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POLITICS

How a friend of Putin's daughter, Kirill Dmitriev, became the Kremlin's chief “fixer”

Beyond the familiar realm of politicians and bureaucrats, there are people who are able to approach Putin to discreetly “resolve issues,” their visits intentionally kept off the radar. One such influential behind-the-scenes operator is Kirill Dmitriev, the leader of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. His journey began as an ordinary consultant, but a strategically advantageous marriage to a close associate of Putin's daughter propelled him into a dazzling career trajectory. Documents obtained by The Insider reveal how Dmitriev leverages administrative clout to lobby for the interests of his friends.  

Content
  • Consultant with an officer's ID

  • Diplomacy through phone calls

  • Two passports, insider trading, and new handlers

Consultant with an officer's ID

According to sources interviewed by The Insider, among those who have “access to the body” and effectively address issues in the Kremlin, notable figures include cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, comedians Gennady Khazanov and Vladimir Vinokur (The Insider has previously written about his methods of solving problems), Irina Viner, and several others. However, the most prominent figure on the lobbying front is Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. “Through Kirill Alexandrovich, almost any problem can be resolved. Even during the pandemic, when everything was locked down, his private plane shuttled between Sochi, Moscow, and St. Petersburg as he promoted the Sputnik vaccine. But it's very difficult to secure an appointment with him; you have to reach out to his wife or acquaintances,” said a Moscow businessman well-acquainted with Dmitriev's circle.

Kirill Dmitriev was born in Kyiv in 1975 into a family of a biologist. At the age of 14, through the People's Diplomacy program, he went to the USA, where he studied at Foothill College, then graduated with honors from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. Later, Dmitriev worked at Goldman Sachs and the McKinsey & Company consulting firm. In 2000, he returned to Moscow, settled into a small two-room apartment on Okskaya Street, and bought a used Land Rover.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

Vladimir Putin and Kirill Dmitriev
Vladimir Putin and Kirill Dmitriev

At that time, Dmitriev held a passport of a Ukrainian citizen, but he registered the foreign car under officer's ID AM 1198939, issued in 2000. Using the Moscow address database, The Insider checked the holders of IDs with similar letter and number combinations: three turned out to be graduates of the SVR Academy, eight were officers of the GRU, and 137 more lived in the officers' dormitory at the Zhukovsky Military Air Engineering Academy. How a Ukrainian citizen ended up with such a document remains a mystery. However, The Insider's sources note that acquiring an officer's ID or military card in Russia is not particularly difficult.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

Later, the “officer” Dmitriev managed to join the Russian branch of the American investment fund Delta Private Equity, serving as the chairman of the Russian Association of Direct and Venture Investment (RADVI). In 2007, he moved to his historical homeland, joining the investment fund Icon Private Equity, whose main beneficiary is Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk, who had successfully married the daughter of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, Yelena Kuchma.

Within this fund, Dmitriev orchestrated a series of major deals selling Delta Bank to General Electric, Delta Credit to Société Générale, and shares of CTC Media to Fidelity Investments. It seems that while working for the Ukrainian president's son-in-law, Dmitriev arrived at a conclusive realization that the ultimate key to successful business is administrative clout.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

While working for the Ukrainian president's son-in-law, Dmitriev arrived at a conclusive realization that the ultimate key to successful business is administrative clout

Dmitriev's star moment arrived after his marriage to Natalia Popova, a close friend and business partner of Putin's younger daughter, Ekaterina Tikhonova. Once living with her parents in the Moscow suburb of Dedovsk, Popova worked as a freelance contributor for Komsomolskaya Pravda, an ordinary clerk at Impexbank, and took pride in her Mitsubishi Carisma, purchased on credit. However, her life took a sharp upward trajectory after her connection with Putin's daughter.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

Today, Popova is part of the leadership of a number of companies (in many of cases alongside Putin's daughter). A former freelance contributor for Komsomolskaya Pravda, she has become a candidate in political science and the ombudsman for the protection of high-tech industry leaders' rights. She is also a television presenter and a photo model. Now, she upgrades her expensive cars almost every year.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

Natalia Popova before meeting Putin's daughter
Natalia Popova before meeting Putin's daughter

Popova gained VIP status in the late 2000s. In 2008, when a burglar broke into her apartment, stealing $6,000, 250,000 rubles, and a gold ring, the incident prompted the head of the local police department Pokrovskoe-Streshnevo, accompanied by deputies (a very rare occurrence), a K9 officer with the best police dog called Grey, and a team of experienced operatives from the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department (MUR), to personally arrive at the crime scene.

Diplomacy through phone calls

Even before their wedding, Popova introduced Dmitriev to Tikhonova and her then-husband Kirill Shamalov. They in turn introduced him to Sergei Ivanov, who was at the time the head of the Presidential Administration. Tikhonova and Shamalov referred to Ivanov as “Uncle Sergey,” and he took a liking to Dmitriev, offering him his protection. At that very moment, Elvira Nabiullina, the Minister of Economic Development, was looking for someone to lead a state investment fund with foreign participation. Dmitriev was brought in for an interview at the Kremlin.

“Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin actively supported this project and tasked us with creating a fund model that would result from an open dialogue with leading global investors and enjoy their support,” Dmitriev explained in an interview.

At that time, no one was concerned about the fact that Dmitriev held Ukrainian citizenship. In 2011, Dmitriev became the head of RDIF with a capital of $10 billion, and Ivanov became the chairman of the supervisory board.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

As revealed by the letters from Dmitriev that came into the possession of The Insider, his immediate supervisor was Andrei Chobotov, a Lieutenant General of the FSB and the head of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Directorate. Chobotov began his service in the military counterintelligence of the KGB and continued in the central apparatus of the FSB on Lubyanka Square, where he met Sergei Ivanov, who at the time held the position of Deputy Director of the FSB. Ivanov appointed Chobotov as the head of his secretariat, and since then, Chobotov followed his boss everywhere, whether it was the Ministry of Defense, the government, or the Presidential Administration. With such influential patrons, almost all doors on Lubyanka Square, in ministries, agencies, and special services, were open to Dmitriev.

“Kirill enjoys putting on a show with calls from high-ranking figures. Imagine a tense discussion about a major deal. Then, out of nowhere, Sergei Borisovich Ivanov or Anton Edwardovich Vaino (the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration) would call and ask, 'How are the negotiations going?' Instantly, he would switch to speakerphone mode and adopt a more formal demeanor. After such calls, the astonished partners don't tend to ask too many questions and are almost ready to agree to everything,” shared a source close to Dmitriev with The Insider.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

Andrei Chobotov
Andrei Chobotov

Dmitriev staged similar acts with phone calls during negotiations with important foreign counterparts, often involving significant sums of money, for instance, during a visit to Russia by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the head of Saudi Arabian intelligence. In 2013, the prince arrived in Moscow to convince Putin not to support Iran and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, offering instead to invest $10 billion in the Russian economy. Dmitriev promptly sent a letter to Ivanov:

“We understand that due to your busy schedule, a five-minute meeting in the next two days may not be possible. Nevertheless, Bandar bin Sultan would be grateful for the opportunity of a brief call at any convenient time for you this week.”

As Kremlin-affiliated bloggers reported, Putin categorically rejected the prince's proposal and opted to support the regimes in Damascus and Tehran.

In other instances, Dmitriev urged Ivanov to swiftly approve certain RDIF deals, to investigate the backgrounds of certain Chinese and Arab investors through operational data from the FSB and SVR, to address matters related to capitalization, or to personally present state awards to the fund's leadership, including the son of Chobotov's supervisor.

Two passports, insider trading, and new handlers

Last year, Istories.media reported how Dmitriev provided Ekaterina Putina with a Gulfstream G650 business jet for her flights to Munich to visit her new partner Igor Zelensky, who led the Bavarian Ballet. The same investigation mentioned how the head of RDIF leaked insider information about upcoming fund transactions to Kirill Shamalov, which is punishable under Article 183 of the Russian Criminal Code, “Illegal acquisition and disclosure of information constituting commercial, tax, or banking secrets” (with a possible punishment of up to seven years of imprisonment). For instance, Dmitriev informed Shamalov in advance about RDIF's and Deutsche Bank's acquisition of a stake in Rostelecom, as a result of which the telecom operator's share price increased by nearly 30%. However, in an interview with the BBC, Dmitriev referred to the journalists' investigation as “one of the thousands of information dumps.”

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

Dmitriev leaked insider information about upcoming transactions to Kirill Shamalov, which is punishable under Article 183 of the Russian Criminal Code (up to seven years of imprisonment)

The divorce of Kirill Shamalov and Ekaterina Putina in 2018, as well as the resignations of Sergei Ivanov in 2016 and Andrei Chobotov in 2023, did not affect Dmitriev's status. He now operates through Anton Vaino, the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration, who arranges personal rendezvous with Putin for him, according to The Insider's source within the banking sector.

“He has plenty to discuss with the top leadership. Firstly, Kirill reports on how he is utilizing the National Welfare Fund money that was injected into RDIF. Then, major businesses, banks, Arab, and Chinese investors turn to Kirill with their problems whenever they get swindled out of their money or assets. We all remember the story of the arrest of Michael Calvey and how he was eventually released – largely thanks to Dmitriev. However, this did not prevent the Americans from imposing sanctions against him.”

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

The release of the American businessman Michael Calvey was achieved through Dmitriev's efforts, although the Americans did not acknowledge his contribution

Apart from heading RDIF, Dmitriev holds positions on the supervisory boards of Gazprombank, Rostelecom, Alrosa, Transneft, and Russian Railways (RZhD), reaping substantial dividends. Although Dmitriev's income has been confidential since 2022, a year earlier his salary in RDIF amounted to 78,522,809.4 rubles ($823,738), in Rostelecom - 4,000,000 rubles ($41,962), in RZhD - 5,730,748.34 rubles ($60,118), in Alrosa - 6,364,286 rubles ($66,764), in Transneft - 7,962,840 rubles ($83,513), and in Gazprombank - 41,743,072.09 rubles ($437,799). He was also a member of the board of directors of the Mother and Child group of companies, whose shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange, although sanctions compelled him to step down from this position.

His two-bedroom apartment on Okskaya Street has long been forgotten; now Dmitriev owns two apartments in Moscow on Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Street and in the premium-class residential complex “Dom na Ozerkovskoy.” The approximate value of the latter apartment is 270 million rubles ($2,831,746.5). He also built a mansion in an elite settlement on Novorizhskoye Highway.

Meanwhile, it's not entirely clear why Dmitriev is associated with two passports in the Federal Tax Service records: the first, numbered 462074****, was issued in Klin near Moscow, while the other, numbered 451099****, was issued by the Federal Migration Service in Moscow. Despite that, he uses the same Tax Identification Number (INN). The Insider sent questions to Dmitriev regarding his “officer's ID” and passports, but he had not responded at the time of this writing.

ANCO Assistance and Implementation of Creative Projects Mediapraktika, LLC Vision Media Center, LLC Technological Investments FTI, LLC Investment Management, LLC YaMolodets, LLC VEB Venture, Research and Development (NIR) Fund.

The Michael Calvey Case

Criminal proceedings against Michael Calvey were initiated in February 2019. Initially, he was accused of fraud, but the charges were later changed to embezzlement. In August 2021, the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow sentenced Calvey to a suspended 5.5-year prison term. In March 2023, Calvey left Russia.

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