Profile: Konstantin Malofeev
Updated December 3, 2017 by Anton Shekhovtsov
$160 mln as of 2011, from Finans.
Reported links with Communist party, KGB or organised crime:
None reported directly although use of mercenaries supposes a link with FSB
Undermining effect on democracy:
- He has founded the Safe Internet League that advances censorship in the Russian segment of the Internet;
- He has founded the Katehon website that promotes illiberal and anti-democratic messages in several languages;
- He has founded Tsargrad TV that promotes illiberal and anti-democratic messages in Russian language;
- He has contributed to building of the international homophobic and far right network;
- According to the Council of the European Union, he has been “acting in support of the destabilisation of Eastern Ukraine”.
Key bio and links with kleptocracies
Konstantin Malofeev was born on 3 July 1974 in Pushchino in Moscow Oblast. He graduated from the Moscow State University with a law degree in 1996; he converted to Orthodox Christianity on the fourth year of his university studies.
In 1996 Malofeev started working at the investment banking company “Renaissance Capital”, which he left in 1998. In 2002, after holding various short-term positions, Malofeev became a managing director of corporate finance at the MDM Bank. During his work, Malofeev became acquainted with Yevgeniy Yurchenko, a chief financial officer of Svyazinvest, which at that time was Russia’s largest state-controlled telecommunications company. Malofeev left the MDM Bank in 2005 to found his own investment company Marshall Capital Partners.
In 2009, Malofeev was elected to the Board of Directors of Svyazinvest as the head of the strategic planning committee. During his tenure as a member of the Board, Malofeev invited several employees of Marshall Capital Partners into the management of Svyazinvest, while his investment company itself bought several Svyazneft’s subsidiaries. As Svyazneft owned 51% of the shares of Rostelecom, Malofeev obtained 7% of the shares in Rostelecom.
Yevgeniy Yurchenko was disaffected with what he saw as Malofeev’s seizure of control over Svyazinvest, but Malofeev’s actions were backed by a powerful ally, namely Igor Shchegolev, then Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications, who had direct access to Putin and had known Malofeev before his appointment to the Svyazinvest’s Board. Shchegolev also chaired the Svyazinvest’s Board of Directors in 2010-2011, and requested that Yurchenko gives a resignation notice.
Russian economic investigative journalists suggest that Malofeev concluded the purchase of Rostelecom’s shares in favour of a major silovik, namely then Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov who supervised telecommunications. Ivanov’s son at that time was a deputy CEO of Gazprombank, and it was this bank that sold Rostelecom’s shares to Marshall Capital Partners. Furthermore, as it emerged, at least some of Rostelecom’s shares owned by Malofeev’s Marshall Capital Partners were in fact operated by Gazprombank. (In June 2015, Sergey Ivanov became a chair of Rostelecom’s Board of Directors.)
In 2007, Malofeev founded the Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation that aims at lobbying for various religious causes. In 2011, when Malofeev was still a member of the Boards of Directors of Svyazinvest and Rostelecom, and Shchegolev was still Minister of Telecom and Mass Communications, the Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation established – with support from Shchegolev’s Ministry – the Safe Internet League. Shchegolev headed the supervisory board of the League that also included high-ranking officials from various power ministries and representatives of Russian Internet companies. For example, the League was supported by the large international software security company Kaspersky Lab headed by Eugene Kaspersky, a graduate of the Fourth (Technical) Department of the Higher School of the KGB. Officially, the League aimed at countering the distribution of illegal contents in the Internet, and later it emerged that the League became the major Russian lobbyist of censorship in the Internet. At the end of 2011, the League drafted what became known as the Internet Restriction Law that the State Duma adopted in 2012 and that since then has been used by the Russian authorities to censor the Internet.
In 2009, the Russian investment banking company VTB Capital filed a complaint against Malofeev at London’s Royal Courts of Justice demanding to return the $225 million credit that was loaned out to one of Malofeev’s companies, Russagroprom, in 2007. In 2011, the court arrested the assets of Malofeev’s structures. By January 2015, Malofeev’s structures owed to VTB Capital $596 million ($225 million of the active debt and $371 million of charges and forfeit), but in March 2015, it turned out that VTB Capital agreed to take only $100 million, and the dispute was resolved. Many experts linked VTB Capital’s discount to Malofeev’s presumed involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian war. Two Malofeev’s associates, Aleksandr Borodai and Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, who worked for Marshall Capital Partners, were fighting against the Ukrainian authorities in Eastern Ukraine; in 2014, Borodai was “prime minister” of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, while Girkin was its “minister of defence”. For his Ukraine-related activities, Malofeev was sanctioned by the European Union, Switzerland and the US and recently by Montenegro. On 25 November 2017, Ukrainian law enforcement announced that Malofeev is wanted under an international search warrant for sponsoring illegal military units in Ukraine and other crimes.
In 2012, Pavel Durov, founder of Vkontakte social media accused Malofeev in staging a dirty informational campaign against his business (through hysteria on child pornography placed in Vkontake). According to Durov, Malofeev wanted to buy his social media company but he refused to do on Malofeev’s terms. These allegations never went to a court or an independent investigation but subsequently Durov was indeed ousted from his company and had to leave Russia, while Vkontakte got under control of another Kremlin-connected underminer Alisher Usmanov.
In an interview in 2015, Malofeev himself confirmed that he had joint financial and cultural projects with Tikhon Shevkunov, Orthodox priest who is allegedly close to Putin, and Vladimir Yakunin, then minister of railways.
Undermining activity in the West
In 2014, Marshall Capitall announced that it joins CFG Capital (France), private European investor focused on investment projects in Russia and the CIS and goes under its management. CFG is headed by Belgian-Russian businessman Pierre Louvrier who had lived and worked in Moscow for many years and has been a vocal supporter of the Russian annexation of Crimea. However, very few industry contacts heard of CFG Capital, while its original website does not seem to exist. It seems that since then Marshall Capitall continued its existence.
It was reported that Expert Council of CFG consisted of Deputy Head Alexander Torshin, French Assembly deputy and co-president of Franko-Russian Dialogue Thierry Mariani and other insiders close to Kremlin.
In 2015, OCCRP found that another seemingly non-existent firm of Louvrier LIC33 announced that it had bought shares in the largest Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, known as Vivacom AD, from previous owner Tsvetan Vassilev, a Bulgarian oligarch with close ties to Kremlin.
In 2014, Aleksey Komov, a foreign projects manager of the Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and a member of the Board of the Safe Internet League, helped to establish and became honorary president of the Lombardy-Russia Cultural Association that is closely connected to the Italian far right Northern League party. The activities of the Association are aimed at promoting Russia’s aggressive foreign policies in Italy, including attempts at building business relations between Italian businessmen and businessmen in Russia-annexed Crimea.
In 2014, Malofeev met with the founder of the French far right National Front party and helped Le Pen’s political funding association Cotelec (which was used to lend funds for electoral campaigns of the National Front members) to receive €2 million from Vernonsia Holdings Ltd., a Cyprus-registered offshoot of the Investment Company of Vnesheconombank (or VEB Capital) that, in its turn, is a 100% subsidiary company of the Russian state corporation “Bank of Development and Foreign Economic Affairs” (or Vnesheconombank). At that time, General Director of VEB Capital was Yuriy Kudimov, whom Malofeev knew since at least 2010 when they both served on the Board of Directors of Rostelecom.
At the end of May 2014, Malofeev convened a secret meeting in Vienna. Among the participants of the meeting, several people were identified: the National Front’s Marion Maréchal-Le Pen and Aymeric Chauprade; Russian fascist Aleksandr Dugin and ultranationalist painter Ilya Glazunov; the leadership of the far right Freedom Party of Austria, namely Heinz-Christian Strache, Johann Gudenus and Johann Herzog; Bulgarian far right Ataka’s leader Volen Siderov; Prince Sixtus Henry of Bourbon-Parma; and Serge de Pahlen, president of the Swiss financial company Edifin Services. The participants of this far right meeting discussed how to “save Europe from liberalism and the ‘satanic’ gay lobby”.
In October 2014, the Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, together with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska, organised a visit of 127 Russian Cossacks to Banja Luka just a few days before the general election in Republika Srpska. It is widely believed that these Russian Cossacks could have participated or even initiated violent unrest in case the pro-Russian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik had failed to be re-elected as president of Republika Srpska. The leader of the group of Russian Cossacks was identified as Nikolay Dyakonov, who had previously led a group that participated in the Russian invasion of Crimea. In June 2015, President Dodik awarded orders to Malofeev, Shchegolev, Denis Davydov of the Safe Internet League and Leonid Reshetnikov (a retired Lieutenant General of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and then Director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies) for their contribution to the development of the relations between Russia and Republika Srpska.
At the end of 2014, Malofeev’s associates launched a think-tank called “Katehon” aimed at promotion of far right ideas and conspiracy theories in the West, Russia and the Arab world. Presided by Malofeev himself, the supervisory board of Katehon featured notable figures such as Dugin (who left Katehon in 2017), Leonid Reshetnikov, presidential advisor Sergey Glazyev, and Andrey Klimov, a senior member of the ruling United Russia party and deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Russia’s Federation Council of the Federal Assembly.
Although he denies it, Malofeev appears to be a brief sponsor, in August-October 2014, of a Belarusian citizen Alyaksandr Usovsky who has been engaged in orchestrating anti-Ukrainian activities in Slovakia and Poland through fringe far right movements, although it is not clear what particular activities Malofeev might have funded.
Controlled (50%+): Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, Marshall Capital Partners, Safe Internet League, Tsargrad Conglomerate, Gilroy Trading Limited (Cyprus)
Minority stakes: (49% -): OJSC JFSC Sistema (0.35%)