The prosecutor’s office of the Sverdlovsk region is waiting for a big check in the near future. Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Igor Krasnov sent dozens of inspectors to Yekaterinburg, who will evaluate the first successes and failures (if any) Boris Krylovappointed chief prosecutor of the region a year ago.
It is assumed that the head of one of the departments of the Prosecutor General’s Office will head the commission. Together with him, two deputy heads of departments and the so-called “infantry” – employees of the prosecutor’s offices of other subjects of the Russian Federation – will arrive. More than 30 people in total. And one of Krasnov’s deputies will probably sum up the results – in the Ural Federal District (Sergey Zaitsev) or from the central office.
Meanwhile, informed interlocutors of the Kompromat-Ural editors believe that it makes sense for the regional prosecutor Krylov himself to pay attention to what is happening in one of the significant territories of the Sverdlovsk region – the urban district of Verkhnyaya Salda.
The tightening of international sanctions against Russia has led to an aggravation of the pre-election battles in the territories where large financial and industrial groups (FIGs) are present, colleagues from the editorial board of Kompromat-Ural report. Industrialists need control over local government to promote their projects and compete for valuable talent. Losing threatens them with the expansion of environmental protests. For the sake of victory, they are ready to confront United Russia and candidates from regional officials, but even a high result will not give them guarantees.
Verkhnyaya Salda, where the main production site of JSC VSMPO-Avisma Corporation is located, became one of the hot pre-election spots on the map of the country. This enterprise is one of the world leaders in the production of titanium products, a key partner of Airbus and Boeing. It has become one of the few industries against which international sanctions have not yet been introduced. To maintain the economic stability of a corporation, political stability is necessary. But the course of the election campaign shows that it is much more difficult for her to cope with political challenges than with market ones.
Upper Salda is a politically unique city. In eight years, five mayors have changed there, in the last two years – three. In most cases, they were forced to resign after a protracted conflict with the deputies of the City Duma, the leadership of the city-forming enterprise VSMPO and the regional authorities, or after claims from the security forces.
Retired Mikhail Savchenko in September 2020, the Department of Anti-Corruption and Control of the Sverdlovsk Region insisted. The next mayor Konstantin Noskov resigned after the prosecutor’s office suspected him of accruing bonuses to himself. current mayor Igor Salnikov was appointed in April of this year only on the fourth attempt. In order to convince the deputies, representatives of the regional authorities and VSMPO had to use all available resources.
Sanctions call for order
That is why the elections to the Duma of the Verkhnesalda urban district, scheduled for September 2022, have become fundamental for both the Sverdlovsk authorities and the leadership of VSMPO. The task was set to form an effective and really working representative body, which in the past two decades has been a collection of representatives of local heterogeneous and constantly conflicting elite groups.
Achieving this goal proved difficult. First of all, because of the tense situation around VSMPO. The plant is a key supplier of titanium products for Airbus and Boeing. A joint venture Ural Boeing Manufacturing was established at the site of the Titanium Valley SEZ in Verkhnyaya Salda.
Last spring, international aircraft manufacturing giants stopped servicing Russian aircraft. For domestic airlines, technical support for aircraft and the supply of spare parts became unavailable. In July, the issue of imposing sanctions against VSMPO-Avisma was raised at the official level. France and other European countries did not support this proposal due to fears that Russia would retaliate by banning titanium exports to the EU.
According to Oktagon sources, VSMPO management is preparing an action plan in case a negative scenario materializes. Among other things, it provides for the expansion of the domestic sales market. Political instability in Verkhnyaya Salda, where the main production site of the enterprise is located, may interfere with the implementation of this plan.
The battle of steel, silicon and titanium
Another problem for VSMPO was the creation of new large companies on the site of the Titanium Valley SEZ adjacent to Verkhnyaya Salda. The first of them is the Allegro plant. This is a joint venture of the EVRAZ Group and the railcar repair system integrator LLC Rail Service. The goal of the project is to create a modern technological production of solid-rolled wheelsets to provide end users with high-quality railway wheels.
Despite the fact that the start of production at Allegro is scheduled for 2023, the company announced a large-scale recruitment of employees, upsetting the delicate balance in the labor market in Verkhnyaya Salda. In May 2022, plant managers announced the hiring of more than 400 highly qualified specialists. Large-scale job fairs were organized to search for employees.
According to several sources, 380-400 employees left VSMPO in the following months. It will be extremely difficult to make up for their loss to the corporation.
– In Verkhnyaya Salda, there is an overabundance of low-skilled personnel, but there are few specialists with a narrow profile with a good education. Now there will be even fewer of them. This causes tension in relations between VSMPO and EVRAZ, which over time can spread from personnel to other issues, – a source from Verkhnyaya Salda explains on condition of anonymity.
But to a much greater extent, both Verkhny Saldins and VSMPO representatives are concerned about the announced construction of a plant for the production of technical silicon in the Titanium Valley. The project is being implemented by LLC Silarus (controlled by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC GC Titan, a member of the Coordinating Council of Delovaya Rossiya Mikhail Sutyaginsky). Previously, Sutyaginsky tried to agree on the location of production sites in the Omsk region, Zlatoust (Chelyabinsk region), Novouralsk (Sverdlovsk region), but each time these plans were canceled after the speeches of local environmentalists and the collection of signatures against the creation of the enterprise.
Events unfolded similarly in Verkhnyaya Salda. In May 2021, local public activists collected about 4,000 signatures against the emergence of an environmentally hazardous enterprise near the city. Later, the number of signatures reached 5,000. The Sverdlovsk authorities were forced to pause the issue, saying that the final decision would be made only after environmental and technological expertise.
One of the first steps taken by the new mayor of Verkhnyaya Salda, Igor Salnikov, was the decision to hold a public discussion of the construction of the plant in the city. “We will definitely inform residents about the place and time of public discussions. Pre-registration will not be required, I invite all active citizens of Verkhnyaya Salda to take part, ”the head of the city wrote on social networks in June this year.
The interlocutors of the editorial office report that the discussion was originally scheduled for August, but later, due to fears of the growth of protest moods during the pre-election period, at the request of VSMPO leaders, it was postponed to October.
Against this background, the preparation for the municipal elections became more complicated. The results of the United Russia primaries held in the spring of 2022 were recognized by VSMPO representatives as unsuccessful. Controversial candidates won in a number of constituencies. For example, in constituency No. 16, EP was nominated Sargis Evinyan. The website of the territorial election commission states that he had a criminal record under Article 330 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Arbitrariness”, extinguished in 2011. This year, he was mentioned in the media in connection with the purchase of an apartment in Yekaterinburg worth 39.8 million rubles.
For this reason, VSMPO staff consultants decided to nominate a second column of candidates for elections in many constituencies. They entered the virtual unregistered movement “Our House – Verkhnyaya Salda”. All candidates are employees of VSMPO or persons dependent on the corporation. Including as a self-nominated public figure, the current chairman of the City Duma is running for re-election Igor Gureev.
According to the source of the publication, in recent days, leaflets and other campaign products have been handed out to employees of VSMPO workshops not from candidates from United Russia, but from factory social activists. In their favor, most likely, the administrative resource will be involved.
Some VSMPO representatives openly criticize candidates from both sides. For example, a candidate from a social movement, the head physician of the central city hospital Oleg Perin organized a poll in social networks with a proposal to vote in what color to paint the buildings of the medical institution. The townspeople in the comments reminded the head physician that two years ago the decision to build a new hospital worth 3 billion rubles was discussed, the cost of painting the existing building is only 9 million rubles.
But the most caustic was the comment of the ex-head of the corporate newspaper, now a specialist in the trade union of the enterprise Larisa Karaseva: “We are talking about a hospital, not an entertainment center. I understand that PR is everything for a candidate.” It is worth noting that, having left the post of editor of the VSMPO newspaper, she actively joined the election campaign of the head of the trade union, who opposes the leadership of the corporation.
Third, fourth and fifth columns
According to insiders, in the current situation, some of the previously loyal VSMPO candidates entered into negotiations with other centers of influence. Among other things, there is talk in Verkhnyaya Salda about the formation of a “silicon plant column” during the elections. Adherents of this version believe that Silarus needs representation in the local Duma, which will carry out the decisions necessary for it to implement the project.
Election lists also include a large number of candidates working for EVRAZ’s Nizhny Tagil enterprises and representatives of their contractors. In the context of the construction of Allegro in the Titanium Valley, the interest of this FIG in the territory is also fully justified.
Some participants in the campaign are sure that negotiations with VSMPO opponents and candidates who disagreed with the corporation in their views are conducted by Titanium Valley. According to them, the regional authorities were concerned about the unplanned postponement of public hearings on the construction of a silicon production plant and gave carte blanche to the representatives of the SEZ to create their own representation in the Verkhnyaya Salda Duma.
But the most unexpected was the appearance in the candidate lists of the director of the GAUPSO “Editorial office of the newspaper” City Bulletin “” Irina Tankievskaya. Heading a state enterprise, she fulfills the tasks of representatives of the regional authorities in the course of her professional activities. And, most likely, she would not have put forward her candidacy without agreement with them.
Sources of the publication note that in district No. 19, Tankievskaya competes with United Russia, the acting chief physician of the Nizhnesaldinskaya Central City Hospital. Vladimir Yamangulov and self-nominated workers of workshop No. 51 VSMPO Vladimir Komissarov. Having great chances to win, she maintains informal relations with other candidates, from which, if they succeed in the elections, she can form her own faction.
Everything will be revealed the next day after the vote.
The interlocutor of the editorial office in United Russia confirmed that the party really runs the risk of losing the elections in Verkhnyaya Salda in a number of districts. However, he advised to wait until the day after the vote, when the first consultations with the winners of the elections will take place.
– Then it will become clear whether VSMPO will receive a protest council or a controlled one. Now it is difficult to predict, – said the party member.
Employees of the Nizhny Tagil enterprise “EVRAZ NTMK” and “Titanium Valley” told the correspondent of the publication that their representatives are not campaigning in Verkhnyaya Salda. The press service of VSMPO declined to comment.
The journalists sent a request for comment to the Information Policy Department of the Governor of the Sverdlovsk Region Evgeniya Kuyvashev. At the time of this article’s publication, no response has been received.