This was reported by the "Ministry of Property" of the Crimea. The auction for the sale of the enterprise took place on December 14, 2020.
There were only two bidders for the Massandra winery. Apart from the Southern Project, the Estate Group LLC, registered only at the end of October 2020 with an authorized capital of only RUB 10 thousand, took part in the auction. Its main activity is consulting on business and management issues. The founder and CEO of Estate Group is Alexander Voloshin, until mid-2014 was the CEO of the St. Petersburg company Niagara, associated with the sale and purchase of real estate.
Bank Russia with a subsidiary Yuzhny Project is associated with Vladimir Putin. LLC Yuzhny Project is registered in St. Petersburg and is 99.9% owned by Bank Russia JSC.
It should be noted that the company "Yuzhny Project" since 2017 also owns the Crimean wine factory "Novy Svet", acquired for RUB 1.5 billion (at that time it was the largest deal with the former Ukrainian state property).
Winery "Massandra", founded more than 120 years ago by Prince Lev Golitsyn. The industrial complex "Massandra" is located on 220 land plots with the total area of 104.84 hectares. Besides the parent plant, Massandra has eight branches, and vineyards stretch from Foros to Sudak for 180 km and their total area is about 4,000 hectares.
The assortment of "Massandra" is about 100 different wines. After Crimea became part of Russia in 2014, the Council of Ministers of the republic transferred the enterprise to the Administration of the President of Russia. In the same year, the European Union included Massandra and other Crimean enterprises on the sanctions list.
According to management reports, the revenue of Massandra Production and Agricultural Association JSC for the first nine months of 2020 amounted to RUB 1.9 billion, net profit - RUB 321.3 million.
Before the occupation, the Ukrainian state concern "National Production and Agrarian Association" Massandra "was one of the most famous and largest wine producers in Europe.
In early October, local "authorities" transformed the Massandra enterprise into a joint stock company, and 100% of the shares were owned by the republic. Then the "parliament" of the occupied Crimea voted for the privatization of the plant, and in November, 100% of the plant's shares and its entire property complex were put up for auction.
It should be noted that after the occupation of Crimea by Russia, the production of "Massandra" faced some difficulties. The enterprise was unexpectedly transferred to the administration of the President of the Russian Federation, and the director Nikolai Boyko, who had been in charge of the company for 28 years, was fired and a criminal case was brought against him. The vineyards, formerly owned by Massandra, began to be sold to other owners, and instead of branded sherry and port, the plant began to produce dry wine. At the same time, Massandra came under EU sanctions imposed for the annexation of Crimea.
Is the sale and purchase transaction of Massandra winery legal?
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry opposed the sale of the enterprise. The department said that "Massandra" is under the control of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine and any alienation of the property of the enterprise would be a crime.
"The sale by the Russian invaders in Crimea of the Ukrainian wine producer Massandra to a subsidiary of Bank Russia is legally null and void, and the Russian Federation will be held liable for it@, said Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova.
"The Russian Federation, as an occupying state, has once again brazenly violated the norms of international law. In the conditions of sanctions isolation in the Kremlin, the assets of the illegally expropriated Ukrainian concern Massandra of its subsidiary company were auctioned off for a penny. This decision is legally null and void and the Russian Federation will be held liable for it. ", mentioned Dzhaparova.
The fact that the occupation authorities illegally dispose of property was also noted by the head of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, Igor Ponochovny.
“According to the IV Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Population in Time of War of 1949, the occupying state is prohibited from appropriating both public and private property in the occupied territory. The occupying state has the right to use public property only for military purposes. In this case, after the occupation of the peninsula by Russia, the property of "Massandra" was "nationalized", actually expropriated, transferred to federal ownership - to the administration of the President of Russia, then returned to the "property of the Republic of Crimea", respectively, there was no military need for such appropriation and transfer of property " , - said the prosecutor.
He noted that the auction of Massandra's assets and its purchase by a Russian company confirm the fact that "the occupation administration, besides having illegally seized this property, also illegally disposes of it."