Former Manager of Crimea Energy Bridge Project Arrested by Russia’s FSB

MOSCOW – The deputy chairman of Russia’s Federal Grid Company of Unified Energy System" (FGC UES), Valery Goncharov, has been arrested on fraud and embezzlement charges connected to the construction of an energy bridge from Russia’s southern Krasnodar Territory to Ukraine’s occupied Crimea Peninsula. 

Russia’s feared FSB security services detained Goncharov at a Moscow airport just prior to boarding a flight to Europe.

At the time of his arrest, Goncharov was no longer an active employee of FGC UES, the company said in a press release.

"Goncharov has not worked for Federal Grid Company since early summer. At this time Roman Filimonov is currently in charge of the project,” the press service told Russia’s Interfax news agency on August 27.

Moscow is in the process of linking Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula with mainland Russia via a transportation and energy bridge.

Russia invaded and illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in February-March 2014. The Kremlin has consistently thumbed its nose at Kyiv and the international community over its illegal actions in Crimea, despite heavy international economic actions levied against Russia for its invasion.

Ukraine has attempted to counter Russia’s occupation of the strategic Black Sea peninsula by blockading the only route that physically links it to the mainland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has continuously championed the building of an energy bridge following attacks by Ukrainian saboteurs who, in late 2015, blew up several pylons that carry electricity supplies to the peninsula.

According to Russia’s Energy Minister, the overall cost of the energy bridge project amounts to USD 722 million.

The FSB did not release any further details about the charges brought up against Goncharov.

By Nicholas Waller

29 August 2016 14:18