By John Helmer, Moscow
Vladimir Ashurkov was advertising his principles last week in the Moscow Times. He is currently executive director of the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, one of the organs of the political opposition led by Alexei Navalny. Ashurkov is described by the newspaper as the principal fund-raiser for Navalny, and himself a candidate for election to the coordination council of the opposition movements.
He has identified his last employer from 2006 to 2012 as Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group. Before that, between 2004 and 2006, Ashurkov confirms he was vice president for strategic development of Sergei Generalov’s holding, Industrial Investors. Those were the years when one of Generalov’s strategic developments was a deal to acquire the Georgian mining company called Madneuli ; borrow heavily from Deutsche Bank against its future gold production; and spend the money acquiring goldmining companies in Armenia and elsewhere in the name of GeoProMining, a Caribbean island-registered entity.
The strategy which Ashurkov was pursuing was to transfer the debts and liabilities as swiftly as possible to public shareholders through an initial public offering (IPO). But that didn’t materialize. Generalov got cold feet in Georgia, and sold his interests there to a partner. He also sued this correspondent for reporting the business.
One result of the claims Generalov lodged in the UK High Court was a statement his lawyers drafted on his behalf, which was read out in court in July of 2008. Referring to Generalov’s past association with Yukos, Menatep Bank, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s patronage, the High Court statement declared that Generalov “was never associated with any form of corrupt activity during his time at those two companies”. Generalov and his Industrial Investors holding, according to the settlement  of the court claim, “conduct their business affairs in an honest manner.”
Ashurkov told the Moscow Times that he too has a soft spot for Khodorkovsky (left image). In fact, according to Ashurkov, his anti-corruption campaign aims to restore the way in which Russian business conducted itself and its relations with the Kremlin, before Khodorkovsky’s arrest in October 2003. “Around the time of the Khodorkhovsky case,” Ashurkov told  the Moscow Times, “you understood that the level playing field for business was being disrupted”.
Ashurkov was asked to clarify the benchmark. “Do you mean that there was a ‘level playing field’ when Khodorkovsky ran Yukos, Abramovich Sibneft, Berezovsky ORT, Gusinsky NTV, Chubais UES, Prokhorov Norilsk Nickel, etc. and that this is the standard to which you hope to restore Russian business ‘playing fields’?”
He replied that “I’ll leave without comment.”