Russian war criminals on the run: French passport, senior role in UAE company for Magomed Gajiyev?
Russian elites are trying to negotiate safety guarantees in exchange for "surrendering" the Kremlin boss. This was reported by the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense in late March 2023. Because of the war in Ukraine, Russian businesspeople are losing money and what remains of their reputation, receiving nothing but global isolation.
"There are different people with different motivations. Many representatives of the so-called Russian elite already understand this was a colossal mistake and crime. Furthermore, the finale will be tragic for Russia. They are trying to find options for their salvation," said Andrii Yusov, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense, in an interview with Gazeta.ua.
"So far, it is not about their struggle for another country (for another Russia - ed.), only about their own safety and business survival. They try to make contacts and negotiate personal security guarantees. There are already such cases," the Ukrainian military intelligence press service quotes Andrii Yusov.
The statement by a representative of Ukrainian intelligence was made just a few days after a scandal in Russia when an unknown person leaked a phone conversation between music producer Joseph Prigozhin and former senator (member of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation) Farkhad Akhmedov, during which the 49th billionaire on the Russian Forbes list called Putin "Satan". In response, Prigozhin denounced the Kremlin leaders and their entourage as “criminals".
In Ukraine and the West, there have already been sightings of such "criminals" who are actively trying to obtain European or American passports and full legalization of their assets.
In March of this year, a group of Ukrainian parliament members appealed to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, with an urgent recommendation to impose sanctions by the US and EU on a Russian billionaire and four-time member of the State Duma - Magomed Gajiyev. Oleksii Honcharenko, Akhtem Chiygoz, Sofiia Fedina, MykolaVelichkovych, Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Iryna Konstankevych, and Iryna Friz signed the appeal to European and American partners.
"Last year, a coalition was created with the participation of American Congressmen Steve Cohen and Joe Wilson, co-chairs of the Helsinki Commission. Our coalition also includes members of the British Parliament, the European Parliament, and the national parliaments of European countries. We are systematically working on introducing sanctions against Putin's entire entourage. Moreover, against all people guilty of aggression against Ukraine, against the so-called Russian "elites." Vladimir Lisin (owner of the Novolipetsk Metallurgical Combine - ed.) - the richest man in Russia, he is still not under sanctions, against propagandists, such as Ksenia Sobchak, against artists, such as Philipp Kirkorov and others," Oleksii Honcharenko said in an interview with Espreso about the appeal regarding Magomed Gajiyev.
Over four terms in the State Duma (totalling 18 consecutive years) as a member of the Putin-backed United Russia party, Gadzhiev became a co-author of over 300 bills. Among them were laws that imposed sanctions against US citizens and American companies and laws regarding so-called "foreign agents" that significantly restricted the rights and activities of Russian and foreign non-governmental organizations in Russia.
"The case of Magomed Gadzhiev is interesting in that this person, who voted for the annexation of Crimea, continues to sponsor the Russian army and its units currently fighting against Ukraine. However, he is physically located in the USA or Europe and travels there, trying to naturalize. We believe that these are the most dangerous people, and we must fight against them and push for sanctions against them," shared Oleksii Honcharuk with his "agency" information.
Vadym Denysenko, the head of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, is confident that a year after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and especially after the decision of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, there will be more and more Russians oligarchs who want to "turn in" Putin and leave Russia.
"All the sociology of the last few months shows that the so-called upper and middle classes in Russia, the richest and most successful people, have been very clear about where this is going and how it is going since November. Moreover, they were already heartbroken about it then. Moreover, sociology shows that if elections were held in Russia among the upper and middle classes, Putin would not have made it to the second round. Indeed, the outflow of capital from Russia in the past year was the largest in the history of the Russian Federation. Everyone understands perfectly well that everything is moving in the wrong direction. Especially after the Hague decision (the International Criminal Court in The Hague, - ed.)," Vadym Denysenko said in an interview with Espreso.
However, Magomed Gadzhiyev himself does not lose heart. The seeker of a European passport, Gadzhiyev, has honorary certificates and awards from the leader of the terrorist “DPR", Denis Pushilin. "For many years of support for the Donbas industry and the organization of humanitarian aid supplies during the 'special military operation,'" Pushilin personally said in a YouTube video.
You can easily find many other "positive" videos on the network.
For example, here is a Russian soldier against the backdrop of Ukrainian landscapes and the letter "Z" on Russian tanks. "I want to send a huge 'salam' to Magomed Tajuddinovich Gadzhiyev! We heard that you are selling a yacht in Turkey (in fact, the yacht is being sold in Greece - ed.) to help us. We are ready to tear apart the 'ukropivtsi' (Ukrainians - ed.) in any situation," says a Russian military killer in camouflage to his wealthy Moscow sponsor for the opportunity to kill peaceful Ukrainian citizens. Another Russian man sends his 'salam.' He tells how the former deputy regularly calls his occupation unit of the Russian Armed Forces with questions about what other help is needed for Russian war criminals in Ukraine.
In early March, the Ukrainian Freedom state television channel showed a documentary about "Maga Fiksa" - as Magomed Gadzhiyev is called in criminal circles in Russia and his native Dagestan. According to Ukrainian television journalists, the four-time State Duma deputy of Russia]is now ready to "leak" any information about the Kremlin's activities to get a passport from one of the EU countries, in particular, France. However, the passport comes first. "When the passport is there, we can discuss a lot. First, the tickets, and then - the movie. In the operational video, you cannot watch a movie until you have a ticket," says Magomed Gadzhiyev.
According to the journalists of the Freedom channel, the sponsor of the Russian terrorists currently lives not in Moscow but in the "decaying" West. One of his wives, Aliona, has a villa in Miami, and their three children were born and received citizenship in the United States. According to her Instagram, the younger wife, Nina, travels with her billionaire husband to Paris, Monaco, Greece, Italy, and France, the film's authors said.
Investigative journalists have learned that the Russian billionaire hired a group of lobbyists to whiten his dirty reputation abroad from the Russian Federation. In the European Union, the oligarch is helped by Belgian Eric van de Veghe. A defendant in the Kazakhgate case of 2003, when US prosecutors accused American businessman James Giffen of giving a bribe to the then President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in exchange for oil extraction. Russian law enforcement officers met Van de Vege in 2009. Then he was detained in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the centre of Moscow at the request of Brazil. There he was suspected of pimping and human trafficking. Later, as journalists of the Freedom channel reported, Eric Van de Veghe was held criminally liable for fraud, forgery of documents, and abuse of trust.
Meanwhile, the Gadzhiev is helped to "legalise" in the USA by his cousin Maga Musayev—the son-in-law of the former president of Dagestan Ramazan Abdulatipovand former owner of Russian Forbes. Ukrainian TV journalists said the circle of the billionaire's foreign acquaintances is quite extensive.
"Gadzhiev is a Russian oligarch, businessman, and deputy... Everything is according to the classics -connected to the crime. This is a person who voted for the annexation of Crimea. Moreover, at the same time, he is trying to naturalise himself. It is just shocking audacity.
Nevertheless, in principle, this is a widespread phenomenon. They all understand very well where everything is going; everyone hears the conversation between Prigozhin and Akhmedov. This is just another example," believes Oleksii Honcharenko.
In early March 2023, investigative journalists from the Romania Breaking News publication reported that Magomed Gadzhiyev, fleeing criminal prosecution, is actively trying to obtain an EU passport, likely French.
Furthermore, the Russian oligarch actively promotes his supposedly commercial contacts with the respected Abu Dhabi-based Royal Group of companies in the United Arab Emirates, and, apparently, holds a 'golden' visa in the UAE. He directly says in the leaked video that he works as advisor to the head of the Royal Group
If it is true, such contacts would cast a shadow on the reputation of the leaders of this major UAE corporation. Furthermore, they would contradict the measured policy of the United Arab Emirates regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine. Finally, it would cast doubt on the recognition by this country of decisions of world human rights institutions, such as the International Criminal Court in The Hague or the United Nations International Court.
Sofiia Fedina, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who also signed a petition to the head of the European Commission and the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, believes that legalization of Russian businessmen like Magomed Gadzhiev in the West is an attempt to export the dirty personal capital of Vladimir Putin and his closest associates through intermediaries.
"Former FSB agents do not exist, just like those former agents who worked for Putin. They are all connected. They have fled and are trying to legalise themselves somewhere else. They are just looking for opportunities to avoid sanctions and punishment for themselves and Putin's money. They all need to be restricted and their contacts cut off. Otherwise, the trap will close again. I am confident that Putin's money can be legalised through such characters. Almost none of them worked without Putin's knowledge or his sanctions. All those who were inconvenient have long been dealt with," Fedina said in an interview with Espreso.
Sponsors of war and bloody killings in Ukraine have no place in democratic countries such as the European Union, Great Britain, and the United States. Citizenship and passports of these countries for such criminal elements are not only an escape from punishment for military crimes.
It is also a mockery of the memory of all the innocent people killed and tortured during this terrible war in Ukraine. If information about Magomed Gadzhiev' sobtaining a French passport is confirmed after the petition of the members of the Ukrainian parliament to the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, it could cause a loud diplomatic scandal. It would be interesting to hear the thoughts on this matter from Emmanuel Macron or the French Ambassador to Ukraine, Etienne de Poncins. After all, war criminals and sponsors of Russian terrorism should sit on the defendant's bench in The Hague, not sunbathe on the beaches of Cannes, Saint-Tropez, or Nice...
About the author: Yegor Checherynda, Espreso journalist.