Hacktivists of the Cyber Resistance team handed over to InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community a rather big fish, a top-tier Russian politician, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Alexander Babakov. The higher the rank, the greater the amount of information the investigators have to sift through. Ukrainian hacktivists have thoroughly gutted this fish, and we are now ready to share a few interesting pieces about Babakov’s involvement in the formation of fifth columns in other countries, circumvention of Russian sanctions and personal corruption schemes worth billions of rubles. The information we have obtained is vast, but only some of it is included in this article. To allow other investigative journalists to look into Babakov’s activities, the full archive of Babakov’s office mail (over 11 GB) will be made publicly available by the hacktivists once this article comes out.
Alexander Babakov. Background information.
According to public information, Babakov was born on February 8, 1963 in Chisinau. He is an economist by education and has been elected several times to the State Duma of the Russian Federation. His political career has spanned many fields from energy to defense.
But his main area of responsibility, as evidenced by his correspondence, is the practical implementation of the active measures and furthering Russian hybrid influence abroad at the parliamentary level. Accordingly, in the State Duma he handles inter-parliamentary cooperation and relations with the Russian communities abroad. He is an influential person, both domestically and abroad, with extensive connections outside of Russia. He is also a corrupt official and an enemy of Ukraine.
(The screenshots of documents and emails enlarge when clicked for a closer look).
Registered at: Moscow, Slavyansky Boulevard, 1, apt. 394. Married with three children. The youngest daughter Zoya was born in 2006 in France (PDF).
Babakov’s eldest son Mikhail studied in France. At the outset of mobilization in Russia, he was appointed assistant to a State Duma deputy (his father, actually) to dodge the draft (PDF). Mikhail was recently issued a military ID (PDF), but obviously his father’s influence and his being a lawmaker’s assistant will keep him from dying in the trenches in Ukraine, unlike thousands of ordinary Russians.
Alexander Babakov has heart problems and was hit hard by the coronavirus. As he probably has no trust in Shoigu’s shamans, he went to Switzerland for treatment and he did so after the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine in 2014. Though Babakov had already been placed under sanctions by that time, he was specifically granted a medical entry permit.
Babakov’s corruption schemes to launder billions of rubles
Babakov’s office mail dump included documents with statements of funds flows (PDF) and Centrocredit Bank account statements (PDF-1 , PDF-2). The analysis of the data shows that Babakov favors unimaginative or rather primitive money laundering schemes to launder hundreds of millions of rubles. There are several typical schemes in use.
1. Scheme one is quite simple – “lend money to your assistants”.
Let’s take the most recent example: in February 2023, Yevgeny Zobnin, Babakov’s assistant, “asks him for a loan” of 100 million rubles, with the effective term of the loan agreement of 3 years (PDF).
The loan agreement allows Babakov launder corruption proceeds, bribes and gifts, and even include them in the asset and income disclosure. A very interesting document was found in Babakov’s mail regarding the “repayment” of such “loans” – “recommendations for repayments depending on account balances”.
By the way, who is Zobnin? Scans of documents found in Babakov’s mail provide a helpful insight.
Evgeny Zobnin is Babakov’s assistant who frequently accompanies him on trips abroad. He was with Babakov in India this year. He may also be his driver. But in addition to being his assistant, Zobnin also smuggles hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of Apple products into Russia.
And – who could have thought? – Babakov’s office e-mail account registered a login from a new iPhone 14 on the first day of their sales. Obviously, Russian top officials like to get those “detestable Western gadgets” just as soon as the civilized world does.
2. Scheme two is “real estate”
In the register of agreements there is a record that Babakov co-investor 770 mln rubles in real estate to be built by Tsentr Stroy LLC. According to his 2022 tax return (PDF), Babakov earns 8 million rubles a year in office, but somehow he manages to save hundreds of millions to invest.
However, Babakov did not make any investment at all: as is seen from the documents found in the mail, the whole story was not about developing any real estate. Later on, Babakov officially terminated the agreement with the developer, and the latter undertook to return the 770 million to him (PDF). A brilliant money laundering scheme worth hundreds of millions of rubles.
Scheme three is “helping a friend”.
Just as Babakov uses assistants and others as front men, another person, businessman Alexey Kakhidze, uses him in exactly the same way. The register of agreements lists loans provided by Kakhidze to Babakov that are worth almost half a billion rubles. But who is this Kakhidze?
He is another of Babakov’s assistants and also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom LNG Technologies LLC.
The LNG market is now rapidly growing and Kakhidze is using Babakov to grab a cut. Russia tries to create new LNG infrastructure, investing in the development of gas-powered vehicles and offering its LNG infrastructure projects to Iran and African countries. Kakhidze and Babakov make money off this, just like many others.
In this Google Drive folder, you can see Kakhidze’s requests to Babakov relayed to and lobbied for by the latter before the Russian government to get preferential treatment for Gazprom LNG Technologies LLC.
And here is the three of them (Babakov, Kakhidze, and Zobnin) traveling together on business to Mongolia, probably to “expand the LNG market”. The documents show what kind of cars they were provided with and what they ate while traveling.
“Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” is how Babakov and Kakhidze’s relations can be described. How can Babakov earn billions of rubles? Very simply – by lobbying for Kakhidze’s interests. For example, a few years ago Gazprom LNG Technologies decided to build a small-capacity LNG production complex.
The only problem was that the complex had to be built in the nature protection zone of the Ussurisky Nature Reserve, namely, within the Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and the Land of the Leopard National Park. Naturally, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology blocked the land zoning for the construction (PDF). What does Kakhidze do? He complains to Babakov (PDF), and sends him a draft petition to the Ministry of Ecology (PDF). All Babakov has to do is to sign the document with his name.
Here is another example. Gazprom LNG Technologies wants to develop a new construction project in Solnechnogorsk near Moscow. But they want to save money on taxes, contractors, land, etc., to pocket billions. They file a request to Babakov (PDF) to lobby for a “Special Economic Zone”. A penny saved is a penny gained indeed. And, of course, Babakov’s office is happy to oblige!
We would not have paid any attention to Babakov’s shady dealings – after all, the higher the corruption in Russia, the faster this gas station of a country will collapse. But Babakov is not just a corrupt top official. He also has a huge influence on Russia’s foreign policy.
Babakov as an overseer
Once again it becomes clear that regardless of the political affiliation of any Russian officials, they are sure to follow Russia’s general aggressive stance. Babakov’s activities totally fall in line with Russian foreign policy.
He has been overseeing foreign policy matters since at least 2012, when Putin appointed him as Special Presidential Representative to Russians Abroad. We all know how the USSR and later Russia used Russian communities abroad. Remember Putin’s quotes that “Russia’s border doesn’t end anywhere” and “the ‘Russian world’ stretches to wherever Russian is spoken”? Babakov also has his share in promoting this ‘Russian world’ concept.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Babakov’s key focus area has been expanding cooperation with countries in Africa and the East to mitigate the impact of Western sanctions.
He was responsible for organizing the Russia-Africa interparliamentary conference in March 2023 and worked on the second Russia–Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg in July 2023, of which InformNapalm wrote earlier.
In 2023, Babakov, as a member of a parliamentary delegation, visited India and Iran to negotiate economic cooperation and circumvention of sanctions.
Africa, Iran, and India are Russia’s foreign policy focus areas where Russia is trying to find allies.
Babakov submitted a detailed report on his visit to Iran to Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma (PDF).
And while doing so, Babakov never forgot to promote the interests of his friend Kakhidze – in Babakov’s mail we found a letter to the director of Iranian company Iran Liquefied Natural Gas Co. regarding cooperation (PDF).
In our other investigation, BagdasarovLeaks: hacking ex-member of the Russian State Duma Semyon Bagdasarov. Iranian gambit, we wrote about how Russia was trying to replace worn-out Western turbines at their thermal power plants with Iranian products manufactured by MAPNA Group. Babakov is the man who has been dealing with circumventing Western sanctions at the parliamentary level.
Agents of influence
With regard to Babakov’s foreign policy activities, his dealings with Russian agents of influence are worth noting.
Babakov has excellent personal relations with the Serbian President Vučić. Serbia has traditionally been of interest to Russia both in the energy sector and as a pro-Russian enclave in the Balkans. Look how friends wish each other a happy birthday.
And, of course, he is also busy forming a pool of pro-Russian Serbian parliamentarians and political parties not ashamed to visit Russia even after the full-scale aggression (PDF).
It was surprising enough to find documents on Russian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite the sanctions, Russian company Zarubezhneft continued to build gas transport infrastructure in 2022.
The message to Babakov with presentations of the large-scale construction reads: “The project will be carried out by Western companies; so far, we have the consent of a Hungarian state company (Gazprom should also procure a Western company on its part). … the implementation of the project will ‘help Alexey Borisovich get rid of his concerns’ regarding this country and prepare a foothold for reaching the strategic goal.”
- Slides on the GTS development strategy in Bosnia and Herzegovina (PDF)
- Energy generation project (PDF)
“Alexey Borisovich” referred to here is Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Management Committee of Gazprom. And Russia’s “strategic goal” in the Balkans is not too hard to figure out.
According to the presentation, Russia plans to use Siemens and Ansaldo turbines in Bosnia’s GTS, despite the sanctions.
Babakov has also been implicated in conducting subversive activities through Russian movements abroad. Regrettably, his mail contains information about official and rather minor activities only, but we are certain there’s more to that.
For example, Babakov actively cooperates with pro-Russian right-wing Georgian party Conservative Movement (PDF). The party promotes pro-Russian and anti-American/anti-European rhetoric.
Russia holds contests for young people in Georgia dedicated to the “Great Patriotic War” and forms the basis for pulling Georgia into the common Eurasian Economic Space (PDF).
Babakov also maintains close contacts with the leadership of the so-called “Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic” or “Transnistria”. Through Babakov, pro-Russian occupiers of Transnistria ask for sustenance money and seek to equalize the rights of “Transnistrian citizens” with those of Russian citizens.
Babakov’s mail has many other interesting documents on the promotion of Russian interests in Bulgaria, Greece, Mexico, Syria, Turkmenistan, Croatia, etc. What Russia always does in each such country is getting it addicted to cheap energy and working with local pro-Russian agents and Russian ethnic enclaves. Babakov, like the entire Russian political elite, is an enemy of Ukraine.
Enemy of Ukraine
Most notable is Babakov’s close cooperation with the International Council of Russians Abroad (ICRA). This organization is designed exclusively for hybrid influence and destabilization, being a kind of ethnically centered Comintern promoting the “Russian-world” ideology. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of this organization, Sergey Kiriyenko of the Presidential Administration of Russia said in his welcoming address:
“Over the past years, the International Council of Russians Abroad has become an effective tool to unite the Russian world, a prominent institution of the civil society, and an important element of ‘soft power’.”
The IСRA was responsible for bringing the so-called “observers” to the so-called “referendum” in Crimea. Look at these names of those “observers”. Tellingly, there is Babakov’s petition to reward the “observers” on the anniversary of the illegal referendum. Let us ask ourselves a rhetorical question: where else do they reward observers years after the event?
Through the IСRA, Babakov tried to encourage more foreigners to invest and do business in Crimea. Also, there are documents evidencing his attempts to attract Greek investment and business to Crimea (PDF).
From Babakov’s e-mails we also know about his attempts to bring Russians living in the West to Crimea “for treatment”. To ensure this, he tried to find airlines willing to fly to Crimea in violation of the sanctions. Babakov approached Aeroflot, Ural Airlines, Siberia Airlines and others.
We know that Azimut Airlines agreed to the proposition to fly to Crimea, violating Ukrainian airspace (PDF).
The ICRA also works hard organizing contests and competitions among children of the occupied territories, CIS and European countries about the Second World War. And, of course, Babakov’s office was in close contact with Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik, Moscow’s puppets who formally govern the occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
Babakov also helped simplify Russian legislation to facilitate the repatriation of Russians to Russia. Of course, they will use such simplified legislation not only to repatriate Russians, but also anyone they see as such, including people who were issued (both voluntarily and forcibly) Russian passports in the occupied territories.
Babakov is also responsible for spreading disinformation in foreign parliaments about biolaboratories in Ukraine.
According to Babakov’s e-mails, a year ago, Duma deputy Delyagin proposed the Russian Duma to declare Ukraine a “terrorist state”, but the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs opposed this initiative and it was rejected. Probably even the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs realized how ridiculous this act would look.
This article conclusively demonstrates that Babakov is the very embodiment of the entire Russian government. Corrupt and unscrupulous. Wanting to enjoy the benefits of the Western civilization, yet trying to undermine it.
We hope that Babakov will end up in the dock of an international war crimes tribunal for supporting the aggression that has already claimed hundreds of thousands of human lives.
A final touch – 1 bln worth of birthday wishes to Steven Seagal
Babakov’s mail dump includes telegrams even to Steven Seagal, wishing him a happy birthday, and an e-mail to Gazprom’s CEO Alexey Miller asking him to pay 1 bln rubles to the Steven Seagal Cinematography Support Fund, “given the scale of the personality.” Hard to compare to a typical official death pay or benefits to the family of an ordinary Russian killed in this war, ranging from a Russian-made car – the most coveted prize – to a kilo of meat. Different strokes for different folks.
The InformNapalm international intelligence community thanks the hacktivists of the Cyber Resistance team for the opportunity to take part in the BabakovLeaks operation and for the opportunity to lift the curtain on the secrets of some CYBINT operations that can be publicly covered. Perhaps these developments can also inspire even more Ukrainians and friends of Ukraine from other parts of the world to conduct their own cyber operations, CYBINT / OSINT research, which will cause even more damage to the Russian occupiers.
We invite readers to subscribe to our telegram channel, where we publish much more information than gets to InformNapalm website.
We thank all readers and volunteers for supporting and distributing InformNapalm materials in different languages of the world.
Read more publications based on the data from Cyber Resistance hacktivists
- Hacking a Russian war criminal, deputy commander of the OMON of the Krasnoyarsk Krai
- Hacking a Russian war criminal, commander of 960th Assault Aviation Regiment
- Hacking Russian Z-volunteer Mikhail Luchin who ordered sex toys for $25,000 instead of drones for the Russian army.
- BagdasarovLeaks: hacking ex-member of the Russian State Duma Semyon Bagdasarov. Iranian gambit
- Hacked: Russian GRU officer wanted by the FBI, leader of the hacker group APT 28
- Hacking “James Bond”: medical service commander of 960th Assault Aviation Regiment doxed key personnel of his own unit
- Hacking Andrey Lugovoy, member of the Russian State Duma, First Deputy Head of the Security Committee
- Ukrainian hacktivists acquired first-ever photo of the GRU hacker unit commander wanted by the FBI for meddling in the U.S. election
- New evidence of collaboration of former Slovak Justice Minister Štefan Harabin with the Russian Federation
- Hacking Colonel Leonid Rusin, ex-commander of Russian AWACS unit
- Ukrainian hackers posted lists and documents of the Russian 72nd Motorized Rifle Brigade (TOP-10 files)
- Economic summit Russia–Africa 2023 databases hacked by Ukrainian hacktivists
- Hacking Lieutenant Colonel Kasatkin, Russian war criminal, head of Combat Training of A-50 early warning aircraft, military unit 41520