Source Pravda.Ru

Rustem Magdeev's philanthropy: Praying for forgiveness or building thought-out strategy?

Recently, an article in the Republic of Tatarstan newspaper, Business Online, stated, that mysterious philanthropist, Rustem Magdeev, had agreed, at his own expense, to donate a sculpture of Rudolf Nureyev, made by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, to the Kazan Opera and Ballet Theatre.

This was not the only episode of patronage in Mr Magdeev' career, who is known, according to the Russian press, as a former member of a Tatar Organised Crime Cartel "Sevastopolskie".

Previously, in 2014, he sponsored the filming of the documentary: "The Unnoticeable Heroes of an Unknown War", dedicated to the participation of the Tatars in the First World War.

Furthermore, in 2015, Magdeev organised a meeting between then acting President of the Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov and representatives of the British art establishment, Halcyon Gallery, to discuss the development of public urban areas in the city of Kazan (Republic of Tatarstan), which included the possible installation of various works of art in public places.

Unfortunately, such plans, aimed at improving the international image of Tatarstan did not materialise due to the failure of the Russian-Cypriot venture Equix Group Ltd partly owned by Mr Magdeev.

As a result, Halcyon Gallery, initially suspended and this year finally terminated all of its business with Equix, fearing for its reputation.

There was a clear reason behind Mr Magdeev' patronage plans - recently, he became widely known for his participation in various conflicts, some of which now threaten the political future of his boss, Mr Minnikhanov.

Mr Magdeev always kept a very low media profile - his existence and real political power in Tatarstan was only known to those who had business interests there.

Also, he is said to be the key figure in developing the relationship between Kazan and Moscow, where he primarily resides, and enjoys having outstanding relationship with various Russian politicians, who support Tatarstan, by all means.

Rumours has it that Mr Magdeev manages the so-called "gift fund", which is formed with unofficial donations from leading Tatar businesses, such as Ak Bars Bank, and, formerly, TatFondBank (now insolvent).

All this allows Mr Magdeev to maintain a truly lavish lifestyle - reportedly, he owns a number of luxury properties in Switzerland, France, Latvia and Cyprus, where he spends significant amount of time with his family.

His relationship with the President of Tatarstan allowed him to participate in a number of controversial deals and, at the same time, to stay "below the radar" - as an example, in 2014, he managed to acquire a significant stake in a previously state owned enterprise, OKB Simonova, in Kazan, which is infamous for its contractual relationship with the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Mr Magdeev funded the deal with funds from his shopping mall business, City Mall, which, according to Tatar press, now faces huge issues related to civil proceedings against it - local municipality demands the establishment to be demolished, as it was build - years ago - without relevant technical approval and is recognized as a potential threat to customers.

In 2017 Magdeev, apparently, sold his stake in this defence business to another controversial Russian businessman, Victor Grigoriev, who is known for his close relationship with the Russian Minister of Industry and Commerce, Denis Manturov. This deal led to a civil and criminal action in Cyprus against Magdeev alleging, among other things, that Mr Magdeev defrauded his sleeping partner, British entrepreneur, Dmitry Tsvetkov, who partly funded the acquisition of OKB shares, by entering into the contract without express approval of Mr Tsvetkov.  

This led to a whole series of events, one of which was the arrest of the CEO of OKB, Alexander Gomzin, who was placed under arrest and was pressured to transfer his controlling stake in OKB to Mr Grigoriev, as well as to provide false testimony about his previous dealings with Mr Tsvetkov in 2012/2013, which he refused doing.

Following this, Mr Gomzin' lawyers published his letters to Russian FSB (former KGB) and Russian President, Vladimir Putin, where he stated, that Mr Magdeev and Mr Grigoriev were behind the hostile takeover action against OKB, supported by President Minnikhanov.
This exposure served Mr Gomzin well, who was immediately released from custody and managed, temporarily, to keep his control over the enterprise.

Such public failure was a huge setback for Mr Magdeev, who decided to divert unwanted attention by starting a massive adverse media campaign against Mr Tsvetkov' father-in-law, Rinat Khayrov, ex-Tatar Tax Minister and, currently, the Member of the Russian Parliament, the State Duma.

Mr Magdeev's media advisors managed to convince British and Swiss press to report the acquisition of two luxury properties in England by Mr Khayrov' daughter, Elsina for 32 million pounds.

Notably, Elsina's husband, Dmitry, was Mr Magdeev's partner in Equix, before selling his shares in 2016 to a strategic investor - Emil Gaynulin - known as the owner of one of the largest subcontractors for Russian state enterprise, Gazprom.

The relationship between Tsvetkov and Magdeev ended up in civil proceedings in London, which, inter alia, revealed that in 2017 Mr Magdeev requested "services" of a notorious Tatar gangster, professional killer Radik Iusupov, who made an attempt to put pressure on Mr Tsvetkov - a matter reported to the Cyprus Police.

What is really fascinating is that Mr Tsvetkov chose to turn down the "offer", and to successfully confront the media campaign against his family by giving an interview to the journalist of the British Daily Mail - Paul Thompson - leaving the journalist satisfied with his honesty and openness.

It is worth noting, that while numerous allegations made by the Russian and Swiss press against Mr Tsvetkov, appear to be defamatory and untrue, the increased media attention creates an unprecedented reputational risk for President Minnikhanov that could lead to the end of his political career in Tatarstan.