to Far West Ltd. Almost from this moment, the turbulent history of this company begins, by coincidence, staffed, as if by choice, with former employees of the special unit of the GRU of the General Staff of the Soviet Army with the code name “N”, who in the late 1980s dealt with the problem of drug trafficking in Afghanistan (now citizens of Russia and Ukraine). The exploits of this firm are beyond the scope of our investigation. But here’s what’s characteristic: if almost exhaustive information has been made public on the deal with China in Ukraine - the timing, the financial scheme through the possible offshore companies of V. Kantor, and even the name of the Kazakh air carrier company, then practically nothing is known about the 2001 deal with Iran. In addition to the fact that in 2002-2003, Ukrainian military specialists repeatedly visited Iran to service missiles. Although it can be assumed that during these visits there were also “advanced training courses” for Iranian personnel. 

In particular, under the 2000 deal, two payments were made through offshore companies in Panama, one for $3 million from China, and the second for $4 million from Pakistan (!). And here a reasonable question arises: are those 8 X-55 missiles lost there, the location of which is still unknown. 

The head of Far West Ltd, Vladimir Filin, also spoke about the “Pakistan trace”. On the Forum.msk.ru website he writes: “The Ukrainian leadership informed the United States about the leak of missile technology back in the summer of 2001. However, Cheney and the then CIA director George Tenet turned a blind eye to this, not wanting to aggravate relations with Tehran, Beijing and Islamabad (!!! – Ed.) on the eve of aggression against Afghanistan and then Iraq.” 

This is the reason for the complete secrecy of the 2001 operation with Iran. After all, the disclosure of information on this deal is a major scandal for D. Cheney in the United States, and for V. Kantor in Israel, and even between the United States and Israel, whose security was jeopardized with the knowledge of the United States. 

After all, the X-55, with a flight range of more than 3,000 km and the highest accuracy, is guaranteed to reach Israeli territory from Iran. 

I wonder how V. Kantor and A. Gaydamak now look in the eyes of the Israeli public? Their names are mentioned in connection with the supply of weapons, including to Muslim countries. Both have Israeli citizenship, both are major public figures. V. Kantor is the President of the Russian Jewish Congress (REC), A. Gaydamak is the President of the Congress of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Russia (KEROOR). 

There is a version that the activation of the Hapoalim Bank case occurred as a result of the January visit to Israel by the Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, Sergei Stepashin. During this visit, a memorandum of cooperation in the fight against corruption was signed between the control authorities of Russia and Israel. It is obvious that in addition to V. Gusinsky, V. Kantor and A. Gaydamak, other ex-Russians may appear in the case of the largest Israeli bank, including, according to S. Stepashin, former officials with “dubious money.” If in Israel, during the investigation of the case of money laundering in the Bank Hapoalim, it turns out that an Israeli citizen in an Israeli bank laundered dirty money, moreover, received from the illegal supply of cruise missiles to Israel’s worst enemy - Iran, then the scandal will acquire universal proportions and will certainly come back to haunt in the Russian Jewish diaspora. 

In Europe, news of V. Kantor’s problems in Israel was promptly responded to. At the General Assembly of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) held on February 19, 2006 in Vienna, V. Kantor was removed from the post of chairman of the EJC Board of Trustees. Moreover, the EEK is not alone in its decision. Even earlier, the World Jewish Congress decided to no longer consider the RJC as a structure representing the Jewish community of Russia. 

Unlike KEROOR, where they were well aware of the previous exploits of A. Gaydamak and investigations of his activities in different countries, in the RJC in November 2005, when V. Kantor was elected president, Mikhail Fridman, who represented him, characterized V. Kantor as a big businessman, philanthropist and prominent international public figure with an unblemished reputation. 

In addition to the competition between REC and KEROOR, in addition to long-standing grievances due to Mr. Shilenko, who defected from A. Gaidamak to V. Kantor, these public figures of the Russian Jewish diaspora also compete in business. A. Gaydamak not long ago became the owner of Kazakh phosphorus enterprises (Kazphosphate company), and now they are butting heads in the Chinese market. 

But “villainous fate” connected them with questions as part of the investigation of the same case. And now investigators from the Israeli service YAHBAL (international police) can rub their hands in anticipation of mutually incriminating testimony from the parties. But if this was the idea of the Israeli investigators, then it does them credit. 

Israel Schneiderzon (based on materials from the Israeli press), Hebron, Israel

 

*** 
Interview with Israeli Police Foreign Media Relations Representative Micky Rosenfeld 


Question: Mr. Rosenfeld, could you comment on what happened with the President of the Russian Jewish Congress (REC) Vyacheslav Kantor? Is it true that he was arrested and interrogated by the Israeli police? 

Answer:  This is completely incorrect information. Vyacheslav Kantor was not arrested, and no one questioned him. He was interviewed by members of the Israeli Police’s Foreign Crime Unit, but there was no talk of any arrest or charges. 

Question: Forgive me for a perhaps inappropriate question, but what does “a conversation was held” mean? Usually, if a person is called to the police, then, as a rule, they call him not for a conversation, but to testify on a specific case. And in this case we are talking either about the interrogation of the accused, or about the testimony of a witness, and certainly not about a conversation. 

Answer:  It was just a conversation, not an interrogation. And there was no talk of any arrest or charges. 
 

Question: Could you say on what occasion and in connection with what this conversation was held? After all, it cannot be that such a busy person, out of the blue, without serious reasons, came to the police to chat. 


Answer:  I cannot give you an answer to this question, since this is internal information. 

This ends the official information from Israel, but the topic is far from exhausted 
 

*** 

 

"Chemist"-philanthropist 
What do patrons of high art save on? 


Large-scale nitrogen production - and Acron JSC is one of these - is extremely explosive. Moreover, both the technology itself and the product – ammonium nitrate – are explosive. And such production is always expected to strictly adhere to technology, strict discipline, high production standards, decent wages and solve the social problems of workers. Is this all true at Akron? 

Our rich people have already learned well that the term “social responsibility of business” is far from an empty phrase. And they realized that it would not be possible to buy off the people for “just like that,” even for “Faberge eggs.” Shock therapy has long since ended, but the main law of the market, that one must pay for work, has not been repealed. 

Recently, a thick Sunday glossy magazine published an article with the headline “Museum of Private Ambitions.” Among other defendants - art collectors - there is also a Novgorod businessman, owner of the Akron chemical holding, Vyacheslav Kantor. 

This is not surprising; the name of Kantor and the name of the enterprise are well known even at the federal level. From year to year, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs awards the holding the title of “best enterprise in Russia,” probably six times already. But if a person’s business is going well, why shouldn’t he take up antiques in his spare time? 

It was amazing to read Akron’s collective agreement. For those who do not know, we inform you that now is the “season” for renegotiating collective agreements. Acron, among many other enterprises, also concluded such an agreement with the workforce and even published several messages about it, not failing to use the occasion to promote its socially responsible policy. 

But the PR was not so successful. 

The main provisions of the agreement, published in the Akron newspaper Khimik, seem to sound very attractive. For example, the average salary at Acron is “70% higher than the monthly average in the country’s chemical industry.” Everything turns out very smoothly - a businessman, while collecting antiques, does not forget about his workers. But if you are not too lazy and look at the statistics only for the Northwestern Federal District, then it immediately turns out that in fact the Akron salary does not even reach the average for the district, not to mention the large chemical enterprises of the Urals and Siberia. Only it turns out that such Akron arithmetic is for a corporate newspaper, that is, for internal use. 

But once we’ve taken up the issue of salaries, it’s worth looking at other social parameters of the “best enterprise in Russia.” 
Chemical production requires good locker rooms, showers, and comfortable workwear. But if, again, you look at the newspaper “Khimik” with a report on the trade union conference on the contract, you will find the opposite: “lockers, dryers, women’s hygiene rooms have long been inadequate to the level of production.” Simply put, the living quarters of Akron workers were never renovated. The contract contains a clause (!) that specifically addresses the issue of “timely provision of special clothing.” The only way to understand it is that when the boots are torn, squelching through puddles of acid becomes very unpleasant. Such a clause was somehow not found in other agreements. 

With regard to labor protection at Akron, things are also very peculiar. “In 2003, the cost of implementing labor protection measures amounted to 127 million rubles.” The figure is impressive, it seems like a lot for 5 thousand employees. But, as it turns out, “these funds were used to bring buildings, structures, construction and industrial sites to standards in accordance with the requirements of SNiP, construct sidewalks, roads, diagnose equipment (well, what does labor safety have to do with it? - Ed.), purchase special clothing, safety footwear and other personal protective equipment,” which, as follows from the text of the contract, do not arrive on time. 

The report does not say a word about housing programs, but this is a sore subject for Akron, since a third of its employees have been living in a dormitory for decades. 

But maybe all this is trivial, are we finding fault with the philanthropist, philanthropist and arts lover Vyacheslav Kantor? Maybe everything else is in perfect order at the enterprise? 

In 2001, 877 people received sanatorium-resort treatment at the company’s expense, in 2002 – 328, and in 2003 – 218 (“Khimik”). Over three years – a 4-fold decrease. And this is at the “best enterprise in Russia”?! 

But these are little things for now, just flowers, so to speak. And now - berries. We will assign responsibility for the numbers to Mrs. Lyubov Chadayeva, head of the medical unit of JSC Acron, source - Akron Khimik. Over the course of a year, the 5,000-strong team accounted for almost 7,000 cases of illness. However, no comparison with previous years is made. And this is done only when there is nothing to brag about. However, against the backdrop of a 4-fold decrease in the number of people receiving social insurance vouchers, the increase in morbidity is not surprising. 

In 2003, 22 people were transferred to disability, and 9 were dismissed due to disability. During the year, there were 19 deaths among people of working age at the enterprise. Let’s subtract diabetes (1 person), oncology (2 people) and cardiovascular diseases (9 people). The remaining 7 are: 2 fatal accidents at work (!) - how much money does Kantor spend on paintings, horses and labor protection? – 2 poisonings and 3 suicides, 2 of which were in that same dormitory. In total, for 2 million tons of fertilizers there are 7 deaths not related to human health. Scary statistics, simply scary. In the coal industry - underground, adits, fasteners for one million tons of mined coal, methane breakthroughs, etc. – statistics show one death. And here on the ground, in the open air, for 1 million tons of fertilizers - 3.5 people died! Is not it too much? 

But the worst thing is suicide. Well, okay, he lost his way, crashed, and in the end, he climbed up himself - it was his own fault. But how should a healthy, able-bodied person be subjected to working and living conditions so that he commits suicide? 

It seems that such an act can only be driven by complete hopelessness, which is confirmed by another fact that does not fit into the history of one of the “best enterprises.” Just the other day, news agencies reported that on April 17, a picket of Akron hostel residents took place in the center of Veliky Novgorod. They protested against the plans of the Novgorod authorities to grant Akron dormitories the status of communal apartments and demanded the status of residential buildings. To achieve their constitutional rights, residents of Akron hostels are ready to go on a hunger strike. 

Let us note that the litigation surrounding 5 multi-storey dormitories has been dragging on for several years. JSC Acron tried to privatize them, but this only caused social unrest, because from 1.5 to 2.5 thousand people live in the dormitories. And mostly these are people working for JSC Acron. Nobody knows the exact number of residents. Chemists refer to the fact that the houses have been officially transferred to the city. And city authorities believe that records should be kept at Akron. After all, it is his workers who live there. And “outsiders” were accommodated in only one building out of five. 

A dorm is a chemical plant, a chemical plant is a dorm, and so on all your life? Without the slightest hope of at least having your own corner in old age? From such a life you will inevitably end up like a fusel or end up in a noose. After all, Akron’s salary of 7 thousand rubles will never buy an apartment in your life. 

But the owner of Akron, an honorary citizen of Veliky Novgorod, as well as “the president of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, financed an exhibition of the 20th century abstract expressionist Mark Rothko at the Hermitage in December last year” and “personally owns a rich collection of paintings by Russian Parisians of the late 19th - early twentieth century" (we quote from the source mentioned at the very beginning of the article). 

Isn’t Novgorod chemists paying too terrible a price for paintings, antiques and Mr. Kantor’s villa in Geneva? Why is the governor silent? Why is the Novgorod branch of the RSPP silent? Who, if not colleagues in the business community, should bring some sense into the bloodsucking philanthropist? Or do he already have them all in his collection of antiques? 

Based on materials from the site www.compromat.ru 
 

*** 


This material was written in mid-2004. Since then, practically nothing has changed at Akron. The situation only got worse. Dormitories are functioning as before, from which there is not the slightest chance of getting out to even a room in a communal apartment. The previous number of accidents at work and suicides at home. And if you believe the Novgorod blogs (see the inset on this page), then we can assume that the situation has only worsened. In 2004, people who were drunk or hungover were certainly not allowed to work.

Insert: 
Forum.nov.ru, October 2007 
“Today at JSC Acron it was announced that due to personnel shortages, workers with excess blood alcohol levels will not be detained at the checkpoint. If he’s drunk, he’ll sleep it off, of course, but if he’s a fool, he’ll never sleep it off. Are there any other enterprises in Novgorod where they have given up the fight for sobriety?” 

Sent: 10/11/2007, 20:01 
 

*** 

 

By verbal agreement with Akron detective Buntsykin, 

Verdict of the Novgorod City Court to the “switchman”-radio amateur 


The Novgorod City Court of the Novgorod Region found Igor Vladimirovich Kovalev, born on September 11, 1966, guilty of committing crimes under Part 3 of Art. 138 and part 3 of Art. 30 – part 3 art. 138 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and imposed a sentence of 2 (two) years of suspended imprisonment, establishing a probationary period of 2 (two) years 6 (six) months. 

Kovalev I.V., having an incomplete higher education from the Novgorod Polytechnic Institute with a degree in “Design and production of radio equipment”, having skills in the field of radio electronics, design and production of radio equipment, without having a license and permission from the territorial bodies of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation for the development and production of special technical equipment , intended for secretly obtaining information, radio-electronic (high-frequency devices), in violation of current legislation, during the period from June 2 to June 28, 2006, on the premises of Inform LLC, where he was a co-founder, by oral agreement with Acron detective Buntsykin A.G., for the purpose of subsequent sale to the latter, deliberately, for selfish reasons, by searching, selecting and assembling various radio components, using various materials, illegally, in a homemade way, manufactured a radio-electronic high-frequency device in the form of a radio microphone and a radio transmitter of acoustic information. 

Kovalev I.V. camouflaged this device as a wooden block, which was a wooden container measuring 225.0 x 65.0 x 22.0 mm with a lid, into which he mounted a radio-electronic device consisting of six functional blocks on printed circuit boards, two of which were enclosed into metal shields of microphones and radio components connected to each other by seam soldering and surface mounting. 

During the period from June 2 to June 28, 2006, on the premises of Inform LLC, where he was a co-founder, by oral agreement with the Akron detective A.G. Buntsykin, deliberately, for selfish reasons, by searching, selecting and assembling various radio components, using various materials, illegally, in a makeshift manner, manufactured a radio-electronic high-frequency device in the form of a radio microphone and a radio transmitter of acoustic information. 

Kovalev I.V. tried to sell an illegally manufactured special technical device intended for secretly obtaining information to Buntsykin A.G. for a monetary reward in the amount of at least 100 US dollars, which, according to the Novgorod branch of Sberbank of the Russian Federation No. 8629 dated December 4, 2007 ., equivalent to the amount of 2697 rubles 65 kopecks. 

Defendant I.V. Kovalev initially did not admit guilt to the charges brought against him; later, at a court hearing, I.V. Kovalev fully admitted his guilt in the illegal manufacture and attempted sale of special technical means. 

In addition to personal confession and regardless of the position taken in court, I.V. Kovalev’s guilt in committing crimes during the trial was established by the testimony of witnesses, expert opinions, examined physical evidence, written materials of the case, as well as the totality of examined admissible and reliable evidence. 


Source:  website of the Novgorod City Court 
 

*** 

Office Kantor listens 

An experienced oligarch turned Novgorod workers into his “serfs” 


The owner of the Novgorod chemical plant "Akron" declared a "dirty" information war against the enterprise’s trade union, which defends the rights of workers. The reason for the confrontation was the legal demand of the labor collective to increase the wage fund from January 1, 2006, since the obligation to annually index wages is enshrined in the joint collective agreement. However, the violation of workers’ rights does not particularly bother the oligarch. Instead of paying honestly, he chose another method that was more understandable to him - putting pressure. 
 

What lengths will you go to for the sake of another million... 

How Kantor asked to join the trade union 


In fact, the story of how Akron owner Vyacheslav Kantor decided to “put in its place” the presumptuous trade union began 12 years ago. In the fall of 1994, immediately after becoming an owner, Kantor launched a harsh attack on the primary trade union organization of Akron and its leader Sergei Yan. Moreover, there were no grounds for revising the existing relationship between the employer and representatives of the workforce. Vyacheslav Kantor was simply not used to dealing with such concepts as “employer responsibilities”, “social guarantees”, and decided to edit these points in the factory collective agreement based on his own “concepts”. 

The new management of Akron was given the command to remove the old leadership of the union. The shop managers, under pressure from above, began to process the teams. If Sergei Yan had not worked at the plant for more than 20 years, then Kantor’s idea would probably have been a success. However, the trade union leader had iron authority in the working environment. Apparently, in order to gain the same authority as Jan, Kantor applied to join the trade union of the plant he purchased. The managers of the enterprise immediately wanted to become defenders of the interests of the workers. However, at a meeting of the trade union, Kantor and the Moscow directors received an unequivocal refusal. The motivation of the team was as follows: according to Russian and global laws, a trade union is an organization that does not depend on either state or private interference in internal affairs. 

The offended owner contacted the Novgorod prosecutor’s office. It is still unclear how Kantor managed to achieve a decision that the union’s refusal infringed on his “human rights.” Despite the monstrous pressure, the company’s employees did not change their position, and the dubious decision of the prosecutor’s office remained on paper. 

As a counter move, in November 1994, Yang organized a large conference of Akron union members. The 278 delegates had to decide whether they trusted their leader and whether they wanted an Israeli billionaire among their ranks. The meeting was scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday to avoid pressure on the workers on the shop floor. For greater security, a secret voting system was developed. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Akron Vyacheslav Kantor came to the conference surrounded by a whole staff of lawyers. Together with members of the board of directors, the oligarch’s retinue occupied all the first rows in the hall. 

12 years ago, the workers and the owner of Akron were probably so close for the first and last time. However, it was purely territorial, because Kantor clearly sought to get Sergei Yan out of the way. In an open battle, the oligarch turned out to be a very weak fighter. The conference ended only at 6 pm with the current trade union committee making all its decisions by a majority vote. Cantor’s candidate for trade union leadership realized that he had no prospects and withdrew his candidacy. 
  
Cantor’s defeat was crushing. From the podium, the stunned owner began to tell ordinary workers that in the person of the trade union he needed an assistant on whom he could rely, because in the cruel oligarchic world there were so many competitors and injustice. But the oligarchs in the trade union, as they say, are already a mixture of Swiss and Novgorod. In the same year, the factory newspaper “Khimik”, after a survey of readers, named Sergei Yan as the person of the year. Both the owner and his managers were left far behind... Needless to say, since then the person of the year in the Akron newspaper “Chemist” has never been chosen again! 
 

Profits from your work pocket 


The Akron workers’ struggle for their rights did not end in November 1994. For a very long time, the leaders of the labor organization sought the opportunity to participate in meetings of shareholder councils, since the union owns 1.5% of Akron shares. The open confrontation between Yan and the plant administration continued until 1997. But when the trade union leader was elected to the regional Duma, the attitude towards the labor organization changed somewhat. The most progressive politicians, represented by Governor Mikhail Prusak, who was close to Kantor, decided that it was better to be friends with the masses. The periods of this friendship strangely coincided with the elections of the regional governor. Mikhail Prusak, who had been fighting against the regional branch of the United Russia party for a long time, eventually removed its leader, State Duma deputy, hero of Russia Zelenov, and took his chair himself. The second person on the list was proposed to be Sergei Yan. In the regional Duma, Jan held and still holds the very troublesome position of member of the social policy committee, chairman of the commission on social issues. For some time, the parties found the possibility of a compromise solution to problems, including those related to the situation of workers at Akron. 

However, in January 2006, the employer for the first time refused to fulfill the clause of the collective agreement on increasing wages for workers, which had not been violated for many years. Back on November 16, 2005, the parties decided that the wage increase, as an indexation of financial losses due to rising inflation, would not occur every quarter, but once at the beginning of the year. The joint decision was enshrined in editorial changes in the collective agreement under clause 2.1.1. 

At the beginning of 2006, the union proposed raising wages for the entire Akron team by 20%, so as not to return to this issue throughout the year. The employer agreed to 11% and asked to wait with the increase until the crisis problem with the supplier of raw materials, Murmansk Apatit, was resolved. Members of the trade union committee, at the request of the plant administration, even participated in picketing the FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service) building in Moscow on the day when Kantor’s complaint about the increase in prices for the supplier’s products was being considered. 

On February 21, 2006, an agreement between Akron and Apatit was signed, but despite this, Kantor told the workers that “the crisis continues.” On the same day, a meeting was held at the chemical plant. Akron President Ivan Antonov said that the employer has no obligations to workers - wages will not increase. This statement shocked the company’s staff. It turned out that the owner, who already had considerable financial profits, compensated for the profits lost due to the conflict with Apatit from the pockets of the workers. 

The trade union, which has already agreed to a wage increase of 10.6%, issued a “combat leaflet” in which it called for meetings of shop committees to be held by March 1 and to decide on the possibility of participating in collective actions. This is where the oligarch’s “old wound” reminded itself. Apparently, the “Novgorod Walesa” Sergei Yan, who defends workers’ rights, attracted too much attention to Kantor’s brainchild. The unpleasant events in the Novgorod region became noticeable even from the federal center. All further actions of the plant administration can be regarded as constant “pedaling” (press and release) the demands of the trade union. In the methods of fighting the trade union leader, “dirty” technologies began to scurry around like cockroaches under a bench. 
 

Kantor is listening to you carefully! 


The first time the owner of Akron personally became acquainted with the position of the trade union leader was in March 2006. The meeting took place in Moscow and did not end in anything. The oligarch actually “washed his hands” by entrusting the resolution of the labor dispute to the management of the plant. But here’s what’s interesting: after the March meeting, Kantor regularly had the opportunity to listen to union members without any unnecessary meetings. Akron security officers installed listening devices in Sergei Yan’s office. 

It is not surprising that throughout the spring and early summer of 2006 the union conducted fruitless negotiations with the administration of the enterprise. Only now it is clear why before May 1, when workers were discussing “anti-administrative” slogans and preparing for a rally, Akron’s management changed their position and suddenly admitted that it was necessary to increase wages. And after the holiday, representatives of the owner again refused to acknowledge their obligations to the workers. In July, the administration proposed to the union to increase wages by 6.1%. Moreover, in some workshops workers’ salaries remained at the same level, in others they increased by 10%. Pay differentiation in this case had nothing to do with social justice. Work harmful to health or overtime in accordance with the collective agreement is paid under other headings. Naturally, the trade union could not agree with such an interpretation of the joint document. The administration took the union’s refusal to accept the ultimatum at the negotiations on July 27, 2006 as a reason to completely stop them and take more decisive action. 

The plant administration had been carrying out secret “anti-union” actions in Kantor’s interests since April 2006. Meetings of workers were held in the workshops, at which calls were made to accept the position of management. The meetings were absolutely illegal, since interference in the affairs of trade unions is unacceptable within the framework of the law. Maybe the employer was guided by the laws of another country? 
 

Criminal case No. 9623 


But Akron’s management, urged on by its unscrupulous owner, eventually ended up directly violating the law. One summer, FSB officers visited the enterprise. With a search warrant. As a result, FSB officers discovered and seized listening devices in the trade union leader’s office, as well as in the assembly hall. On June 27, the prosecutor’s office of the Nizhny Novgorod region opened criminal case No. 9623 regarding the installation of “bugs.” 

In the materials of the operational investigative activities of FSB officers, the “customers” of the “wiretapping” are directly indicated: “The management of the enterprise instructed employees of the factory security service to organize covert surveillance of the chairman of the trade union committee S V. Yan, who is also a deputy of the regional Duma. Deputy Head of the Security Department V.M. Ivanov instructed Security Service officer A.G. Buntsykin to purchase special technical means of covertly obtaining information from Olga LLC, which, as it turned out, did not have a license for this type of activity. The purchased technical means were used to obtain information about the private life and professional activities of S. V. Yan, recording his negotiations with members of the trade union committee related to the failure of the Acron administration to fulfill the terms of the collective agreement regarding wage increases. Also, security officers of the enterprise illegally entered the office of the trade union organization, opened and inspected safes and work desks. The head of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Novgorod Region, police colonel A.V. Narushevich, and one of his subordinates from the secret apparatus took part in this event for financial compensation. The materials obtained in this way regarding S.V. Yan in the form of certificates were sent to the security department of JSC Acron in Moscow to V.V. Vorobyov and N.A. Lobanov and were used by the management of JSC Acron to counteract the legitimate interests of the trade union on fulfillment of the terms of the collective agreement." 

As follows from the operational information, current law enforcement officers were drawn into illegal actions. This serves as another confirmation of the high level of interest of the enterprise administration in countering the obstinate trade union leader. However, “wiretapping” is perhaps the most harmless way of putting pressure on him. 
 

Federal Tax Service under the “spy cap” 


The fact that Kantor’s office is playing “spies” is also evidenced by another slightly more serious fact. There is information that the deputy head of the Akron security service, V.M. Ivanov, organized wiretapping not only in the office of the chairman of the trade union committee, Sergei Yan. Operational officers established that Ivanov, as the former head of the Tax Police Department of the Novgorod Region (until 2003), using his close connections in the tax inspectorate, received from some employees of this department proactive official information about the actions of members of the visiting group of the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation, which carried out financial audits. economic activities of JSC Acron. 

It is suspected that, on his instructions, security officials could conduct secret control over the activities of the tax authorities in November-December 2005 and March-April 2006. At the workplace and at the place of residence of seconded employees of the Federal Tax Service in the departmental hotel of JSC Acron, wiretapping of their telephone conversations could be organized, conversations at the workplace were monitored, and information was read from work computers. All information received was transferred in Moscow to the deputy president of the Akron holding company, Alexander Popov, and reported to the owner of the holding, Vyacheslav Kantor. 

Unauthorized wiretapping threatens the owner of Akron with the most serious consequences. Firstly, unpleasant facts affect the prestige of the enterprise as a whole and lead to alarming thoughts about what other methods the Israeli businessman uses to achieve his goals. Secondly, information about the actions of tax officials was somehow used by Akron executives. Are tax violations and schemes involving the transfer of financial resources to offshore zones hidden behind the “spy games”? 
 

"Prusak" move 


Having spoken out against Kantor, Sergei Yan overnight turned into an oppositionist to the executive branch of the Novgorod region. In July 2006, when the trade union leader and second person on the regional list of the United Russia party was at an orienteering competition, at a meeting of the branch’s political council it was decided to “lower” him on the party’s election list to 14th place. Thus, Yan in no way got into the Novgorod Regional Duma of the fourth convocation (elections were scheduled for October 8). If the trade union leader could have imagined that such a vile blow awaited him from this side of public life, he certainly would not have left the city. 

It is no secret for Novgorod residents that behind the biased party rotation is the regional governor, United Russia member Mikhail Prusak. After all, it was possible to move the current deputy, the chairman of the commission on social issues, based on any party need, say, to the 5th or 6th place. But no. Using the “stick”, the governor offered the trade union leader a “carrot” - support in the elections in a single-mandate constituency. They say that all is not lost, we must be able to negotiate. True, Yan as a deputy and legislator is completely unknown to residents of the Trade Side of Novgorod. But in electoral district No. 5, where every kid knows the trade union leader, Prusak nominated the chairman of the board of directors of Akron, Valery Ivanov, as a candidate from United Russia. 

Ultimately, in July, Sergei Yan decided to leave the Novgorod branch of the party. He announced his self-nomination and the upcoming election fight with Valery Ivanov. Governor Prusak took a clear position - he began to push candidates from the oligarch Kantor into United Russia. Apparently, Prusak and his retinue are too accustomed to flying on charter flights for various anniversaries to Kantor in Switzerland. 

And “dirty” methods against parliamentary candidate Sergei Yan were not slow to follow. In August, the organizer and manager of the gubernatorial tennis tournament “Beresta Open”, Evgeniy Zagoruiko, appealed to the regional court, having barely registered in electoral district No. 5. Zagoruiko’s chances of winning the Duma elections are the same as the tennis tournament he organized - surpassing Wimbledon. However, the “administrative Akron resource” now has a platform for open struggle with the objectionable oppositionist. Citizen Zagoruiko challenged the decision of the district election commission that registered Yan as a candidate for deputy. According to the sports functionary, the trade union leader must be removed from the elections, since the signature lists in his support in the column “Residence Address” did not indicate the name of the subject of the Russian Federation - the Novgorod region. 

The court, having studied the documents of the election commission, found that all the required 500 signatures of the candidate for deputy Yan complied with the norms and requirements of the law. On September 8, the court responded to the defender of Russian law as follows: “... the concept of “residence address”, based on the purposes and meaning of the electoral legislation, is of a general nature and provides for the indication of a specific address in order to reliably identify the voter and his expression of will... Taking into account that the city Veliky Novgorod is a subject of the Russian Federation - the Novgorod region, there is no other city with the same name in the Russian Federation, the court considers... that the absence of the indication “Novgorod region” does not prevent the unambiguous perception of this information and excludes a different interpretation of the data on the address of residence.” Citizen Zagoruiko’s claim was thus denied, and Sergei Yan won his first electoral victory even before the start of the elections. However, it might not have happened. 
 

Strange accident 


The accident, as a result of which the life of Sergei Yan almost ended, can be called suspicious, to say the least. On August 25, the multiple winner of orienteering tournaments and candidate for deputy went to the competition in the city of Valdai in his own VAZ 2109 car. Ten kilometers from the regional center of Kresttsy, a “nine” driving in the same direction suddenly changed lanes and drove out in front of Yan’s car, which had to brake urgently. A heavy-duty truck, moving behind the trade union leader’s “nine,” crashed into the rear and literally crushed the passenger car. Ian miraculously survived in a mangled car beyond repair. 

Traffic police officers investigating the incident assumed that the driver of the “nine”, traveling from St. Petersburg, made a maneuver to avoid a collision with an oncoming heavy-duty trailer. The truck that destroyed Ian’s car is allegedly registered in Moldova. For some reason, the “accidental” victim in this, as they say, “ordinary road story” was supposed to be the opposition leader. Meanwhile, it is known that similar situations occurred with many Novgorod public figures “opposing” the current government in the recent past. According to the official version, ex-mayor of Novgorod Alexander Korsunov died under the wheels of a car. So Sergei Yan was lucky in all respects... 
 

Defeat by the unions 


Kantor’s declaration of war on trade union leader Sergei Yan, like 12 years ago, turned out to be a defeat for the oligarch. Currently, negotiations on increasing wages for Akron workers are frozen. The administration, in violation of the collective agreement, increased the salaries only of those employees whom it considered necessary. The collective dispute makes the prospects for the development of the chemical plant vague. As well as the actions of the enterprise management aimed at getting rid of “unnecessary” structural divisions. However, the owner can just as easily say goodbye to the subject of his worries and failures - Novgorod chemical specialists. In the city of Linyi, Shandong province, at the Hongri-Akron chemical company, the well-being of the oligarch is improved by more than 4 thousand residents of the Middle Kingdom. And, as practice shows, they don’t ask unnecessary questions. Sergei Yang, who was in the Chinese trade union committee, notes that the work of Hongzhi workers is built in ideologically correct communist traditions - the party and leadership are always right! “We have different platforms!” – sighing, states the Novgorod trade union leader. 

Insert: 
In the first half of 2008, Acron’s profit amounted to $1.2 billion. But these excellent indicators of their hard and dangerous work do not in any way affect the well-being of the “serf” workers. 
 

*** 

Sergei Yan: “The governor supported the oligarch” 


The leader of the Akron chemical plant trade union, Sergei Yang, is Korean by nationality. The combination in the character of the 53-year-old regional Duma deputy and public figure of traditional Eastern wisdom and the love of freedom of the ancient Novgorodians raised a surprisingly friendly and decent person. It is not surprising that the owner of the plant, Vyacheslav Kantor, was never able to win him over to his side. 

In the summer of 2006, following the positional “administrative” war declared on the intractable Jan by the mineral and fertilizer “baron” Kantor, more “understandable” methods followed. Listening devices were installed in the trade union leader’s office, and then he was “lowered” from the regional party list of United Russia and tried to be removed from the elections. Finally, on August 25, Sergei Yan was almost run over by a heavy truck on the Rossiya federal highway. Would you say this is all a coincidence? This is what the trade union leader would like to believe... 
 

The contract is not more expensive than money... 


Corr.: Sergey Vasilyevich, please explain what the collective agreement of Acron employees with the management of the enterprise is and why, due to its non-compliance, an explosive conflict situation arose at the plant and in the region? 

Sergey Yan:  The agreement was concluded on May 22, 2002. The latest revision dates back to May 2005. It is valid for 3 years. The contract contained clause 2.1.1. in the “Payment” section, which reads: “Together with the trade union committee, analyze at least once a quarter the ratio of the index of growth in prices for consumer goods, based on data from official sources for the Novgorod region, with the index of growth in average wages at the enterprise. Based on the financial capabilities of the enterprise, in agreement with the trade union committee, increase the wage fund of the enterprise in accordance with the index of rising prices for consumer goods. The distribution of the amount of the wage fund between the structural divisions of the enterprise should be carried out in agreement with the trade union committee”... Is this a normal point? Some things still did not suit both us and the employer... Every quarter we resumed negotiations on increasing wages, argued, argued, and then we and the employer came up with the idea of increasing wages once at the beginning of the year, so that indexation would proceed ahead of schedule. Everyone thought it was beneficial and agreed to make changes. As a result of these agreements, the agreement of November 16, 2005 was born. It was included in the collective agreement as an integral part, replacing the previous version of clause 2.1.1. 

– Did Akron owner Vyacheslav Kantor agree with the new version of this clause of the collective agreement? 

- How could he not know about it, if only his interests are defended by the management and managers of Akron? After all, our collective agreement was signed not with Kantor, but with the general director. The owner was well aware of this point and agreed. The same general director Ivanov argued from the podium that with the adoption of this edition, the agreement became more progressive. Moreover, at the end of 2005, I discussed the plans of the Russian government with the management of Acron. Despite the inflation forecast of 8–10%, we verbally agreed to increase wages by 15% so as not to return to this issue until the end of 2006. 
We issued a rather harsh trade union leaflet, in which we pointed out to the workers of the enterprise that our rights were being violated. True, then the employer said: “We would have promoted you if you hadn’t started performing!” 

– Have you personally met with Kantor? 

– Yes, in March I called and met with Kantor in Moscow. He did not set any conditions for this meeting. We just chose a day when it was convenient to do it. Antonov and other members of the board of directors attended the meeting. When the conversation turned to raising wages, Kantor said that the negotiations were entrusted to Akron CEO Ivanov and it was necessary to find a compromise. I saw that Kantor was aware of events, but was not particularly interested in the situation. Then I was sure that we would find a common solution. Now, if I went back in time, I would have been more persistent in discussing this topic, because further negotiations did not lead to anything. 
 

Oligarch against United Russia 


– Why did the relationship between employee and employer take on such harsh forms? 

– The situation became more complicated before May 1, 2006, when we began to prepare for the rally. He was absolutely not “anti-administrative”. We walked under the slogan “A decent salary for a working person!” When this event was being organized, the team was subject to extreme pressure. The heads of the units recommended not to go to the rally, it was argued that this was almost a provocation, they suggested going to their dachas, etc. But May 1 is a public holiday. Under the same slogan, by the way, approved by United Russia, all Russian workers spoke out. 

After May Day, we began to discuss the possibility of picketing the Akron shareholders meeting. The employer again made a statement to postpone the picket to a later date, saying that Chemist Day was approaching. In June, it was promised to return to the negotiation process. We met halfway again. 

The administration proposed increasing the wage fund by 6.1%. Moreover, even this percentage was differentiated among different workshops. We had a practice where salaries in main workshops increased by 10%, in auxiliary workshops, say, by 6%. And in this case, one document contained a salary increase of 6.1% and a breakdown of the rate by workshop. It turned out that if the trade union committee did not agree, then this would affect the interests of the workers, who were promised higher percentages of payments. The typical tactic is divide and conquer. We were put in an extremely difficult position and were sure that we had no choice but to agree. But we didn’t agree. They said that we will not deviate from the demands and will pay financial assistance to workers who have lost money. 

After this, the situation became extremely tense. Around this time, in early June, listening devices were also discovered. By the way, at the end of July I wrote a letter to Kantor, in which I asked to look into the facts of illegal wiretapping and noted that the current situation at the enterprise was, to put it mildly, abnormal. Kantor didn’t answer me. He once again entrusted the answer to his subordinates, in this case to President General Director Antonov. 
 

“I didn’t believe that our meetings were being bugged!” 


– How did law enforcement agencies know that your conversations were being tapped? 

- Elementary. There are people in Akron’s security service who are offended. They were fired as a result of the reorganization of this division, because the management of the concern decided to use the services of an external security company. The fired people, of course, were very offended. They most likely gave the tip. When the FSB officers entered my office, they already knew what and where to look. Specialists drew up a report, invited the security service, and conducted a search and inspection. In my office, the “bug” was under the window sill, another was installed in the meeting room. 

The listening equipment was apparently installed in April of this year, before the May rally. Trade union members in this case are not the initiators of the appeal to the investigative authorities, but as witnesses. I was asked, if my personal information could fall into the wrong hands, to also act as a victim. I refused because I did not notice the interference in my privacy. On the contrary, this is interference in the affairs of a public organization and pressure on me as its leader. 

– What did the “listeners” manage to find out? Which union initiatives were destroyed? 

“We were discussing the May Day rally then. We discussed the possibility of holding a picket at the shareholders meeting. There was also this point: we decided to pay compensation in addition to wages if the workers, to whom the administration offered a 10% increase, consider that they are suffering material losses due to the union’s demands to increase the wages of all Akron workers by 8.7%. We completed the decision, preparation of documentation, agreement with the bank - in a word, all the organizational moments - within a week. When the decision was made at the trade union committee, it turned out that the administration already knew about it. Some trade union committee chairmen came with ready-made arguments against the initiative. The management in this case clearly acted proactively. 

– Did you personally have suspicions that the meetings were being bugged? 

- Were. Some trade union members reported that technical services took your keys and looked at something in your office. We laughed some more: “Maybe they’re eavesdropping!” I didn’t believe it - what are we having, Cold War times? 

– In your opinion, who is behind such dirty methods? 

– I think these are the methods of our employer. Hardly the governor. I am offended that the then governor Mikhail Prusak did not support the position of ordinary workers and mine as the deputy of the regional branch of United Russia. It turned out the other way around. The governor supported the administration of a private enterprise. Including elections to the regional Duma. I have been a member of the United Russia party almost since its founding. And now the executive director of Akron, Vladimir Gavrikov, is accepted even without a probationary period and is placed in third place on the electoral list. The Chairman of the Board of Directors, General Director Valery Ivanov, is recommended for a single-mandate constituency. I am nominated by the trade unions, and on the lists they put me in unfavorable 14th place. 

– Well, the opinion of Akron workers and employees was an empty phrase for Prusak? 

- The employer is closer. 
 

“The prosecutor’s office will look into the facts of pressure on the team” 


– Are you experiencing pressure from the administration of the enterprise and the region? 

– Trade union members and ordinary workers have been under pressure for a long time. On August 1, 2006, I was forced to contact the prosecutor’s office. Investigators are now looking into this case. The reasons for applying are as follows. The trade union committee decided not to agree with the increase in the wage fund by 6.1%, since the analysis of statistical data established that inflation is much higher and wages need to be increased by at least 8.7%. In response, the administration held meetings of shop committees, at which decisions were made that the shop, they say, agreed with the administration’s proposal. But excuse me, no one has the right to hold such meetings of collectives, besides the trade union! And today they took place in almost every workshop. I don’t hold meetings of shop managers, I don’t demand they fulfill plans, I don’t interfere in the work of the executive and general directors. Trade unions are independent! Today some of the workers are afraid of administrative retaliation, others do not want to interfere in what is happening. 

– Who exactly is behind the administrative pressure initiative? 

– Such instructions can be given by the executive director or manager, but in any case these people are representatives of the employer. And these instructions are coming. The prosecutor’s office is looking into the circumstances of these violations in more detail. I think the conclusions should be positive. 

– To what do you attribute the attack on yourself personally and, in particular, the fall from 2nd to 14th place in the regional list of United Russia? 

– I associate this with my professional activity. And with the position that I took in relation to the employer’s labor responsibility. Last year we discussed my participation in the elections from Akron to the regional Duma. There were no questions. I won’t say that there was a direct agreement with the same Prusak, but it was clear that I was following the lists of United Russia. In the list newly compiled by the governor, only directors and deputy directors of enterprises have valid positions. But Prusak once invited all public organizations to nominate their candidates. 
 

“The owner is not in touch” 


– Who, in your opinion, initiated the party reshuffle? 

– The owner, although I have no direct evidence. I tried to call him a couple of times and ask him. I asked the secretaries to put me in touch with Kantor. This is necessary on many other issues, because after the March meeting we had no contacts... Well, I tried, made calls, proposals. But he doesn’t contact me now. When we said “no” at the last negotiations, on July 27, emotions began in the administration. Akron executive director Vladimir Gavrikov said that I am stubborn for the sake of elections. But I said that I was ready to refuse elections to the regional Duma if the issue of increasing wages was resolved positively. For me, the trade union is a matter of principle. 

– What do you think caused the road accident on August 25, in which you almost died? 

– I believe that this is a normal traffic accident. They happen in thousands on our roads. 

– Are you not afraid of further confrontation in your relationship with the owner of Akron? 

- Hard to tell. Kantor and I have a very “warm” relationship. 
 

*** 


PS  In conclusion, we note that in October 2006, Sergei Vasilyevich Yan won a convincing victory in the confrontation with the chairman of the board of directors of Akron, V. Ivanov. In April 2007, Sergei Yan described the current situation as tense: “The decisive conflict is being held back by the criminal case brought against five Akron security officers.” It turns out they didn’t just install wiretapping.” 

In great confidence, Ian said that they tried to open the safe and check the documentation - open and closed in the safe. Trade union committee employees, as he explained, act as witnesses. 
 

Private bussiness. Yan Sergey Vasilievich 
 

Deputy of the Novgorod Regional Duma of the fourth convocation, member of the social policy committee, chairman of the trade union committee of JSC Acron. 

Born on December 31, 1953 in the village of Komarovo, Lyubytinsky district, Novgorod region. In 1973 he graduated from the Novgorod Technical College of Electronic Industry with a degree in production of semiconductor devices. In 1973 – 1975 served in the communications regiment of the GRU special forces of the General Staff of the Armed Forces near Leningrad. In 1975, he worked as an instrumentation and automation electrician in the ammonia workshop of the Azot Production Association. 

In 1984 he graduated from the Leningrad Financial and Economic Institute with a degree in industrial planning. Since October 1986 - permanent chairman of the trade union organization "Azot" (since 1993 - "Akron"). Re-elected four times. Awarded the Order of Labor Glory, III degree. 

In 1994 he graduated from the North-Western Academy of Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation with a degree in manager. 

In 2006, he was elected as a deputy of the Novgorod Regional Duma. 

Candidate for master of sports in orienteering. Winner and prize-winner of regional and all-Russian competitions. Married, has two daughters. 

Insert: 
There are only 26 seats in the Novgorod Regional Duma. Half are on party lists, half are single-mandate candidates, 14th place on the list of Sergei Yan’s “United Russia” is an outright mockery 

Yuri Naumov 
 

*** 

“Akron” against the backdrop of the crisis 

Reducing wages and working weeks is all that V. Kantor could come up with 


For many years - either seven or eight - years in a row, Acron was annually recognized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs as “the best enterprise in Russia.” The financial crisis put everything in its place. A drop in production volumes by more than 50%, a reduction in wages and working weeks - this is all a current reality. 

But even in these difficult times, V. Kantor does not change his principle of aggressive business, primarily at the expense of partners and the state. At the end of 2008, the Kommersant newspaper published a lengthy interview with Alexander Popov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC Acron. The photograph of A. Popov published on this spread was taken by us from this issue of the newspaper. She is eloquent in her own right. And it perfectly illustrates the complete independence of V. Kantor from the existing political system of the country. 

But A. Popov’s material in Kommersant is interesting not only for this photo. It was written with a simple goal - firstly, to identify Acron’s problems with sales, which it is successfully solving, and secondly, to give those in power a bright idea that if they take away 20% of its shares from Apatit OJSC , then together with the shares controlled by Acron, a good package will arise, based on which it is possible to cut the single organism of Apatit alive, and pack almost half of the capacity into a new legal entity controlled by Acron OJSC. 

“If in the near future the state nevertheless shows the will and regains these securities, it will receive almost 27% of the voting shares of Apatit.” Our subsidiary Nordic Rus Holding has another 10% of voting shares. There are also smaller shareholders who have a few percent. 

In this situation, on the basis of the Federal Law “On Protection of Competition”, the Federal Antimonopoly Service may recognize OJSC Apatit and the Phosagro group as repeat offenders, that is, persons who constantly violate this law, and decide to reorganize Apatit in the form of division. This practice is widely used throughout the world, when a company that has a dominant position and regularly abuses it is divided into several independent parts.” 

A. Popov, from an interview with the Kommersant newspaper 

Formally, there is nothing new in A. Popov’s idea, just the second edition of the 1997 project on the creation of a state-owned company (under the control of Acron OJSC) “Mineral Resources”. Then V. Kantor actually managed to seize control of the Kirovo-Chepetsk chemical plant for 4 months. 

But in fact, this resembles another attempt to line one’s pocket at state expense and at the expense of contractors. According to the competitive conditions, Acron must, no later than 2010, begin mining apatite ore at the Oleniy Ruchey deposit, enriching it and producing apatite concentrate. But this requires money, and a lot of it. Why spend it if there is a state that will take away Apatit’s mines, processing plant, and infrastructure in addition, and give all this goodness for free to V. Kantor? And his long-standing dream of raw material security will come true, because the capacity of any of the processing plants of Apatit OJSC will be enough to process ore from Oleniy Brook, and for ore from mines and open-pit mines that, according to V. Kantor’s cunning plan, will move away from “ Apatit" to the new company. 

Any business, and big business is no exception, is always a matter of faith. Whether shift sellers at a street stall trust each other, whether counterparties in large businesses trust each other - a lot depends on this. You can never trust V. Kantor, in any matter. One gets the feeling that for him a business partner is just a cash cow, and nothing more. When in 2003–2004 it became clear that it was time to shut down offshore trading, completely legal schemes were developed to withdraw assets from V. Kantor’s enterprises. Today, when there is a crisis and unconventional methods of withdrawing assets have exhausted themselves, it is necessary to come up with something new. 

And this “new thing” has not only been invented, but is fully formalized and is already in effect. In June 2008, Acron OJSC registered Agronova International Iac in the United States. It was reported that this was done to break into the American market. 70 thousand tons of ammonium nitrate have already been shipped to this company. I wonder when the revenue for this product will appear in Akron’s accounts? And to what extent? 

And at the end of December, V. Kantor acquired the company Beijing Yong Sheng Feng Agricultural Means of Production Co., Ltd. in China. (registered in the People’s Republic of China), which holds a state license to trade mineral fertilizers in China, both imported and locally produced, as well as to trade other chemical products. All necessary licenses and approvals from Chinese government authorities for the activities of a company with foreign capital have been obtained. Yong Sheng Feng has direct contracts with wholesale and retail fertilizer distributors throughout China. 

But, characteristically, this acquisition was made not by Acron itself, but by its American “daughter”, which is the legal owner of the Chinese distributor. And that’s the whole point of the operation. The offshore scheme must be hidden so cleverly that no one will ever notice it. And to do this, we need to get rid of clearly defined contract prices; they simply should not exist in nature. Acron ships fertilizers to China under a consignment agreement (without payment, for sale) to the warehouses of the Chinese subsidiary of the American Agronova. There the goods are sold, the proceeds are transferred to the US accounts of the American Agronova as the owner of Chinese distribution. And only then does it go to Akron or the Dorogobuzh enterprise. How much the goods were sold in China, how much profit was hidden in the USA is a great secret and inaccessible to our tax authorities. What V. Kantor deigned to show as revenue in the accounts of enterprises is the ultimate truth. 

It is due to this scheme, as experts believe, that Acron was busier than many Russian agrochemical enterprises in the winter of 2008–2009. Fertilizers were shoved into Chinese bases, although in Russia the Russian Agronova has a fairly decent distribution network in the regions. But in Russia the “commodity-offshore scheme” will not work, everything is clear and transparent. But the scheme with a Chinese marketer and an American offshore is much more interesting in a commercial sense than simply supplying fertilizers to Russian farmers. 

In mid-January 2009, Acron OJSC applied to the Ministry of Industry Commission for Support of the Chemical Industry with a request for a loan of $500 million. The fact that V. Kantor has been salivating for state money for a long time can be clearly seen from A. Popov’s interview. 

“Of course, we would like to receive funding from the state. But, unfortunately, our lobbying capabilities are not comparable with the lobbying capabilities of Gazprom, Rosneft and other companies in the oil and gas sector. All our attempts in recent years to receive some kind of government assistance have ended in nothing. The company worked at the expense of its own resources, by attracting loans, but not from the state, but from commercial banks and foreign banks. I don’t think the situation will change in the near future. It is clear that now, in conditions of a sharp decline in income, there is significantly less opportunity to finance investment projects.” 

But here I’m tempted to ask: why was it necessary to withdraw at least $1 billion from Akron and Dorogobuzh over the last 3 years? To go begging now? Or V. Kantor considers his only what has already been exported to Switzerland and Israel, and considers assets in Russia not as a real socio-economic object, not as real production that provides work and bread for more than 7 thousand Russians, but only as structure that generates its own cash flow? 

Most likely, this is the case. Only this approach can explain the withdrawal of working capital from V. Kantor’s enterprises and their replacement with borrowed funds from the state. By the way, it’s also not that difficult to get them out of the company. In commercial terms, this practice is very convenient. After all, commercial risks are transferred to the state. If the time comes when V. Kantor finally gets tired of Russia, in which he has a “headache,” and he decides to retire, then there is always a good option at hand: to withdraw from all enterprises, including the state holding created at the suggestion of A. Popov after the division of Apatit, everything that is possible. And then go for permanent residence to Switzerland or Israel. And for investigators who will look into a possible criminal case of premeditated bankruptcy, the international press will talk about the political persecution in Russia of the famous businessman and major international public figure Vyacheslav Kantor, which was launched on anti-Semitic and other near-political grounds.  Kantor’s experience in fighting in the information space is simply enormous. And he will have nothing to fear. Interpol does not deal with economic crimes, and the withdrawal of assets is in no way used for terrorism or the use of violence. Source:  Kommersant, A. Popov 
  






 

*** 


The fact that V. Kantor has become a problem for our political system is already so obvious that it does not require proof. It is also clear that no one is going to give him half of Apatit or 500 million dollars. 

But today, during the international financial crisis, another circumstance has become obvious. The competent authorities must understand the question: does V. Kantor’s economic activities at JSC Acron and JSC Dorogobuzh Mineral Fertilizers cause direct economic damage to Russia? These are not only operations similar to the withdrawal of assets from their enterprises, these are not only new ingenious offshore trading schemes. This also undermines Russia’s trade balance and creates problems for the manufacturer in the export market of apatite concentrate. After all, having received half a million tons of concentrate per year according to a court decision in 2005, and at absolutely ridiculous prices, today, at the beginning of 2009, Acron is able to process less than half of the raw materials. And the rest is sent for export. Moreover, with good profitability for Kantor and JSC Acron, amounting to 60–80%. But at the same time, it is much cheaper than the traditional export prices of Apatit OJSC. 

It is unlikely that the increase in Kantor’s wealth in Switzerland and Israel due to the ruin of Apatit OJSC and two polar cities, for which the plant is a city-forming plant, corresponds to Russian national interests. 
 

Our comment 


Now, while this issue of the magazine is being typed, there are no mass layoffs at Akron yet. There are only part-time work, reduced pay and unpaid holidays, which is very close to dismissal. It is already obvious to everyone that this is just the beginning. So these are still the beginnings, but the fruits will be at the end of the first quarter of 2009, when mass layoffs begin. 

This is all clear. But something else is unclear. Why withdraw dividends from the enterprise in the amount of almost $150 million during the crisis, which could have served as a good safety net for the workforce? Or did the shareholders decide to survive the crisis while sitting on this cushion themselves? And let the workers be content with a part-time work week and a quarter of their usual earnings? Truly, to whom cabbage soup is empty, and to whom pearls are small. 

You can never trust V. Kantor on any issue. For him, a business partner is just a cash cow, and nothing more. 
 

*** 

Clearing the rubble 

Governor of the Novgorod region Sergei Mitin: “These are not threats, these are reminders of personal responsibility” 


Unlike Mikhail Prusak, the new Novgorod governor is not going to flirt with billionaire Kantor and act to the detriment of the residents of the region. His position is clear - to ensure social security of the population. Therefore, it is not at all by chance that the head of the region at the end of November made a statement to Novgorod journalists that he intended to write “greetings” letters to the owners and managers of large companies located in the region. 

“These are not threats, these are reminders of personal responsibility and the need to clearly monitor the situation at enterprises,” said Sergei Mitin, adding that he will send the first such letter to the management of Acron. 

As REGNUM previously reported, in early October the chemical holding Acron announced a reduction in production volumes at plants in Veliky Novgorod, the Smolensk region and China. An official statement from the company’s management stated that there are no plans to reduce personnel at the enterprises. However, according to the Akron trade union committee, in early November, several dozen employees of the Novgorod enterprise who were not involved in the main production were sent on unpaid leave. 

Let us recall that due to the strict control position of the new administration, Acron JSC is the largest taxpayer in the Novgorod region. The company currently employs about 6 thousand people. And let’s hope that after the governor’s “reminder”, Cantor will not take it out on the workers for his economic failures. “Chicago” will not happen again in Veliky Novgorod. 

Source:  "IA REGNUM" 
 

*** 

State Corporation named after. Vyacheslav Kantor 

Managing other people’s assets, and very preferably at someone else’s expense, is V. Kantor’s old dream 


We have already mentioned his Mineral Resources project from 1997, when he managed to briefly gain control of the Kirovo-Chepetsk chemical plant. V. Kantor pushed for a similar project with Belaruskali (also at the state level) in 1999. But the issue quickly stalled due to the instability of the Belarusian authorities. 

And here is a new twist in the topic, the creation of the Salt of the Earth state corporation, to which Acron is ready to submit licenses for the development of the Oleniy Ruchey apatite-nepheline ore deposits in Khibiny and for the Talitsky section of the Verkhnekamsk potassium-magnesium salts deposit in the Perm Territory. A message about this was simultaneously published on January 27, 2009 by Vedomosti and Kommersant. But in the first version, Acron is ready to give the state 50% - 1 share in the new state corporation, and in the second - only 25% + 1 share. And in any case, the chairman of the board of directors of Acron, Alexander Popov, is asking the state for a 10-year credit line in the amount of $2 billion. It is quite appropriate to recall here that Oleniy Ruchey went to Akron for free, at some “investment competition” in October 2006, and the Talitsky site was bought at auction in March 2008 in a fierce struggle with Uralkali for $680 million. 

The mechanism for deceiving the state is already obvious. Acron immediately estimates its investments at more than $2 billion (according to Vedomosti, according to the 50% - 1 share scheme), or more than $6 billion (according to Kommersant, with a government stake of 25% + 1 promotion). 

Well, then the possible scheme for withdrawing taxpayer funds into V. Kantor’s pocket is obvious. Both fields will be developed using government funds. Cheap raw materials, potassium chloride and apatite concentrate will go to V. Kantor’s enterprises. And the profit center will be hidden in the American Agronova according to the already described commodity-offshore scheme. 

For bargaining with the state, V. Kantor had a couple more trump cards up his sleeve. Without a doubt, he is ready to give the Chinese Hongri-Akron plant, which he bought in 2002 for $60 million, to the new state-owned company, as well as a license for geological exploration of potassium salt deposits in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, acquired in the summer of 2008 for just a few million dollars. We have already written in detail about the Chinese factory. He’s not worth a good word. And the situation with the geological exploration license is simply funny. Does V. Kantor seriously expect to find potassium in Canada when Rio Tinto and BHP Billliton have trampled down everything that is possible there a long time ago? 

V. Kantor may also try to sell used equipment from an Italian ammonia plant to the state. But this is unlikely. After all, about $200 million was written off from Dorogobuzh’s balance sheet for this scrap metal. And any specialist, if you show him all this, will begin to have a fit of homeric laughter. 

It is also obvious which assets V. Kantor will never give to the new state corporation. First of all, these are its production facilities, JSC Acron and JSC Dorogobuzh. After all, this is the basis of his business process, the center for generating newly created value. By any means he will maintain under his direct control, without any representatives of the state, the American Agronova and the Chinese marketer - the company Beijing Yong Sheng Feng Agricultural Means of Production Co., Ltd. (registered in China). After all, this is the core of his commodity-offshore scheme, the center of accumulation of profits likely removed from taxation. 

But V. Kantor’s appetite is not limited to claims for the state’s $2 billion. He understands perfectly well that while the process of developing the deposits, primarily Oleniy Brook, is underway, profits must flow. And he has no other source of raw materials, except for the concentrate from OJSC Apatit. Therefore, you can try to combine the shares of Apatit, approximately 27%, which may go to the state, and the shares of Apatit, owned by Nordic Rus Holding (51% owned by Acron OJSC), approximately 10%. 

The likelihood that Acron will push through the corridors of power to split Apatit into two enterprises in a ratio of 37:63 between the state corporation and the PhosAgro holding is not very high. But with the help of Kantor’s traditional set of tools, such as PR in all its manifestations, including pressure on counterparties, authorities, the use of the international press, etc., you can try to divide the sales of Apatit. According to expert forecasts, V. Kantor’s enterprises will receive 37% of the concentrate production volume, and at shop cost prices, i.e., the costs of mining and ore enrichment, and that’s all. And the rest can be taken by PhosAgro, and let this company have a headache about how to maintain the infrastructure, where to look for funds for the excavation and development of new mines and open-pit mines, how to prevent production volumes from collapsing in 2015–2018, when the existing facilities begin to be retired. The logic is clear: just like Akron, it’s free. Let PhosAgro pay for everything else. 

In this scheme with Apatit shares, V. Kantor will diligently ignore one fact. In the shares that Nordic Rus Holding still de jure owns, the contribution of Acron itself is only 2% of the 10% available. The remaining 8% of shares is a contribution that belongs to the Norwegian concern Yara. And because of these actions, a trial is already underway in Stockholm between Yara and Acron. 

Yara simply demands its Apatit shares back, because it has no income from them. So the risks that immediately after the creation of a new state corporation it will be drawn into international litigation are extremely high. 

V. Kantor is now making a new attempt to create another state corporation, in which, by contributing assets he does not need, he will gain full control. The pattern is clear. But, which is typical, previous attempts were formalized by lengthy justifications, national and state interests, concern for the supply of fertilizers to the Russian agro-industrial complex, etc. 

Now everything is happening extremely cynically. V. Kantor no longer needs ranting about the good of Russia and the Russian agro-industrial complex. In the coming months, we will all be able to watch a long series about the struggle between common sense and personal commercial interests of V. Kantor. 
 

Epilogue 

 

We are not sure that we were able to fulfill our task and answer the question “Who are you, Mr. Cantor?” 


We deliberately passed over in silence the question about the family situation of our hero - where his mother, wife, sons and daughter are and how they feel. 

They deliberately kept silent about his villas, estates, reception house in India, etc. Although there is a lot to paint here. We also did not mention his older brother, who lives in Israel. These details would turn a “public man” into a “private man.” Our magazine is not a yellow press; we do not relish private problems. Let someone else write about them. 

But we have the feeling that we managed to reflect the image of a public person, a person-function, quite accurately and impartially. 

Vyacheslav Kantor’s finest hour in Russia ended at the moment when his finest hour came in Europe. In January 2005, at an event in Krakow to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Vladimir Putin entered the conference room at the moment when Viktor Yushchenko, the hero of the very recent “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine, was speaking at the podium. Yushchenko’s speech was not provided for by the protocol, but Kantor could not help but give him the floor. 

It’s not difficult to guess V. Putin’s feelings at that moment. V. Putin did not invite Vyacheslav Vladimirovich to his retinue anymore. But a new star has emerged on the European stage. 

We cannot guess whether V. Kantor will become an epic business hero or whether the fate of a Geneva exile or even a hermit is destined for him. And this is probably why we are writing about him today - because tomorrow we can forget about him. 
Kantor... hmm... who is this? 

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