Experts of our Association have repeatedly written about the powerful fishery mafia of the post-Soviet countries, which made a significant contribution to the formation and consolidation of the occupation regime of the aggressor State in the Crimea. Fisheries, operation of vessels, money laundering were investigated, in particular through the Crimean real estate and the activities of the relevant “business structures” in the Crimea, in mainland Ukraine, in Russia, Belarus, in the Baltic countries and so on.
But this problem can and should be approached from the other side – namely through the eyes of the final consumer of the fishery product. Therefore, we investigated open sources, regarding the turnover of the Crimea-origin canned fish products in the post-Soviet space, which allowed us to come to a number of sad conclusions.
Ukrainian hypermarkets’ secrets
In mainland Ukraine, the choice of domestically produced fish canned products is rather limited, and the main brand name is “Aquamarine”. Analysis of the labeling of the corresponding canned food indicates that the manufacturer of relatively freshwater fish, sardines, mackerel, sprat, as well as mussels and Antarctic krill is indicated by OOO RKZ “Pivdenny”, located in Mykolaiv on Vodopoynaya street, 31 with production facilities in Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi on Izmail street, 106.
For cod liver of the “Aquamarine” brand, the importers are indicated are the Kiev LLC “Timefish” from 46/48 Shelkovichnaya Street and “Distribution-Center LLC” from Akademika Palladina Avenue, 44 building 8, which also imports tuna under the same brand. The Icelandic company Ægir Sjávarfang ehf from Grindavik is indicated as the producer of the cod liver “Aquamarine”, and the Norwegian “King Oscar AS” from Bergen is the customer. The manufacturer of the “Aquamarine tuna” is the “Thai Union Manufacturing Company ltd” from Samutsahkon.
Immediately, we note that by “a strange coincidence” it was the specified Icelandic company in 2019 that received from the Russian Federal Accreditation Service a declaration of conformity of products to the standards of the Customs Union controlled by Russia. The “Taste Concept” (“Kontzeptziya Vkusa”) LLC from the city of Khimki, Moscow Oblast  applied for this declaration, which opened the Icelandic liver access to the markets of Russia and of its satellites, after which the specified cod liver is distributed in Russia  under the brand name “5 Morey”  , to which we will return.
It is interesting that the products of the mentioned company from Thailand in Russia have also been certified since 2010, but by the Federal Veterinary Surveillance Service within the framework of “feed additives for cats and dogs” . We add that the aforementioned company “King Oscar AS” is headed by Bjørn Nordvik and Thiraphong Chansiri , and Mr. Nordvik previously worked in the “Thai Union Group” , which includes the above-pointed Thai company, and the father of Mr. Chansiri , Kraisorn Chansiri, in fact, heads the “Thai Union Group” as the world’s largest producer of canned tuna with an annual revenue of $ 4.2 billion .
But it seems that Mr. Chansiri did not work out with counterparties. Let’s start with the fact that the aforementioned LLC “Fish Canning Plant “Pivdenny” (“Rybokonservny Zavod” or “RKZ” “Pivdenny”), code 32427900, has Andrey Valentinovich Chuklin  registered in the occupied Donetsk as the founder, about whom the “ARC” experts had already written. Mr. Chuklin not only managed the “Bastion” companies and the “Trust Development” Trust Fund, but he also headed or was the beneficiary of the already mentioned “Timefish” LLC, as well as “Interkril” LLC, EG “Service”, “Fiji 22” and others.
The above-pointed Ukrainian companies are united by one common thing – the practical support of the fishing vessel “More Sodruzhestva” IMO number 8724315, which has been fishing for Antarctic krill in the waters of the South Atlantic under the flag of Ukraine for many years . Also, Mr. Chuklin distinguished himself by his status as the spouse of the head of the State Fisheries Agency of Ukraine Anna Shishman (after the relevant “ARC” publications of, Anna changed her last name in 2021 and left her leadership position on a “long-awaited long vacation”) .
Earlier, the husband of the Head of the Agency, Mr. Chuklin, held an equally important position in the same bodies – the Head of the Department for the Organization of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Scientific Support of the State Fisheries Agency during the period when this structure was headed by Yarema Kovaliv in times of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, a protégé of the notorious Estonian tycoon Hillar Teder making business in the Crimea. In particular, in 2016, Mr. Chuklin was even the chairman of the Ukrainian delegation at the 27th session of the Ukrainian-Russian Commission on Fisheries in the Sea of Azov. Also, “ARC” pointed to the travels of the gentleman not only “to his parents” residing in Russia-occupied Novoazovsk, but also to Cape Town, where the “More Sodruzhestva” is now based.
At the same time, it was stated that the “IKF” company is the ship owner of this vessel, the formal head of which Dmitry Tsulukia, together with Mr. Chuklin, heads IG “Service”, and the real beneficiary of this company is Alexander Mikhailovich Moshensky from Belarusian Brest, the founder of the “Santa Bremor” corporation, covering 25% of the Russian preserves market, general director of the Belarusian-German enterprise “Santa Impex Brest”, which created a dealer network in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, a member of the “Council for the Development of Entrepreneurship” under the dictator Lukashenko.
Let us add that the exporter of Icelandic liver, Kiev LLC “Distribution-Center, unlike LLC “Timefish”, is not directly headed by Mr. Chuklin. But at the same time, “Distribution-Center” is financed, according to recent audit reports, from the “Trust Development” fund controlled by Mr. Chuklin , which has been under investigation since 2015 in criminal proceedings 320151100110000351 on the legalization of property obtained by criminal means. But there were other criminal proceedings regarding the relevant structures, namely 42016000000004101, which was carried out by the Ukraine’s Security Service (SSU) specifically for the illegal commercial activities of the fish canning industry in the occupied Crimea.
For example, according to the ruling of the Shevchenkovsky District Court of Kiev in 2017, case 761/43359/17, the investigators were looking for documents from the “Crimean” company “Interrybflot-Krym” and at the same time “Interfish-plus” operating in the occupied East of Ukraine, but seized “59 sheets of paper from imprints of blue seals of LLC “Pivdenny RKK” . As the SSU’s investigation believed, the same persons headed the mainland and “Crimean” companies “Fish-Canning Plant “Aquamarine”,“Interrybflot-Krym” and “Interrybflot”.
Moreover, as it follows from the ruling of the same court dated December 11, 2017 in case 761/44182/17, during a search at the Kyiv address Akademika Palladina Avenue, 44, building 8, the seal of the above-mentioned exporter LLC “Distribution Center” registered at that address was found, as the seal of LLC “Timefish”, but also three seals of the LLC Trading House “Aquamarine” registered in Russia, code 5001097876 were confiscated, as well as the seal of the Russian LLC “Sea Commonwealth” (“More Sodruzhestva”), code 1047796843885 . According to Russian registries, the pointed “Trading House “Aquamarine” is registered in the city of Balashikha, Moscow Oblast, and we will return to it later.
And in 2017 the SSU’s investigators considered “found out that a part of the seafood manufactured at the “Aquamarine” fish canning plant was smuggled into the controlled territory of Ukraine”. And “the authority to organize the documentary registration of its production”, according to the investigation, was assigned to the Mykolaiv-located LLC “RKZ “Pivdenny” for “further products’ realization according to falsified documents on the controlled territory of Ukraine” .
It is noteworthy that during the searches were seized the seal of “Westside Trading Ltd” (a company with that name is registered in Cape Town ), “Buddy Group Inc” (this consulting firm is registered in the California city of Costa Mesa ) “Ou Pech No. 12207048” (An Estonian wholesale trade company registered in Tallinn ), “Sandwall Holdings Limited” (these are twin companies, one Ukrainian, registered in Sevastopol , and the other in Cyprus ) and “Jane Universal SA” (operates since 2011 in Panama ). Under such conditions, it is not surprising that among a heap of other seals, investigators found there, in particular, the seal of the Central Research Institute of Economics, code 16514043, which was founded by the Ukraine’s State Committee for Fisheries .
Another thing is surprising, namely, the personality of the head of the Cypriot version of the aforementioned Sandwall Holdings Limited, Mr. Matthew Spencer Coates. This gentleman is also a registrant of “Epam International Limited”, founded in 2015 in Great Britain, with an address in London Soho . The company positions itself as an investment structure formed by a group of “Forex” traders and it is active, in particular, in the cryptocurrency market .
It is noteworthy that the semi-namesake of this firm, with a London office a few blocks away, is “Epam Systems Ltd”, a multinational IT technology corporation operating in 35 countries of the world, uniting more than 40 thousand people with revenues of $ 2.6 billion. The founder of “Epam Systems Ltd” is Arkady Dobkin, who, before the collapse of the USSR, “worked as a programmer at a powerful state enterprise in Minsk, where he later created his first private company in the field of software development” . We think that it is not necessary to guess for a long time for whom this structure is actually working with “Epam” offices in Vinnitsa, Dnipro, Kyiv, Lviv and Kharkiv,
Let us remind you that in Lukashenko’s Belarus the KGB was not even renamed.
However, there are no verdicts in the aforementioned SSU’s criminal proceeding, where all these interesting connections surfaced, and the evidence obtained was returned to LLC RKZ “Pivdenny” by a judge’s decision of December 10, 2018 . Moreover, according to the lawsuit filed by “Timefish” LLC in case 910/7568/19 in 2020, the SSU recovered more than 2.8 million hryvnias of budgetary funds for compensation for “damage caused by investigative actions”, and this decision of the economic court became final .
In general, the structures headed by Mr. Chuklin, are lucky in the courts. For example, in 2020, “RKZ Pivdenny” cancelled in Odessa in case 420/4472/19 the decision of the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi’s executive committee of , which tried to ban the activities of “production facilities” for canned food “Aquamarine” in the city due to industrial effluent emissions . Earlier, immediately after the beginning of the Russian aggression of Crimea, the plant firmly “repulsed the raider attack” of Odessa’s businessmen, who probably thought that in the pathos of the “formation of the Russian world” the enterprise’s beneficiaries would not have time for their Ackerman assets . But then someone was very seriously mistaken in assessing the capacity of the octopus, for which the Odessite bandits turned out to be ordinary plankton.
So, the “Aquamarine” business in the controlled territory of Ukraine is still feeling confident enough and calmly showing alleged losses within the framework of an allegedly only 32 million hryvnia annual income.
It should be added that the Belarusian company LLC JV “Santa Bremor”, registered in Brest, Katin Bor street, 106, supplies its products to mainland Ukraine in other ways. In particular, its official importer is LLC “Santa-Ukraine”, registered in Svyatopetrovske, Kyiv Region, Belgorodskaya street, 24. The same Alexander Moshensky is the beneficiary of this structure, as well as of the LLC “Santa Holod Ukraine” [31, 32], they supply to mainland “caviar fish products”, as well as preserves. Further it will be clear how this is related to the Crimea.
Crimean fish market’s dark waters
The situation with the canned fish market in the Crimea is somewhat more difficult to investigate, but we seem to have succeeded. The main practical production facilities, closely related to the fishing fleet, are still located in Sevastopol at 33 Rybport Embankment and at 55 Kamyshove Highway. Vladimir Gelvanovsky and Vladimir Nigar “registered” LLC “Fish Cannery “Aquamarine” (“Rybokonservny Kombinat” of “RKK” “Aquamarine”) in “Russian jurisdiction” with “Russian” code 9204000647 after the beginning of the occupation . It is noteworthy that “RKK” “Aquamarine” is often “confused” in its own addresses and sometimes designates on products widespread in the occupied territory not the “registration address”, but the place of “registration” of Mr. Nigar as an entrepreneur, at 23 Bolshaya Morskaya Street, room 120/10 . However, several more “fish” companies are registered there.
Mr. Gelvanovsky was a member of the Sevastopol City Council from the “Party of Regions” before the Russian aggression, and, according to the Internet, he “supervised” fish catching and processing enterprises under the patronage of the head of the Sevastopol’s Militia, Major General Vitaly Malikov, son-in-law of the ex-Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Mykola Belokon. Now the pro-Russian propaganda ascribes, within the framework of the “intra-specific struggle”, to Gelvanovsky’s participation in organized crime under the patronage of Lev Mirimsky and in transactions with the “Tavryka” bank, which was finally liquidated in 2016 .
It should be admitted that the “business talents” of Mr. Gelvanovsky are at least varied, because dry cleaners, hotels, ship repair and electrical engineering enterprises, and, in particular, “Interrybflot” LLC with the “Russian” code 9204022552 are “registered” as his owns in the Russian registers. This enterprise, as well as LLC “Interrybflot-Krym”, with “Russian” code 9204010300, has the same Vladimir Nigar as co-owner, and these structures are actually used as a gasket in freight (charter or bareboat charter) for fishing vessels . However, it is difficult to recognize both Mr. Nigara and Mr. Gelvanovsky as the real beneficiaries of “Aquamarine”, since they are still persons of not such a powerful “business weight”. It is enough to revise the “registers of court decisions”, where these formal owners of “factories and ships” regularly attend “sessions of the Sevastopol courts” in a number of lawsuits at the recreation center “Cape Sarych” .
Let us add that a number of companies are also registered with Mr. Nigar as the alleged owner. These are both the aforementioned “fish’ enterprises and “Interprom” LLC with Krasnodar similar purpose registration, as well as the Sevastopol real estate companies “Most-S”, “Service-Technologii”, “SKK”. Moreover, Mr. Nigar was listed as the founder of “Crimea-Moscow-Stroy” LLC, with “Russian” code 9201008408 , which had been building the “Sea Breeze” residential complex on Sevastopol Stepanyan Street for an extremely long time and will put it into operation with completely different founders. . So the “business portrait” of the formal founder of “Aquamarine” clearly does not resemble its real owner.
It cannot be denied that “Aquamarine” remains under the scrutiny of Sevastopol’s “administration”, because in 2020 they actively lobbied for the “development” of huge “federal funds” for the construction of ten fishing vessels for the enterprise . But something “went wrong” in the calculation of the proportions of kickbacks of such a “tasty cake” between the “city authorities” and the Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and the money was not allocated. It is noteworthy that, since 2014, “Aquamarine” itself has been consistently working on the principle “only cowards give up debts” and is constantly in litigation regarding its own bankruptcy.
But as soon as in the “court” “the case begins to move towards a solution”, the money to pay off debts is instantly “found”. The last time in 2021, “Aquamarine” decided to “play” for 6.7 million roubles with the “federal tax cervices”  and it paid off the debt at the last moment, leaving the “case А84-61/21” to be covered with dust in the “arbitration court” . In 2020, a “criminal case” was even initiated against “Aquamarine” due to non-payment of wages, but this “case” ended in nothing.
As the “employment resources”, controlled by the Russian invaders, evidence, this enterprise constantly recruits new “fish handlers” with promises to pay from 25 to 35 thousand rubles . When the employee is no longer satisfied with these promises, a new one is taken in his place. With this approach, it is not surprising that consumers of “Aquamarine” products, which were of consistently good quality until 2014, write not very happy reviews about them, in particular with regard to canned goods purchased in Russia itself, in the “Magnit” and “Pyaterochka” market networks [44, 45]. But such a business strategy means that the real owners of a fish canning factory have no one to fear, at least – at the level of a “federal city”.
But the most interesting was the online display of this Sevastopol enterprise’s activities . According to profile resources , the site akvamarin.com.ru is the contacts of Sevastopol’s “Aquamarine”. But by visiting this site, you can make sure that there, under the same trademark, they sell not sprat and gobies from “Pyaterochka”, but meat of mussels, krill, octopus, squid and mackerel as allegedly “high-segment canned fish” caught in wildlife of Antarctica. This site indicates Kriulinsky proezd, 5 in the town of Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, as the address of “Aquamarine” . It is noteworthy that no companies were registered at that address at all, but in Elektrostal, until 2017, the now liquidated “Aquamarine” Trading House LLC was actually located at another address .
So in order to deal with the “high segment”, you should go to the Crimean stores. It is noteworthy that there, especially in rural areas, there are often no products with the “Aquamarine” brand, and there is even a persistent rumour that the “enterprise has been closed” for several years already. Instead, in Crimean villages they sell sprat and goby from “Vo STO krat” LLC, which is packed in Kerch at 2 Heroes Eltingen, as well as similar “set of options” from “Fortuna Krym” LLC, “registered” in Simferopol with production in the village of Fontany, street Ozenbashskaya 4.
But “Aquamarine” cans are still sold in the Crimean supermarkets and large grocery stores in the corporate design of cans, but with rather strange production locations. In particular, octopuses, krill and similar non-Black Sea ingredients, according to the marks, are packaged in the already familiar Brest LLC JV “Santa Bremor”, 106 Katin Bor Street.
But the branded sprat in tomato sauce “Aquamarine” for Crimean residents is allegedly packaged in LLC “Kerchkholod”, whose facilities are located in Kerch, street Cementnaya Slobodka, 49. Such an extraordinary geography can be explained by the need to “master subsidies”. “ARC” has already written that funds of the “federal target program” and “republican programs” are being plundered en masse in the Crimea, and that certain funds from the 30.5 “budget” million were successfully mastered in 2020, they were written off to “new equipment” specifically for LLC “Kerchkholod” .
This trick would not have worked for the Sevastopol “Aquamarine”, because there is an “administration” in the city, separated from the “Republic of Crimea” with its own approaches to kickbacks (as it was already mentioned above). Indeed, according to the website of “Kerchholod”, back in 2018, “a workshop for the production of canned fish of the tomato group was established” . Well, when in September 2020 the new “General Director” Anatoly Bogdanov came to the enterprise, it was possible to “launder” a little “budget money” in the “new workshop”. But it is interesting that on the “Kerchholod” website there are no products of the “Aquamarine” brand at all, and that this company only advertises its own canned food of the “Azovchanka” brand.
At the same time, both Brest and Kerch “Aquamarine” from the shelves of Crimean supermarkets are united by the customer of production – LLC “Trade House “Aquamarine”, code 5001097876 located in the town of Balashikha, Stroyka settlement, ownership 1, building 2. General director of this clone of “Aquamarine” is Stanislav Malyshev, who is linked by Russian registries to many companies in various industries, and thus he is highly likely to be a dummy.
It is noteworthy that Balashikha’s “Aquamarine” was registered on February 14, 2014, a week before Russian intervention in the Crimea started . Recall that, as it was mentioned above, during the SSU’s search of the premises of the companies associated with Mr. Chuklin in 2017, three seals were found namely for “Trade House “Aquamarine” LLC with Russian code 5001097876. It is difficult to imagine that the seals revealed in Kiev in 2017 were “accidentally coincided “on the tax code with products from Balashikha’s “Aquamarine” on the shelves of the Yalta market in 2021. It is even more difficult to imagine the “accidental” creation of a Russian clone of “Aquamarine” a week before the appearance of “green men” in Sevastopol in 2014.
Therefore, it should be stated that the products of the Sevastopol “Aquamarine” are now going primarily to the Russian, and not to the Crimean market. At the same time, they are trying to hide the “tails” of a real manufacturer behind a “gasket” in Balashikha town and with usage the fake addresses on websites. The connection between “Aquamarine” and the Belarusian company JV “Santa Bremor”, which at the same time successfully develops on the mainland Ukraine’s market, also became obvious.
Donetsk pentagram of the fish mafia
The mosaic of canned fish’s deals would not be complete without an analysis of the content of Donetsk and Luhansk stores, carried out in September 2021 by caring visitors. The result, taking into account the above, turned out to be extremely interesting. Let us recall that in criminal proceedings 42016000000004101 in 2017, SSU’s investigators were looking in Kyiv at firms registered in Andrey Chuklin for something about the distribution of products in the occupied East of Ukraine.
But store shelves are often more eloquent than volumes of criminal proceedings. For example, in the Donetsk market “Caravan” on the shelves you can find “Black Sea sprat fried in tomato sauce” and “Fried goby in tomato sauce”, with a clarification on the can that this is the Azov Black Sea round goby. The manufacturer of these canned food is indicated on the labels exactly as the “fish canning plant” (“Rybokonservny kombinat”) “Aquamarine” with the Sevastopol address, and the authorized representative of the manufacturer is pointed as LLC “Trade house “Vkusnye konservi”, registered in the town of Lyubertsy, Moscow Oblast, Oktyabrskoye village, Sovetskaya street, 14. The same bulls, with indicating the “Vkusnye konservi” (“tasty canned food”) web-site tastytins.ru and in the same packaging, were found by visitors in the “Trading House” “Gornyak” in Makiivka and in Donetsk “Hercules-MOLOKO” store.
It is noteworthy that at the same time “Gobies fried in tomato sauce” were also sold in the same “Hercules-MOLOKO”, also attributed to the “Aquamarine” plant with a Sevastopol address, but without Russia’s “authorized representative” and under the trade mark (“5 Morey”) (“5 seas”). Let us remind you that the trade mark “5 Morey” is used in Russia for distribution of the Icelandic cod liver, which is sold in mainland Ukraine under the brand name “Aquamarine”, imported by the same LLC “Timefish” headed by Mr. Chuklin. At the same time, the entire “Aquamarine”, designated as Sevastopol, is distributed in the occupied part of the Donetsk Region without company designations and trade marks.
For a complete understanding of the situation, we add that in September 2021, canned sprat and gobies of Crimean origin, but of other brands, were found in the shops of occupied Donetsk. These products, attributed to the above-mentioned Simferopol LLC “Fortuna Krym”, were distributed in the “Obzhora” store without any indication on the banks about any middlemen. It also applied to sprat with beans and gobies from the “Hercules” store from LLC “Konservny Kombinat “Arktika”, located in such a “northern place” as the Crimean village Osoviny near Kerch, on Pervomayskaya street, 20. It is interesting that these Kerch canned food is distributed in Donetsk under two trade marks – “Medvezhy Ulov” (“Bear Catch”) and “Botzman” (“Boatswain”).
A somewhat different situation with “Aquamarine” developed in the occupied Luhansk Region. In September 2021, products with the corresponding branded markings were found in Lugansk in the “Kashtan” shopping centre and in the “Matryoshka” supermarket. These canned food “Black Sea mackerel carcass blanched in oil” indicated on the bank the production address of Sevastopol, Rybport Embankment, 33 and Kamyshovoye Highway, 55, and as the “legal address” of “RKK “Aquamarine” they designated the aforementioned office of Mr. Nigar on Bolshaya Morskaya, 23. It is noteworthy that the Luhansk-located “Matryoshka”, controlled by the aggressor State, has a website where it is proposed to “purchase online” a wide range of “Aquamarine” products, in particular identical to the “high segment” from the site akvamarin.com.ru (krill, horse mackerel, mackerel, mussels, octopus, sardine, squid), as well as, of course, the sprat.
So we can conclude that the products of the Crimean “Aquamarine” get to Donetsk and Lugansk, but in various illegal ways and with different mediation. At the same time, these products are immediately prepared for the “specificity of the regional market”, with an emphasis on the cheapest fish in cost. So it remains to investigate one more or less reliably identified middleman, namely, the Lyubertsy-located company Trading House “Vkusnye konservi” code 5027203913, which probably supplies “Aquamarine” products to occupied Donetsk. This is a rather large company operating on the Russian market proper since 2002 with owners Sergey Dudkov, Juris Bubish and Fokas Vidmantas .
The Latvian factor in this company’s activities is tangible, since it began to work on the manufacture of its first own products at the Latvian enterprise “UNDA IA” in the village of Engure near Riga. We should add that this enterprise has a century-old history of work and after 1991 it was able to enter European markets . In addition, for this company, headed in the 90s of the XX century by Janis Karklins, the politically engaged Russian market was never closed . It is noteworthy that after establishing close ties between “UNDA IA” and “Vkusnye konservy” Trading House, Mr. Karklins held the post of Latvian Ambassador to France, and then headed the NATO Strategic Communication Center in Riga. The “sanctions wars” with Russia, which began in 2014, also did not significantly affect the welfare of the Latvian company . At the same time, their Lyubertsy business partners began to master stable revenue growth, from a billion rubles in 2014 to 5.76 billion in 2020.
Thus, the presence of “Aquamarine” products in the occupied East of Ukraine cannot be explained by any separate “business contacts” of the nominal “owners” of the Sevastopol fish cannery. This fact proves the consistency and multi-vector nature of the “fishery mafia”, which solves in Donetsk and Lugansk not only purely “commercial” tasks, but also the strategic factor of “food supply” of the relevant areas in the interests of Russia, primarily due to the relatively inexpensive Crimean fish canning products. It is likely that not only the counterparties of “Vkusnye konservy”, but also the partners of the aforementioned “civilized corporations of the fishing industry” will be interested to learn about their actual complicity in the work of organized criminal groups closely connected with the Russian special services.