The activists entered into a confrontation with law enforcement agencies, which did not find any abuse in the “cutting” of the Yucca Forest. The region close to the northern capital froze in anticipation of a new round of investigations and arrests.
Since the end of last year, the Leningrad region has been under pressure from the security forces. One by one, several representatives of the regional authorities were detained. In December, Yury Andreev, head of the committee on the fuel and energy complex, was suspected of taking a bribe, and this week he was charged with a new charge of forcing municipal employees to conclude contracts with certain contractors. Three days before the New Year, the former head of the Lenobles department, Leonid Lagoda, was arrested, he is charged with fraud on an especially large scale – embezzlement of 2.4 million rubles from the regional budget.
In January, Oleg Zinchenko, former deputy chairman of the state property management committee, was placed in custody. He is suspected of taking bribes for allocating land plots in the Vsevolozhsk district to businessmen at a reduced cost. In February, Sergei Shalygin, deputy head of the construction committee, was arrested for extorting a bribe. His boss, Konstantin Pankratiev, was interrogated on suspicion of corruption violations and fired from his post.
In March, Daniil Fedichev, the ex-head of the ANO “Directorate for the Integrated Development of Territories” was detained in a case of abuse of power. Following him is the former vice-governor for construction, Mikhail Moskvin, who, according to investigators, received a bribe for patronage of Fedichev.
According to the Oktagon source, some detainees could write resignations retroactively. According to the interlocutors of the publication, Drozdenko is diligently trying to protect himself from any suspicion of involvement in the machinations of his subordinates. According to the same source, the issue of the governor’s resignation was considered in March, which indicates contradictions with the security forces. But the final consideration of the issue has been postponed to July – such a deadline has been set for reasons of caution in connection with the elections.
However, the noose around the governor is getting tighter: the detainees are asked not only about their actions, but also about the activities of the head of the region, as well as the vice-governor Yevgeny Baranovsky, who is responsible for construction and housing and communal services, and the head of the Vsevolozhsky district, Andrey Nizovsky. It is precisely on what is happening in the Vsevolozhsk district of the Leningrad region in recent years that security officials and activists have most often asked questions. The efforts of the latter may result in new criminal cases. True, law enforcement officers are not in a hurry to start them.
Lands of Petrov
In December 2021, environmental activists trying to save the Yukkovsky forest from cutting down and building up filed an application with the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Vsevolozhsky District. They pointed to the possible theft of municipal property and their alienation in favor of Drozdenko’s right hand, Igor Petrov (the former head of the Yukkovsky settlement, now the first vice-governor of the Leningrad Region, in charge of the anti-corruption agenda). In addition, the applicants identified a likely illegal transfer of land plots to several firms that develop territories and restrict local residents’ access to common natural resources.
During this time, the investigation tried more than once to stop the check, but the decision to refuse to initiate a criminal case was canceled by the prosecutor’s office of the Leningrad Region.
As a result, the Main Investigation Department of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region nevertheless stopped the check. But the activists did not agree with this. They plan to get acquainted with all the collected materials through the court for further appeal.
– Judging by the fact that even in the refusal the investigator mixed up the dates, for example, the approval of the general plan of the territory, he did not really get into the essence of the issue. The list of those interviewed as part of the audit is remarkable – it is quite obvious that none of the participants in the illegal scheme will admit to fraud. Another problem is that the two darkest places in the scheme of turning forest lands into lands of a settlement are not indicated at all in the answer,” activist Larisa Orlova tells the Octagon.
We are talking about several different facts related to the lands of the Yucca Forest. In more detail, the investigator’s refusal (available at the disposal of the editors) explains why law enforcement officers did not find corpus delicti in the scheme for acquiring land plots by Igor Petrov.
The activists described the story in a letter addressed to Oleksandr Drozdenko (available to the editors). From 2001 to 2005, Igor Petrov served as General Director of ZAO Radiotelecommunications Company (ZAO RTK). The letter states that, within the framework of his powers, he asked for land plots with a total area of 3.27 hectares for the organization in order to carry out design and survey work for housing construction in the village of Yukki. After the work was completed, Petrov submitted to the administration of the Yukkovsky settlement a list of allegedly 15 employees of CJSC RTK – participants in the hostilities in Afghanistan, who were entitled to receive land free of charge.
“The indicated persons were not employees of the organization, but were nominal owners, who, exactly one week after registering the ownership of land plots, all at the same time on December 27, 2004, sold their plots to Igor Petrov. Thus, the entire area turned out to be privately owned by Petrov, in relation to which his CJSC RTK carried out design and survey work, ”the activists of the Yukkovsky Forest public movement said in an appeal addressed to Alexander Drozdenko.
Igor Petrov allegedly sold some plots, redistributed others, changing the boundaries, areas and cadastral numbers, and re-registered them. As of August 2021, four of the 15 acquired properties were owned by Ekaterina Petrova, the full namesake of Igor Petrov’s mother, three were owned by Lyubov Petrova, the full namesake of his ex-wife.
But the investigator did not find any criminal intent in these facts. His response indicated that all 15 people who initially got the plots were military personnel, which means they had the right to receive them from the municipality, as well as the right to dispose of the land at their discretion. Therefore, they sold the land to four other people (including, for example, a certain M. D. Chernyakov, the full namesake of a classmate of his son Igor Petrov).
The new owners, the investigator writes, acquired plots “for their own needs, and later decided to sell them, while not acting in the interests of Petrov.”
The decisions made on the transfer of plots, as well as purchase and sale transactions, were not appealed by anyone and were not recognized as invalid; the term for bringing to justice for such serious crimes is 10 years and expired, respectively, in 2014, the investigator concluded.
It is noteworthy that against the backdrop of a special military operation (SVO), a similar idea for the allocation of land to military personnel was proposed by the current head of the Vsevolozhsk district, which includes the Yukkovsky settlement, Andrey Nizovsky. Namely: to transfer unused lands of the Ministry of Defense to municipalities, so that they, in turn, transfer them to the category of plots for individual housing construction (IZHS) and then distribute them to the participants of the SVO. The official expressed the idea at a meeting of the regional government at the end of March, and the authorities of the Leningrad region supported it.
Other provisions of the appeal of the activists to the investigators relate to building in the Yukkovsky settlement on the territory of the village of Medny Zavod, where Drozdenko has a house. There are several merchants interested in the Yucca lands. Oktagon has already written about one of them, Sevzapstroyinvest with Ural roots. Another LLC, Honka-Park, is still under the close attention of activists due to the fact that it managed to locate an elite cottage village on plots that were originally given to it for rent. As a result, the organization actually acquired the ownership of the lake, which is impossible according to the law.
This story also began in 2008. Then the company “Honka-Park” received in a long-term lease for recreation two sites that belonged to the lands of the forest fund, with an area of 34.4 hectares and 12 hectares near the village of Medny Zavod. To start active construction on the territory, it was necessary to launch several procedures.
To begin with, develop a new master plan for the village of Copper Plant. To this end, the administration of the Yukkovsky settlement concluded an appropriate agreement (available to the editors) with a contractor. According to the document, which is noteworthy, Honka-Park LLC acted as an investor, that is, it officially paid for the development of the required master plan.
Then the company applied to the administration of the Yukkovsky settlement with a request to include the leased plots within the boundaries of the village “for the purpose of housing construction” before the approval of the general plan.
“We believe that if a forest fund plot is included within the boundaries of a settlement, our organization will be able to continue building housing stock at a very high quality level, in a single architectural style, with maximum preservation of green spaces,” the text of the appeal of Honka-Park LLC says. (available to the editor).
Alexander Drozdenko, at that time the chairman of the State Property Committee, prepared and submitted to the governor for signature two relevant draft orders – No. 667 and 669.
According to them, the plots, about which Honka-Park LLC was concerned, changed the categories – from forest fund lands to plots for individual housing construction.
The Committee on Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region commented to Oktagon that in December 2010 the rights and obligations of the landlord were transferred to the MTU of the Federal Property Management Agency in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region by an additional agreement to the lease agreement, after which the powers of the committee ceased to apply to these lands.
This was followed by a series of bureaucratic upheavals, including the approval of a new master plan. As a result, the forest plots ended up in the ownership of Honka-Park LLC with a category allowed for development and together with the territory around Lake Svetloye.
Now you can approach the lake through two sites that belong to Honka-Park LLC – through security points with the permission of the head of the block development.
– When I managed to reach an agreement on a pass to the lake, a guard was assigned to me, accompanied by whom I went ashore. It was not possible to bypass Svetloye around – the site was fenced with a grid. From the point of view it can be seen that a beach is equipped on the opposite bank, wooden bridges with gazebos are arranged above the water to the left and right. It is difficult to determine whether the coastal strip is free from private development. If you are not a resident of a cottage village, you will not be able to relax on the banks of the Svetloye, – notes Larisa Orlova.
The general director of the Honka-Park company is Igor Zhdanov. He is also the founder of the HOA “Copper Lake”, where Alexander Drozdenko lives, and for some time the wife of the governor, Irina Drozdenko, was the chairman of the organization.
On all these facts, the investigator did not give a detailed answer in the refusal. Therefore, the activists demanded the materials of the check in order to finally sort out the bureaucratic intricacies and appeal against the termination of the check.
In the meantime, the head of the Yukkovsky settlement has changed. It was businessman Alexander Leonov, who two years ago was going to invest about 3 billion rubles in the construction of the Gardarika ethnopark on the territory that partially affects the village of Copper Plant.
To do this, it was necessary again, as in the late 2000s, to change the categories of forest fund lands and the general plan. The borders of the village of Medny Zavod included 40 hectares of forest fund and 95 hectares of forests belonging to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. In 2022, changes to the master plan were approved, the project is ready for implementation. If the law enforcement agencies do not have time to change the situation around the authorities of the Leningrad region, another building may unfold in the Yukkovsky settlement.