Nov 17, 2021
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Last hope: deputies ask Putin to save the Altai plant

Last hope: deputies ask Putin to save the Altai plant

Photo: provided by the press service of OJSC Kuchuksulfat

The Blagoveshchensk District Council of People’s Deputies of the Altai Territory on November 16 sent an appeal to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin with a request to assist in the termination of illegal actions against the city-forming enterprise OJSC “Kuchuksulfat”.

This is the third appeal to the country’s leader about the problems around the enterprise in the past few weeks. The first letter in early November was signed by the workers of Kuchuksulfat (1.2 thousand people) and residents of the village of Stepnoye Ozero (1.3 thousand), for whom the plant is actually the only breadwinner – Stepnoye Ozero is officially included in the list of monocities of the Russian Federation. Then they were joined by more than a thousand residents of the regional center, concerned about the situation, who sent an appeal not only to the president, but also to his plenipotentiary in the Siberian Federal District (SFD) Anatoly Seryshev

Now the call was supported by local deputies. The only question is whether these alarming signals will reach the president and high-ranking officials. After all, as the people’s representatives wrote in their address, they had already sent similar letters at the very beginning of pressure on enterprises, but then, apparently, the information never reached the addressees.

Checks as a pressure tool

As the “SP” already wrote, unjustified administrative pressure on one of the largest taxpayers not only in the Blagoveshchensk region, but also on the entire Altai Territory began back in 2017. It was then that regular inspections of all kinds of regulatory authorities began, from the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation and the Investigative Committee to Rosprirodnadzor and the Altai Interdistrict Environmental Prosecutor’s Office.

In total, about 80 inspections were carried out during this period, and none of them revealed violations. Neither fines nor administrative penalties have been imposed on “Kuchuksulfat”, which is not surprising, given that there is nothing to find fault with at the enterprise. He has no tax and salary arrears, no criminal cases against the management of the plant.

Moreover, “Kuchuksulfat” is called one of the vivid examples of successful social business. Its shareholders have created two charitable foundations, which finance numerous social projects and programs worth tens of millions of rubles. In 2020, more than 57 million rubles were allocated for the implementation of internal and external charitable programs, this year this amount will increase to 83 million. The average salary at the enterprise is almost twice the average in the Altai Territory – 53.9 thousand rubles against 29.9 thousand rubles.

Why did the flurry of inspections fall on Kuchuksulfat, while numerous companies with huge wage arrears and other problems are doing great work without getting under the radar of regulatory authorities? Unfortunately, experts believe that the reason is precisely this success. Apparently, such a tidbit has become a desirable prey for especially aggressive market players, and they will stop at nothing to get it.

As stated in the appeal of the Blagoveshchensk District Council, all this is happening to force the existing shareholders to sell their assets. One of the initiators, in their opinion, is the A1 investment company (the Alfa Group consortium), known for its hostile takeovers.

“In order to coerce shareholders to sell the assets of OJSC Kuchuksulfat, individuals declaring their involvement in the A1 company made strong recommendations to sell shares, including those accompanied by threats of physical harm,” the address to the President of the Russian Federation says. indicating that in March this year a criminal case was initiated on this fact under Part 2 of Art. 179 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

Apparently, when this did not help, the interested parties switched to “plan B”. Namely, the General Prosecutor’s Office on October 13 filed a lawsuit with the Arbitration Court of the Altai Territory, claiming that 30 years ago, members of the labor collective illegally privatized the plant. Although, as the deputies write in their appeal, the procedure was carried out legally.

“In our opinion, there is no actual reason for the deprivatization of the enterprise. Conducted the privatization of the plant, the State Property Management Committee of the Altai Territory, endowed with the right of the territorial agency of the State Property of Russia, in accordance with the order of the State Property Committee of the Russian Federation No. 45-r from 05.02.1992 in accordance with the legislation of that period. The privatization of the Kuchuk sulphate plant, carried out 30 years ago, was repeatedly verified by the prosecutor’s office and other state bodies. At the same time, no violations were revealed, ”the appeal of the district deputies says.

What will the deprivatization lead to?

Against the background of the above, the deprivatization of the enterprise will not only be illegal, but will also bring disastrous consequences both for the region and for the federal budget. Already, tax revenues of the plant are declining amid constant litigation and pressure (by 50 million rubles last year and 75 million this year).

The saddest thing is that thousands of people may be left without work and decent wages, because the future of the enterprise will be shrouded in uncertainty. Who knows what will happen to it if it loses its current owners, who have invested 14 billion rubles in it since 1999, increased its production capacity two and a half times, and tax deductions from 40 million rubles to an impressive 1.7 billion?

By the way, about investments – in the event of deprivatization, current shareholders can file a claim not only against the state for compensation of 14 billion rubles from the country’s budget, but also against the original shareholders. And these are those ordinary workers of the plant who privatized it in 1992 through the legal procedure of lease with purchase. That is, today’s employees will not just lose their jobs or, in the case of retirees, the main regional donor, but will they still have to?

Perhaps, after the appeal of the deputies, this situation will finally attract the attention of the federal center, because without its intervention, the fate of the enterprise and thousands of people associated with it hangs literally in the balance. Once what was happening was simply called a raider takeover, now they prefer a more neutral euphemism – aggressive takeover. But the essence remains the same, whatever you call it, and one must think that neither the residents of the Blagoveshchensky district, nor the rest of the citizens of Russia, with the exception of “aggressive businessmen”, would like to return to the 90s in 2021.

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