Ukrainian hacktivists from the Cyber Resistance team gave the InformNapalm investigative community a dump of Semyon Baghdasarov’s emails and other private correspondence.
Bagdasarov is a former member of the Russian State Duma (lower house of a parliament), director of the NGO Center for Middle East and Central Asia Studies, host of a show on the channel of the well-known propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, and a retired colonel with extensive experience of cooperation with the secret services.
According to InformNapalm, Bagdasarov’s email dump is more than 7 GB of correspondence with files containing numerous scans of his personal documents, financial statements and information about his family’s offshore companies, documents of financial machinations to sell land in Russia in state ownership and other materials concerning Russian economic projects in Iran, Iraq, African countries (Uganda, Congo), the UAE.
Helps Russia bypass Western sanctions
After analyzing the dump, it becomes clear that Baghdasarov’s public role is only the tip of the iceberg, InformNapalm notes. In fact, he has shadowy influence over various economic processes and deals, including Russian and Iranian deals.
A cluster of documents from Baghdasarov’s mail relating to Iran characterizes this figure as an intermediary between Russian and Iranian firms.
In-depth cooperation with Iran is a forced measure for Russia. This cooperation concerns not only weapons but also industrial equipment.
For example, from the correspondence it became known that gas turbines and compressors at five Russian CHPs (Novogorkovskaya, Vladimirskaya, Permskaya, Akademicheskaya, Izhevskaya) are in urgent need of repair. Also, the Russians are short of a number of consumable parts, and they cannot buy them because of sanctions. Bagdasarov was asked to act as an intermediary in establishing cooperation with Iranian firms.
In addition, a large part of the issues he dealt with concerned the construction of a gas hub in Iran.
Bagdasarov’s note on potential partners of Zyfra Ltd. in Iran deserves special attention. Zyfra is a Russian company that positions itself as an international one. It deals with digital automation and production management solutions for industrial enterprises. The company was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland (probably to circumvent sanctions). Zyfra has offices in Turkey, Germany, Morocco, India, Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, and several countries in Africa.
Bagdasarov listed 14 Iranian firms as potential partners for Zyfra. Some of them are already under secondary or industry sanctions.
In addition, Baghdasarov was approached by other Russian companies wishing to enter the Iranian market, in particular producers of aluminum and non-ferrous metal processing products. These are goods that are already subject to international sanctions.
Baghdasarov also works in the opposite direction: for example, an Iranian company wants to supply animal feed to Russia, and there is a letter in the mailbox about it.
The real lifestyle contradicts the image that the propagandist shows to his audience.
There are many more interesting details to be found in the investigation itself. About Baghdasarov’s plans to develop a resource mining business in Africa, and to sell through offshore companies in Asia.
This significantly contradicts Russia’s official position that Russia, unlike the “imperialist capitalist West,” does not view Africa as a field of exploitation and is ready to help African countries fight neocolonialism.
Also in the mail are details of the 68-year-old Bagdasarov’s communications with women who provide escort services and facts of Bagdasarov’s orders of drugs to increase his potency. Even though he has been married for 48 years and has two children.
Bagdasarov’s business assets are successfully divided among his children, and investigators believe that he is patronized by the Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma. This is why Bagdasarov allegedly successfully runs illegal schemes to buy up Russian federal land and sell it for substantial money through several intermediaries.
Only Ukraine imposed sanctions against Bagdasarov. The investigators hope that after Baghdasarov’s mail is published, Europe and the U.S. will also impose sanctions against him. Also, the international community should pay attention to Russia’s bypassing of sanctions and its rapprochement with Iran.