Smuggling in the amount of 39 million rubles, disclosed by the North-West Operational Customs of Russia was only one of the links in the chain of problems of the St. Petersburg antiquary Sergei Lazutkin. There are signs that the Presidential Administration was aware of the upcoming operation of the siloviki and distanced themselves from the smuggler before he sits down. By order of the AP, the shadow business was removed from many state contracts and removed from the management of the fund of the Yalta International Economic Forum. However, Lazutkin is assured of the omnipotence of his "roof" - the director of the "Roskognress" foundation Alexander Stuglev, boasts of "links to the FSB" and even threatens to drive his head Sergei Aksenov from the Crimea. The business circles of St. Petersburg entertained an intrigue about the future collapse of the group of companies Sergei Lazutkin, led by the "Proxy Center" and the likely landing of Lazutkin himself.


What is Proxy Center?



If you discard advertising pathos, then the main business of Proxy Center is a taxi for rich people and officials. Proxy Center is a VIP car rental company with a driver for major international conferences, such as SPIEF, JAMEP, the Confederations Cup and smaller ones. Price tag is sky-high, and the term of work is short - this is the business formula of "Proxy Center". Apparently, Lazutkin himself saw himself as more important than the organizer of the VIP-taxi, so he promoted his company as a service for events. On the website of Proxy Center you can see that it offers access systems for events, printing of participants' cards, a system of private offices for registration and orders, and so on. However, the significant achievements of the Proxy Center, both positive and negative, are related to car rentals. Participants in this market in St. Petersburg were surprised to see the emergence of a newcomer in the face of the Proxy Center, which suddenly began to win competitions for organizing events, despite the meager park of its own cars. The luckiness of the new competitor they attributed to the skill of Sergei Lazutkin corrupt officials who distribute budgets for the organization of events. The law enforcement agencies believe that the "Proxy Center" business was needed by Lazutkin to reduce the risks of both legal and illegal work in the antiques market. Legal presence of Lazutkin in the antiquarian market is realized through the LLC "Elfast Challenges Group" and the art gallery "Styx". last few years the antiques market in Russia has narrowed due to sanctions, and illegal work on it has become dangerous, thanks to the effective actions of law enforcement agencies. Apparently, Lazutkin decided to distribute the risks on several different baskets and maximize legalization. To do this, he chose the rental market for luxury cars. The rise of Proxy Center turned out to be spectacular, but short-lived. First, Proxy Center successfully developed, concluding a number of state contracts with the Governments of Siberia and the Far East, as well as with Sberbank and the Ministry of Natural Resources, Proxy Center. According to experts, this was due to the administrative resource. Otherwise, it is unlikely that a preference would be given to an unknown newcomer who does not have his own fleet of cars and is forced to fight cars all over the country. But just as unexpectedly, Lazutkina's firm remained almost without state contracts and as a result collapsed by revenue by almost 70%, and by financial results showed significant losses. Conflicts with the drivers began, which even took the office of Proxy Center into siege. Some of the hard workers got their honestly earned money, but many Lazutkin publicly called assholes, accused of lack of patriotism and did not give money. These people are still trying to call Lazutkin to account through journalists. However, a man who worked for many years in such a criminal market as an antique, calling for accountability is not easy.


The case of the smuggling of antiques


Siloviki informally tells that the problems of the legal business of "Proxy Center" are related to the work of Sergei Lazutkin in the shadow market of antiques. The smuggling of antiquity gave rise to the interest of law enforcement agencies in this citizen, and he began to develop it. It is believed that Lazutkina for a long time "led", and eventually covered one of the parties in which he invested in order to fix his finances. This is a large party of cultural values, which was tried to bring from Estonia to Russia. In total, employees of the North-Western operational customs of the Russian Federation found 95 art objects, including vases, furniture, boxes, and paintings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. The total value of contraband items amounted to more than 39 million rubles. As it turned out during the investigation, some of these items were previously sold at Sotheby's auction.


The administration of the President is working on preemption, Lazutkin is getting rude and insolent


Siloviki believe that the blow to the antique business Lazutkin deprived the smuggler of the opportunity to cover the large costs incurred on kickbacks for the contracts won. It is also possible that not all officials who promised Proxy Center patronage and received considerable amounts of advance payment were able to fulfill their promises, and this aggravated his debts. As a result of the addition of several unfavorable circumstances, Lazutkin suffered a loss in the antique field, was left without profitable contracts, but with debts to drivers and payments for cars leased. The businessman tried to shift the problems onto the shoulders of the drivers, but they went to reporters and organized mass protests. Problems with Lazutkin began to grow, like a snowball. However, these different events are the consequences of one reason: The Presidential Administration worked for anticipation. When the siloviki brought convincing evidence of contraband, the "AP" entered the usual way for such a situation: gave the principal consent to the arrest, but took the time to remove the smuggler from the structures and contracts related to the authorities. As a rule, in this case, the Administration of the President informally advises the interested parties to quickly close cooperation with the criminal businessman and stop his membership in any posts connected with the state. From the point of view of the image of the state, it is desirable that, at the time of arrest, a citizen should not be associated with state organizations for as long as possible. In the story with Lazutkin, this was manifested in a sharp reduction in state contracts and the dismissal of Sergei Lazutkin from the position of director of the fund of the Yalta International Economic Forum. From the leadership of YAEF Lazutkina was dismissed at the highest level: in the course of these conclusions at a meeting, the Head of Crimea, Sergei Aksenov, even publicly called Lazutkin a fraudster. Circles, close to the shadow antiquary, however they say that Sergei Lazutkin is a good-for-nothing and dare. In addition to the standard assurances that everything is under control, Lazutkin said that he would expel the Head of Crimea Aksyonov from the republic and still "find out whose Crimea" when he will replace Aksenov with a "normal person". Lazutkin's confidence in the "rights to the Crimea", impunity and the ability to replace the Head of Crimea with his candidacy is based on the opportunities of his "roof" advertised by him - the director of the "Roskognress" foundation Alexander Stuglev and "ties to the FSB." It's hard to say that Lazutkin's reasoning on this score is true, and that bravado or delusion. Market experts believe that Stuglev used to really maintain friendly relations with Lazutkin and help him with contracts for major events. Whether the connection between a smuggler and an official has survived in the current situation is unknown. It is also unknown whether the "ties in the FSB" are real, capable of saving Lazutkin, or invented by him. While it is obvious that smuggling for 39 million rubles was delayed, state contracts of Proxy Center were reduced, and losses are increasing. It is also clear that Lazutkin was expelled with a scandal from the position of the head of the YAEFF fund and at the same time named a fraudster, but has not yet been arrested.

To be continued.


Vasiliy Goryunov