What prosecutors say: First Collection Bureau (PKB), a company owned by the American investment manager Michael Calvey, borrowed 2.5 billion rubles ($37.7 million) from Vostochny Bank. Instead of repaying that loan, Calvey transferred his shares in another company called IFTG to Vostochny Bank in February 2017, telling the bank’s board of directors that the shares were worth nearly 3 billion rubles ($45.3 million). In February 2019, Vostochny Bank board member Sherzod Yusupov went to the Federal Security Service (FSB) and accused Calvey and the other participants in the deal of deceiving him. The FSB says it then verified these allegations, finding an audit assessment allegedly stating that IFTG was worth just 600,000 rubles ($9,050), not 3 billion rubles. Prosecutors say this is how Calvey and his accomplices committed fraud.
February 15 marks 30 years since the day the last Soviet soldiers were withdrawn from Afghanistan. The Soviet-Afghan War lasted nine years: it was Russia’s longest war in a century that also included a civil war, two world wars, and a number of international conflicts. Why did Soviet leaders decide to invade Afghanistan despite internal opposition? What role did the United States really play in the conflict? What do present-day Russian government officials think about the war? Meduza answers these and other questions below.
An apparently original Russian meme has taken Twitter by storm in recent days. In the meme, the ASCII sign bunny that gained international popularity in 2014 before surging again last year is joined by another ASCII rabbit: the buff bunny, which also saw a brief resurgence in 2018.
This week, police in Moscow detained Michael Calvey, the U.S. founder of the private equity group Baring Vostok. The other suspects in the case are Baring Vostok partners Vagan Abgaryan and French citizen Philippe Delpal, investment director Ivan Zyuzin, First Collection Bureau CEO Maxim Vladimirov, and Alexey Kordichev, an adviser to Norvik Banka’s board chairman.
Yashar Aliev, the owner of the Neolit café in southeast Moscow, said 40 – 50 Chechen men entered the restaurant on the evening of February 14 and began attacking the establishment. The men were reportedly wearing masks and carrying firearms.
Moscow’s municipal Department of Information Technology is testing augmented reality glasses with embedded facial recognition capabilities, a source in the city government told RBC. The company Ntechlab, which is known for creating the unusually powerful facial recognition tool FindFace, is reportedly behind the project.
Vladimir Uglev, one of the chemists who says he helped develop the Soviet nerve agent “Novichok,” told the BBC’s Russian-language service that police in Anapa searched his home this week, after unknown persons started posting leaflets on his car and outside his home and office accusing him of pedophilia.
This Thursday, Russian police detained Michael Calvey, the U.S. founder of the private equity group Baring Vostok, on fraud charges. On Friday, February 15, prosecutors told a Moscow district court that Calvey and five other suspects stole 2.5 billion rubles ($37.5 million). If convicted, the men could face up to 10 years in prison.
On September 9, 2018, the eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk was the only regional capital in Russia to elect an opposition mayoral candidate. Forty-eight-year-old Sardana Avksentieva defeated Alexander Savvinov of the nationally dominant United Russia party to become the first woman ever to lead the city. After taking office, Avksentieva launched a campaign to implement what she says is her “popular mandate”: cutting spending on City Hall, firing shady officials and contractors, and selling off the luxury cars registered to the mayor’s office. As a result, Avksentieva has already gained national prominence, and her popularity online even has the Kremlin’s political strategists interested. Meduza’s special correspondent Taisia Bekbulatova visited Yakutsk to learn more about Avksentieva’s surprising victory and what awaits her as the city’s mayor.
In the months since Russia’s nationwide gubernatorial elections on September 9, 2018, Moscow Oblast has emerged as one of the regions with the most widespread record of election fraud. As early as December, news emerged of massive “carousels,” or systems by which voters circulate among precincts and vote multiple times in each, in the city of Balashikha on Moscow’s outskirts. Carousels require the cooperation of election officials, and the violations in Balashikha led to multiple investigations and resignations. To find the “carousel riders,” election observers used recordings from surveillance cameras posted in voting sites. Here, Meduza reports on what might be an even more notable instance of mass corruption near Moscow on Election Day. Observers in the city of Roshal told Meduza that official turnout figures there far exceeded the turnout they observed on camera not just in one but in all eight of the city’s precincts.