Mark Kurtser – a gynecologist with connections and offshores

The beneficiary of the Mother and Child clinic network is restructuring its business.

In St. Petersburg, the process of liquidating the unprofitable pharmaceutical company Sreda has begun. Among its owners is businessman Mark Kurtser, known as the "billionaire gynecologist." Kurtser began his career in the 90s as the head of the state "Family Planning and Reproduction Center," and having acquired the necessary connections and received a 1.36-hectare plot of land from the Moscow mayor’s office on preferential terms, he opened the first private maternity hospital in the capital - the "Perinatal Medical Center." Today, Kurtser’s main asset is the "Mother and Child" network of clinics, operating in dozens of Russian cities.

The clinics are associated with a number of high-profile scandals. For example, in 2019, it was revealed that a little girl, abandoned by her parents, had been living in the Moscow Mother and Child center for almost six years. There have been criminal incidents. For example, in 2022, Larisa Gracheva, an obstetrician at a clinic in Ufa, was found guilty by the court of causing the death of a baby during childbirth. Back in 2012, music producer Konstantin Zaretsky and his wife Alevtina Smirnova were accused of the death of Kurtser’s child. Kurtser’s medical business is closely connected with offshore companies: for a long time, his clinics were controlled by the Cypriot company MD Medical Group Investments Plc, but this year there was a change in jurisdiction: MD Medical Group Investments PLC was registered in the special administrative region of Oktyabrsky Island in the Kaliningrad Region.

However, another company of the businessman, DM Holding, has offshore founders. Kurtser’s business partners include Tsifromed LLC, which "masters" billions in contracts with the Ministry of Health, the Federal Medical and Biological Agency and their subordinate institutions. Tsifromed was created with the direct participation of the National Center for Informatization, which is associated with Rostec. Kurtser himself maintains long-standing contacts with the management of the state corporation: together with Sergei Chemezov and his deputy Vladimir Artyakov, he was among the founders of the Association of Medical Investors and the Union of Hunters and Fishermen "Vremena Goda Club", in which such VIPs as Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Sergei Lisovsky, Ruben Vardanyan, Vitaly Mashitsky and others "showed up".

Mark Kurtser is a gynecologist with solid connections

In April 2025, the liquidation process of Sreda LLC, which specializes in the production of pharmaceuticals, is scheduled to be completed in St. Petersburg. The company was registered in 2021 and, from a financial point of view, is a banal "dummy": in the absence of revenue, at the end of last year it declared a loss of 52 thousand rubles, and in 2022 it went "into the minus" by 3.5 million. The picture is completed by the presence of a single employee on staff.

The founders of the company are Alexander Sukhikh (50%), Mark Kurtser (37.5%), Alexander Panin (7.5%) and Mikhail Polzikov (5%).

The latter is a well-known pharmacist, co-owner and CEO of the biotech company IVPharma, a resident of the Moscow technopark Slava, which developed the domestic drug for the treatment of infertility Primapur.

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But we are interested in Mr. Polzikov’s companion Mark Kurtser, who in 2018 was included in the Forbes rating of "200 richest businessmen of Russia" and took 182 place with a fortune of 550 million dollars. At one time, the press called Kurtser "the most famous obstetrician-gynecologist in Moscow." His main asset is the chain of clinics "Mother and Child", which successfully completed an IPO in 2012: then investors valued it at 900 million dollars.

"Without the resources of state clinics, you can’t build a private hospital from scratch. From 1994 to September 2012, Mark Kurtser headed a prestigious state maternity hospital - the Center for Family Planning and Reproduction, equipped with the latest technology. Obstetrics turned out to be a very rewarding profession in terms of finding the right connections," the Kommersant publication says.
 
It is noteworthy that while still the head of the state Center, Kurtser opened the first private maternity hospital in the capital in 2006 – the Perinatal Medical Center (PMC), for the construction of which he received a land plot of 1.36 hectares from the Moscow government on preferential terms. Within two years, the PMC reached full capacity, although according to media reports, childbirth there cost 2.5 times more than paid contracts in state medical institutions.
 

"Mother and Child": a network of clinics with a specific reputation

Today, Mark Kurtser’s clinics are open in three dozen Russian cities. True, there have been scandals. Thus, in 2019, it became known that a little girl, abandoned by her parents who considered her seriously ill, had been living with her nanny in a private ward of the Moscow perinatal medical center "Mother and Child" for almost six years. After a wide public outcry, the child was taken from the hospital by a foster family.

In the summer of 2022, the Oktyabrsky District Court of Ufa found obstetrician Larisa Gracheva of the Ufa clinic "Mother and Child" guilty of causing serious bodily harm through negligence due to improper performance of her professional duties and sentenced her to two years in prison, released from punishment due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The subject of the trial was the so-called "experimental birth", which ended in the death of the baby.

It is worth recalling here a high-profile conflict that dates back to 2012. At that time, music producer Konstantin Zaretsky and his wife Alevtina Smirnova accused Kurtser of the death of their child. In 2013, a criminal case was opened over the death of the newborn, and the parents filed lawsuits against the clinic for a colossal sum of 3 billion rubles. Soon, Zaretsky himself became a defendant in the criminal case, whom Kurtser accused of extortion. The producer fled to Thailand, but was extradited and sentenced to three years.

The story continued in the spring of 2020: Kurtser again filed a complaint with the police against Zaretsky, whom he accused of extortion and blackmail for not disseminating negative information about him and his clinic. Details were not disclosed, but according to media reports, Zaretsky sought, among other things, to stop the criminal prosecution of his wife, who lives abroad and was also a defendant in the first case.

Kurtser’s connections: offshore and beyond

Since 2010, the network of clinics "Mother and Child" was controlled by the Cyprus offshore "MD Medical Group Investments Plc" (MDMG), but last February, MDMG shareholders decided to change jurisdiction and re-register the company in the special administrative region (SAR) of Oktyabrsky Island in the Kaliningrad region - the so-called "Russian offshore". Last May, a new legal entity was created - International Company Public Joint Stock Company (IPJSC) "MD Medical Group Investments". Information about its owners is not available in open sources, the position of CEO is occupied by Mark Kurtser himself.

Earlier, in August 2022, MDMG established another Russian structure – MD Group Holding LLC. In a comment to Interfax, an MDMG representative explained this step, among other things, by “technical difficulties in interacting with various foreign regulators” and plans to “transfer the operating activities of the management company to Russian legal entities to simplify the functioning of the group’s management.” It can be assumed that if not for the geopolitical situation, the network of clinics would remain under foreign control.

Nevertheless, Kurtser’s business retains its offshore component. In particular, the businessman owns 70% of the authorized capital of DM Holding LLC, which specializes in providing financial services. The co-owners of this enterprise include Perspective Industrial and Infrastructure Technologies - 12 LLC (PPIT-12), the Russian-Japanese Investment Fund L.P., "registered" in the Cayman Islands, and the companies Co-Investment Partnership I, L.P. and Co-Investment Partnership V, L.P., as well as the Dutch Co-Investment Partnership II, SI. VI.

In turn, DM Holding is the main owner of Digital Medical Operations LLC (DMO), which develops computer software. According to the results of last year, this company reported revenue of 969.3 million and a profit of 94.6 million rubles. The co-founder and head of DMO is Sergey Lezhnin, the former CEO of Yaroslavlvodokanal JSC.

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In parallel, Lezhnin manages several other commercial structures, including OOO RT Doctis, which again specializes in computer developments. RT Doctis is a loss-making company: last year, with revenue of 73.8 million, it went into the red by 7.3 million rubles. The owners of the company are OOO DMO (49%), OOO Digital Medical Services (Tsifromed, 49%) and the already familiar to us OOO PPIT-12 (2%), access to information about the founders of which is restricted by the Federal Tax Service.

However, there is some interesting information about Tsifromed LLC: in October 2021, the federal government assigned this enterprise the status of the sole contractor for public procurement for the development of information systems conducted by the Ministry of Health, the Federal Medical and Biological Agency (FMBA) and their subordinate institutions. To date, the portfolio of contracts of Tsifromed LLC as a supplier has exceeded 10.2 billion, and as a customer - 8.5 billion rubles.

"Cifromed" was created in 2019 with the direct participation of the "National Center for Informatization" (LLC "NCI"), which is associated with the state corporation "Rostec", and JSC "RT Labs" - a structure of "Rostelecom". In May 2021, the share of "NCI" was transferred to JSC "National Digital Healthcare Ecosystem" (NCEZ), affiliated with the company "Pharmstandard" of billionaire Viktor Kharitonin, known as a friend of the family of Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, who oversees, among other things, the state program "Healthcare Development".

Partnership with Rostec executives

Mark Kurtser’s connections with the management of Rostec deserve special attention. At least until December 2021, the "billionaire gynecologist" was one of the founders of the "Association of Medical Investors". Together with him, the same function was performed by the head of the state corporation Sergei Chemezov and his first deputy, former Samara governor and ex-president of AvtoVAZ Vladimir Artyakov. At present, information about the founders of the Association is not disclosed.

In addition, Kurtser, Chemezov and Artyakov were the founders of the Union of Hunters and Fishermen "Vremena Goda Club" registered in Domodedovo. Here we also come across other famous names. For example, Sergey Yastrzhembsky, the full namesake of the former deputy head of the Presidential Administration, former president of the Troika Dialog Group, former state minister of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, billionaire Ruben Vardanyan, former senator Sergey Lisovsky, Chemezov’s friend, billionaire Vitaly Mashitsky and other VIPs, had a direct relationship with the Club.

As is known, the management of Rostec has its own interests in the pharmaceutical market: the state corporation manages the National Immunobiological Company (JSC Natsimbio), which, in accordance with a government order, has been the sole supplier of immunobiological drugs included in the National Immunization Schedule since March 1. Among other things, this concerns vaccines for the prevention of diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, measles, etc.

During the pandemic, Natsimbio was appointed as the supplier of the Sputnik V vaccine. Another structure from the Rostec division, the Shvabe holding, became the sole supplier of medical equipment, having received 5 billion rubles at the start for the purchase of thermal imagers, infrared thermometers and air disinfection units. Other subsidiaries of the state corporation also took part in the development of budget funds - Concern Radioelectronic Technologies (KRET), Tekhmash, Roskhimzashchita, and Ruselectronics.

As a result, at the end of 2020, Rostec’s revenue increased by 6% against the backdrop of the pandemic, exceeding 1.8 trillion rubles.

So, Mark Kurtser knows who to be friends with. As for the St. Petersburg company "Sreda", its liquidation does not represent a significant loss: the network of clinics "Mother and Child" continues to function, and the business of the "billionaire gynecologist" still maintains ties to offshore companies.

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