Oleg Ivanyushenko: "Everything that is done so banal and cynical is done with one goal - to create a problem and sell its solution"

The case of the ASRZ is indicative: under the guise of the interests of the state, the state itself is inflicted tangible harm on the part of the bodies that should ensure the security of the country, and not participate in economic and property processes. How did it come about?

"Ports of Ukraine" again return to the situation around the ASRZ. The only shipyard in Azov in the idle third month. Any urgent or planned repair of any Ukrainian vessel in the Azov Sea is still impossible. But if the port fleet of Berdyansk and Mariupol can, at least theoretically, go to Chornomorsk for repairs, then for the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, based in these ports, this is practically impossible.

The case of the ASRZ is indicative: under the guise of the interests of the state, the state itself is inflicted tangible harm on the part of the bodies that should ensure the security of the country, and not participate in economic and property processes. How did it come about? How did the plant shutdown affect the business of the Mariupol Investment Group (MIG)? Ports of Ukraine talked about this and many other things with Oleg Ivanyushenko, co-founder and executive director of the MIG group.

- Did the Mariupol port captain's ban on the operation of berths come as a surprise to you? Was there, in your opinion, another solution to the problem?

- There were "calls" that a certain pressure is being created for such a decision to be made and signed. But this was literally a couple of days before the ban. Up to this point, we worked in the usual way with the State Property Fund of Ukraine (SPF) and with a newly created state enterprise, on the balance of which it was planned to transfer the integral property complex (CEC). A “road map” was developed, and within its framework we were moving, so there were no prerequisites for something to change. Of course, there were other options. The legislation that regulates the activities of the administration of the captaincy, the Register of Shipping, is quite ... vague. Therefore, there were probably other options, and could not have resorted to such a scenario.

- You spoke about cooperation with the State Enterprise. Is it true that it only has a director and an accountant on its staff?

- There is not even an accountant, only the director. So far, this is a legal entity with an authorized capital of UAH 1,000 and a director. Well, now property began to appear on the balance sheet of the state-owned enterprise.

We met many times both with the director of the GP and with the employees of the SPF. The director worked out his vision of the roadmap, we had our own. We discussed everything, met in different configurations many times, the document was thoroughly worked out, a consensus was found on what and when should have happened so that the enterprise would not stop in order to gradually transfer fixed assets and people to SOEs.

- Is the blocking of berths a point of no return, from which the SBU and the Maritime Administration enter history? Why do you think the SBU got involved in history? Is the explanation of the SPF sufficient in this regard that the SBU got involved in the process after the tenant's employees came out to protest? Moreover, it was decided to include representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine in the CEC's acceptance-transfer commission. What is the role of the SBU in this process?

- The documents that we have indicate that the SBU started working on this issue earlier. There is a correspondence - information that they sent to government agencies in order to draw special attention to our company. And when some media say that the SBU appeared as a result of existing problems, this is not entirely correct. The SBU was the first of the structures that did not participate in our negotiations with the SPF. People took to the streets as a result of these actions. Because the enterprise stopped, people were first transferred to two-thirds of their salary, and then they were notified of the reduction. Therefore, people went out into the street - the established schedule for their transition to the GP was disrupted.

- The argument of the SBU, voiced in the media: people are protesting because the team has not received wages for six months, so we intervened. How true is this?

- This is twisted information. People were paid. There is a difference between non-payment of wages and wage arrears. Indeed, there was wage arrears, which arose last summer due to temporary interruptions in contracts, which arose again due to the unsettled legal status of the enterprise. This is also not a secret. Yes, people went out last fall, they wrote about it. The administration has reached an agreement with the workers that the debt will be paid off. That is, the current salary will be paid according to the legislation, and partly, as far as possible, the arrears will be repaid.

This schedule was maintained until February 1. Wage arrears averaged a couple of months. That is, if we started with three or four months of debt, then by February, in a month or two, we paid off half. This is in addition to the timely payment of the current salary. Therefore, when they say that no one paid a salary for six months, this is twisted information.

- Who, in your opinion, is interested in transferring the situation with rent to such an acute phase? For what purpose?

- Unfortunately, we do not yet know who is behind this exacerbation. But, reasoning logically, taking into account the ongoing processes ... What was the goal of the state during all these years? That the state property that is leased must be returned. We did not mind in principle. Therefore, with our participation, all these measures were developed so as not to stop the enterprise.

Please note that the legislation in the field of rental relations is quite outdated, and there are many conflicts and unresolved issues.

The lease ended in 2016. Why did this story go on for five years? If this issue had been settled, this process would probably have ended in 2016. But, realizing that without stopping the enterprise, this entire process could not be carried out, none of the officials took on such responsibility. Officials changed - new ones came, started to understand. And as soon as we got to the moment when we needed to show some flexibility and courage, it immediately began: "This is impossible, this is not according to the law, this is not in my competence."

And from the point of view of officials, it was always easier to accuse us of obstructing the transfer than to do some of their part of the work. Therefore, for all five years, their position was extremely simple: “An unscrupulous tenant prevents the return of state property. They are bad, we are good. " The discussion ended there. How to make a real procedure so that the enterprise does not stop and people do not lose their jobs - it didn’t come to that.

People who came to the SPF in 2019 have heard our position since mid-2020: the problem must be solved, we cannot pull this enterprise on ourselves in an uncertain status. All these five years we have emphasized: it is the undefined legal status that this enterprise will someday kill. Because undefined status is the absence of a long-term strategy. Fixed assets have long been deeply and morally and physically obsolete. An enterprise requires investment in infrastructure development if it wants to survive and be competitive. Investments require a clear legal status. The new leadership of the SPF heard our position, we started a constructive dialogue. If we walked in circles for five years, now in six months, we have practically agreed on 90% of the documents in order to

Returning to your question, perhaps this progress did not suit someone. Accordingly, these agreements and processes were destroyed by such active actions.

- Are the negotiations with the State Property Fund continuing? What were the positions of MIL and SPF? Is there a plan to get out of it? How does it suit you?

- The first meeting with the SPF after the shutdown of the enterprise, rallies, information in the media was held on February 26. We decided to carry out the reception and transmission of the CEC from us to the state-owned enterprise as soon as possible. Moreover, in the first place - hydraulic structures, and begin to issue permits for them. It is clear that these are the fixed assets that allow the enterprise to start working. The second stage, before March 15, is to create a transfer commission, inspect fixed assets and accept them on the balance sheet of the SOE.

A commission was created, which included representatives of the regional branch of the SPF, since they are a party to the lease agreement, the director of the SE “ASRZ”, representatives of LLC “SRZ” and representatives of the SBU. On March 9, the commission began work on the berths, and we transferred them to the balance sheet of the State Enterprise. On March 15, the commission began work on the transfer of the rest of the CEC, worked for a week and was ready to process the transfer. But the position of the SBU did not allow signing the acceptance certificate and the decision was postponed to the next meeting at the SPF. There were even more representatives of the SBU on it. I hoped that the meeting would be devoted to the prospects, but most of the time was devoted to answering the questions of the SBU: “What, how and why should they be admitted to the GP?”, “Why did the commission work in such a composition?”, “Why did it work this way?” , "Why should the SOE accept this particular property?"  

That is, the impression was created that the SBU works in a legislative field separate from the SPF and acts as such a super body, to which the rest must prove how the process should proceed. It was decided that the SPF will involve the State Audit Service in this process, the commission should form a list of equipment for which there are questions about the technical condition. The State Audit Office must record the condition of this equipment at the time of transfer and then conduct an expert assessment. This does not correspond to any regulatory document in Ukraine. Not one! But the SBU insisted on this, and the SPF did not object. The commission met in Mariupol, and representatives of the SBU issued a new position: we will not understand the details of the property, we insist that all the main elements of the CEC - buildings, structures, docks, machines - not be transferred to the State Enterprise,

On March 23, a regular meeting was held at the SPF. We announced that we are working at the facility until the end of March 2021, and after that, the safety of state property will be at risk, since there will be no funding for energy supply.

SRZ LLC complied with all previously agreed conditions of the SPF and provided access to the CEC. But the delay in the transfer of the CEC creates uncertainty for 560 workers of the shipyard and postpones the launch of production indefinitely. The stability of electricity supplies to the CEC and sub-consumers, including important military and infrastructure facilities, is also threatened.

One gets the impression that the purpose of these actions is to prevent the enterprise from working as long as possible. 

- It turns out that in the near future not a single Ukrainian ship on Azov will be repaired?

- Definitely. At the State Property Fund we were asked: "You said that there is a portfolio of orders, and you could share the portfolio of orders with the SOE?" We answered: “Yes, of course we could. If this portfolio was. " Because most of the contracts for both mechanical engineering and ship repair involve a long contract cycle and payment post factum - after shipment, within 90-180 days. Accordingly, in order to fulfill such a contract, you need to have working capital and invest it in the purchase of materials, energy resources, wages, perform the work, ship it, and after some time return this money with a profit. At the same time, contract work is being carried out for the next period, and so on constantly. This is one story. Naturally, in the current situation it is impossible to do this. When we were stopped on February 1, what orders could we talk about? Even if there were orders, how would they be fulfilled?

- All licenses and permits for carrying out activities at this CEC are now registered at SRZ LLC. Is there a variant of your cooperation in this part or is it an exclusively GP problem? Or is it not being discussed with you?

- If the legislation allowed us to transfer our licenses to a state-owned enterprise, we would gladly do it. It wouldn't even be worth asking us. This is normal. But in the current situation, the law does not allow this. That is why the roadmap on which we worked with the SPF involved the interaction of the SOE with the LLC. That is, the state enterprise accepts some fixed assets, receives some basic licenses on its own, and those licenses that are assigned to people for certain types of work - it was assumed that we would fulfill orders in cooperation. At the moment, I do not see the conditions for such cooperation. I think this option is already lost. Accordingly, the SPF, when deciding on the future fate of the CEC, must understand this. If I understood correctly, the SPF in an interview with NV Business voiced this position as follows: the Fund's task is to put the object up for privatization.

How much of this documentation are we talking about?

- Look, only the Main Directorate of the State Labor Service in the Donetsk region over the past five years has carried out inspections of more than 140 units of equipment and technological transport, after which permits were obtained for the operation of high-risk equipment and a declaration of conformity of the material and technical base of SRZ LLC with the requirements of legislation on labor protection ... And this is only one government agency. We are talking about hundreds of licenses and permits.

If we are already talking about the privatization of ASRZ ... Are you still considering participation in this process?

- We have never hidden the fact that, in our opinion, this is the most optimal option for the state, in the first place. Having more than 15 years of experience in this facility, in this area, on this equipment, as well as an understanding of all the problems - we understand the current situation, see points of growth and investment. We understand the price threshold for ourselves. Therefore, we were ready to participate in the auction on equal terms. It is probably premature to discuss this now. I would not like to discuss theoretical possibilities.

Your company has been leased by the CEC since 2003. Surely, you have a lot of your own equipment, tooling, technological processes on it at the ASRZ. When you return the CEC, which you received from the state-owned enterprise, is it really possible to start work on it?

- I will say this: it is probably real, but very, very problematic. We must not forget that the company celebrates its 135th anniversary this year! The last update of the CEC's fixed assets was carried out back in the 60s-80s of the last century. Naturally, during the lease period, SRZ LLC purchased and installed more recent equipment, which is mainly used in the production process. How the state-owned enterprise will get out of this situation was not discussed with the SPF or the SOE. But it will definitely require investment and working capital to start production.

- What amounts are we talking about?

- This should be considered by the State Property Fund and the State Enterprise. But for example, I will say that only for the period 2017-2020, the volume of expenses of LLC SRZ for current and major repairs of equipment of the CIK ASRZ amounted to 23.7 million UAH, including for the repair of hydraulic structures - 9.6 million UAH.

- It turns out that the buyer will start from the point and with the property with which you started more than ten years ago. Why then does the state need it?

- I would suggest asking this question to the state. No matter how much I think about how someone will develop this business after what happened, all the reflections lead me to a dead end. Therefore, there is another branch of thought: is everything being done for the purpose of development? The experience of Ukrainian business and the participation of law enforcement agencies in it suggests that everything that is done so banal and cynical is done with one goal - to create a problem and sell its solution. From this point of view, everything looks much more logical.

- What about other areas of your business? What are the consequences of blocking berths? How were the berths of ASRZ technologically used in the group's stevedoring activities? How did this blocking affect the activities of MIL in general?

- The shipyard for the MIG group was a separate direction. The grain business is a different direction. Marine business is another one. Each direction has its own development strategy. The maritime business continues to operate normally, the grain business is temporarily forced to undergo changes.

We have never hidden the fact that the grain business is the main one for the group. And in fact, now the operation of the grain terminal as a sea one is disrupted because now we incur additional costs to load grain not from the terminal berth, but to transport it to the port, pay for the stevedoring services of the State Enterprise “MMTP”. This naturally affects the economy. Therefore, there is a management task - to optimize the activities of the grain business, taking into account the new realities.

We are working on several scenarios. These scenarios are arranged in a row "from and to", starting with the fact that we must be prepared to completely stop the terminal to the option to return to normal activities.

Which of these scenarios will be implemented depends on how the situation around the ARMS will develop.

- Do these scenarios take into account the competition for cargo flows after the full launch of the grain terminal of the State Enterprise “MMTP”?

- We have always acted and will continue to advocate fair competition. And the more complicated it is, the more interesting it is. This forces us to move forward and develop all the time. And believe me, we have something to surprise the market with.

- I think you have learned a lot about the people around you, about partners and competitors, about the state, which somehow crookedly performs its functions at the expense of your taxes. What's next?

- Of course, we are all very grateful to those who support us. Indeed, it so happened that it is not competition, not the business environment, but our native state that is pressing on us. If you still have questions, then to him. The only enterprise of this profile in the Azov region was stopped by the state itself. More than 500 employees of rare professions were left without work. Where is the investment attractiveness of Ukraine here? Where about new investments and jobs in such a complex frontline region? Where about the desire to develop the processing industry? To increase the export potential of Ukraine? Why is this happening in close proximity to a war zone? How to repair ships of the Navy and Marine Guard now? It is not clear to whom to ask these questions? Who will answer them?

On March 3, 2021, a statement by SRZ LLC about abuse of power or official position of the captain of the Mariupol seaport Alexander Druzhinin was registered in the unified register of pre-trial investigations. In it, the damage caused to the enterprise and its employees is estimated at UAH 85 million. Apparently, you keep fighting?

- We have decided for ourselves that we will fight and defend our position to the end. We have many projects related to other areas of business. We will continue to develop. Our position, including on this case, is simple: we do not claim someone else's, but we will not give up ours either. We will definitely support this story in the public sphere so that everyone can see it and understand what is happening. And we will definitely do everything to ensure that those responsible for this are punished.