Former Undersecretary of State for Far East Development extends arrest in Khabarovsk over high-profile multimillion-dollar subsidy case in “Asia Forest”

Former Deputy Head of the Far East Development Ministry Alexander Krutikov did not change the restraining order

A photograph: Government of EAO

The former deputy head of the Far East Development Ministry, Alexander Krutikov, did not change the measure of restraint and extended the detention. We remind you that the former official is suspected of exceeding his official powers in the scandalous case of the logging company Asia Les. According to investigators, he illegally received subsidies from the federal budget.


Asia Les LLC started operations in 2012 in the Sunny District. The tasks of the company included logging and wood processing for domestic and foreign markets. In addition – the creation of new jobs. Since its inception, the company has grown, even been included in the list of priority investment projects called “Organization of production of planed and profiled timber in the village of Berezovy, Solnechny district of the Khabarovsk region.”

Entering this list promised the company tax benefits, subsidies, new logging sites in a simplified form and other preferences. In return, Asia Les had to fulfill the plan for its equipment and production of sawn timber. However, according to the FSB, the company gathered round timber and sent it for export to China. And these were not the only “sins” of LLC.


The magnitude of the continuing crimes became clear in 2019. Then people in masks came to the soul of the Forest of Asia. The head of the operation Alexander Pudovkin was arrested. The FSB then raided the Khabarovsk Territory government with investigations. Another defendant appeared in the case – former First Vice President and former Minister of Natural Resources Vasily Shikhalev. From 2013 to 2018 he was in charge of the forest industry.

“Asia Forest” lagged behind in the implementation of the investment plan for a whole year. Because of this, the company had to get off the list of priorities and lose all preferences. However, according to investigators, Vassily Sikhalev concealed the violations and ordered that no sanctions be imposed on Asia Les.

The second charge was that the former vice-president entered into four forest land lease agreements with the offending company. The plot was transferred without auction and with a reduction rate of 0.5 percent. The damage to the state was estimated at 77 million rubles.

Vasily Shikhalev was charged with abuse of power and entered into a preliminary ruling. In March 2020, he was sentenced to four and a half years suspended imprisonment. The former vice-president also had to pay 77 million rubles in damages.


Further, the path led out of the Khabarovsk Territory directly to Moscow. Here, key officials have decided whether to allocate money from the budget to Asia Forest for equipment and development. Thus, Vladimir Potapkin, the former director of the Department of Chemical-Technological Complex and Industrial Technologies of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, was involved in the case.

The investigation believes that Vladimir Potapkin contributed to the fact that the company received subsidies for more than one billion rubles and deforestation permits for another nine billion rubles. The former official helped, not out of kindness of heart. For his services, he received over 78.9 million rubles. The money was transferred to Potapkin’s accounts from 2016 to 2019 through an intermediary – lawyer Anton Tolmachev, who is now fleeing abroad. According to preliminary data, the former head of the department lost part of the bribe in the casino.

Vladimir Potapkin has been accused of bribery on a particularly large scale, exceeding his official powers with serious consequences. He was arrested in Moscow and transferred to Khabarovsk. In 2021, the former official was sentenced to ten years and six months in a strict regime colony. A fine of 78.9 million rubles was also imposed – depriving him of the right to hold certain positions for a period of six years.


Another source of subsidies was the Russian Ministry of Development of the Far East. The ministry sent money to Asia Les to “reimburse the costs associated with building infrastructure for a priority investment project”. For these purposes, the company received over 840 million rubles. Nothing was put into operation, but in the documents, the head of the company, Alexander Pudovkin, mentioned the creation of timber infrastructure facilities.

To make sure the information in the documents is true, it had to be done by Alexander Krutikov, the former deputy head of the Far East Ministry of Development, and Alexander Pavlov, the former head of the ministry department. But, according to the RF IC, they did not carry out the necessary verification and approved the conclusion on Asia Les LLC ‘s compliance with the criteria for receiving money.

It is known that Krutikov was accused of exceeding official powers with serious consequences. He was transferred to Khabarovsk and then sent to a detention center.

– On May 31, the investigator’s report was accepted: the detention period was extended until July 15, 2022, – KP – told Khabarovsk Central District Court.


The general manager of Asia Les, Alexander Pudovkin, is also in the detention center. He is accused of fraud on a particularly large scale. This is Pudovkin’s second time in custody in connection with the company’s criminal case.

Earlier, Alexander Pudovkin had previously been accused of bribing an official through a large-scale intermediary for committing apparently illegal acts and inaction. This criminal case was dismissed due to active repentance of the accused in December 2020.


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