Russian Citizens for a Better Environment!

“King Coal” Sergey Tsivilyov

SERGEY (YEVGENYEVICH) TSIVILYOV [tsee-vee-LYOH-v] is an oligarch and Governor of Kemerovo Oblast (a.k.a. Kuzbass), which produces about 60 percent of all Russian coal. Together with billionaire Gennady Timchenko, one of Putin’s most trusted confidants, he owns the Kolmar coal company, which operates in Yakutia (officially referred to as the Republic of Sakha), Russia. Tsivilyov is a member of the Kremlin-friendly United Russia party and, since 2018, a member of the Supreme Council of United Russia. INN 783901472526.

Tsivilyov’s wife, Anna (maiden name Putina), is rumored to be distantly related to President Putin, although she has repeatedly denied this. There is no available information about when the Tsivilyovs got married (presumably, not earlier than 2001) and how many children they have (at least, two). At the moment, she is the formal owner of her husband’s share of stock in the Kolmar company, which Tsivilyov, by his own admission, gave her as a gift.

Sergey Tsivilyov was born in Zhdanov (now Mariupol), Ukraine, in 1961. In 1983, he graduated from the Nakhimov Naval Academy in Sevastopol with a degree in armament of ships. For 11 years, he served in the Northern Fleet of the USSR and post-Soviet Russia. He retired as Lieutenant-commander (“Captain Third Rank”).


In 1995-1996, he was the head of the security service at the St. Petersburg branch of Aeroflot Bank, which went bankrupt in 1997. For the next five years, he headed the Nortek law company in St. Petersburg.

In 2012-2013, Tsivilyov was Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Kolmar company, and in 2014 he became the company’s CEO.

In March 2018, Tsivilyov was appointed Deputy Governor of Kemerovo Oblast. Less than a month later, President Putin appointed him Acting Governor, and in September 218 Tsivilyov was elected Governor of Kemerovo Oblast for a five-year term.

In December 2020, Tsivilyov became a member of the Presidium of the State Council of the Russian Federation.

Tsivilyov’s FORTUNE is estimated at USD 250 million at least—a 70-percent stake in the Kolmar coal-mining company, which he gave to his wife “as a gift”—based on the company’s net assets of 23.5 billion rubles (USD 313 million). How Tsivilyov earned the initial capital that enabled him to invest in the coal industry in 2010 is unknown. Considering his ties to oligarchs and criminal figures close to Putin, we can assume that the Tsivilyov family is only a nominal holder of the capital that actually belongs to Gennady Timchenko. Timchenko, President Putin’s friend and “wallet,” was included in the sanctions list in 2014 and was forced to disguise his affiliation with companies supplying their products to the world market. This assumption is reinforced by the fact that previously Tsivilyov had shown no interest in or knowledge of the coal industry.

The Kolmar company was founded by in 2004 by Bixcut Holdings Ltd. and Magora Trading, both based in Cyprus and controlled by Anatoly Mitroshin, and by Saybrook Capital, registered in the British Virgin Islands. In 2017, Mitroshin sold his stake in the business to Sergey Tsivilyov.

The Kolmar Group is currently run by the governor’s brother, Valery Tsivilyov. The governor’s wife, Anna Tsivilyova, is Chair of the Board of the Kolmar Management Company and the nominal owner of 70 percent of the stock. According to her, Kuzbass Governor Tsivilyov is in no way involved in managing the family business. She spends most of her time in Kemerovo, the region’s capital, where she is actively engaged in social work.


From 1997 to 2012, Tsivilyov headed the Nortek law company in St. Petersburg. Among its founders were Tsivilyov’s brother Valery and Igor Sobolevsky who was later appointed as Deputy Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee. In 2009, Sobolevsky found himself at the center of a high-profile international scandal due to the investigation by the Spanish special services of the Tambov organized criminal group in Europe (in the 1990s, the “Tambov gang” maintained close ties with Vladimir Putin, then Deputy Governor of St. Petersburg). Wiretapping of criminal bosses’ conversations revealed that Sobolevsky, using his official position, was instrumental in carrying out criminal activities and concealing crimes. Any references to ties between Tsivilyov and Sobolevsky have purposefully been purged from the Internet.

In 2007, Tsivilyov co-founded the Lenexpoinvest company, which was to build a new “Lenexpo” facility for hosting such events as the annual St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Another cofounder of Lenexpoinvest was Viktor Khmarin, Vladimir Putin’s university classmate, martial arts sparring partner, and the husband of Putin’s cousin sister. In those years, Khmarin’s companies were among the largest suppliers of equipment for Gazprom.


 As governor, he did more harm than good. Despite the fact that Kuzbass is rich in mineral resources, the region is subsidized by the federal government. In terms of living standards, Kemerovo Oblast was 60th among the Russian regions in 2020, according to the ranking by the national RBC TV channel, and 54th in 2021, according to the national RIA Novosti media. In terms of income, in 2021 the region was 48th, with 13.2 percent of residents earning less than the minimum wage. (Note: Russia constitutionally consists of 85 administrative units, two of which located on the Crimean Peninsula—the Republic of Crimea and its capital, Sevastopol—are not internationally recognized. End Note.)

The last two years were marked by a series of environmental protests in Kuzbass, caused by the activities of coal mining companies seeking to increase open-pit coal mining. The most notable eco-activist protests, accompanied by clashes with the police and criminal gangs acting in the interests of coal companies, occurred in the summer of 2020 near the village of Cheremza. Local residents opposed the construction of a coal loading facility near their village by the Kuznetsky Yuzhny coal company.

In 2019, underground fires threatening the lives of locals resulted in unrest in Kiselyovsk town. Residents perceived the deteriorating environmental situation and inaction of authorities as genocide.  A group of Kiselyovsk residents recorded an appeal to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and UN Secretary-General António Gutteres to save them from the environmental disaster. The message said that the residents suffered from coal dust and exhaust gases of big quarry trucks, and that the city had a high incidence of cancer, but people were too poor to leave their homes and move to another city and no one was interested in buying their homes anyway. At the same time, people did not receive any help from the authorities.

Under pressure, Governor Tsivilyov promised to relocate the residents of 71 houses adjacent to the underground fire. However, the promise remains unfulfilled.

After a hiatus of many years, the strike movement began in the region. Arrears in wages led to the strikes in November 2019 at the Oktyabrsky mine (53 miners) and in December 2019 at the Aleksiyevskaya and Zarechnaya mines (116 miners).s


 Since Russia is not a country governed by the rule of law, it makes no sense to discuss violations of laws by top officials. Is it possible to violate something that does not exist? However, Russian officials never miss a chance to publicly demonstrate adherence to the values declared by the Russian Constitution.

The highest official of the region, Sergey Tsivilyov attempts to enforce his own standards of ethics. He categorically denies such fundamental rights as the right to hold marches and rallies, including single-person rallies, guaranteed by Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. “Rallies and strikes create an unfavorable information background and defame the honor of the region. … Meetings and strikes are unacceptable,” media quoted Tsivilyov as saying at the conference dedicated to preparations for the 300th anniversary of Kemerovo Oblast.

In an aggressive form, Tsivilyov reacted in April 2019 to a hunger strike announced by the nurses of the Anzhero-Sudzhensk City Hospital, thus protesting against the reduction of 105 jobs. Some of them were offered to be re-hired as “cleaning staff carrying out the functions of nurses.” This was done so that new staff positions would not fall under the May 2018 decree of the Russian President on raising the salaries of medical workers. Also, the governor publicly instructed the prosecutor’s office to check the actions of the hunger striking nurses for violations of existing legislation.

Kemerovo Oblast falls into the category of regions that Russians sometimes describe as “electoral sultanates,” meaning elections there are nothing short of a farce: elections are virtually uncontested and/or election results are rigged throughout the region. This all began under the previous Kuzbass governor, Aman Tuleyev, but Tsivilyov has made rigging elections a common practice. Thus, in the September 2018 gubernatorial elections, he allegedly received 81 percent of the vote, while his closest competitors, members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Communist Party (CPRF), who should be more correctly referred to as “Tsivilyov’s sparring partners,” received less than five percent each. In July 2020, Kemerovo Oblast was among the ten Russian regions that allegedly demonstrated ultimate approval of constitutional changes, which allow incumbent President Putin to remain in office until 2036.

This state of affairs became possible due to the systematic work of the regional authorities and punitive bodies to suppress civil society in Kemerovo Oblast, in any possible way. In 2020-2021, massive persecution was launched against supporters of opposition political organizations, primarily those associated with Alexey Navalny. Many local politicians and public figures were forced to emigrate.

Environmental activists and organizations, defending the rights of local people to a healthy environment and fighting coal mining companies, are under increasing pressure. They are attacked by criminal groups affiliated with the mining companies, illegally detained, and prosecuted, as a result of which they cannot carry out their activities and are forced to flee the region and the country.

There is a similar situation with ensuring the right to freedom of speech. Kuzbass traditionally occupies one of the last places among Russian regions in the ranking of freedom of speech. There are no free media that would dare to adopt an editorial policy independent of the authorities. Officials and oligarchs are putting pressure on those Internet communities and bloggers that seek to disseminate information about the true situation in the region.

In order to manipulate the public opinion, many Wikipedia articles have been cleaned of any negative facts about the activities of Governor Tsivilyov and of other regional officials.

Photo: Kommersant

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