The most dangerous blend: Chornobyl - the place where corruption and radiation meet

16:21 Nov. 7, 2016

Chornobyl - the place where corruption and radiation meet

This photo taken Wednesday, March 23, 2016 shows the old sarcophagus, right, over the reactor building damaged by explosion and a new confinement, left, under construction at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (AP photo)

Investigators suspect thousands of tonnes of contaminated Chornobyl scrap metal have been sold already

Since 2005, the Chornobyl nuclear power plant has been headed by Ihor Gramotkin, who, in recent years, has been a central figure in several criminal proceedings.

Working for the anti-corruption investigation programme "Our Money" authored by Denys Bigus, Ukrainian journalist Nadiya Burdiey looked into the case, family business and numerous real estate objects owned by the general director of Chornobyl.

Read also Peek inside the new sarcophagus for Chornobyl (photo, video)

Director's son dismantles Chornobyl equipment

In 2015 Ukrainian police started inspection of companies which won Chornobyl tenders and had to dismantle and decontaminate equipment of turbine rooms of electrical power units.

According to investigators, the three companies selected at the tender process in 2012-2015 - PE "Prommetbud", LLC "Metresurs" and LLC "Metal-service plus" - had to dismantle the machinery of the first power unit of Chernobyl. The cost of work amounted to UAH 100 million [about USD 4 mln].

The companies had to dismantle the equipment and clean the metal from radiation – to decontaminate it - and then return it to the station or, if unable to decontaminate, to bury it in the exclusion zone.

Read more about the exclusion zone in UT special project 
Chornobyl Disaster: Ukraine's Sorrow

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During the inspection, the investigators found out that out of the 12,000 tonnes of dismantled equipment, only 5,000 tonnes were returned the Chornobyl power plant.

Other 7,000 tonnes, according to the Chornobyl management, were buried due to impossibility to decontaminate the metal. Police suspect the dismantled equipment was sold to the intermediaries and taken out from Chornobyl's territory.

Philip Gramotkin, the son of Chornobyl power plant director, worked in two of the three aforementioned companies. The three winner firms are interconnected by a common management, with one of the firms registered in a private house of a pensioner.

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The pensioner says she knows nothing about the "Metal-service plus" sign on her fence (Photo source: Denys Bigus/Facebook)

Father-in-law brings equipment for nuclear power plant and buys multi-million dollar property

In 2015, investigators conducted a search in and around the house of the general director of State Specialized Enterprise (SSE) "Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant". The search was made in the framework of criminal proceedings to verify the tender for procurement of radiation control system.

This system was supplied at Chernobyl, according to the results of the tender, by LLC "RK Project". At the time of the tender Oleksiy Chulkov, a Chornobyl employee, was one of the firm's co-founders.

Chulkov's wife, Inessa, along with the ex-wife and father-in-law of Chornobyl's director - is a co-founder of another company named "Slavutych Travel". Later, Gramotkin's father-in-law, Leonid Revunov, became a co-founder of "RK Project".

After this, once again, the company won the tender to supply filtration equipment to Chornobyl.

Before 2013, Leonid Revunov didn't have a business at all. According to the director of Chornobyl, his father-in-law worked as a doctor. After the retirement, Revunov, 63, surprisingly started winning tenders.

In 2016 Leonid Revunov bought a 195-square-meter apartment in a new building in downtown Kyiv. The estimated price of such property today is about UAH 7 million [USD 275,000]. Another three apartments in the same building, with a total area of over 350 square meters, were bought in 2016 by "Slavutych Travel" registered on Revunov.  The total value of the real estate is about UAH 20 million [USD 782,000].

Also, the Chornobyl director's family bought three other apartments in the town of Vyshgorod near Kyiv. Two of them are registered under Gramotkin's mother-in-law - Svitlana Yulina, another one – under the name of Gramotkin's son from his first marriage - Philip Gramotkin. All three apartments were purchased in 2012, one day apart.

Chornobyl director himself says that a few months ago he divorced Revunov's daughter Julia, and since then he has nothing to do with the real estate owned by his former parents-in-law. But the journalists emphasise that the luxury apartments were purchased long before the alleged divorce, and Gramotkin's then father-in-law actively participated in Chornobyl tenders.

Gramotkin himself owns a house in the village of Rozhivka, Kyiv region. This house he received as a "present." When asked by the journalists he could not remember who exactly made such a costly gift.

Moreover, during a visit to the house, the film crew saw the alleged ex-mother-in-law there. It should be noted that under the Law on Corruption Prevention, people with whom the declarant lives under the same roof should be enlisted in his declaration.

Therefore, Ihor Gramotkin in his declaration for 2015 should have indicated his parents-in-law and all the property registered under their names.

Bonuses for himself

According to the declaration, in 2015 the power station's director received more than one million hryvnias of salary. However, this – probably - was not enough for him.

In 2016, state auditors found that the director of Chornobyl Ihor Gramotkin received UAH 439,000 of bonuses without the approval of the State Agency on Exclusion Zone Management.

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Ihor Gramotkin, the general director of State Specialized Enterprise (SSE) "Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant", attends a media conference in Kyiv

"Moscow is to blame"

After the story was made public, Gramotkin posted an open letter about "criminal redistribution of scrap metal market" and "anti-Ukrainian forces":

"The recent events show that the anti-Ukrainian forces started a systematic, unprecedented program aimed at discrediting our country in the eyes of Western partners and the failure of international projects implemented at the Chornobyl site and beyond ... In any case, the issue of radioactive waste in the exclusion zone and at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant requires a very detailed and thorough examination," Ihor Gramotkin said in the letter.

The letter is addressed to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchynov and the head of the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management Vitaly Petruk. All of them are invited to join the committee that will examine the dismantling process.

In his letter Ihor Gramotkin did not mention the business of his relatives, noting only "the unprecedented pressure by certain forces using methods of intimidation and blackmail" against him and his family as well as "measures implemented by anti-Ukrainian forces."

This article is a translation of the story originally published in Ukrainian on bihus.info

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