Our Association has repeatedly written about the use by Russian special services of the Syrian dictator Assad’s regime in the aggression against Ukraine, including illegal “trade flows”, criminal supply of mercenaries and transportation of drugs and weapons.

In this dimension, it is not surprising that the Russian secret services announced the criminal “discovery” in Damascus of the so-called “representative office” of the Nikitsky Botanical Garden, which was criminally “nationalized” by aggressor in 2014.

It remains to be determined whether such an “announcement” is another insignificant attempt by the aggressor to declare the alleged “international relations” of the occupied Crimea, or whether these actions have another criminal dimension.

To do this, it is necessary to investigate the personalities of the fake “head of the mission” Serhiy Khokhlov and his fake “deputy” Oleksandr Hryb, who were declared by the occupiers. The fake “head” really worked in the botanical garden in Nikita and in this dimension is an interesting area of his research interests, namely – olive tree diseases.

This issue is not particularly relevant for either the occupied Crimea or the aggressor state, but in the long run we should not rule out the relevant “breakthroughs” of Russian special services in Syria to undermine the food security of the Mediterranean.

At the same time, Oleksandr Hryb is a more “characteristic” person, as his active “commercial” operations were revealed by us in the Crimea after the beginning of the Russian occupation of the peninsula.

In the illegal occupiers’ “jurisdiction”, his several “firms” were registered in Yalta, including “Prompark” and the “Crimean Research and Production Center for Landscape Design and Green Building”, with “local” director Mamikon Sargsyan, as well as the already liquidated Moscow “Yest Alliance”.

The “main interests” of the “botanist” Hryb’s “firms” are “construction and trade” and occupiers-controlled “administration of the botanical garden “laundered” several million in recent years in “tenders” through various and often not provided “services”, exactly through “Prompark”.

These Hryb’s structures also acted as “intermediaries” in the “trade of products” of the botanical garden, and they are also notable for the fact that hostel with the eloquent name “Venus-M” and reputation, well-known in “narrow circles”, is located at Yalta’s address of their “registration”.
Hryb also “distinguished himself” by the fact that in 2018 he “successfully invested the money earned” in an apartment in Massandra, from where a pensioner Lyudmila Bykova was evicted to a dilapidated barracks due to a fraudulent scheme.

Not surprisingly, Khokhlov was also involved in Hryb’s schemes. After the Russian occupation started, he became the “general director” of the “garage-building cooperative” “Massandra”, which opened a wide field for machinations with valuable Yalta lands.

It should be added that the “director” of the Hryb’s companies, Mr. Sargsyan, has been operating the company “Derekoi-96” for a long time, again involved in the relevant machinations, which the Russian occupiers “turned a blind eye to” for several years. Under such conditions, it is obvious that the occupiers’ punitive structures in the Crimea have ample reason to ensure the “complete obedience” of their “biologists of good will” in Syria and, accordingly, to use them as instruments of criminal tasks of the Russian secret services.
The Association will continue to monitor the relevant aggressor’s criminal acts and attempts to illegally use the name of the Ukrainian Nikitsky Botanical Garden in third countries.