According to the British company Dun & Bradstreet, since 2014 the number of Czech companies with Russian owners has decreased by almost a third. Most of these enterprises were liquidated in the first year of the war in Ukraine. Journalists from Investigace.cz (partner of OCCRP) found outhow businessmen got rid of Czech assets Mavlit and Musa Bazhaev, Vladimir Evtushenkov And Viktor Vekselberg.
Mavlit and Musa Bazhaev (both under international sanctions) are Chechen businessmen from the environment Ramzan Kadyrov and Vladimir Putin. The Bazhaev family had a whole portfolio of development projects in the Czech Republic, but after the start of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, all companies owning or managing their Czech assets passed to new owners who do not appear to be connected with the Bazhaevs.
Until 2021, a number of their assets belonged to the Czech company Aza Trade, which the Chechens owned through the offshore Harton Engineering Ltd – later both companies were transferred under the control of the Cypriot Higglo Investments, also controlled by Bazhaev.
According to the register of beneficiaries, Higglo Investments is now owned by Rustam Mukhamedrakhimov from Kazakhstan – in his homeland he owns a network of food warehouses and Green House Trading stores. He paid almost 290 million crowns for Czech assets.
Mukhamedrakhimov’s representative told Investigace.cz that the businessman has “great experience in development, more precisely in the construction of logistics, retail, industrial and residential facilities,” and met the Bazhaevs only at the time of the deal.
Aza Trade was taken over by Elena Derbentseva at the end of last year and is now called Trabcde. According to the trade register, Derbentseva, who bought the company from the Bazhaevs for 1.8 million crowns, is the owner of the Ukrainian travel agency Voyage.
Investigace.cz learned that through another offshore, the Bazhaevs owned the Mendel Plaza company, which is to build five residential buildings in Brno with about 500 apartments. Last year, the firm was taken over by Yasser Sofyan Assad Amro of Jordan, who owns a fifth of shares in the Ukrainian travel company Cosmos Travel Star.
Investigace.cz journalists learned that since the end of January this year, Savoy Westend, through the Czech company Lunisoft, sro, has been owned by the Russian company Hotel Holding, which was founded a month after the start of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The sole owner of Hotel Holding is Elena Anatolyevna Brusilova, who has children from Yevtushenkov. Czech documents still list a Russian businessman as the owner of Savoy Westend.
In the same year, Safina was sold to Alexander Okatov, the general director of the Yekaterinburg Precious Metals Processing Plant, which for many years was part of Vekselberg’s Renova holding.
Safina’s 2021 audit report states that the war in Ukraine, however “terrible it may be in itself, does not economically affect the company’s future activities in any way, since the company does not trade with states involved in the conflict.”
Safina’s management denies that the company is in any way connected with Viktor Vekselberg.