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Putin's Mafia in Kuzbass: Anna Tsivilyova (nee Putina)

The word mafia implies “family.” Kemerovo Oblast, which is often referred to as Kuzbass, is run by the Kuzbass crime family, part of Putin’s mafia. The true boss in the region is not Governor Tsivilyov, who is just a front man, but his wife, Anna, President Putin’s first cousin once removed. Why does the Russian dictator want to keep the region in his family’s control?

Photo: SPIEF Bank


That the Tsiviylov family might be related to Putin has long been discussed by Kuzbass locals.  Although we mentioned this rumor in our earlier researches on the Kolmar company and the Kuzbass governor, we had no evidence to prove it. Only a recent investigation by the Agency (Agentstvo) media group helped to connect the dots.

Analyzing the biography of Sergey Tsivilyov, incumbent Governor of Kemerovo Oblast, the journalists of suggest that he was a member of Vladimir Putin’s network of friends as far back as the “wild 1990s” when, after his discharge from the Soviet Army, the former naval officer started doing business in St. Petersburg. Tsivilyov’s business partners and patrons were close to Putin, a former KGB officer. Among them were Viktor Khmarin and Igor Sobolevsky. Khmarin was Vladimir Putin’s university classmate, martial arts sparring partner, and the husband of Putin’s cousin sister. Sobolevsky, a prominent member of the Tambov organized criminal group, in the 2000s worked as Deputy Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee; in 2009, he 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).

However, the real success came to Tsiviylov only in 2007 after his marriage to Anna Putina who back then had her first husband’s last name, Loginova. Sergey Tsiviylov met the future “Kuzbass queen” because he was close to Putin’s court—please forgive us for this aristocratic jargon—where the future Coal Queen Anna belonged by right of birth. A successful matrimonial move gave the unassuming St. Petersburg entrepreneur Tsivilyov a ticket to big business and big politics. But the first violin in this duet has always been played by his wife.

During the first decade of Putin’s rule, Anna stayed behind the scenes and never came out to the fore. Much more noticeable was her brother Mikhail, who worked as an ordinary doctor until 1999 when Putin became Prime Minister. Then Mikhail’s career skyrocketed: he got a job in the Financial Department of the Russian Ministry of Health, and in 2004 he went to work for Gazprom, where in 2018 he reached the position of Deputy Chairman of the Board. At that time, Gazprom was headed by Dmitry Medvedev and Aleksey Miller, Putin’s former subordinates in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office. However, the laws of the mafia require family control over even the most trusted people, so Putin entrusted his relative with the supervision of the company. For the Russian leadership, oil and natural gas were seen as the two sources of fabulous revenues that would only increase over time. Therefore, these “good pastures” were given only to the people most loyal to Putin—to family members.


However, since 2008 there has been a rapid rise in coal prices on world markets. It was so rapid that coal became the second best thing after oil, therefore Putin took a personal interest in the coal industry. Journalists of the Agency media allege that the Russian President is the ultimate beneficiary of the fastest-growing coal company, Kolmar, which has received government subsidies worth 11 billion rubles (USD 146.7 million). Kolmar also benefits from federal government investments in the construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) and the reconstruction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, which will increase exports of coal to China, the world’s biggest consumer of coal and the only major country that has been increasing coal consumption for the past 30 years, which is a key factor behind the surge in coal prices.

The Advanced Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) “South Yakutia” was created in Yakutia (officially referred to as the Republic of Sakha) in order to maximize the profit of the Kolmar Group. The South Yakutia ASEZ offers investment-friendly regulations to encourage entrepreneurial activities. It means preferential taxation for the ASEZ residents, as well as simplified administrative procedures and some other benefits. The corporate income tax for the ASEZ residents is no higher than 5.0 percent, social contributions are 7.6 percent, and there are no mineral extraction, property, or land taxes. The fact is, apart from Kolmar and its affiliated companies, there is no one to benefit from these privileges. The South Yakutia ASEZ is managed by the South Yakutia ASEZ Management Company, a subsidiary of the Kolmar Group. The CEO of the Kolmar Group is Valery Tsivilyov, the brother of Kolmar’s owner and incumbent Governor of Kemerovo Oblast, Sergey Tsivilyov.

The story of Kolmar is unique. From the moment when the rise in coal prices triggered the rapid development of a small company, a number of oligarchs close to Russian President owned it—Gennady Timchenko, Mikhail Prokhorov, Iskander Makhmudov, etc. The rapid change of owners stopped in 2017, when hardly known to anyone Sergey Tsivilyov “bought” the controlling stake in the company. However, he did not play the role of a coal tycoon for long. In March 2018, the rising star of the Forbes suddenly quit business to accept an insignificant position as Deputy Governor of Kemerovo Oblast. It was insignificant and seemingly unpromising because then Governor Aman Tuleyev had a reputation as a political heavyweight, a permanent and uncontested master of Kuzbass.

Nevertheless, just four weeks later, Tuleyev was forced to resign, and Tsivilyov, who had never had anything to do with the region, was appointed Acting Governor by presidential decree. Anna Putina-Tsivilyova officially took over the reins of Kolmar, at the same time openly interfering with the management of Kemerovo Oblast. Many looked with amazement at how the governor’s wife, who had no official status, met and negotiated with visiting federal officials and gave orders to her husband’s subordinates.

As she was becoming a public figure, Anna Putina-Tsivilyova had to conceal her family ties with the Russian president. For this purpose, information noise has been used in order to make it difficult to discover true facts, buried under a thick layer of unreliable information about the region’s first lady. That she is wrapped up in mystery in many ways explains the evolving personality cult of Anna, who at times overshadows her husband. Yellow media post unbelievable trash about Putina-Tsivilyova, such as the following:

"Anna is an example of a strong and independent woman who knows how to allocate her resources and achieve her goals no matter what. She is popularly called the Lady of Kuzbass for her contribution to the mining industry and growing exports of coal and other [natural] resources.  …  Together with her husband, she managed to save the company that was about to go belly-up during perestroika. They turned it into a very successful company.”

The authors of this nonsense are not embarrassed by the fact that at the time of perestroika, Anna was a school student, and until 2018 she, a native of Ivanovo city and later a resident of Moscow, had not the slightest relationship to Kuzbass. Why should it matter at all? The purpose of such pieces, disguised as quotes from Wikipedia, is to be indexed by search engines, so that anyone interested in her past would get the following result on the query “maiden name of Anna Tsivilyova”:

"Our heroine was born on May 9, 1972, in the city of Ivanovo. Her maiden name was Loginova. As for her parents, there is no information about them in open sources. When talking to journalists, [Anna] avoids this topic. Her mother and father worked in the field of public health care as surgeons in a local clinic.”


Photo: Agency

As we now know, Anna was born with the last name Putina, inherited from her father, Yevgeny (Mikhaylovich) Putin, a cousin of the Russian president. After marrying her colleague from the Ivanovo Psychiatric Hospital, Lev (Yuryevich) Loginov, she took her husband’s last name and became Anna Loginova. Their marriage quickly fell apart, and in 2001 Anna moved to Moscow, where she began working as a manager, first at the government-run Medtekhsnab organization and later at the private Digimed company. Both were engaged in the supply of medical equipment. The orders were provided by Anna’s brother, Mikhail, who at that time supervised medical equipment issues in the Russian Ministry of Health.

As our reader understands, Anna could not have amassed enough fortune to enter the coal business. The same could be said of her second husband Sergey, who made a living by providing legal services. Therefore, the family’s 70-percent stake in Kolmar, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars, literally fell from the sky. Well, after Anna’s brother suddenly became responsible for the Russian natural gas, was it not time for Anna to become a coal queen?

Kolmar has an ambitious goal to make it to the list of Russia’s five major coal companies this year. Increasing coal production in Yakutia alone will not attain the goal. Therefore, the Tsivilyov family will likely try to consolidate coal assets of Kuzbass by taking over companies working in the region. So, the fact that the family appeared in Kemerovo Oblast does not look accidental. It is possible that the first victim of the takeover could be the SDS-Holding company whose owner, Mikhail Fedyayev, after the tragedy at the Listvyazhnaya mine in November 2021 was taken into custody and is currently in jail. We are sure that if he shares his assets with the Putin family, he will be quietly released. One man’s methane explosion in a mine resulting in casualties is another man’s financial opportunity.

For the Tsivilyovs, the road to power is paved with blood. There is a conspiracy theory according to which the fire in the Winter Cherry shopping mall in Kemerovo city, which claimed more than 60 lives, after which the Kremlin insisted that then Governor Tuleyev resign, was organized in the interests of Anna Putina-Tsivilyova. This version is based on the evidence of eyewitnesses who pointed to a guy who allegedly had set the mall on fire. We believe that the tragedy occurred due to gross violations of fire safety standards, and the owners of the mall needed a mythical arsonist in order to whitewash themselves. In our opinion, the fire just played into the hands of those who wanted to reshuffle the regional leadership. Had it not been for the tragedy that attracted national attention, the Putin family would have found another excuse to oust Governor Tuleyev and to enthrone Anna.

The bottom line is that Putin’s mafia controls the most profitable coal operations in the country, is the beneficiary of a considerable part of coal exports, and is working to increase its assets in the industry. The guys are working on a family contract, so to speak.

Anna and Environmental Issues of Yakutia

As for the environment, Anna Putina-Tsivilyova is now responsible for all violations at Kolmar companies. There have been numerous environmental violations, but one would be too naive to think that Putin’s relative could be prosecuted by supervisory authorities with demands to comply with environmental laws.

Kolmar has repeatedly attracted the attention of Yakutia authorities because of damage caused to nature. According to the Ministry of Ecology, Nature Management, and Forestry of Yakutia, in 2018, an unscheduled inspection of the republic’s environmental prosecutor office found that the Denisovsky mining and processing plant had discharged waste water into the Dezhnevka Creek, a tributary of the Chulman River. The damage was estimated at 127.7 million rubles (USD 1.7 million). The Denisovsky plant failed to pay for the damage in due time.

Rostekhnadzor (Federal Environmental, Industrial, and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia) also has claims against Kolmar. Otherwise in February 2020 the Lena Branch of Rostekhnadzor would not have filed in Yakutia’s Arbitration Court over a dozen lawsuits against Kolmar. The lawsuits stated that the company had failed to comply with the Rostekhnadzor orders to fix the violations at the company’s construction sites.

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