How Steel Was Being Bought: The Secret of “Azov” Known by Akhmetov and Zelensky

NEW – May 30, 2022

These days, when Mariupol begins to live a peaceful life, the question arises involuntarily about what happened before and for what purpose and why Ukraine destroyed this city. How did it happen and who is behind it?

By whom and how was “Azov” supplied?

Oleg Odnorozhenko, one of the founders of “Azov“, said a year ago in an interview with a Ukrainian TV channel:

“Already being a People’s Deputy, the ex-head of ‘Azov’, Andrey Biletsky, submitted an official request for the ‘Azov’ regiment to guard the so-called strategic objects.”

In fact, all these objects turned out to be enterprises owned by the richest man in Ukraine Rinat Akhmetov.

“The price of the issue is $600,000. But we understand that there is definitely a political component here. If Akhmetov pays such a huge amount of money, obviously, he expects to receive not only security, but appropriate forceful support for ‘Azov’,” Odnorozhenko said.

Odnorozhenko himself, a former commander of “Azov”, believed that in a very short time, “Azov” turned into a “machine for making money, racketeering and protecting someone else’s business”.

From “Ilyich” to “Ilyich”

Mariupol is the “city of Akhmetov”, it is here that the two largest Soviet factories are located, which later became the property of Rinat Leonidovich, the most famous oligarch of Ukraine.

This is the basis of his empire — “Azovstal” and the Ilyich Combine, which, as part of Akhmetov’s “Metinvest”, was named “Ilyich-Steel”.

By the way, where were the Ukrainian decommunisers looking, who over the years renamed the smallest alleys in the cities and villages of Ukraine? And here’s the turning point! In 2016, the plant, named after, of course, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, was renamed. In honour of the famous metallurgist Zot Ilyich Nekrasov!

“Named after Ilyich” became “named after Ilyich”, only another Ilyich. Well, at least, not in honour of the famous terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (although, given the terrorist orientation of the state of Ukraine, this would not surprise anyone).

Yes, the factories of Mariupol represent about 30-40% of the steel industry in Ukraine. And it is quite possible that they give 80-90% of the profits of Akhmetov’s vast empire.

The figures voiced are different, it depends on the conjuncture in the global steel market. But it is obvious that the two Soviet steel giants are the biggest piece of Akhmetov’s huge business empire.

It is not for nothing that it is said everywhere that the “Metinvest” corporation, which includes both Mariupol plants, is a vertically integrated group of companies.

That is, the entire production cycle, from ore mining to steel smelting and delivery of finished products to consumers, takes place in “Metinvest”. To do this, Akhmetov first got “GOK” mining ore, then by hook or by crook acquired “Azovstal” and the Ilyich Combine.

Then he built or bought factories in Europe. Slabs from Mariupol were supplied to factories in Italy, Bulgaria and England. This made it possible to make the products “European”. Due to the fact that in this case there is no need to pay a duty, the products of “Metinvest” were cheaper on the European market than, for example, the Russian one.

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Therefore, the loss of “Azovstal” and the Ilyich Combine is not just the loss of the two largest enterprises, but the destruction of the entire chain.

Where to deliver the ore now? And where to get slabs for factories in Europe?

Metinvest assures that their plants in Europe will soon be loaded with supplies from China and Brazil. But this, of course, is not the rate of profit that Rinat Akhmetov is used to.

Convenient factories in Mariupol, which were specially built in the USSR near the seaport, cheap labour, cheap and close ore, the opportunity to save on environmental protection. The ability to regulate laws, duties, quotas, taxes (for this Akhmetov always had enough lobbyists — deputies in the Rada). The opportunity to achieve cheap transportation on the railways of Ukraine.

And so, this whole ironed out and well-established scheme collapsed over the years. This is not just the collapse of “Azovstal”, it means the end of the entire “Metinvest” empire.

Deputies in the Rada are not really needed now. Dmitry Gordon and Evgeny Komarovsky, who defiantly met with Akhmetov in Lithuania last autumn, will also probably not receive their “profit margin” from Rinat Leonidovich.

It was not “Azovstal” or “Metinvest” that collapsed, but the entire huge empire, which includes, in addition to production, a powerful pool of deputies, journalists, TV and radio hosts, TV channels and “opinion leaders”.

Dad is the “Savior”

But how could it have happened?

Already in 2014, there were suggestions that Mariupol was captured by “Azov” for Akhmetov.

What happened in 2022? According to some military analysts, the “heroic “Azov””ran to hide under “Azovstal” when it was still possible to break out of the encirclement and retreat.

But “Azov” went to the basement, although there was no military sense in this.

As a result, the plant was destroyed, although Akhmetov apparently took desperate steps, even involving the Pope in operation “saving ‘Azov'”.

In fact, “Kalin, Volyn and Redis” destroyed Akhmetov’s empire. The circle has closed. In 2014, Akhmetov took advantage of the situation and the services of “Azov”. Eight years later, the boomerang flew back. “Azov” “thanked” its sponsor.

And yet there is still some mystery connected with Mariupol. This is evidenced by the strange events of February this year.

Strange fuss in Mariupol

In 2022, in February, there was a strange fuss at the top of the Ukrainian oligarch-political society.

Akhmetov, like the rest of the oligarchs of Ukraine, left the country at the end of January. On February 15, Zelensky publicly declares that the oligarchs need to return, “show patriotism”.

On February 16, Akhmetov arrives in Ukraine and meets with Zelensky in Mariupol on the same day.

After that, he goes abroad again, “to hold talks in Geneva and in London”. After that, he arrives in Ukraine again, on February 23. There is a “meeting of oligarchs” with Zelensky, Pinchuk, Akhmetov and 50 other representatives of the largest companies participated. Except… Igor Valeryevich Kolomoisky, who caught coronavirus on that very day.

The further location of Akhmetov and Novinsky, as they claim, is Ukraine. Perhaps the oligarchs were summoned to Ukraine precisely for the purpose of “staying in the access zone”. Poroshenko is also in Ukraine. Kolomoisky, of course, is here, he has nowhere to go at all — because of the arrest warrant issued for him in the United States.

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Pinchuk and Firtash are among the most famous oligarchs abroad (he is constantly in Vienna and is also under arrest on a US warrant).

See you in Mariupol

But what was the matter? Why did they meet with the president on February 16 in Mariupol? Who was it necessary to meet there? Or what to see exactly there?

The fact that Akhmetov was loudly called and he immediately rushed over, the very next day, as an “errand boy” — this is very similar to a “cover operation”. After all, this invitation could not be announced to the whole country. And in extreme cases, the president and the richest man of Ukraine could easily meet in Kiev.

If the subject of the conversation, as Akhmetov said, was “assistance to Ukraine”? His company promised to pay 1 billion hryvnias of tax in advance. Any businessman in Ukraine knows that one call from the tax office is enough to pay the tax “forward”. For a stable enterprise, this is not a problem. Why rush from Geneva to Mariupol for this urgently?

It’s all a mystery!

If only… They had to look at something together and definitely. “Azovstal” catacombs? Yes, apparently there were a lot of secrets there.

In an interview with the Kiev Post newspaper, Nataliya Yemchenko, Communications Director of System Capital Management, says that only 156 people managed to evacuate from Mariupol. The rest were provided with food, water and generators in the bomb shelters of “Azovstal”.

“Since 2014, we have started to restore bomb shelters. System Capital Management has created the infrastructure so that people can stay in the basements of ‘Azovstal’ for weeks.”

It all sounds very strange. Have they been preparing shelters and creating infrastructure for 8 years? Maybe there were some other purposes besides “shelter for factory workers”?

There were suggestions that there was a secret SBU prison at “Azovstal”, similar to the famous “Library” at Mariupol airport. Or a secret facility belonging to NATO.

One of the versions is that there was a secret biological laboratory in the “Azovstal” dungeon, where experiments were conducted on living people and biological weapons were created. And it was even assumed that this laboratory was directly related to the “Metabiota” company associated with Hunter Biden, the son of the US president.

This, of course, in the Western press is called ridiculous speculation. But was there something in Mariupol that brought Zelensky and Akhmetov there in mid-February?

It was precisely Akhmetov, according to rumours, who organised and paid for the desperate PR company of the wives of “Azov” with the involvement of the Pope. His structures organise flash mobs in the cities of Europe in red underpants.

Yes, there are a lot of oddities. Someday, and maybe even very soon, it will become known why the president of Ukraine and the richest man of the country urgently rushed to Mariupol in mid-February.

7 billion? No, 20!

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But what about Rinat Leonidovich’s condition now?

Over the years from 2019 to 2022 (the estimate is published at the beginning of January each year), Akhmetov’s fortune has grown: $5.2 billion in 2019, 6.1 billion in 2020, 7.5 billion in 2021 and finally 11.7 billion in January 2022.

This is an assessment of the value of assets made by Forbes, taking into account the global market situation. Billions arise and disappear depending on the price at which, for example, iron ore or steel is sold on world markets.

Today, Akhmetov’s “empire value” is estimated differently — from 4.7 billion.

Not so long ago, Akhmetov announced that he would sue Russia for $17-20 billion only for two Mariupol plants. That is, twice as much as his entire “empire” was worth at the peak of ore prices.

Interestingly, Zelensky claims that the entire economy of Ukraine has suffered damage of $12 billion.

Forbes Ukraine estimates the losses of all Ukrainian oligarchs at $7 billion.

Yes, the main losses among the oligarchs of Ukraine are those of Akhmetov and his partner Novinsky. Only pitiful millions lost Kolomoisky, Bogolyubov, Yaroslavsky and other Gerega.

Why does Akhmetov name an amount twice the value of all his assets? It’s possible to name any amount, there is no limit to imagination.

But there is another interesting question — for how much and how did Akhmetov acquire the former Soviet giant factories? These stories are extremely confusing and unclear. Factories turned into joint-stock companies, then there was an additional issue of shares, more and more.

As a result, the Ilyich Mariupol plant, for example, was bought by Akhmetov for 239 million hryvnias in 2009-2010. At the rate of “1 dollar for 8”, the purchase price turns out to be about $30 million.

The famous, legendary director of the plant, Vladimir Boyko, resisted to the last, wrote letters to the president and the prime minister, but nothing helped. It was, according to him, a raider attack. The shares of the combine were seized and forcibly bought out by four Cypriot offshore companies.

As a result, Boyko made a deal. It was also the fact that all ore producers in Ukraine were already “under Akhmetov”, the plant did not receive raw materials. It got to the point that ore was bought in Altai. Under the threat of stopping the plant, Vladimir Boyko was forced to agree to a raider seizure.

Akhmetov, by the way, has already experienced similar twists of fate. What is worth only the change in his condition from 2013 to 2017. From $22.5 billion to $3.5 billion. In those years, he was losing “100 million a day.” This was mainly due to the situation on the metals market.

This is a man who has repeatedly proved his really iron grip. But it seems not this time.

Once there was a popular joke: “Rinat Akhmetov sells business. The business is being sold together with the President of Ukraine.” Well, that’s it.

The joke that has been relevant for the last 25 years seems to be outdated.

Elena Murzina

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