Aggression is an international crime. The aggressor is a criminal. Is a criminal able to refuse from being used by other criminals in order to achieve his own aim? Will he be grateful to his accomplices forever?

Those are the rhetorical questions but let’s have a look at such examples as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Long before the occupation of the part of the Ukrainian territory, the law enforcement authorities noticed the RF secret services tried to take advantage of the criminal formations acting in Ukraine to solve different problems for the RF’s benefit.   

One day, senior detective of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine and senior counsellor of justice Andriy Pochtarenko was interviewed by the mass media and informed on the development of the inquiry into the mass murder of nine people during the gang violence in the Interclub, in Kerch, in 1996. Viktor Kelzon was among the people. At that time, the Ministry of the Internal Affairs of Ukraine noticed over twenty different criminal formations on the Kerch Peninsula. One of the most criminal groups was masterminded by Viktor Kelzon. The formation was very active in the sea port of Kerch.  

The workers of the UA Ministry of the Internal Affairs traced their links with the Russian organized criminal groups on the territory of Krasnodar Krai. Doing that, they paid a special attention to the supplies of the large lots of weapon allegedly provided from Chechnya. Taking into account the information on the possible control of some actions initiated by the secret services of the Russian Federation and taking into consideration their impact, the Ukrainian officers of the law did not manage to realize that strategic information.

However, later, in 2009, in one of the neglected garages in Kerch, which hadn’t been in use for many years, a large arsenal of weapon being enough for a whole subdivision was found. There were 157 kilos of explosive, and that was enough for the organization of mass diversions and acts of terror.  

It was supposed Andriy Laptev nicknamed Lapot’ was one of those who ordered to shoot down Viktor Kelzon. After such original words of gratitude, he seized the control over Kelzon’s cases. One can only guess how the Russian secret services treated that and whether their behavior was a sort of ‘gratitude’ or, on the contrary, threw a monkey into their schemes to some extent. At any rate, the situation was not left without supervision as they immediately demonstrated they were determined in their counteraction to the criminality. By the way, the Ukrainian government was not able to cope with that.  In 2014, Laptev was detained and convicted by the Crimean Supreme Court to 15 years of imprisonment.

Though, let us not fall into ecstasies. Let’s just have a look at Oleksandr Kelzon’s ‘commercial activity’ after the death of his father Viktor. We can tell at once that Oleksandr Kelzon is closely linked to the well-known Narodytskyis who are popular in Crimea and officially registered in several affiliated commercial companies of the business group Yuvas that belongs to the Narodytskyis. In particular, Mr. Kelzon became Director of TOV Yuvas-Gazservice (the legal person’s EDRPOU code 36846128, address 1 Tavriyska Square, Kerch 98300, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea). It was also mentioned that he acted as a director-general or general manager of Uvas-Trans Ltd.

What exactly made that organization interesting?

The answer was obvious. It was lucrative due to a quick obtainment of preferences with the involvement in the project of the construction of the arterial gas pipeline Kuban-Crimea. That is not possible without the green light and support of the government of the Russian Federation. 

Right after the occupation, the gas pipeline, which was 400 km long, was rapidly built as its project had an old history that dated back to the times of the 2003 Ukrainian-Russian conflict. 

Those days, the provocative construction of the dam to Tuzla Island, which was started by the RF, was supported by the Ukrainian criminal groups under a careful supervision of the Russian secret services. In addition, the main pretext was a necessity of laying the gas pipeline and water supply system.  

For instance, the Ukrainian newspaper Dzerkalo Tyzhnia wrote the project of the water supply system from Kuban had a hidden plan with the intentions to be used for transporting a cheap illegal alcohol from Ossetia to Ukraine. As the newspaper stated, it cost less than 2 UAH/l including the supply price.

The gas pipeline was constructed in order to reinforce the positions of the RF in the gas producing branch. Moreover, it included the construction of 106 km of the stretch of the arterial gas pipeline in Krasnodar Krai, two 16 kilometer-threads of the passage over the Kerch Strait, and a 38 kilometer-stretch in Crimea with a double Dzhankoy-Feodosia-Kerch arterial gas pipeline tie-in, as well. The deadline term of the project realization was December 2016, according to the plan. 

At a time, they discussed the issue of the construction of Kerch sea gas terminal of the business group Yuvas. It was that scheme, which adopted the TOV Yuvas-Gazservice acting in coordination with other enterprises of the business group Yuvas. 

The above fact was proved, for instance, by the Letter of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation No. 12-44/22002 On the Registration the Gas Treatment Units (the original title in Russian) as of 29th August 2017. It was signed by V.R. Venchikova, Acting Director of the Department for the State Policy and Management in the Environmental Protection Affairs. The currently mentioned letter was quickly issued after a positive consideration of the petition sent by TOV Yuvas-Trans No. YuT-301 On the Issues of the Registration of the Technical Certificates for the Gas Treatment Units as of 7th July 2017.  

Besides, according to the study of the activity of TOV Ravnovesie, registered by O.V. Kelzon on 25th December 2015 at 10 Karl Marx St., Flat 82, Kerch 298300, the Republic of Crimea, which received OGRN code 1159102133519 and ID code No. 9111019740, it is permitted to carry out a licensed activity, i.e. running the inflammable and explosion-hazardous as well as chemically hazardous industrial objects of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Hazard Grades. Licence No. ВХ-00-015904.

Then, LNG carrier ALTERA 1, GOLDEN SEA (IMO: 8800298), VENICE (IMO: 9005479), and MAESTRO (IMO: 8810700), which practically belong to the business group Yuvas and have several ones registered for the Turkish Company  MILENYUM DENIZCILIK GEMI, was allowed to actually carry out secretly smuggling that was quickly covered by the Russian FSB service and other concerned RF structures.  

In 2019, two gas carriers were burnt during their illegal bunkering in the Black Sea, at the Kerch Strait. After that, it was informed they were transported to Kerch.

The fire on the LNG carriers CANDY (IMO: 9005479) previously named VENICE and GREEN ENERGY and MAESTRO (IMO: 8810700) previously named GREEN LIGHT started on 21st January 2019 and lasted over one month. 14 people died and 5 sailors were unaccounted for of 32 members of the crews.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (OFAC) informed the vessels VENICE and MAESTRO has been involved in illegally supplying the gas to Syria since 2016. 

As the international monitoring systems affirmed, the tanker VENICE came out of the Russian port Temriuk on 20th January. At the moment of the accident, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) on the vessel was not working.  The same situation happened to the tanker MAESTRO. ‘The last information on the vessel was recorded by the AIS on 9th Jan. 2019 року’, the Ministry of the Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs of Ukraine stated. The department stated that the AIS system makes it possible both to react to the ship accidents and provide the victims with medical aid and to trace the violations concerning the ship traffic and border trespass. ‘Such actions of the foreign companies involved in the marine shipping operations are done to avoid the liability according to the Ukrainian legislation. They are the tries, which help not to be recorded in the list of the companies-violators who shall be liable to the applicable international legal sanctions’, the Ministry of the Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs of Ukraine affirmed.  ‘At the moment, it is difficult to identify where the transported gas was supplied from. However, according to the available information, the ships VENICE and MAESTRO were involved into supplying the gas extracted both from the Ukrainian offshore area and from other states’. The Ministry emphasized that the above mentioned vessels had entered the closed ports of the occupied Crimea before. Thus, they are the violators of the regime of the temporarily occupied territories.

By the time, the business group Yuvas had actively participated in the petroleum smuggling schemes. Thus, since 2012, a suspicious activity of the tanker Smolnyi actually belonging to the company Yuvas-Trans has been noticed in the waters of the Azov and Black Seas as well as in the Kerch Strait, near the coastline of the RF. By 2010, the tanker had been owned by the Russian company. It had a Russian banner and actually sailed out of the port of St. Petersburg under the support of the RF government. Moreover, it was in the reserves of the international environmental organization and involved in the rescue operations. Nevertheless, after the reduced sale of the Yuvas-Trans, it was moved to the Azov and Black Sea regions with its banner changed. At the same time, it did not enter the ports. October 2014 was the last time when the monitoring service MarineTraffic received the coordinates of the ship that was in the Azov Sea.

In July 2015, the tanker was detained by the border service of the FSB of the Russian Federation under the unknown circumstances. They found out that the RF recorded the tanker had violated the Russian state border legislation without any proper response minimum 7 times as of that time.  

At the same time, they found out the tanker illegally bunkered, acting as a smuggling store for the petroleum products reshipment. As the ship was checked and searched, its captain was absent. The compulsory official documents and АІS working equipment were missing, too. 

The actions of the government and Russian border guards did not frighten the criminals. On the contrary, on 30th Sept. 2015, the Military Investigation Department of the Black Sea Investigation Commission of the RF received the Statement of D.A Potiomkin, representative of the company TOV Yuvas-Trans. The Statement informed on making the coworkers of the Border Department of the FSB of the RF responsible for their criminal deeds due to the illegal search of the ship Smolnyi and its transportation to the port Kerch.

They asked M.V. Briachak, Deputy of the 6th Convocation of RF State DUMA since 4th Dec. 2011 and Deputy Chairman of the Transport Commission, to help with solving the problem. The officials of Yuvas-Trans were not recognized liable.  

As we know the founders of Yuvas-Trans promised Mr. Briachak they would support him during the next 2016-elections to the State DUMA of the RF. He was going to become the deputy of the 7th convocation from the single-seat of Sevastopol lectoral district No. 219. He was not elected as a deputy for the second time, however.    

That is what the gratitude, virtue and also determination of the government of the occupants was like. Let the readers decide for themselves.

To be continued…