Ukrainian hacktivist team Cyber Resistance handed over to InformNapalm international intelligence community dumps of e-mails and other private correspondence of Semyon Bagdasarov, ex-member of the State Duma, the parliament of the Russian Federation, director of the Russian Center for the Study of the Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia, the host of the SMERSH talk show on the TV channel of the Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov.
The size of Bagdasarov’s mail dump is more than 7 GB, featuring a mass of attached files, containing numerous scanned copies of his personal documents, financial statements and information about his family’s offshore companies, documents on scheming with the sale of the Russian state-owned land, memos, and other materials of intelligence relevance on the Russian economic projects in Iran, Iraq, African countries (Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo), the UAE.
The analysis of the retrieved dump made it abundantly clear that the public role of Semyon Bagdasarov and his aggressive rants against the “enemies of Russia” in propaganda talk shows on Solovyov LIVE is just the tip of the iceberg. Whereas, the underwater part of this iceberg hides Bagdasarov’s business schemes and shadow influence on various economic processes.
But before looking into his non-public activities, let us watch a short video giving a feel of Bagdasarov as a television propagandist.
Read more about Bagdasarov’s private and international affairs below. His personal identification documents are posted at the end of this article. Let’s start with a look at the documents relating to the correspondence regarding joint Russian-Iranian projects.
A cluster of Iran-related documents from Bagdasarov’s mail suggests that he serves as a link or intermediary between Russian and Iranian legal entities. At this stage, strengthening Russian-Iranian cooperation is a forced step taken by Russia to circumvent sanctions, it concerns not only weapons, but also industrial equipment. For example, the correspondence reveals that 9 gas turbines and compressors for 5 Russian heat and power plants (Novogorkovskaya, Vladimirskaya, Permskaya, Akademicheskaya, Izhevskaya) need urgent maintenance. Also, the Russians lack a number of consumable parts that cannot be bought due to sanctions. Therefore, Bagdasarov is asked to act as an intermediary in establishing ties with Iranian companies.
Here are some relevant documents from his e-mails:
- Message from the Director of the Department for Industry Relations (PDF).
- Babakov’s invitation to Abbas Aliabadi, the president of the Iranian company Mapna Group (PDF).
- On cooperation with PESG Group (PDF).
- On the trade in oil and petroleum products (PDF)
In general, the range of interests and issues resolved through the mediation of Bagdasarov is described in a separate memo which he kept in his mail. A significant part of the mail exchange concerns the construction of a gas hub in Iran.
Here are documents on LNG projects in Iran from Bagdasarov’s mail:
- Roadmap for building LNG infrastructure in Iran (PDF)
- Draft LNG infrastructure development plan (PDF)
- Letter to Babakov from the Iranians (PDF)
- Gazprom presentation slides on LNG infrastructure construction (PDF)
Bagdasarov’s e-mail note about potential partners for Zyfra Group in Iran deserves special attention. Zyfra is a Russian entity that positions itself as an international company. It develops and implements industrial digital solutions in the field of automation and production control. The company was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland (probably to circumvent sanctions). Zyfra Group also has divisions in Turkey, Germany, Morocco, India, Colombia, Peru, Indonesia, and several countries in Africa.
Bagdasarov’s list of potential partners for Zyfra Group included the following Iranian companies:
- NICICO National Iranian Copper Industries Company
- Gol Gohar Iron Ore Company
- Iran Central Iron Ore Company
- Sangan Iron Ore Co (NISCo)
- Negin Tabas Coal Company (IMIDRO)
- East Alborz Coal Company
- Central Alborz Coal Company (IMIDRO)
- National Iranian Lead and Zinc
- Iran Zinc Mines Development Co (IZMDC)
- Mehdiabad Zinc Company (MZS)
- Asfalt tous Company
- Toos Masir Co (Mashhad)
- Ahan Ajin Mining Company
- Kerman Jahad-e-Nasr Company
While preparing this publication, InformNapalm volunteers compiled a lookup table for the listed companies in order to determine whether they are on the sanctions lists.
|NICICO National Iranian Copper Industries Company||under sectoral sanctions||IRAN-EO13871 (USA)||https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=28293|
|Gol Gohar Iron Ore Company||No data||may be under sectoral or secondary sanctions under IRAN-EO13871 as part of Iran’s steel sector|
|Iran Central Iron Ore Company||under sectoral sanctions||IRAN-EO13871 (USA)||https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=29114|
|Sangan Iron Ore Co (NISCo)||No data||may be under sectoral or secondary sanctions under IRAN-EO13871 as part of Iran’s steel sector|
|Negin Tabas Coal Company (IMIDRO)||under secondary national sanctions||IRAN (USA)||Linked to: IMIDRO||https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=11607|
|East Alborz Coal Company||No data||May be linked to IMIDRO|
|Central Alborz Coal Company (IMIDRO)||under secondary national sanctions||IRAN (USA)||Linked to: IMIDRO||https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=11607|
|National Iranian Lead and Zinc||No data|
|Iran Zinc Mines Development Co (IZMDC)||under secondary sanctions||IFSR; SDGT (USA)||Linked to: TAKTAR INVESTMENT COMPANY||https://sanctionssearch.ofac.treas.gov/Details.aspx?id=25043|
|Mehdiabad Zinc Company (MZS)||No data|
|Asfalt tous Company||No data|
|Toos Masir Co (Mashhad)||No data|
|Ahan Ajin Mining Company||No data|
|Kerman Jahad-e-Nasr Company||No data|
The table shows that some of the companies listed in the letter are already under secondary or sectoral sanctions. However, for most of the companies on the list, the data is vague or missing from the open sanctions registers. Perhaps that is why they were chosen as potential partners for the Russian company.
In addition, Bagdasarov is approached by other Russian legal entities wishing to enter the Iranian market, in particular, producers of aluminum and non-ferrous metal products (PDF). These are exactly the goods that are subject to international sanctions on imports from Russia.
Bagdasarov’s services as an intermediary in establishing international ties are sought not only by Russian legal entities. This process also works in reverse. Here is Iran looking to supply animal feed to Russia with a relevant message also going through Bagdasarov (PDF).
In order not to overload this publication, we will give just a brief information about other countries and regions of interest to Bagdasarov that we managed to detect in the dump. (If this publication attracts wide public and media interest, full dumps of Bagdasarov’s correspondence from 2009 to 2023 will be made available to the public).
Updated on 7 April 2023. Download the full dump of Semyon Bagdasarov’s two emails at the links:
- e-mail 1: email@example.com
- e-mail 2: firstname.lastname@example.org
For instructions on how to download and open the dump for viewing e-mails read the instructions.
In Iraq, Bagdasarov is interested in politicians who can organize meetings with the political leadership. In particular, there is a document about meetings with Iraqi politicians from the Shia group Kataib Hezbollah and the Kadimun party. The memo was kept by Bagdasarov in the mail, so it is not clear whether he writes such memos for himself, or reports on his activity to the Russian intelligence services.
Bagdasarov’s daughter Anna is married to an Iraqi citizen and they have a child together, born in the UAE, where Bagdasarov keeps shell companies.
Bagdasarov’s correspondents are interested in finding investors for:
- mining of tin, tantalum and tungsten in Uganda and the DRC, gold trade in Uganda;
- construction of a tank farm and fuel trade in Uganda.
In the second part of this article, we will get to know who is Mr Bagdasarov, look at his IDs, certificates, as well as quickly investigate some land schemes.
Bagdasarov Semyon Arkadievich. Personal information
Born on October 20, 1954, in the city of Margilan, Fergana region, Uzbek SSR, Armenian by nationality.
Passport of a Russian citizen # 45 11 289378, issued by the department of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the city of Moscow, for the Maryino district on September 12, 2011, TIN 772391258316. Registered at: Moscow, 12/12 Novomarinskaya street, building 1, apartment 376.
Married, with two adult children: daughter Anna and son Arkady. Bagdasarov’s offshore companies in Cyprus are registered in their names. They are also involved in the schemes of the Center for the Study of the Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia, which is headed by Semyon Bagdasarov himself.
Bagdasarov graduated from the Ulyanovsk Tank School, then served in the Crimea, his children were born there. He became interested in politics while still in the army: in 1986 he graduated from the Lenin Military Political Academy in Moscow, which trained political officers for the armed forces of the USSR. He went on to get a linguistic education – took a relevant course at the Military Institute of the MOD of the USSR. This paved the way to international affairs, a domain of the GRU in the army, and of the First Main Directorate in the KGB (foreign intelligence division, future Foreign Intelligence Service). We know from open sources that Bagdasarov has departmental awards from the FSB.
At the military language course, Bagdasarov learned Dari, the language of the Tajiks of Afghanistan, which is closely related to Tajik and Persian (Farsi) languages. Born in Uzbekistan, for sure, he was in contact with the Tajik language environment from his youth.
We found out through open sources that in 1993 Bagdasarov was awarded the Order For Personal Courage for his work in remote mountainous regions of Tajikistan and Afghanistan with the following wording: “for completing a special mission.” Bagdasarov left military service in 1995 at the rank of Colonel.
It is quite possible that this political officer’s secret missions in the mountains of Afghanistan became a prologue to his new, also secretive, role of an intermediary in Russian-Iranian business relations. In any case, knowledge of the language and connections within secret services were a valuable asset. And hence, probably, the interest in Shia (Ismaili, Alawite) affairs in the Middle East, in particular, in Iraq. It is worth noting Bagdasarov’s sharp anti-Turkish public stance, which may stem from both his ethnic roots and his devotion to Shia Iranian friends.
In retirement, Bagdasarov worked for a long time for the Russian government, notably in the areas related to both international / interethnic relations, and technological / industrial sectors: in 2000 and 2001 he was an adviser to the Russian State Duma Committee on Industry, Construction and High Technologies. This is another touch to the portrait of the Russian-Iranian intermediary in circumventing international economic sanctions.
Now Bagdasarov does not officially hold any public office. Most probably he retains his political influence through Alexander Babakov, vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma from the Just Russia party. From 2007 to 2011, Bagdasarov, like Babakov, were members of the State Duma from this political party.
It follows from Bagdasarov’s correspondence that his Center for the Study of the Countries of the Middle East and Central Asia operates not only as a think tank, but also as a money laundering vehicle – a figurehead through which Bagdasarov and his family receive millions of rubles every month. Here is a list of employees of this “non-profit organization” where his children are listed as “key specialists.” And here is a scanned copy of the Center’s articles, certified by the Russian Ministry of Justice. Here is a scanned copy of the debit card application for Anna Bagdasarova. Here is the power of attorney from Arkady Bagdasarov to Anna Bagdasarova to manage housing in the UAE (PDF).
And here is a certificate about Bagdasarov’s income for 2020, officially – a little more than 265 thousand rubles. Below is the tax assessment notification calling for payment of transport tax in the amount of about 200 thousand rubles.
The relationship between Semyon Bagdasarov and his wife Lidia Borisovna Bagdasarova remains unclear to us. On the surface, it looks like they have been happily married since 1975. A copy of the marriage certificate provided in 2022 was found in Bagdasarov’s mail. It confirms Bagdasarov’s official biography line, that the spouses have been cohabiting in a close-knit family since 1975.
At the same time, Bagdasarov’s mail for 2020 contains messages about the password recovery for a site providing dating and escort services.
We also found a screenshot of the correspondence where Bagdasarov offered Anna, a 40-year-old escort model from Moscow, to become his long-term companion and sugar babe. How their relationship developed, and whether Bagdasarov changed his mind about keeping Anna, we do not know.
Of course, Semyon Arkadyevich is quite senior. Therefore, it is no surprise that his mail contains pharmacy orders for erectile dysfunction drugs. Perhaps this is intended to strengthen a 48-year marriage. However, we have reasonable grounds to believe that these bumper doses of Cialis are intended to impress some other women. In March 2023, Bagdasarov ordered new batches of the drug through a pharmacy.
Many more personal documents were found in Bagdasarov’s mail, but in order not to overload the material with screenshots, let’s move on to the last part – land sale schemes involving Bagdasarov and his partners.
Bagdasarov’s land schemes in Russia
From international affairs, let us return to the more mundane domestic affairs in Russia. An analysis of the correspondence revealed that Bagdasarov was involved in schemes to buy Russian state-owned land for its further resale. Several figurehead companies got involved.
Among them, was JSC Main Center for the Reproduction of Farm Animals, with its CEO Maxim Maksimchuk. This joint-stock company, its subsidiaries and entities under its effective control have the right to use state-owned land. This land was given under lease agreements to other legal entities, also figureheads brought in by Bagdasarov.
For example, Laukar LLC, managed by Alexei Vsyutin, an agent of Bagdasarov. Further, Laukar LLC, using its preemption right as a tenant, bought the land from the state. Then this land was sold for a similar price to Yuzhnyy Industrial Park LLC. Its CEO, Nikolai Yazovtsev is Bagdasarov’s dacha neighbor, who quite often goes on vacations with the Bagdasarov family, and they apparently have developed friendly and business relations.
Later, Yazovtsev’s limited liability company sells the land at an inflated price, earning a large margin. For example, the mail dump contains selling offers for 65 hectares from Yazovtsev’s company for a total of 880,200,000 rubles with an payment plan in installments for several years until 2024.
Maksim Maksimchuk (PDF questionnaire) also facilitates certain issues in this scheme.
In the summer of 2022, with the assistance of Bagdasarov, he became an assistant to the Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Alexander Babakov, mentioned above. Obviously, Babakov also has a share in this business. Interesting detail: the land plots bought by the figurehead company are located near the city of Podolsk (a district bordering on Moscow). The lands that we managed to trace are near the settlements of Bykovo and Strelkovo. Nearby is also the village of Byakontovo, a place where Bagdasarov also owns land. By the way, Maksimchuk, like Bagdasarov, was born in Central Asia – in Kyrgyzstan, although this may be just a coincidence.
Here are some documents related to Bagdasarov’s land schemes which gave grounds to the above conclusions:
- Contract for the sale of land with prices (PDF)
- Land survey request from the operator of the Yuzhnyy Industrial Park (PDF)
- Proposal to Yazovtsev (PDF)
We do not know if there is any illegal component in these land schemes – let Russian law enforcement agencies figure it out for themselves. However, if the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma is involved in these schemes, then Bagdasarov, most likely, enjoys full immunity.
Ironically, we found another interesting message in Bagdasarov’s mail, which is related to corruption scandals that do not implicate him personally. Although, it could have been sent to him for a reason, and there is still certain connection between him and the defendant. This is a message dated December 23, 2022 with a petition addressed to the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin from Mikhail Yurevich who is accused in absentia under a number of counts in Russia (media archive). The former governor of the Chelyabinsk Oblast fled abroad and currently lives in the UK. In the petition, Yurevich partially admits his guilt under a number of lighter charges, but asks to drop charges for graver offenses like large-scale bribery. He ends his petition with assurances that from the very beginning he has “supported the SMO” (ed.: the so-called “Special Military Operation”, i.e. the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine) and promises to increase material support for Russian troops fighting against Ukraine. We call on the British authorities to reassess the grounds of his stay in the UK.
Sanctions against Semyon Bagdasarov
According to the Decree of the President of Ukraine dated October 19, 2022 № 726/2022 , enacting the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine On the application and amendment of personal special economic and other restrictive measures, Russian citizen Semyon Bagdasarov was included on the sanctions list of Ukraine.
However, in other countries he has not yet come under any sanctions, despite his ardent propaganda rhetoric on Solovyov’s talk show directed against the USA, Turkey and the EU countries. Bagdasarov, like his friend Yurevich, actively supports Russian aggression against Ukraine.
As follows from private correspondence and other dump materials, the role of an aggressive jester on propaganda shows is only the public tip of the iceberg and rather serves as a cover for Bagdasarov’s main activities, which deserve closer attention.
While the decorated ex-colonel rants that it is necessary to win back the “archetypal Russian lands” from Ukraine and Turkey, his schemes for the sale of Russian state land are quietly running in the background to let him syphon money out to Cyprus, the UAE and other countries. Bagdasarov’s children, obviously, do not plan to live in Russia too.
P.S. We thank our hacktivist friends from Cyber Resistance for the exclusive opportunity to jointly work on this investigation and make this story public. We invite readers to subscribe to our telegram channels, where we publish much more information than finds its way to InformNapalm website.
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