"On Monday, December 14, 2020, in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation, an illegal deal was made with the property complex of the state-owned Massandra National Production and Agrarian Association. Massandra, which was under the direct control of the Russian-controlled occupation administration, was sold at a so-called auction. The occupying power recognized Yuzhniy Proekt, a company registered in St. Petersburg, which is a subsidiary of Bank Rossiya, as the buyer," the report reads.
According to the report, the so-called privatization of the winery that, in addition to its significant production assets, has a unique collection of wines and winemaking traditions was held at a price that minimally exceeded the starting price. This is a sign of a pre-agreed result and the "auction" being fictitious. In addition to Yuzhniy Proekt, only one company registered in Moscow, with a share capital of about $135, applied for the auction.
According to Oleksiy Reznikov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, from the point of view of law, these actions are a continuation of the crime - illegal "nationalization" – that started in 2014.
"Everyone understands this, both Ukraine and the civilized world. Even Russia itself does. Therefore, as I predicted, none of the serious companies that could really be interested in the modernization and development of the enterprise, took part in this theater of the absurd. Massandra was transferred to the structure of Bank Rossiya. This bank and its main public beneficiaries have been under international sanctions since March 2014, before the beginning of the armed aggression in Donbas. That is, Massandra was captured by those who are considered the instigators of the occupation of Crimea. […] This creates risks for Massandra, which is part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Crimea. The enterprise can be destroyed, and the most valuable assets will simply be stolen. They will have to answer for all this," Reznikov said.
He stressed that the ministry would take appropriate measures against persons involved in the illegal auction, in particular, by initiating national sanctions, legal proceedings, including in international courts, and appealing to international partners to add perpetrators to sanctions lists and strengthen sanctions.
"All the documents available in open sources (protocols, applications, biographies of the leadership of the so-called ministry in Crimea, which organized that, etc.) are already with us. The sanctions package is already being prepared," Reznikov added.
On December 14, the occupying authorities of Crimea illegally sold the Ukrainian winery Massandra to Russia's LLC Yuzhniy Proekt, 99.9% of its shares owned by JSC Bank Rossiya. The main shareholder and former chairman of the bank's board of directors is Yury Kovalchuk, who is referred to in the media as Russian President Vladimir Putin's "cashier."
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called the sale of the Massandra winery to the Russians null and void. The so-called nationalization of Massandra by the Crimean occupation administration took place in 2014.
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