State cooperative concern "AST"
In 1967, a team of 30 people was formed, half of whom were doctors, candidates of science and specialists in various sectors of the national economy. On the basis of this collective in 1987 1987 the cooperative "AST" ("Automation. Science. Technology" or " Aviation. Science. Technology") was registered. According to another version, the cooperative "AST" was created at a small aircraft factory. The cooperative was headed by a graduate of the Moscow Aviation College, a former sergeant of the Ninth Directorate of the KGB of the USSR (protection of senior officials) Vladimir Ryashentsev.
According to unconfirmed information, at an exhibition organized by the Moscow regional committee of the CPSU, a member of the Politburo of the CPSU, Yegor Ligachev, got acquainted with the products of the cooperative "AST", who approved the activities of the cooperative. After that, "AST" began to work on the assignments of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
In February 1988, AST was re-registered as a cooperative production and technological association. This happened because the branches and other cooperatives organized by him (Moscow, Kharkov, Kokand, Leningrad, etc.) began to be part of the AST. AST began to carry out work on the instructions of the Department of Chemistry of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
In April 1988, the leadership of the Moscow Regional Party Committee proposed to the AST association to help the Noginsk plant of fuel equipment in the production of the main part of the fuel pump - the plunger pair. Then a new system of state-cooperative economy appeared.
In July 1988, the cooperative production and technological association AST was re-registered as an industrial state-cooperative association. The USSR Ministry of Aviation Industry became the partner of the association. The Minister of the Aviation Industry at that time was Sistsov Apollon Sergeevich. According to unconfirmed information, the ministry's export-import operations, including the barter exchange of aviation equipment for computers, were handled by Assistant Minister Farber Izrail Lipovich, who in the 1990s was seen in close ties with one of the largest Russian crime bosses Aslan Usoyan.
In July 1989, AST eliminated such a cooperative institution as the division of profits between members. In accordance with the charter of the PGCO, upon its liquidation, after settlements with creditors, the proceeds from the sale of property and other funds available to the association were to go to the state budget.
In 1988, PGKO AST completed works worth over 20 million rubles.
Since the end of 1988, PGKO AST began to engage in foreign economic activity.
In 1988, an unidentified acquaintance of Vladimir Ryashentsev introduced him to the deputy head of the Sixth Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR (economic counterintelligence) Nikolai Sham, who, in his own words, in 1987 году tried to create a special laboratory at the Ministry of Defense of the USSR for the development of technologies that could lead to economic breakthroughs nationwide. The project was closed by order of the Minister of Defense of the USSR Dmitry Yazov. Sham suggested that Ryashentsev implement a similar project on the basis of the AST cooperative. Ryashentsev readily accepted this offer.
This project was supported by the head of the economic department of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, Major-General Sterligov Alexander Nikolaevich, to whom, according to him, Ryashentsev was recommended by a former colleague in the Sixth Sector of the Administration of Affairs of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. Alexander Sterligov once served in the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 1983-1986, on the instructions of Yuri Andropov, and later Mikhail Gorbachev, Sterligov led a corruption case in the Moscow City Executive Committee, with the help of which the Moscow party organization was weakened, which was one of the influential groups of the USSR elite and threatened the influence of the Andropov-Gorbachev group. The defeat of the Moscow Party organization was completed by Boris Yeltsin, who headed the Moscow City Committee of the CPSU at the end of 1985.
Alexander Sterligov initiated an expert assessment of the proposed project in the State Foreign Economic Commission, headed by the Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Vladimir Kamentsev. The project received a positive assessment, and in January 1989 Kamentsev introduced this proposal to Nikolai Ryzhkov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. The inspection of the association "AST" and its foreign partners was entrusted to the Sixth Sector of the Administrative Department of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, in which Alexander Sterligov once worked. Employees of the Sixth Sector were mainly former employees of the Sixth Directorate of the KGB of the USSR, in which Nikolai Sham served. As a matter of fact, its patrons started checking "AST". Unsurprisingly, the verdict was positive.
By the order of the Council of Ministers of the USSR dated May 30, 1989, the establishment of the inter-sectoral state-cooperative concern "AST" was approved. The concern received permission to purchase from ministries, enterprises and departments secondary raw materials, production waste, products to be written off, illiquid assets, over-planned and other products for sale abroad in order to saturate the country's market with highly scarce consumer goods, computers and other products. It should be noted that in March 1989, in accordance with the decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, restrictions were imposed on foreign economic activity, but, thanks to state support, many of these restrictions did not apply to the AST concern.
The activities of the concern were carried out under the control of the state. For this purpose, a supervisory body was formed, which included officials from the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations, the Ministry of Finance, the State Planning Commission, the State Bank, the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Trade, the Prosecutor's Office of the USSR, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR and others. At the same time, the concern "AST" and the association "AST" had to deduct 97% of the income from exports and 99% of the income from imports to the state budget.
All permits for foreign economic activity MGKK "AST" and PGCO "AST" received in October 1989. After that, AST developed business cooperation with major foreign firms and financial groups from different countries (USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, South Korea, Monaco, etc.).
In October 1989, NPO Vzlyot, which was headed by Lieutenant General Vladimir Korneevich Dovgan, a native of the Sverdlovsk region, offered AST to provide assistance and technical assistance in obtaining products from Uralvagonzavod (Nizhny Tagil, Sverdlovsk region), which was supposed to be exchanged abroad for computers. The negotiations with the management of the plant were conducted by the representative of NPO Vzlyot in the Sverdlovsk region, Anatoly Korneevich Dovgan, who was the brother of General Dovgan. Uralvagonzavod belonged to the enterprises of the military-industrial complex and was the largest manufacturer of tanks in the country. According to the management of the AST concern, the plant was supposed to sell tractors on the platform of the T-72 tank (conversion products) to the concern, but in reality the plant delivered the tanks themselves to the concern, along with the weapons systems, which, however, were to be removed from the tanks and packed in a separate wagon. According to the management of the plant, representatives of NPO Vzlyot provided all the necessary documents for this, which, however, did not pass due verification either by the management of the plant or by the regional department of the KGB. It was stated that in the prevailing difficult economic conditions, the management of the plant seized upon the opportunity presented to fulfill the production plan and receive additional profit. In November 1989, payment for goods was received from PGKO AST to the account of Uralvagonzavod at a price higher than the state one. The equipment was shipped in December 1989 to the Novorossiysk seaport for some reason with internal union documents, although it was supposed to be exported.
In Novorossiysk, the customer was absent, and the railway began to threaten with penalties for the idle time of wagons. According to the AST leaders, the goods were not accepted because tanks came instead of tractors. Apparently, over time, information about the ownerless staff, loaded with battle tanks, reached the first secretary of the Krasnodar Regional Committee of the CPSU, which was in charge of Novorossiysk. The first secretary of the Krasnodar Regional Committee of the CPSU, Ivan Polozkov, sent 2 encrypted programs to the union center with information about what was happening. On January 11, 1990 (almost 3 weeks after arrival), the train was arrested by officers of the KGB of the Krasnodar Territory, and an investigation began. After that, Polozkov engaged the leadership of the newspaper "Sovetskaya Rossiya" to cover the incident. On January 14, 1990, the newspaper "Soviet Russia" (the mouthpiece of the "conservative" wing of the CPSU, one of whose representatives was Yegor Ligachev) published an article "Octopus under a semaphore", which wrote about a possible attempt to illegally sell tanks abroad from "Uralvagonzavod" cooperative "AST".
The article caused a huge resonance in the country. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Nikolai Ryzhkov described the attempt to sell tanks through the co-operative "AST" from "Uralvagonzavod" as the most shameful page in the country's economic life. The first secretary of the Krasnodar Regional Committee of the CPSU, Ivan Polozkov, who initiated the scandal, stated in the press that AST was part of a conspiratorial mafia organization that was trying to reduce the defense potential of the USSR. A wide range of officials were held personally liable. First Deputy Minister of the Aviation Industry A.G. Bratukhin, General Director of NPO Vzlyot V.K.Dovgan, Deputy Head of the Department of the State Foreign Economic Commission (GVK) V.S. . Grinev. Severe punishments were handed down to the Minister of Defense Industry B.M. Belousov, his Deputy M.A. Zakharov, Deputy Chairman of the GVK Yu.A. Pekshev, Minister of Radio Industry V.I.Shimko, Minister of Aviation industry A.S. Systsov. The director of Uralvagonzavod, Vladimir Seryakov, was only given a severe reprimand. It was reported that he was not dismissed, because only in October 1989 he was elected director of Uralvagonzavod by the collective of the enterprise, and therefore his fate was to be decided by the collective.
The USSR State Bank was instructed to close the settlement accounts of all divisions of the concern, and ministries and departments were advised not to have any more business with him. In turn, the USSR prosecutor's office sent telegrams to the republics, as well as to military and railway prosecutors to take the AST organization under special control and "lead the inspection on the spot." KGB officers in Murmansk detained a consignment of electrolytic nickel and copper supplied from Norilsk, the organizer and executor of which was the concern "AST". In the port of Nakhodka, Primorsky Territory, customs officers detained 50 tons of magnesium in ingots, which were supposed to go to Japan from the AST association. Thus, the activity of the AST concern was paralyzed.
The head of the concern "AST" Vladimir Ryashentsev said that the case of the illegal sale of tanks was a provocation organized with the participation of the director of "Uralvagonzavod" Vladimir Seryakov. Ryashentsev did not name the customers of the provocation, but said that the purpose of the provocation was to prevent the recovery of the country's economy, since AST could play an important role in overcoming the commodity deficit in the USSR and purchasing advanced technologies. According to Ryashentsev, "AST" did not even think about supplying weapons abroad. However, this contradicts the information voiced by Nikolai Ryzhkov, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, that when registering the charter of the AST concern, the Ministry of Aviation Industry of the USSR introduced an ambiguous wording that allowed the concern to carry out export-import operations with weapons.
Approximately in January-February 1990, Vladimir Ryashentsev met the owner of the construction business, Alexander Konanykhin. According to Konanykhin, they met through a man from the security service Ryashentsev, who worked as a security guard for Konanykhin. Offended by the "commie" Ryashentsev, whom Yegor Ligachev, a member of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, and Vladimir Kryuchkov, chairman of the KGB of the USSR, were accused of betraying the Motherland on television, offered Konanykhin to finance the election campaign of Boris Yeltsin, who ran for people's deputies of the RSFSR. According to Konanykhin, Ryashentsev knew people close to Yeltsin who arranged a meeting between Konanykhin and Yeltsin. Konanykhin offered to finance Yeltsin's election campaign, saying that he shared his political views. Yeltsin agreed. Ryashentsev took over the organizational concerns.
Yeltsin was elected People's Deputy of the RSFSR from the Sverdlovsk Region. At the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR, he was elected chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR, becoming the highest official in the republic.
In March 1990, at the III Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR, where Mikhail Gorbachev was elected President of the USSR, the issue of AST was sharply discussed. Ivan Polozkov, who initiated the AST case, said that the creation of "mafia octopuses" like AST was lobbied by deputies Vladimir Tikhonov (chairman of the Union of Cooperators) and Anatoly Sobchak (a lawyer from Leningrad). Informational support was provided by the newspapers Moskovskie Novosti and Izvestia, and financial support was provided by the aforementioned cooperators. And all together they seized power in the country. Anatoly Sobchak, who spoke after that, said that the story with the AST concern was a provocation organized by the "Stalinists" who set up their own concern in order to discredit Gorbachev and the entire cooperative movement as a whole. Concern "AST" was not so much a cooperative as a state, and the evidence of this is the signatures of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR Nikolai Ryzhkov on documents concerning the activities of AST. Ryzhkov was offended by Sobchak, who, in fact, accused him of aiding the mafia, and Gorbachev, who, being presiding, gave the floor to Sobchak after the main discussion of the issue. Some representatives of the "democratic" movement accused Sobchak that at the III Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR he "played along" with Gorbachev.
On June 1990, the Russian Party Conference opened in Moscow, which proclaimed itself the Constituent Congress of the RSFSR Communist Party, headed by Ivan Polozkov. Oleg Lobov was an alternative candidate.
In July 1990, General Alexander Sterligov, who patronized the concern "AST", was appointed manager of the affairs of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR. Note that this was the new composition of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR, which was formed with the direct participation of the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin. The chairman of this composition of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR was Ivan Silaev, who until 1985 was the minister of the aviation industry of the USSR. Let us remind that it was the Ministry of Aviation Industry of the USSR that was the main partner and co-founder of the AST concern.
On August 17, 1990, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR adopted a Resolution "On the establishment of a joint-stock company industrial and commercial company" Russian House "in order to" provide the population of the RSFSR with consumer goods and food, intensify the processes of the international division of labor. " tax incentives. The founders of the company "Russian House", registered on August 22 were: the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations of the RSFSR, the Ministry of Finance of the RSFSR, the Ministry of Press and Mass Media of the RSFSR and PGKO AST. Vladimir Ryashentsev Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Vladimir Isakov accused Boris Yeltsin of the fact that the decision to create the company "Russian House" in the Supreme Council of the RSFSR was accompanied by procedural violations, and hinted that this "suppressed" decision could be corrupt in nature ep.
In 1990, Alexander Konanykhin became a shareholder of several exchanges, on the basis of which the exchange center was formed. Subsequently, on the basis of this exchange center, the All-Russian Exchange Bank was organized, headed by Konanykhin. It was reported that the bank was supported by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR Ivan Silaev. In 1991, the bank's council included Deputy Prime Minister of the USSR Vladimir Shcherbakov, Head of the Press Service of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and Press Secretary of the President of the USSR Arkady Maslennikov, Head of the Secretariat of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Nikolai Rubtsov, Minister of Finance of the USSR Vladimir Orlov.
In January 1991, when Soviet troops were deployed to Riga and Vilnius, Alexander Konanykhin left for Hungary, where the European offices of all his companies were located, and remained there until the failure of the coup organized by the State Emergency Committee in August 1991.
During the coup, General Alexander Sterligov, who patronized the AST concern, headed Boris Yeltsin's bodyguard. According to the researcher of the activities of the special services Oleg Grechenevsky, the head of the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR (foreign intelligence) Leonid Shebarshin kept in touch with the commander of the intelligence detachment, which was supposed to storm the building of the RSFSR government, where the opposition leaders headed by Yeltsin were located. Shebarshin ordered the detachment commander not to do anything without his permission and not agree to any assaults. According to Grechenevsky, this played an important role in the failure of the Emergency Committee.
After the defeat of the putschists, Gorbachev, who returned from Crimea, appointed Shebarshin as interim chairman of the KGB of the USSR, but the next day he was removed from this post at the request of Yeltsin, who considered Shebarshin to be the man of the former KGB chairman Kryuchkov, who was one of the members of the State Emergency Committee. In September 1991, Shebarshin was also removed from the post of chief of foreign intelligence.
Vadim Bakatin became the chairman of the KGB of the USSR, and Nikolai Sham, one of the patrons of the AST concern, became his deputy.
After the collapse of the USSR, according to Konanykhin, the All-Russian Exchange Bank, headed by him, was the first commercial bank in Russia to receive a license to carry out foreign exchange transactions. In fact, other banks also had corresponding licenses, but these licenses were issued by the State Bank of the USSR. Leonid Shebarshin became the head of the bank's security service, the former head of the Analytical Department of the KGB of the USSR, who had previously served in foreign intelligence, Nikolai Leonov, became the vice-president of the bank.
Given the closeness of the former head of Soviet foreign intelligence Leonid Shebarshin to the leaders of the AST concern, the question arises about the concern's connection with foreign intelligence, whose employees played a leading role in organizing export-import operations in the USSR. There is information on the Internet that foreign intelligence was allegedly behind the organization of the concern "AST" and an officer of the First Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR V.Dybov became the deputy of Vladimir Ryashentsev. It has not yet been possible to find confirmation of this information. The Sverdlovsk press mentioned that in November 1989, representatives of the AST concern turned to the Nizhny Tagil City Executive Committee with a proposal to create a joint venture for the sale of various illiquid assets (scrap metal, woodworking waste) abroad. The mediator in the negotiations between the concern and the city executive committee was the head of the Nizhny Tagil cooperative "Inkom" V. Dybov. Apparently, he was referring to a resident of Nizhny Tagil, Dybov Valery Alexandrovich, who later moved to Moscow, headed the non-profit partnership "Security Agency for Investments and Business in Russia", and was also the chairman of the committee on international affairs and international cooperation of the Federation of Integrated Martial Arts of Russia. It was not possible to obtain information that Valery Dybov served in the KGB, although Dybov's activities indicate that he could well have been a member of the security forces in the past.
In October 1992, the council of the All-Russian Exchange Bank made a decision to dismiss its head, Alexander Konanykhin. The reason for the resignation was named "an attempt to use for personal interests funds belonging to shareholders, investors and clients of VBB." Konanykhin made a statement that the state security officers Boldyrev, Sumskaya and Chukhlantsev, who occupy leading positions in organizations associated with the bank (the All-Russian Exchange Center and the International Universal Exchange of Secondary Resources), appealed to him with a demand that the WBB undertake financing of the activities of the them structures. They allegedly justified the demand by the fact that they have been funding opposition leaders Gorbachev and Sterligov for a long time and on a large scale. And after one of them comes to power, the investment will return a hundredfold. According to Konanykhin, he rejected the officers' offer, after which a criminal case was fabricated against him.
According to Konanykhin, Vladimir Ryashentsev could not help him, because he had quarreled with Boris Yeltsin two months earlier and left for Hungary. Konanykhin also left for Hungary, and from there to the USA, where Ryashentsev also moved. There Konanykhin became the vice-president of the MENATEP company for international development, thanks to his friendly relations with the head of MENATEP, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
According to Konanykhin, he never managed to find out who organized the operation to take away his business. As the main suspects, he named the head of the Security Service of the President of the Russian Federation Alexander Korzhakov and the former head of foreign intelligence Leonid Shebarshin.
In 1992, the former deputy chairman of the KGB of the USSR and patron of the AST concern, Nikolai Sham, went into business - together with his comrades, he organized the company CINT - the Center for Research in High-Tech Technologies. According to Sham, his acquaintances worked in the Security Service of the President of the Russian Federation under the leadership of Alexander Korzhakov and helped him a lot.
In 1993, the investigation into the criminal case of the "AST" concern was terminated. The Prosecutor General of Russia Valentin Stepankov sent a letter to Vladimir Ryashentsev in the United States with an apology for the inconvenience, but he never returned to Russia. On July 1, 1997, Ryashentsev died at the age of 47 from encephalitis.
Summarizing the above, the following conclusions can be drawn.
An influential group consisting of senior officials of the military-industrial complex took part in the creation of the AST concern. There are two versions of why a scandal erupted around the AST concern in 1990.
First version. Concern "AST" was framed by representatives of the "conservative" wing of the CPSU and the military-industrial complex in order to discredit Gorbachev, Ryzhkov and perestroika as a whole. It is extremely doubtful that the concern was set up by those who created it, despite the fact that the founders of the concern and its accusers worked in neighboring offices. The benefit that the prosecutors took out of the outbreak of the scandal was the election of their representative Ivan Polozkov as the head of the created Russian Communist Party, as well as the suspension of the activities of the AST concern. But at the same time, relations with the group of security officials that created the AST concern were spoiled, which played a cruel joke with the Emergency Committee in August 1991, when the coup failed due to the fact that some of the security officials behind AST took a neutral position in the conflict , and some openly sided with the opposition.
Second version. It can be assumed that in the depths of the military-industrial complex there were at least two influential groups that, due to the specifics of their activities, had some commonality in their views on the path of development of the country (conservatism, preservation of the unity of the USSR), but had differences and also competed with each other. with a friend. Representatives of one of these groups (more conservative) in 1991 became part of the State Emergency Committee, in particular, the Minister of Defense of the USSR Dmitry Yazov and the chairman of the All-Union Association of Industrial Enterprises, Alexander Tizyakov. Representatives of the other group were more liberal. These, perhaps, should include the former first secretary of the Sverdlovsk regional committee of the CPSU Yakov Ryabov, who in 1976-1979 as secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU oversaw the military-industrial complex, and during perestroika, presumably due to disagreements with Mikhail Gorbachev, he was sent as ambassador USSR to France. Probably, the generals of the KGB of the USSR Nikolai Sham, Alexander Sterligov and Leonid Shebarshin belonged to the same group. In 1990, the functionaries of the CPSU were preparing for the creation of the Communist Party of the RSFSR, which could have a significant impact on the formation of government bodies in the RSFSR. It is quite possible that the main contenders for the leadership in the emerging party were representatives of the above-described groups of influence. Thanks to the scandal with the concern "AST", representatives of the "superconservative" group weakened the influence of the "moderately conservative", and also increased the popularity of their representative Ivan Polozkov in the eyes of party apparatchiks, who was eventually elected chairman of the RSFSR Communist Party. His rival Oleg Lobov was probably a representative of the group that was behind the creation of the AST concern.
Further developments in this version are also ambiguous. Perhaps this group, due to its defeat in the competition with the "superconservatives", entered into an alliance with the group of "radical democrats" that promoted Boris Yeltsin. But it is also possible that the "moderately conservative" group initially had its own people surrounded by Yeltsin. Yeltsin's bodyguard Alexander Korzhakov (a former colleague of Vladimir Ryashentsev in the Ninth Main Directorate of the KGB of the USSR) and a former colleague of Yeltsin at work in the Sverdlovsk Regional Committee of the CPSU, Oleg Lobov, were quite suitable for the role of these people. In any case, the further commercial activities of the people behind AST were carried out with the assistance not so much of the Union government, oriented towards Gorbachev, as of the Russian government, oriented towards Yeltsin. During the coup in 1991, these people, to one degree or another, were on Yeltsin's side, but not all of them were able to earn Yeltsin's trust, especially since they were on opposite poles of the ideological spectrum with a “radical democratic” team from Yeltsin's entourage.
It should be noted that during the scandal around the AST concern, Ivan Polozkov accused of involvement in the creation of "octopuses" like AST Vladimir Tikhonov (chairman of the Union of Cooperators) and Anatoly Sobchak (a lawyer from Leningrad). If we assume that Polozkov was aware of who in reality was behind AST, then we can assume that Tikhonov and Sobchak had connections with a "moderately conservative" group from the military-industrial complex, in which high-ranking KGB officers played an important role. If this is true, then it becomes clear why the “devout democrat” Anatoly Sobchak, after being elected chairman of the Leningrad City Council of People's Deputies in 1990, appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the KGB of the USSR Vladimir Putin as his adviser. In 1991, after Sobchak was elected mayor of St. Petersburg, Putin became chairman of the city committee for external relations.