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CORRUPTION

Who counts the votes: New head of Moscow City Election Commission moves into an upscale apartment

Major General Olga Kirillova, head of the Moscow City Election Commission, is in charge of the elections in Moscow, from which opposition candidates have been banned under far-fetched pretexts. The Insider discovered that the electoral general has an upscale apartment, registered in the name of an elderly relative, and an expensive car. All this is difficult to explain by her officially declared income. Before heading the Moscow City Election Commission, Kirillova headed the Russian Federal Migration Service in Moscow and the Main Directorate for Migration of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Coincidentally, her husband has been employed by the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies, a business built entirely on migrant labor.

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Olga Kirillova became chairperson of the Moscow City Election Commission in December 2021. There were no alternative candidates. All 14 members unanimously voted for her. As chairperson, she will be organizing presidential elections in Moscow in 2024, elections of deputies to the State Duma in 2026, elections of the city mayor and Moscow City Duma deputies in 2023 and 2024.

Besides, the capital’s electoral commission will be supervising municipal elections in Moscow later this year. They are already accompanied by scandals. Thus, Konstantin Yankauskas, an incumbent deputy from the Zyuzino district, was denied registration as a candidate because of his alleged relationship to the Navalny campaign headquarters. Other opposition candidates have also been prevented from running: Denis Prokuronov, a municipal deputy from the Filevsky Park district; Yabloko candidates Irina Sobyanina and Nikolai Kavkazsky; Ivan Shmatin and Eduard Kormyshakov, candidates from the VyDvizhenie platform; and Yulia Ivanova. Independent municipal deputies are being prosecuted en masse by the security services and the courts for displaying allegedly extremist symbols, such as the “Smart Vote” logo. A conviction under such charges would strip them of every opportunity to participate in the elections.

Kirillova has worked her entire life in public service. Since 1992, she worked for the police in Sakhalin. In 2006, she joined the Federal Migration Service, where she headed the Directorate of the Federal Migration Service for the Sakhalin Region until 2012. In October 2012, Kirillova moved to the capital, where she became head of the FMS of Russia in Moscow. In 2016, she was appointed head of the Main Directorate for Migration of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. A year later, by presidential decree, she was promoted to the rank of police major general. Olga met her husband, Yakov Kirillov, back in Sakhalin. He is also a former police officer and was once head of the Sakhalin Region Directorate of Internal Affairs.

A 141.7 square meter apartment with the current market value of about 60 million rubles in the Dubrovskaya Sloboda business-class apartment complex has been registered in his name since 2020. It happened after Kirillova left office was no longer required to declare the purchase. In fact, Major General Kirillova had been used the apartment even before that, having registered it in the name of an elderly relative.

The apartment was purchased in 2014 in the name of Agapia Yakovlevna Kirillova, born in 1932, the mother-in-law of the head of the Moscow City Election Commission. At the time of purchase, Agapiya Yakovlevna was 82 years old, and The Insider was unable to find any information about her business activities or interests owned in legal entities. The Kirillovs earned a combined total of less than 19 million rubles over the five years preceding the purchase of the apartment.

Yakov Kirillov prefers not only large apartments, but also large cars. He drives around Moscow in a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. The price of such a car, made in 2017, could be as high 4.5 million rubles, which is approximately the head of the family’s two-year salary.

According to the information available to The Insider, Yakov Kirillov was employed by 1 Kievskaya Ploshchad LLC. The Kievskaya Ploshchad Group of Companies was founded in 1992 by God Nisanov and Zarah Iliev, Russia’s biggest rentiers.

God Nisanov is famous not only as a dollar billionaire and a friend of the Naryshkin family, but also as a co-owner of the Sadovod market and the Food City agro cluster, the largest wholesale and retail food center in Russia. Food City is known in Moscow as a place where lots of illegal migrants are employed. There have been constant media reports of clashes, migrant rallies, and appeals to Putin from residents of nearby districts demanding that order be restored. Nisanov's entities also made money on the construction of migration centers.

“As of today I'm officially divorced from my spouse. I didn't want a divorce when I was in office. When I retired, I was able to get divorced in 2020, so as not to draw public attention. But I reside at the same address. We don't have an adversarial relationship. Given that the apartment is closer to where I work, no one is kicking me out,” Kirillova told The Insider.

Could Agapiya Yakovlevna have purchased this apartment on her own? “Well, of course not,” agrees the head of the Moscow City Election Commission. “We all chipped in, we bought it together. We came from Sakhalin. She had her own meager savings. We had savings of our own. We bought it under the equity participation agreement, when it wasn't even finished, in 2012. At that time, the price of the apartment was totally different. Now it is very expensive, but at the time of purchase under the equity participation agreement it was nothing out of the ordinary.”

According to archived ads, before the commissioning of the apartment complex an apartment with a similar area could be purchased for 28 million rubles. It was less than half its current market value, but still it was almost ten times the family’s annual income during their time on Sakhalin, and neither she nor her husband had any other property which Kirillova could have sold. And if it hadn’t been for the registration of the Moscow apartment in the name of her mother-in-law, Kirillova would have had to explain the origin of funds - by law it should be done if the purchase price exceeds 3 times the annual income. Speaking to The Insider, Kirillova said: “If I'm not mistaken, the apartment cost 22 million. But I don’t remember exactly”. Even it were true, registering the real estate in the name of her mother-in-law allowed her to bypass the anti-corruption requirement to substantiate the income.

Why did they register the apartment in the name of an elderly woman and thus avoided declaring it? Kirillova explains it this way: “Because she had a Moscow registration. When we came to Moscow to work, we did not have a Moscow registration. She also had an apartment” (according to The Insider, the apartment in question was a 30-meter apartment on Donelaitis Street, now re-registered to Yakov Kirillov).

As for possible conflicts of interest in connection with migrant control in Moscow, Kirillova also denies it: “My ex-husband no longer works for Kievskaya Ploshchad, but I can’t say when exactly he was fired. He worked as head of security. Not even the head of the shopping center. He obviously didn't communicate with the owners. And never visited him at work. When I was in office, I treated both Food City and the Sadovod market rather harshly and subjected them to administrative liability on several occasions.”

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