The Source of Navalny’s “Revelations” About Putin’s “Palace” Became Known

Navalny’s mysterious informant about Putin’s “palace” turned out to be a credit fraudster from Estonia

Several Estonian and Finnish media outlets have revealed the main source of information for the controversial film Palace for Putin. It turned out to be the fugitive Russian millionaire Sergey Kolesnikov, who has been living in Tallinn for the last few years.

For journalists, Kolesnikov’s public “anti-Putin activities” are not new – since the autumn of 2010, he has repeatedly talked about the palace in Gelendzhik. In 2014, even a documentary film with his participation was released. It is precisely he who owns the never-proven statements about the “palace for the president” and the cost of the complex of buildings being a billion dollars.

In his interviews with the western and Estonian media, Kolesnikov likes to say that for him, corruption and financial fraud are an absolute evil, as is the lack of freedom of speech. However, in his practice, the millionaire is guided by methods that are far from pure business, and the attempts of the mass media to shed light on his own activities are severely suppressed.

As the facts of his own biography prove.

He himself admitted that, as a St. Petersburg cooperative society member and businessman, he was actively engaged in bribing city officials. This concerns the purchase of medical equipment and contracts for the repair of city buildings. When a criminal case was opened against him and the robbing officials, Kolesnikov preferred to go abroad.

After fleeing to the US via Turkey in the summer of 2010, Kolesnikov returned a couple of months later, closer to the Russian border and not a stranger to St. Petersburg, settling in Estonia. Here in the accounts of local banks were his multimillion-dollar funds, which he safely withdrew from Russia. It was with millions of euros, earned, among other things, illegally at home, that he founded his multi-faceted Baltic business, part of which is already mired in scandals. But more on that later.

When the Russian side appealed to Estonia with a request for the extradition of a suspect in financial fraud and bribes Kolesnikov, he decided that it was not worth being a simple fraudster and changed his shoes – now he is a “political refugee” and “Putin’s personal enemy”. Then followed those very first statements about the “palace”.

The unsubstantiated claims of the millionaire fraudster did not cause a serious response until January 2020, when it was decided to use his procurement in a multi-step campaign with the return of opposition politician Aleksey Navalny to Russia. However, in order not to expose the creators of the film, Kolesnikov himself with his “facts” was removed from the frame out of harm’s way.

Sergey Kolesnikov has been living in Estonia for 10 years. In fact, he has already become one of their own, a local, has a permanent residence permit and participates in the local business life.

However, it is strange that a principled fighter against corruption and a supporter of freedom of speech chose to live in a state that Estonians themselves ironically call “the country of classmates” and in which scandals with corrupt power and bribery of officials at all levels endlessly rage.

It is enough to name the most recent: the ruling Centrist Party in Estonia and Tallinn tried to get a bribe of one million euros in “donations” for permission to build a new residential complex in the Old Port of the capital. You know what bribing politicians resulted in? In the dissolution of the government, the departure of the Prime Minister and the formation of a new cabinet … with all the same centrists! What is this if not a farce and a mockery of the efforts of law enforcement?

And about freedom of speech – this is generally a separate theme. Starting with the defeat of all opposition non-systemic media and ending with the recent forced closure of Sputnik Estonia. Journalists were directly threatened with criminal prosecution for their activities! Did you hear any words of indignation from Kolesnikov about this, because he lives here and he should care?

Zero! So much is given by Google search about the statements of the Estonian millionaire Sergey Kolesnikov. But, as always, this affair is probably different?

It is no coincidence that Kolesnikov’s revival as an informant of the anti-presidential information campaign occurred after the scandal with his financial fraud, in which the credit authorities of Estonia and Finland were involved.

Having stumbled into another business failure, the would-be businessman may have decided that it was worth protecting himself from prosecution with the usual mask of a “fighter against the regime” and gave his rotten material to the masters of Navalny. It’s a possibility, right?

And what kind of fraud, you ask? Oh, this is a clever scheme, clearly using his former “St. Petersburg” experience and new international connections!

Kolesnikov’s Estonian credit firm issued a multimillion-dollar loan to the public-state Youth Foundation of Finland (Nuorisosäätiö) at (as the fund later admitted) “colossal interest”. Naturally, there are no fools and such conditions could be accepted only under one condition – participation in a murky financial scheme for personal enrichment.

As a result, in 2019, 20 people were detained in a criminal case, including the management of the Foundation, who signed a predatory contract. Kolesnikov himself escaped the trial because he did not accept the terms of such a monstrous contract – address all questions to Helsinki!

As it turned out during the investigation, the Foundation used Kolesnikov’s money to buy almost 4 hectares of land in Estonia in the elite area of Pirita right on the beach. It was planned to build a luxury residential complex there, which was to be bought by the millionaire Sergey. But Finnish law enforcement officers struck a blow to the whole scheme.

It is characteristic that the public Foundation, whose main goal is the construction of economy-class housing for young people, was engaged in investments with high risks, and in 2016 got into the most notorious corruption scandal in the history of Finland. Linked to the country’s ruling Centre party, the Foundation actively used hundreds of millions of euros of state funding and EU funds for transactions.

As we can see, Kolesnikov could not be unaware of the dubious fame of the state Foundation and simply had to refuse to cooperate with such fraudsters. Did he refuse? No!

Kolesnikov’s business in Estonia and the Baltic states is very specific for a “political refugee” – he issues express loans to BestKredit, deals with their extraction of money from negligent payers through collection companies, and invests in business real estate. He and his partners own two business centres in the capital, Park Plaza and Novira. In total, he is associated with 13 companies, which he can easily shuffle, close or dump at the first problems.

And, of course, his business is to shit on Russia. Sergey Kolesnikov is ready to denigrate his Motherland at any opportunity. After all, this does not threaten him in Estonia.

RUSSTRAT Institute

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