Over the past year, the inhabitants have followed with interest the formation of sanctions lists, where the West entered all the new names of Russian rich people. Now, stories about how and how successfully sub-sanctioned heroes are trying to get out of economic sanctions are becoming a special genre of light analytics. The first, as they say, went – the former governor of Sevastopol, ex-Deputy Minister of Industry of Russia Dmitry Ovsyannikov achieved the removal of personal sanctions from him in the court of the European Union.
Recently, the ex-governor of Sevastopol Dmitry Ovsyannikov became the hero of such chronicle information. He grew up in Izhevsk, graduated from the Sevastopol Instrument-Making Institute, got into the civil service in Udmurtia, and by the age of 39 had risen to the post of Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. And in July 2016, he was appointed Acting Governor of Sevastopol. He took the position of head of a very specific southern region, which includes sea bays, where the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation is based, land with airfields, vineyards and beaches, resort villages with dachas of various sizes, the Khersones nature reserve …
Ovsyannikov worked in Sevastopol for three years, all this time he was in conflict with the Legislative Assembly of the city. He won neither authority nor the sympathy of the townspeople, his activities were accompanied by criticism, not to say scandals. On September 10, 2017, the first direct elections of the head of the city took place. Sailors, conscripts were attracted to the elections of a local official. Disciplined sailors voted as ordered by the commanders. 40 thousand (fleet personnel) out of 107 thousand voters – this is more than 37%. 76,000 voters cast their votes for United Russia member Ovsyannikov, he received 71% of the vote. Such “convincing” statistics gave opponents a reason to talk about fraud and good organization of the elections among the military.
But Ovsyannikov quickly forgot the support from the sailors. After becoming governor, he first criticized the concept of developing the city as a structure for servicing a fleet base. In his opinion, tourism should have become a growth point for the city: “For this, it is only necessary to tidy up the streets, city parks, beaches, and make life comfortable for the population.”
Monetary misunderstandings began very quickly in the region, especially since Moscow allocated colossal funds to Sevastopol: subsidies still make up two-thirds of the budget revenue.
For example, in November 2016, the management of the Izumrud boarding house filed a complaint with the prosecutor’s office, complaining that Dmitry Ovsyannikov, his family and members of his team had not paid almost 4 million rubles worth of accommodation bills. They told about some of Ovsyannikov’s orders. He demanded that the tiger-painted rooms be refurbished, that a new red carpet be installed, that the televisions be replaced with plasma ones, that the furniture in five rooms be changed, and that all the curtains be new. The acting governor demanded “to coordinate all repair work and the purchase of new equipment, inventory and furniture with his representative, and the curtains must be agreed with his wife.” In addition, the official, along with members of his team, rode a boat and ordered food at a local cafe.
By the spring of 2019, 2 billion rubles allocated for the completion of the Yuzhny sewage treatment facilities (STP) in Sevastopol disappeared: the project was included in the federal target program (FTP), Moscow gave money again. Already after Ovsyannikov’s resignation, it turned out that he managed to transfer three hectares of juniper forest in Lachpi for development, personally removing a unique site from the boundaries of a specially protected natural area, contrary to the opinion of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The governor could not find a common language with the Sevastopol deputies, and then came into conflict with United Russia. Contradictions with the party influenced the removal of Ovsyannikov – this was one of the main complaints against him. According to party members from the center, “he was the initiator of the conflict with the party and did not make any attempts to resolve it, despite clear signals from the party and the presidential administration.” Ovsyannikov himself wrote a letter of resignation.
But, having not served even one full term as governor, Dmitry Ovsyannikov again received a solid post, returned to the chair of the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, where he recently oversaw issues of regional industrial development.
Another unpleasant story that happened to the ex-governor exacerbated the dissatisfaction with him on the part of the party leadership. The incident at the Izhevsk airport occurred on April 5, 2020. Ovsyannikov cursed the employees of the Izhevsk airport for asking him to present a ticket and several times go through the metal detector, which worked on metal objects. As a result, an administrative report was drawn up against the passenger for petty hooliganism.
According to Ovsyannikov himself, he complied with all the legal requirements of security officers, but he was surprised by the requirement to show a boarding pass at the entrance to the airport building, which he encountered for the first time. The deputy minister apologized for using “incorrect words”. However, the party did not forgive him. On April 8, the Presidium of the General Council of United Russia expelled him from the party on the recommendation of the ethics commission, which considered Ovsyannikov’s actions at the Izhevsk airport incompatible with the ethical standards of United Russia. Secretary of the General Council Andrei Turchak turned to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Minister Denis Manturov with a request to consider the issue of Ovsyannikov’s inadequacy for his position. On April 10, Manturov announced that Dmitry Ovsyannikov, deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, would no longer participate in the work of the department. He called the behavior of his deputy “unacceptable for anyone, and even more so for a civil servant, even of this level.”
The court found Ovsyannikov guilty of petty hooliganism because he swore at the police at the airport and fined him 2,000 rubles. Dmitry Ovsyannikov fell under EU sanctions on November 21, 2017 “in connection with actions that threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” The sanctions banned Ovsyannikov from entering the European Union and doing business in the West.
On December 3, 2020, Dmitry Ovsyannikov filed a lawsuit with an EU court of general jurisdiction, accompanied by a petition for interim measures in the form of suspension of the contested EU legal acts until a decision is made on the merits of the claims. The applicant’s main argument is that, due to his resignation from public office and politics, he no longer falls under the definition of a person who undermines or threatens the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or is associated with persons who undermine or threaten them.
Ovsyannikov asked the court to lift the sanctions against him. The ex-official pointed out that the restrictions prevented him from doing business in Europe, in particular from registering a company in Cyprus. On May 5, 2021, the President of the Court of First Instance of the EU Court, who single-handedly considered the application, issues a ruling refusing the requested measures. However, on October 26, 2022, the EU court satisfied the claim of Dmitry Ovsyannikov to the EU Council to lift the sanctions.
The court’s main finding is that although the applicant’s appointment first as governor of Sevastopol and then as a deputy minister of the Russian government constituted evidence of his ties to the leadership of the Russian Federation who are carrying out actions or policies destabilizing Ukraine, the fact that the applicant no longer held those posts is indicative of his distancing himself from this political environment and, therefore, his inability to actively support such policies in substance.
The verdict of the EU court became news the other day, when the appeal period expired. In the near future it will become clear how instructive the experience of Dmitry Ovsyannikov will become, how many of his colleagues, ex-high-level officials, following him, will prefer business in Cyprus to continue their party career in United Russia and participate in demonstration-patriotic programs of their local television.
Curious fact. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, from 2014 to April 2017, Dmitry Vladimirovich Ovsyannikov, an individual entrepreneur, was registered in the Republic of Udmurtia as an agent for the wholesale trade in beer. Now, since June 2018, the same sole proprietor has been consulting on business and management issues there. Perhaps he advises on issues of exit from the sanctions.