In the occupied Crimea, Russian-controlled media periodically raise the issue of the resort tram in the village of Molochne, Saksky District. Until 2014, this small village operated a narrow-gauge tram line, entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest in the world.

It appeared in 1987 to organize the delivery of vacationers to a beach, located one and a half kilometers from the village, by a joint effort of the boarding house “Beregovoy” and the Ukrainian South-Western Railway. The boarding house became inter-enterprisal, and the Korosten railwaymen, who built the network itself, received not only a part of this health resort, but also vouchers for rehabilitation, which became extremely important due to the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. Tram cars of German design, granted by Evpatoria, worked in the summer and really became a local tourist location.

In 2014, the tram stopped. Then the occupiers transferred the seized property (transformer substation, tram depot and actually two cars made in 1957) “to the balance of the Ministry of Property and Land Relations of the Republic of Crimea”. At the same time, the rails, overgrown with trees and bushes during the years of occupation, “remained the property of the boarding house”, and the land under them and under the boarding house was declared “municipal” [1]. Now Russian propagandists are worried that the “tram issue” cannot be solved, because the boarding house “is put up for auction after the change of owner” [2]; [3].

At the same time, the reports of the “independent press” quote, among other things, the “former director” of the boarding house, Ms. Tetiana Chistyakova. Interestingly, that according to Ukrainian registers, Ms. Tetyana Ivanivna Chistyakova is still the head of the private joint-stock company “Boarding House for Treatment of Parents with Children “Beregovoy”” (USREOU code 05521086), which she has consistently owned since 1998. This company is currently registered with the tax office in Henichesk, that required some efforts after 2014, and therefore it is very likely that its official owners still do not lose contact with the boarding house [3].

Under the conditions of the occupation, “Beregovoy”, as the advertisements and reviews of “Russian tourists” tell us, actually worked in 2017-2019, allegedly under the leadership of some businessmen from Ekaterinburg, but the tram was no longer operated. In 2020, the boarding house did not function at all [5]; [6]; [7]. Russian databases show that in 2017, a company “LOK Beregovoy” was formed with the same address in Molochne, headed by Russian citizen, Kopylov Sergei Viktorovich. This company was founded by Serhiy Oleksiyovych Huchkov, an businessman from the Sverdlovsk region, who in 2017 also tried to open a “construction business” in Yalta, but not very successfully [8]; [9]. Sergei Kopylov is a Moscow businessman and, among other things, he founded the law firm “Alexandrov, Kopylov and Partners” [10]. It would seem nothing extraordinary, that “Russian colonizers” tried to “play business” unsuccessfully in the Crimea. But this “tram story” has a characteristic “double bottom”.

After all, Ms. Tetyana Ivanivna Chistyakova currently has a very interesting status. On the one hand, she has been wanted since 2015, and her case 753/8630/17, as accused of treason, is being considered in absentia by the Darnytsia District Court of Kyiv [11]; [12]. And the issue here is not in boarding houses or trams, but in the fact that Chistyakova until 2014, “by a strange coincidence”, was a judge of the Court of Appeal of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. But then, by the decree of the President of the Russian Federation of December 19, 2014 № 786 Chistyakov was appointed as a “judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Crimea”, where she currently “successfully works” in the “Board of Civil Cases” [13]; [14].

Currently, “decisions of Crimean judges” are being removed en masse from Russian registers of courts’ decisions, hiding traces of international crimes. Therefore, it is difficult to cite something really interesting about Chistyakova’s service in favor of the Russian Federation. However, in her own “decisions” since 2014, even in purely “vegetarian” property cases, she has managed to restrict the rights of Crimean residents, in part by rejecting the fact that her jurisdiction as a “Russian judge in Crimea” is questionable. It is noteworthy that the applicants themselves unsuccessfully pointed this to her, for example in the “case” 33-2658/15 of 2015 [15]. Therefore, it is currently difficult to determine, how exactly the Moscow lawyer Kopylov turned the deal with Chistyakova about the boarding house in order to hide this at least co-owner of “Beregovoy” from Russian registers.

I will remind that earlier «ARC» already wrote about the Crimean «judges» who aspired to keep the property in the Ukrainian jurisdiction. But Chistyakova’s case is even more interesting, because while maintaining control over “Beregovoy” in Ukrainian registers, she seeks to hide herself in Russian records. Well, the tram in Molochne can now get back into the Book of Records, but as a tram network that did not last very long.

Boris Babin. Evpatoria-Odessa