Latvian agriculture minister's business partner makes military ships for Russia

The brewery business partner of Latvia's scandal-prone Agriculture Minister Janis Dūklavs also makes warships for the Russian navy, LTV's De Facto investigative show reported May 20.

Russian businessman Igor Shehelev owns almost half of the Piebalgas beer manufacturer. He is mentioned in Russian media as the president of the Finsudprom group of companies which since 2005 also includes the Yaroslavsky Shipbuilding Plant.

The shipyard builds a wide range of craft including fishing boats, tankers and passenger craft, but also fulfils Russian government orders including amphibious boats for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB/FSS), the successor to the KGB. 

The plant has also manufactured several patrol vessels and seagoing tugs for the Russian navy, including several deployed in Kaliningrad as part of the Baltic Sea Fleet, reported De Facto, adding that the Latvian Ministry of Defense has observed the vessels operating not far Latvian waters.

According to the company's website:

"In 2011, the state contracts have been concluded for the construction of two high-speed boats «Yastreb» project 12260 for the needs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSS of Russia, six buoyage vessels for FPI «Rechvodput», three boats project 21820 for the Ministry of Defense.

In 2012 there were successfully handed over to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSS of Russia the high-speed boats project12260 and the state contracts have been concluded for construction of two high-speed boats of the same project for the FSS of Russia. In 2012, there was concluded the state contract for construction of three bunkering tankers project RT18for FPI «Rechvodput»."

Pictures of the various vessels made, including hovercraft like those used in Russian simulations of amphibious assaults on the Baltic coast, can be seen HERE.

In 2007 Shehelev invested in Dūklavs' brewery and remains a major shareholder.

Duklavs, who is from the same Greens and Farmers Union (ZZS) party as Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, shrugged off the connection saying it was "possible" that his investor has other companies around the world and said Shehelev was currently hospitalized after a "crash" but he would ask him about the matter "after a month or so when he comes to Latvia."

In addition to his stake in the brewery, Shehelev owns a Latvian fishery, Baltic Marine Fishing Company, which operates in Ventspils, and is developing a residential property project in Jurmala. The Latvian company New Yacht Marina manages a number of port facilities and provides a wide range of port services, including yacht services on the territory of Ventspils free port.

As previously reported by LSM, Dūklavs is extremely scandal prone. Most notoriously he appeared as a central figure in the "Oligarch conversations" affair last year, and was recently accused of a conflict of interest in connection with his brewery when he rejected the need to introduce a deposit scheme for plastic bottles.

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Indeed the webpage of the brewery shows it is currently receiving European Union financing for a project involving plastic bottles and hot glue, with the support of the very same Agriculture Ministry which Dūklavs heads. 

 

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