A contract worth 15.38 billion rubles was concluded between the directorate of the Vostochny cosmodrome and JSC Crocus, behind which is billionaire Araz Agalarov. Knowing the businessman’s approach to construction, one can easily assume: the construction will either rise in price significantly, or the deadlines for the completion of the facility will be postponed.
At one time, Agalarov directly outlined his attitude to money in one of his interviews: no matter how much you give a businessman, everything will be small. Well, frankly, and it seems to be true. At least the history of his construction contracts picturesquely confirms this thesis.
As for Vostochny, Agalarov’s company will build a very important facility here – a complex for assembling and testing the Angara launch vehicle. At the same time, the contract with Crocus was signed without competition. And not just one – in parallel, Crocus will be engaged in the gasification of spaceport facilities, on which it will earn another 907 million rubles.
In “Roskosmos” explained that the choice of the contractor fell on the “Crocus” because he already has construction capacity in the East. This is so: the Crocus cosmodrome went back in 2020. Then he also received a contract for the construction of the first stage of the airport for 28 billion rubles without a tender. It is known that Agalarov’s company was personally attracted to the construction by the head of Roskosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, shortly after he received a rebuke from the president for the fact that the deadlines for the delivery of Vostochny were being delayed and delayed, and the theft of budget money at a grandiose construction site continues. Then it seemed that Rogozin could attract Crocus on his own initiative. However, since July, former Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov has been in charge of Roskosmos, but Araz Agalarov’s position at the cosmodrome is only getting stronger. Therefore, it can be assumed that much more powerful lobbying levers worked in the interests of Crocus. In fact, the entire previous experience of Crocus Group’s development of budget contracts suggests that Araz Agalarov knows how to negotiate with officials at a very high level. And despite the often occurring scandals – failure to meet deadlines or cost overruns – every time Crocus gets away with it and soon receives a new state contract for billions.
There are many examples of this. So, for the World Cup, Crocus International built the Rostov Arena stadium. Already at the initial stage of construction, Rostekhnadzor specialists noticed that the number of piles at the base of the structure turned out to be significantly less than planned. First, the inspectors asked the contractor to stick to the project agreed with the state expertise. But he simply shrugged off these demands. The representative of the contractor publicly explained that, they say, there are fewer piles because it is required to reduce the cost of the project by 3 billion rubles. Rostekhnadzor formally had the authority to freeze the construction, but did not do so, costing a symbolic fine of 50 thousand rubles. The same scenario was repeated for a number of other deviations from the project. The contractor on the go reduced the cost of the project and retroactively coordinated the changes with the supervisory authorities. As a result, the company mastered 19.8 billion rubles and left the region. But scandals about abuses during construction in Rostov raged for a long time. In 2019, Sergey Sidash, Deputy Governor of the Rostov Region, was even detained in this case, and Nikolai Bezuglov, Minister of Construction of the region, was put on trial. Officials were accused of paying from the budget for construction work that did not meet the declared quality. The following figure was given: just by replacing the sand with a cheaper one, the contractor unreasonably received 200 million rubles.
The construction of the stadium in Kaliningrad, which was also carried out by Crocus International, ended in a scandal. The authorities of the region demanded the return of 105 million rubles from Crocus Group in the arbitration court in connection with the identified violations in the performance of the contract. As a result of the trial, the regional budget got 28.5 million rubles. Recall that Crocus International spent more than 17 billion rubles on the project. And here’s what is remarkable: the first stage of the construction of the stadium in Kaliningrad was carried out by the structures of the Summa Group of Companies of the Magomedov brothers. There were also deviations from the project, and these facts became an episode in the criminal case against the Magomedovs, who are now serving their sentences. Araz Agalarov came out unscathed.
When the stadiums were still under construction, Crocus International signed an agreement with Avtodor on the construction of a section of the Central Ring Road highway in the Moscow region. The history there is also muddy. The competition for this lot was first won by Stroygazconsulting, but then the company withdrew itself and was given a contract to Agalarov’s structures without additional bidding. The case was in 2015. And four years later, Avtodor filed a lawsuit against Crocus for 5.4 billion rubles. The main reason was that by that time the deadlines for the completion of the object had been missed by a year, and the contractor kept inflating and inflating the estimates. The former head of Avtodor, Sergei Kelbakh, who signed the contract with Crocus, even fell under a criminal case. According to investigators, in 2015 he agreed on the illegal payment of the commission for a bank guarantee in the amount of 3.9 million rubles by Gazprombank to the Koltsevaya Magistral company and the “illegal provision” in 2017 of an additional advance payment to Crocus International by Araz Agalarov in the amount of 2 billion rubles. . The Investigative Committee believes that Kelbakh, being the head of Avtodor, “unjustifiably used” budget allocations and funds from the National Wealth Fund intended for the construction of the Central Ring Road in 2014-2018, and also abused his powers. The fall before last, Kelbakh was placed under house arrest until December 11, 2021, since then no activity has been heard in this case. Meanwhile, the claim of Avtodor against Crocus International for the recovery of 5.4 billion rubles was returned by the Moscow Arbitration Court to the plaintiff without further explanation.
Crocus, meanwhile, has completed construction work, having mastered about 52 billion rubles on the Central Ring Road. Initially, the Crocus site was estimated at 48.9 billion. For this money, the company built 50 kilometers of the road. And now Araz Agalarov’s company is taking on a much more important facility, during the construction of which so many violations have already been committed that it is a priori clear that only contractors with an impeccable reputation can continue to work on Vostochny. Does Roskosmos really not understand this? Or, when choosing Agalarov’s company, were they guided by some other interests?
Araz Agalarov was born in Baku in 1955. He made a career along the party and trade union lines. In 1989 he founded the Soviet-American enterprise Crocus International. According to popular legend, the company made money by exporting Russian souvenirs and importing American computers. According to an alternative version, the main source of initial capital for Agalarov was the Shafran cooperative, which held either outlets in Moscow markets, or the markets themselves as a whole. Such an episode has been preserved in the criminal chronicle. In 2006, Azerbaijani thief in law Ikmet Mukhtarov was shot dead in Moscow. The police considered this murder an episode of the war between the Azerbaijani and Chechen clans for control over the capital’s markets. The body of authority was found in a Mercedes, which belonged to Rail Zeynalov, who was listed as a co-founder of Crocus International.
Then Araz Agalarov became famous all over the world by hosting the Miss Universe contest organized by Donald Trump in his Crocus City. At the same time, the idea of building a skyscraper in Moscow called Trump Tower was announced. True, Agalarov and Trump did not have a public business, but a scandal did. In 2017, Donald Trump Jr. published correspondence with music critic Rob Goldstone. Goldstone tried to arrange a meeting between Trump Jr. and Agalarov’s son Emin (he was already known as a singer). In the correspondence, there seemed to be a hint of the transmission of compromising evidence on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Emin Agalarov lit up in another international union. From 2005 to 2015, he was married to the daughter of the President of Azerbaijan, Leyla Aliyeva. Emin’s sister Sheila Agalarova, like him, graduated from high school in the United States and has since lived in the States.