Budget money for the improvement of the Volga in Samara went to the structures of Viktor Vekselberg

  • 04.06.2024 14:06

Budget Money For The Improvement Of The Volga In Samara Budget Money For The Improvement Of The Volga In Samara Went To The Structures Of Viktor Vekselberg

In troubled water

How regions spend budget billions allocated for the state program to improve the Volga. We have already described the situation in the Tver, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Nizhny Novgorod and Ulyanovsk regions, as well as in Chuvashia, Mari El and Tatarstan. Today the focus is on the Samara region.

The regional program for the improvement of the Volga provides for the construction and modernization of almost three dozen wastewater treatment plants. Initially, the document, like the federal project “Improvement of the Volga,” was designed for the period from 2019 to 2024, but then Samara decided to extend it until 2026 inclusive. This suggests that the work is going smoothly. The latest news also indicates this: major projects, one after another, are going behind schedule, despite advances generously paid from the budgets.

Unsinkable “Gazservice”

Last spring, local media reported that a contractor in Syzran missed the deadline for the construction of treatment facilities.

The corresponding tender for the design and construction of treatment facilities worth 355 million was awarded in 2021.

The winner then was the Gazservice company. At the same time, the project received noisy PR. They wrote that he became a laureate of the All-Russian competition of best regional practices “Reliable Partner – Ecology”.

Although the situation initially looked suspicious. One contractor was entrusted with both design and construction, which is not usually done. In addition, we were unable to find traces of a contract for construction control, although in such cases such a formality is usually observed. In addition, in the published tender documentation, it seems that the deadline for completing the work was not directly indicated, but from additional documents it can be concluded that all payments to the contractor were expected to be completed in 2022.

Therefore, subsequent events turned out to be quite predictable. In 2023, information about the contract was updated in the public procurement system: its value increased to 395 million rubles, and the deadline for execution was extended until November 1, 2023. But, as is now clear, the object could not be delivered by this date. There were publications in the local press that the contract between Syzranstroyzakazchik and Gazservice LLC could be terminated. But it seems that these were empty threats to stall for time. In the file of cases of the Arbitration Court of the Samara Region, we were able to find only one claim by MKU “Syzranstroyzakazchik” against LLC “Gazservis” – it concerns the collection of a fine of 100 thousand rubles. It is clear that almost 400 million have been successfully spent and hardly anyone is going to return more or less noticeable amounts to the budget.

Needless to say, the contractor’s financial indicators went into the negative during the work under the contract, and therefore it is unlikely that it will be possible to recover anything even with the best intentions.

It is noteworthy that Gazservis is owned not by some Zits-chairmen, but by people quite recognizable in the region. One of them – Alexey Denisov. Local websites write about his extensive connections in regional structures. There is also a version that the collapse of the project was due to personnel decisions in power. The contract for the reconstruction of treatment facilities was signed when Nikolai Lyadin (who at that time became notorious due to the noisy showdown between his wife and his alleged mistress) was the mayor of Syzran. But by the end of 2021, the city administration was headed by a “Varangian” Anatoly Lukienko. In 2022, the management of the MKU “Syzranstroyzakazchik” also changed. However, as you can see, even with new bosses, Gazservice remains unsinkable, and the company is mastering its budgets at a pace that is convenient for itself, as it seems, even despite the instructions of the prosecutor’s office.

By the way, the treatment facilities in Syzran are not the only project of Gazservice under the program for the improvement of the Volga. The company is building a similar facility in Novokuibyshevsk. Moreover, as it was sold, its cost increased from 337 to 411 million (30% of the amount was paid in advance). The execution date is indicated as January 1, 2023, however, the state procurement system has not yet indicated that the contract has been completed.

Meanwhile, toxic plums are pouring into the Volga. In 2023, Rosprirodnadzor, as part of scheduled inspections, discovered that the level of ammonium (a product of ammonia dissolution) in the effluents of Novokuybyshevsk treatment facilities was 1.2 times higher.

Your own customer

And yet, the biggest jackpot under the Volga rehabilitation program in the Samara region may go to larger fish. We are talking about the structures of the holding “Russian Utility Systems” (RKS) Victor Vekselberg. The fact is that back in 2012, the structures of the RKS holding received a lease for water supply and sanitation facilities in the regional center. And since 2019, SKS LLC (part of RKS) has been managing them on the basis of a concession agreement with the regional authorities. Typically, the terms of a concession imply that it is the private owner, and not the state, who must invest in infrastructure development. But, apparently, RKS are actively using the budget money allocated for the improvement of the Volga. Moreover, this is not done very transparently, since a private company is not obliged to disclose information at the same level as government agencies.

From the text of the regional program for the improvement of the Volga it follows that it includes at least two facilities at the Samara city wastewater treatment plants. This is the reconstruction of the purified wastewater disinfection system and the reconstruction of the biological treatment complex. The first project has already been completed, and there is very little information about it. The second one is being worked on right now. It will cost 1.3 billion rubles. Financing will be provided from the federal, regional and local budgets with the involvement of extra-budgetary funds from SKS LLC, according to the website of the Ministry of Energy and Housing and Communal Services of the Samara Region. However, the proportions of cash injections are not disclosed. And here’s another detail: Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote that in 2019–2020, the reconstruction of wastewater treatment plants in Samara was financed from budget money – however, the exact amount was not disclosed here either. One gets the impression that someone is diligently hiding an inconvenient fact: Vekselberg makes money on public utility infrastructure, and it is being modernized at the expense of the budget.

Moreover, the private owner apparently also manages budget money at his own discretion. At least the customer in tenders for the reconstruction of Samara treatment facilities in the public procurement system is SKS LLC. It determines the contractors who will finally use the budget money. The cost of the largest lot for the current project was 1.085 billion rubles. Completion date: January 2023. The status in the public procurement system is “execution”, that is, formally the execution of the contract has not yet been completed, although the established deadline seems to have already expired. The contractor is not indicated at all in the UIS “Procurement”. This fact suggests that Viktor Vekselberg’s structures have something to hide in this matter.

And now the juicy detail. The expensive reconstruction of Samara wastewater treatment facilities within the framework of the concession that we mentioned above has been carried out since 2019. However, if you dig into the history of the issue, it turns out that a similar reconstruction was already carried out in 2015–2016. It cost 427 million rubles. The customer of the work was SKS LLC (part of RKS), the contractor was RKS-Engineering (part of RKS). The source of funds, apparently, was the utility bills of Samara residents. As you can see, the Samara sewerage system has become an inexhaustible source of money for Viktor Vekselberg’s structures. This is confirmed by the financial report of SKS LLC. The company’s net profit in 2023 amounted to 1.1 billion rubles.

Reference

The length of the Volga in the Samara region is 360 kilometers. Within the boundaries of the region are the lower reaches of the Kuibyshev and upper reaches of the Saratov reservoirs. Between them, the river bed makes a loop around the Zhiguli Mountains, known as Samarskaya Luka. In addition to the regional capital, Samarskaya Luka has two industrial centers – Chapaevsk and Togliatti. The federal budget allocated 12.9 billion to the region for the improvement of the Volga until 2024, and the regional budget allocated 14 billion for these purposes.