Anna Ustinova-Boichenko, Candidate of Legal Sciences, Associate Professor

The Russia’s authorities directed the efforts of their protégés to “feed” ordinary Crimean residents with promises and thus divert attention from real problems. immediately after the beginning of the occupation of Crimea and the formation of the invaders “administration”. The Crimean population was promised to improve living conditions, to carry out transformations in almost all spheres of the economy and national economy, to create a developed infrastructure, new roads, educational and medical institutions and much more. To implement these promises, the occupation “powers” even adopted a corresponding federal target program (FTP). However, as practice shows, the implementation of state development programs, even without the factor of the “gray zone” of the occupied territory, creates sample opportunities for unscrupulous officials to fill the pockets of the authorities at the expense of public interests. It is not surprising that the Crimean collaborators and their curators sent from the Russian Federation “could not resist” and took advantage of this opportunity.

Let us recall that by the Prescript of the Government of the Russian Federation of August 11, 2014 No. 790, the FTP “Socio-Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol until 2020” (“Program”) was approved [1]. But later, both due to the impossibility of fulfilling the utopian indicators of the “Program”, and because of the unwillingness to lose such a tidbit of funding, it was extended for several times. Now the deadline for the implementation of the “Program” has been extended until 2025.

As noted in the first redaction of the “Program”, a number of the main socio-economic indicators of the development of Crimea do not reach the “average Russian level”. The “Program” planned to “concentrate and coordinate financial, material and labor resources with the aim of their most efficient use, in order to ensure the consistency of solutions to federal and regional problems, and to achieve the required end result within the established time frame” [1]. At the same time, the invaders not only failed to meet the initial deadlines for the implementation of the “Program”, but are still far from reaching the declared “average” socio-economic indicators. But such a “success” was laid by the Russian Federation back in 2014, in the most target indicators and indicators of the “Program” implementation, such as, for example, “the increase in the length of power transmission lines (cumulative total)”, “the area of reclaimed landfills (cumulative total)”, “Commissioning of educational facilities (cumulative total)” [1] and the like.

By the way, the entire “Program” is built around “cumulative results”. After all, it is easy to “fulfill” the planned indicator if there are no real numbers. Whatever is done by the “administration”, if the indicators grow annually by at least one unit (one meter of laid power lines, one ar of reclaimed landfills, one repaired school), then the “Program” will be considered to be allegedly “successfully implemented”. And at the same time, the maximum funding for the “Program” is 1,373.6 billion rubles, including 39.8 billion at the expense of the “subjects of the Russian Federation” and another 31.1 billion rubles at the expense of extra-budgetary sources [2].

Since 2015, changes have been made to the “Program” more than 12 times, so its modern edition differs from the initial text by 40 %. Initially, the “Program” was aimed at allegedly improving the engineering, energy, social and transport sectors. In addition, it was planned to build a “medical cluster” in Sevastopol, which would consist of 10 healthcare facilities and institutions that would train new specialists for the healthcare sector [3]. As of June 2021, of course, the “medical cluster” has not been built, although it was promised to be commissioned by 2020.

In 2019, 150.5 billion rubles were to be allocated for the “development” of Crimea and Sevastopol in accordance with the Program; in 2020 – 120.7 billion, in 2021 – 26.3 billion and in 2022 – 12 billion. Dmitry Medvedev noted the need to use these funds to achieve concrete results in the construction of roads, supplying the peninsula with water and electricity, as well as in the creation of social infrastructure. Public activist Volodymyr Garanchuk notes that it is difficult to determine whether these are new funds, or old ones that were “not used” in previous years, because the disbursement of funds under these programs is “phased”. After all, the funds of the “Program”, which were allocated “for the development” of Crimea in 2015-2017, were not always used even by theft by the “administration”, because their level of spending in general ranged from 40 % to 70 %. Accordingly, the “carry-over” was to be returned to the federal budget.

Therefore, it is rather difficult to say that this is exclusively money provided by the “Program” earlier, or the unused money for the previous period. To get an answer to this question, it is necessary to study the “budget list” and sources of funding for the “Program” and “regional and municipal programs” for its implementation. As the activist notes, the money allocated at the expense of the regions of the Russian Federation itself simply dissolves in Crimea, like in a bottomless barrel, and Moscow “does not control enough” the Crimean “officials” on the “use of federal funds” [4].

The fate of these means can be traced in the activities of the punitive structures of the aggressor, where the facts of “responsibility” are “highlighted” in situations when the thief either “took out of order” or “did not report enough to the leadership”. In particular, in October 2020, the “Leninsky District Court” in Sevastopol “brought to criminal responsibility” the head of the “Department for the Operation of Municipal Facilities”, Mr. Alexander Antyufeev for “abuse of office with causing grave consequences”. He received a “verdict” in connection with the “disappearance” of more than two billion rubles during the construction of the “Southern” sewage treatment facilities.

Mr. Antyufeev allegedly entered into a “state contract” with the “Biotechprogress” company in the amount of 6.85 billion rubles for the construction of the “Southern” facilities, and then allegedly signed an “additional agreement to the contract”, including a clause on “treasury support”. The firm was transferred 30 % of the “advance” in the amount of 2.056 billion rubles to its account in “OFK Bank”, which license was revoked by the Central Bank of the Russia a few months later. It is reported that the contractor allegedly managed to spend 747 million rubles in advance for purposes not related to the fulfillment of the contract, and the remaining 1.3 billion rubles were blocked in the bankrupt bank [5]. In this situation, the key is that the invaders did not begin to build “Southern” at all, but the funds for the corresponding “needs” are still allocated for the duties of Mr. Antyufeev’s successors in office. To date, the construction of the “Southern” is promised to be completed by 2023, and only the “base cost” of their construction is already 8.5 billion rubles [6].

Russian political scientist Igor Eidman believes that only a small part of the “Program”’s funds will reach the peninsula, since “officials” use “cunning” schemes and distribute money between the Moscow federal and “Crimean regional” bureaucracy. It is added that they can do this very easily, since there is no institutional public control [4]. We will add that the “officials” of Crimea are very well aware of this situation. This is evidenced by another “verdict” to the former “Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea” Oleg Kazurin from the “Kiev District Court” of Simferopol. Kazurin was “punished” for alleged bribes and fraud by assisting a certain firm in obtaining a “state contract” for the construction of houses in Kerch, at the expense of the “Program”. The facilities were supposed to be built by November 2016, but then it turned out that there were only foundation pits in place of the houses [7].

We need to add that the prescript on the approval of the “Program” states that it is aimed primarily at “increasing the length of public roads of regional importance that meet the regulatory requirements of transport and operational indicators, increasing the number of places in preschool educational and general educational organizations, as well as to increase the tourists’ flows”. As even the experts of the “Crimean Anti-Corruption Committee”, who have been removed from its “feeding trough” note regarding the “Program”, state that in the measurement of highways they have “many questions, in particular, regarding documentation”.

It is stated that not only “the work is carried out at an inflated cost” (although otherwise it would be very strange), but in general – “without projects” and “according to a separate estimate”. In addition, during the implementation of the “Program”, “general projects for the reconstruction of the road transport network and yard passages” were not made. And on the notorious problem of water supply, experts add that “next year more than four billion rubles have been allocated for the reconstruction of water supply networks, but reconstruction is generally impossible, since these networks are located just under the roads that are being repaired” [8].

It is obvious that such appetites of local thieves are not too welcomed by the Russia’s federal authorities, who are well aware of who these financial flows are actually going to, but keeps key collaborators in their places for “political reasons”. In particular, in December 2020, the head of the occupation “administration” of Crimea, Sergei Aksenov, was forced to announce a “decrease in the expenditures of the republican budget” in 2021 by almost 30 % due to “a decrease in funding for activities” under the “Program”.

So the implementation of the “Program” started soon after the beginning of the occupation of the Crimean peninsula, but in almost seven years it is difficult to see its result. “Bringing to justice” certain Crimean “officials” is just a “drop in the bucket”, since it is difficult to estimate the real amount of funds of the “Program” passing in an unknown direction. After all, the Russian “authorities”, by definition, will not allow the existence of institutions of public control in the occupied Crimea, which would be able to raise the relevant questions and oblige the “authorities” to report their expenses. Well, the “official reports” on the “Program”, of course, show “high achievements” and “fulfillment of the assigned tasks”.

Until the end of the implementation of the “Program” remains, according to its current, already thirteenth version, allegedly in four years. Therefore, a rhetorical question arises, for how many years it will continue and how much money from it will still be able to put the invaders in their pockets. The answer to it will be shown by time and the de-occupation of the peninsula, at the time of which the “Program” will clearly be in a state of chronic “successful implementation within the framework of additional estimates”.