In early March of this year, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the law “On the Basic Principles of the Forcible Seizure of Objects to Which the Russian Federation and Its Residents Have Property Rights in Ukraine”. According to this law, Ukrainian property of Russian citizens can be nationalized without compensation to the owners.
Such objects also include land plots. Ukrainian land has been used and managed for many years by Russian legal entities whose founders or beneficiaries belong to or relate to the aggressor country.
Two weeks later, people’s deputies introduced changes to this law. The amendment provided for the forcible seizure of property of natural persons who are citizens of the Russian Federation and other persons, regardless of their citizenship, who have close connections with Russia, are residents of the aggressor country and carry out their business activities there. Currently, the law on introducing these changes awaits President Zelenskyi’s signature.
According to the Opendatabot registration data monitoring service, companies with owners from Russia lease 26,750 and own 1,002 plots of land in Ukraine. The total area of such plots is over 160,000 hectares in lease and 32,000 hectares in ownership.
We decided to investigate which residents and citizens of the Russian Federation own land in the occupied city of Berdyansk and found something worthy of the attention of both society and law enforcement officers.
To prepare this material, we sent requests to local authorities and government structures to get more information on the ownership of land plots in Berdyansk. We investigated the properties owned by the citizens of the Russian Federation or legal entities whose owners and founders are Russian citizens.
The Ministry of Justice, referring to the “Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers on the termination of access to unified and state registers”, refused to provide such information. The State Geocadastre replied that it does not have information about the citizenship of individuals and the boundaries of the territory of Berdyansk. The Executive Committee of the Berdyansk City Council and its acting mayor Oleksandr Svydlo (we also sent requests to him via WhatsApp messenger), ignored our appeals. The appeal to the Zaporizhia regional military administration was transferred to the authorities of the Berdyansk district and city military administrations to the same executive committee and back to Oleksandr Svydlo. We haven’t received any response to this appeal at the time of publication of the material.
– In the first days of the occupation of the city, Russian military stole computers with information about land plots from the building of the city hall, – one of the employees of the land relations department says on the condition of anonymity, – and whether these files were preserved on other media is not known. Maybe there are copies in Zaporizhzhia.
These words were confirmed by the head of the registration department of the executive committee, Roman Soroka, who added that currently, only the Ministry of Justice has access to the registers. We already know how the said department treats such information.
However, we still managed to get some data.
Valeriy Baranov and everyone else
A plot of land (cadastral number 2310400000:07:005:0045) is located on the seashore along Kotlyarevskyi resort street. It is leased to Berdyansk LLC “Raduga Plus”. The beneficiaries of this company are two Russian citizens – Oleksiy Ivanovych Ilyuschenkov and Viktor Vasyliovych Kovalyov from the Smolensk region, as well as a citizen of Ukraine, Maryna Valeriivna Baranova – the daughter of the former city mayor Valeriy Baranov. She also owns the neighbouring plots on which the “Duna” and “Roland” recreation centres are built. The director of LLC “Raduga Plus” is Hanna Oleksiivna Ilyuschenkova – apparently, the daughter of one of the beneficiaries.
At the moment, the founders of this enterprise are Kovalyov, Baranova and a Moscow resident Mykhailo Filatov, who also has a Russian passport. The Russian register of debtors says that in December 2020, Oleksiy Ilyuschenkov put his 35% share in the authorized capital of LLC “Raduga Plus” worth 248,612 hryvnias up for auction.
Mykhailo Filatov bought this share for 120,000 rubles. In December of last year, the Berdyansk City District Court considered his petition for recognition on the territory of Ukraine of the decision of the Smolensk court. They recognized the agreement and the contract of purchase and sale of the share as valid. Judge Olena Virchenko granted this request and recognized the decision of the Russian court as valid. The YouControl analytical system also confirms this information.
In Russian open sources, you can find information that the full namesake of Oleksiy Ivanovich Ilyushchenkov was a deputy of the council of the Rudnyan city settlement of the Smolensk region of the fourth convocation from the United Russia party. Still, it is difficult to say whether they are the same person.
We turned to Valery Baranov via messenger with a request to comment on whom all these people are and what connects them to him and his daughter. The retired mayor read the question but did not answer it. We haven’t managed to contact Maryna Baranova.
“No-names” from the aggressor country
Valery Yevgenovich Zhelyazkov is the name of a Russian citizen to whom the Berdyansk City Council transferred a plot of land with cadastral number 2310400000:04:011:0377 in April 2016. The basis for this was the contract of sale of the house in 2009. We didn’t find out the address of this real estate since public access to state registers has been suspended since the beginning of the full-scale war.
In May 2019, the Berdyansk City Council extended land lease contracts to two citizens of the Russian Federation.
To Nina Mykolaivna Zhmayeva – for gardening, with an area of 0.0303 hectares (located on Dalnia Kosa on Makarova Street, 125-a, near the well-known hotels “Violis” and “Zamok Venetsia”, with cadastral number 2310400000:08:00) and to Molchanov Hennadiy Mykolayovych – for the construction and maintenance of a residential building with an area of 0.0709 hectares (located near Malibu beach, at 4 Doroshenko Street, cadastral number 2310400000:01:011:0187).
The Russians have used both of these sites since 2008, and their leases expire on May 1, 2024.
Zhmayeva did not apply for the extension of the lease in person. At the disposal of “Lokator.online” is her power of attorney, issued in Moscow for a citizen of Ukraine, Lyudmyla Harmash. It draws attention to the fact that Zhmayeva asked Mayor Volodymyr Chepurny to extend the lease term to 49 years, which should have been the reason for refusal (the law prohibits extending the lease for a period longer than specified in the original contract). Still, the city council committee on land issues chaired by Volodymyr Bezverhnyi approved the Russian’s appeal.
All these people are not public figures. The only mention of them in open sources is that from 1992 to 2017, Nina Zhmayeva was a co-founder of the limited liability company “SIN LTD”, registered in the capital of Russia.
Of course, this list is incomplete, and we will continue our work to identify the remaining Russian residents who use Ukrainian land on the territory of Berdyansk. Decisions of city council sessions and other land-related documentation should now be in Zaporizhzhia. At least, acting mayor Oleksandr Svydlo was obliged to organize their evacuation in the three days he had to arrange it. To what extent this member of the “Opposition Platform — For Life” party, banned in Ukraine, is interested in providing the public with such information? We will find out soon.
The material was prepared with the support of the Foundation for Independent Journalists of Eastern Europe.