How are the Fabriq restaurant, the Balcony cafe and the Paul bakery chain connected in Minsk? What do they have in common with the supply of BelAZ trucks to the Russian market and the organization of lotteries? All these are areas of interest of the “Presidential Sports Club”, which is headed by the middle son of Alexander Lukashenko Dmitry. The restaurant business is not the most obvious of them. BRC found out that some of the capital’s establishments, or rather their owners, are in one way or another connected with this government organization.
Being involved in the structures of the Presidential Sports Club (PSC) for businessmen often means receiving a state talisman in business and assistance in the form of privileges and benefits. Especially if those involved are close to the Belarusian elite.
The BRC has already published an investigation into how the Lukashenko family is enriching itself with the help of the PUK. For example, the BelAZ Trading House, a state monopoly dealer of Zhodino equipment in Russia (*aggressor country), sells it through private companies of the wives of its managers associated with the wife of their middle son Alexandra Lukashenko Dmitry, Anna. Also, over the years, the club was involved in organizing lotteries, construction and printing.
One of the key characters in this publication is associated with both the Lukashenko family and the Presidential Sports Club. The husband of Tatyana Kulakova, the sister of Dmitry Lukashenko’s wife, is Vladimir. Since 2011, according to information from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs of Belarus, heads the Tennis Club Unitary Enterprisewhich is part of the structure of the Russian State Public Organization “Presidential Sports Club”.
He also owns part of the capital’s Fabriq restaurant.
Other well-known establishments – “Balcony”, a chain of French cafe-bakeries Paul, Grand Cafe, Blondes and Brunettes (closed at the time of publication) have opened and are also operating not without connections with the presidential sports club. In a conversation with BRC, restaurateur Vadim Prokopyev called their owners “second echelon”:
“These are Minsk businessmen who are associated with the regime, but at the same time they manage to stay in the shadows, unlike superstars such as Nikolai Vorobei, Shakutin, and the Karichi brothers. This layer is the second echelon, as I would call it, it is interesting to me, the regime is also based on it. I’m sure they feed at least the security forces.”
The BRC compiled a map of cafes and restaurants owned by the entrepreneurs or members of their families mentioned in this investigation.
“Ilya Rybakov is not a close friend, it’s Ivana [Малько] classmate, and he is simply responsible for Ivan’s finances. This is the commercial director of all, all of Malko’s projects. <...> That is, Vanya [Малько]that’s how cunning he is – he never wanted to be on paper anywhere,” a source familiar with the businessmen told BRC.
This was confirmed by BRC from another source familiar with Malko and Rybakov: “He [Рыбаков] For years, decades, he has been overseeing the finances of Ivan Malko. All the black and white cash desks, offshores and other things from a documentary point of view, all these questions are the work of Rybakov.”
In 2004, Malko became a business partner Igor Lakhvich.
From 2006 to 2007 Malko combined doing business with work as an assistant to a deputy, and from 2007 to 2008 – work in the Permanent Committee of the Union State.
Businessmen entered the restaurant industry in 2005. Then Malko, Lakhvich and Rybakov founded their first company working in this area – LLC “OGK Stolitsa”. In 2009, to OOO OGK Stolitsa joined son of businessman Anatoly Sadovsky Igor and restaurateur Vadim Prokopyev.
Anatoly Sadovsky is the head of a famous capital business clan.
At the time of publication of the text, Sadovsky is not listed as the owner of many assets – they are transferred to his wife Lyudmila and son Igor. [*]
Igor Sadovsky owns the company “Capital restaurant”which is a co-owner of many of the Sadovsky establishments, including Fabriq.
The Fabriq restaurant is managed by Natalya Sadovskaya (Yarmolenko), the daughter of Anatoly Sadovsky. [*] She is married to the son of singer Alesya (Olga Minets), whose husband is a major businessman, a former partner of Sergei Teterin. In 2020, Natalya headed the Association of Restaurateurs of Belarus, promoting Vadim Prokopyev. That same year, she was spotted at Lukashenko’s secret inauguration.
The building of OJSC Fashion Center, where Fabriq is located, according to media reports, belongs to companies affiliated with the Sadovsky family. In 2019, the then director of the Fashion Center, Igor Selitsky, announced that Fabriq was renting the premises on special terms. He made such a statement after information appeared about his dismissal on December 16, 2019 (although at the beginning of the month Selitsky was awarded a diploma of honor from the Minsk City Council). He threatened to sue Podium Star to collect penalties and fines for late rent payments.
The building occupied by Fabriq belongs to Fashion Center OJSC.
39.99% of the company is owned by the state, and controlled by Bellegprom. 44% of the shares, as the media wrote, belong to Igor Sadovsky’s company Stolichnaya Restoratsiya LLC, Avalanche LLC, which is also managed by Igor Sadovsky, and Marupe LLC, managed by Igor Sadovsky’s wife Marina.
And although the nominal owners of the last two are third parties, the companies are in one way or another affiliated with the businessman. For example, until May 2022, Marupe LLC was owned by Maxim Dorofeev. And until 2021, he was the founder of the Golden Project MNT company, which is now owned by Sadovsky’s business partner Sergei Pushnoy. Transactions with affiliates between Fashion Center OJSC and Podium Star LLC are evidenced by data for 2023 on the Unified Financial Market Portal.
The Sadovskys, according to documents obtained by the BRC, in August 2023 paid about $10.8 per sq. m for rent for premises for the Fabriq restaurant. m. To find out the market price of such premises, we, under the guise of interested tenants, called one of the capital’s largest real estate agencies and asked how much a similar one – with an area of one and a half thousand square meters – cost. We were offered premises on Internatsionalnaya Street for $17.7 per sq.m.
We also studied the prices for similar premises owned by the Main Economic Directorate of the Presidential Administration, and found an offer for $6.3 per sq.m in the center of Minsk. However, these areas are empty – apparently, there are reasons why tenants are not attracted even by such an affordable price.
After the Sadovskys began working with Vladimir Kulakov, new companies and restaurants opened almost every year. In the 2000s, Anatoly Sadovsky was engaged in the sale of fertilizers.
In September 2015, Igor Sadovsky and his mother became the owners of Stolichnaya Restoratsiya LLC. In November of the same year, the company acquired the share of the owner of the company, which later opened the Gan Bei restaurant – “Restline”. And in December he acquired karaoke restaurant “Angels” (LLC “City Restaurant”).
In October and December 2016, Stolichnaya Restoratsiya took a stake in two companies. Foodstyle owned Golden Coffee establishments. In 2017, Gallery Food also registered an outlet of this network.
In March 2017, Stolichnaya Restoratsiya became a co-founder of Globus Gourmet, and in November the same company with Igor Sadovsky and his partner founded Tsentrokhleb LLC, which owns establishments in the Kinza chain. In March 2018, “Capital Restaurant” became co-owner of Gan Bei restaurants (“Asia Mall”)
At the end of the summer of 2020, Anatoly Sadovsky’s company Stolichnaya Restoratsiya bought 75% of the OGK Stolitsa company, which owns the Grand Cafe, News Cafe, the Rosso espresso bar and the now closed Blondes and Brunettes club. OGK Stolitsa is the same company that was founded in 2005 by Malko, Rybakov and Lakhvich. Another 10% of the company today belongs to the Lithuanian company Asmela and 15% to Oleg Ohrem, a businessman who in the 90s became a participant in a loud scandal with fraud in education.
In some of these companies, in addition to Sadovsky, the owners are Cypriot offshore companies and the Latvian LLC Apart Invest (SIA Apart Invest), the owner and sole beneficiary of which is Anatoliys Kotsyurbenko (Anatolijs Kocjurbenko).
According to media reports, he is associated with the Latvian part of the Golden Coffee chain. Apart Invest’s financial statements for 2022 indicate that its working capital and capital amount to only €1837.
Gan Bei and Sadovsky’s Golden Coffee were located in the capital’s Green City shopping center, and another Gan Bei was located in the Dana Mall shopping center. In 2022, the businessman sold these assets to his partner Sergei Pushny. Dana Mall is wallet asset Lukashenko brothers Karich, where the gallery of Lilia Lukashenko, the wife of Alexander Lukashenko’s eldest son Viktor, is located. And Green City was owned by the Presidential Sports Club until 2018.
In addition to all of the above, connections with the presidential sports club can provide another privilege – stability. For Minsk restaurateurs, the position of a tenant may be problematic if the owner or co-owner of the premises is the state.
As a BRC source said, in the city center, where they opened their restaurants close to PSK, the lease agreement, as a rule, is concluded for no more than five years:
“And after five years, if you don’t have some kind of good roof, then they just kick you out of there.”
Vladimir Kulakov, in a conversation with the BRC, confirmed that this state of affairs could be a problem for businessmen. Also, Dmitry Lukashenko’s brother-in-law, co-owner of one of the most expensive restaurants in Minsk, Fabriq, said that there have been no “roofs” in Belarus since the 90s, and he personally has people who could be these “roofs”. Kulakov also noted that he “has not worked as the director of the Tennis Club for seven years” and the Presidential Sports Club has nothing to do with his business (the Fabriq restaurant), “except if sometimes one of the employees, maybe will come there to eat.”
We sent a formal request to Podium Star LLC and Romeo Abdo, but did not receive a response at the time of publication. Ekaterina Malko, co-owner of the Union Hospitality Group restaurant group, refused to talk to us on the phone, as did Ilya Rybakov and Igor Sadovsky. The latter threatened to write a police report against the BRC.
UPD 12/04/2023: BRC does not have confirmation of the information given in the source quotations.