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Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov makes millions from construction in occupied Mariupol, Dossier reports

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Timur Ivanov, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense for construction, is making a fortune from the war in Ukraine, receiving tens of billions of roubles for the construction of buildings in occupied Mariupol, according to a report by investigative outlet Dossier.

The journalists noted that an anonymous source going by the name “Ch.” played one of the most important roles in the investigation. The source had been in close contact with Ivanov for more than ten years, and gave many details that confirmed their acquaintance, which included Ivanov's wife, Svetlana Maniovich, and other members of the minister’s entourage.

Dossier's source told reporters that Ivanov has a confidant and a “purse” – former Russian senator Alexander Ter-Avanesov. That explains why government bailiffs, when they started enforcement proceedings over a 6.5 billion-rouble ($80.6 million) debt, did not find any property from Ter-Avanesov. However, he has a four-room apartment on Moscow’s Patriarchal Ponds, registered in the name of his wife, an apartment in the «Shuvalovsky» housing estate, registered in the name of his wife's relatives, and a Bentley worth 10 million roubles ($124,000) registered in the name of his mother-in-law. The ex-senator’s multi-billion-rouble debt has still not been repaid.

Former military contractor Sergei Khrabrykh, who served in the Defense Ministry’s construction complex in the Moscow region, and then worked in the construction business for over 15 years, executing Defense Ministry contracts as part, said that all construction contractors of the Defense Ministry perform “homework” – a euphemism for kickbacks. In 2019, Khrabrykh became the subject of a criminal investigation for fraud, and fled Russia for Spain. Khrabrykh was later placed on an international wanted list by Interpol, spent several months in pre-trial detention, but was released on bail and moved to France, where he applied for political asylum.

Khrabrykh said that “Ter-Avanesov offered him the position of construction director at Spetsmontazh,” and then personally promised – in Timur Ivanov’s reception room – that new contracts would be awarded to this company and everything would be fine. Almost immediately, the company was assigned to improving the territory of the Kantemirov Tank Division for the arrival of OSCE observers in September 2016. 500 million roubles ($6.2 million in 2023) were allocated, but only 80 million actually made it to the contractor, Khrabrykh said. Part of the site was asphalted, the facades of some buildings were restored, and the rest were covered with a camouflage net with patriotic posters.

The Defense Ministry, according to Khrabrykh, was still “satisfied” with the work, and Spetsmontazh began to receive orders regularly. By the end of 2016, the company was executing Defense Ministry contracts worth close to 2.5 billion roubles ($31 million in 2023). The Kantemirov Tank Division contract is just one example of the Defense Ministry’s kickbacks. Khrabrykh added that the money often went to firms affiliated with businessman Sergei Volkodav, whose brother, Yuri Volkodav, worked in Defense Ministry-affiliated firms, and was close to Ivanov. Both Volkodav brothers were later arrested for embezzlement of government funds during construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

Ivanov now earns millions in Mariupol, which was destroyed by the Russian military as part of the invasion of Ukraine. Dossier’s investigators found that the Military Construction Company (“Voenno-stroitelnaya Kompaniya”, or “PPK VSK”), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Defense Ministry, as well as Olimpsitstroy, a private contractor, operate in the occupied city. However, builders in Mariupol appear in the uniform of both PPK VSK and Olimpcitystroy. Olimpcitystroy, another large Russian Defense Ministry contractor, became known after Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) released a film about Ivanov. Oboronspetsstroy – a firm affiliated with Olimpcitystroy – bought marble for the Deputy Defense Minister's mansion and owns land in the Tver region, where the Ivanov family has an estate. Olimpcitystroy has two owners: businessmen Dmitry Khavronin and Alexander Fomin.

At present, PPK VSK, whose foundation in 2020 was personally lobbied by Timur Ivanov, is building new apartment blocks in Mariupol, with Olimpcitystroy acting as a subcontractor. The company has already built the “Nevskiy” housing estate, and is constructing a medical center covering a total area of almost 60,000 square meters. Ivanov often inspects the sites, and Alexander Fomin accompanies him on his trips. According to Khrabrykh, Fomin went to Mariupol last spring and has already had time to spend tens of billions of roubles. The pair has so far only built a single housing estate.

“No one knows how long Mariupol will stay with Russia. And if so, why build anything at all, if they [Ukraine] are going to take it back or bomb it? But the money is allocated and spent. In general, war is a golden time for military contractors,” Khrabrykh stressed.

Another former friend of Ivanov's says that Sergei Shoigu’s Deputy “loves the beautiful life.” According to the source, Ivanov once dumped his phone in a hotel in Dubai so no one would “catch him,” and secretly flew with his wife to the Maldives. He also described Ivanov as a “pro-Western man” who madly loves a woman who “cannot imagine her life outside the Western world.”

“By the time the war is lost, Putin's regime has weakened, and Timur has stolen enough from the Mariupol construction sites to last many generations, he will simply come to the West, turning in everyone he can. I'm sure he and Svetlana have a plan, they are like Bonnie and Clyde.”

In April 2023, Ivanov’s wife, Svetlana Ivanova (Maniovich) was seen on vacation partying in Courchevel, a French ski resort. The pair formally divorced to avoid new EU sanctions against Ivanova after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. However, she continues to spend the money earned by her “former” husband in Europe, as confirmed by Ukrainska Pravda. Investigative outlet Proekt (“The Project”) revealed in 2019 that Timur Ivanov's family owns elite real estate worth almost 1 billion roubles ($12.4 million in 2023), and is actively trying to conceal it. Ivanov is also a close personal friend of Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Ivanov concealed Peskov's watch – worth 6 million roubles ($85,000 at the time) – at his wife's birthday party in 2021 so it wouldn't be caught on camera.

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