Latvian Radio probes local company linked to Ukraine sanctions list

Latvian Radio's investigative strand 'Open Files' on May 18 included a report on a company registered in Latvia, asking if it had been directly or indirectly involved in providing support to the Russian military. 

According to the report, a Russian list of companies that donated thousands of pairs of warm socks and gloves, and warm insoles for boots to the invading Russian army in Ukraine included one called "Gavary Prom", a producer of polymer products. It also has a business in Latvia.

The origins of the "Gavary" group of companies can be traced back to 2012 in Russia. There, in the village of Obukhova, Moscow region, there is a production plant where various things are made from polymers - from tourist mattresses, shoes and their warm insoles, to modern sound and heat insulation materials, which are also used in the complex technology industry.

Gavary Group webpage
Gavary Group webpage

The founder of the company was Hovhannes Kamaryan, a Russian businessman of Armenian origin. Since 2013, he was wanted by the Armenian law enforcement authorities. Radio Free Europe reported that Kamaryan was wanted on suspicion of organizing a murder within the world of organized crime, but according to Armenian news sources, Kamaryan was himself the victim of a contract killing last year.

Before his death, the businessman had transferred most of the company to his sons: Rem and Jack. They have the double surname Kamaryan-Dadoyan. The second part of the surname is from their mother. The father had provided his sons and wife with the opportunity to live in Spain where they have become Spanish citizens and now run their businesses from Barcelona.

In Spain, Gavary Group deals mainly with the sale of colored car mats made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA). On the website designed for a European audience, the company also advertises its capabilities in the production of heat, sound and vibration-insulating polymers for construction, manufacturing, and railways. This website notes that its Moscow presence includes "Research & Development Headquarters. Production lines."

However, the Russian-language versions of the company website reveal more, including the information that the company also operates in Rīga.

The company is proud of its cooperation partners. About 30 company logos are placed there. Among them are such European brands as Leroy Merlin and OBI. Gavary also cooperates with Russian Railways and the Moscow Metro.  

Latvian Radio has a screenshot from February 12 of this year, in which the "Kalashnikov concern" logo can also be found among the cooperating brands. This company has been on the sanctions lists of the European Union and the United States since 2014. The basis of the sanctions is that the Kalashnikov concern produces weapons and ammunition used in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Any cooperation with the concern is prohibited. Countries must ensure that no resources get to the company. European and US companies are completely prohibited from doing business with this Russian company.

Gavary is also a cooperation partner of three other Russian military industry companies, according to Latvian Radio. "KPP Klass" is engaged in the development of armor. "Faradej" produces shoes and clothes for military personnel and internal affairs officers. "ODK UMPO" specializes in the production of aircraft engines. It is temporarily part of the state corporation "Rostec", which is also included in the sanctions lists.

Browsing the historical versions of the Gavary website, you can also find information that another cooperation partner was the Russian army.

This information has now been deleted. Most likely, because the company was included on a list created by the Ukrainian government of companies and individuals that are helping the occupying army and should be included in sanctions. In addition, journalists in Spain also started an investigation a couple of months ago.

The Latvian connection

At the beginning of May, Latvian Radio went to the village of Almāle, in Kuldīga region. It has a few private houses and one three-story building from the time of collective farms. There is little activity and it looks run-down.

In the center of the village is a shabby beige structure with a moldy slate roof and crumbling foundations. Letters can be seen inside through the broken windows. Torn floor coverings are strewn about, along with empty buckets and empty bottles. According to the data of the national business register, the office of SIA "Softteh" is located there. The company was first registered in Latvia in 2012.

Although the Russian-language website of Gavary states that the company is also represented in Rīga, no company with that name is registered in Latvia. There are also no company owners listed with the distinctive Kamaryan-Dadoyan double-barreled surname.

However, the Almāle company "Softteh" is registered under the sole ownership of Spanish citizen "Gaiane Dadoian Kayfachian". She is the mother of Rem and Jack, the two owners of the Gavary concern, and is listed as the sole board member and shareholder from March 28 last year – a month after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

According to the official data, the company paid just over 1,000 euros in taxes in 2021. This figure leaped to nearly 93,000 euros in 2022. Its activities are described as "Non-specialised wholesale trade".

"Softteh" also has a registered warehouse in the property Ataugu, Koknese parish. Latvian Radio also went there. On the side of the road, you can see a barn of a Soviet-era kolkhoz converted into a sawmill. The security guard there said there was no manager available to talk.

A small pile of logs at the edge of the muddy yard, a pile of wood shavings next to it. On a crooked wire mesh gate, are signs saying "No access to unauthorized persons" and "The facility is under video surveillance". There was no sign of activity. The security guard confirmed that the sub-tenant does transship his goods there now and then, but rarely lately. Mostly large rubber mats.

Four other companies are registered at the same address as the "Softteh" warehouse in Koknese district. Three of them are wood processing companies. One of the companies is owned by a person with an Armenian name. According to the guard, this is the boss.

Following a telephone conversation, the owner of the woodworking company admitted that the real owners of the company are the Kamaryan-Dadoyan brothers. He promised to give them the telephone number of the Latvian Radio journalist.

However, it was another person entirely – businessman Haik Zakoyan – called back. He said that the current owners of "Softteh" are Spanish citizens. They are trying to move their business inherited from their father out of Russia. Their father started doing this even before the war and the pandemic, he said. 

Zakoyan said the Kamaryan-Dadoyans had not made any donations to the Russian army. On the contrary, he claimed they had actually donated to Ukraine via himself. There is also a misunderstanding on the website boasting about cooperation with the Russian army and military industry, he maintained.

"They said that, well, it's just that some person had listed all kinds of companies in the list of cooperation partners ten years ago, and it remained there for ten years. They hadn't noticed. They never had any cooperation agreements with any army," claimed Zakoyan, before questioning the journalistic ethics of the Latvian Radio investigating journalist and even appearing to suggest the journalist might have been paid by a rival company.

Nevertheless, Zakoyan said that if he meets the owners of Soffteh, he will pass on the information that Latvian Radio would like to speak with them. After the conversation with Haik Zakoyan, Latvian Radio sent an e-mail to the Spanish company Gavary with questions, but it did not receive an answer within two weeks.

Ukrainian concerns

In Ukraine there is no doubt about the need for sanctions to be strictly enforced. Agiya Zagrebelska of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) of Ukraine said:

"Each company like Gavary, which supplies its products to the Russian military complex, prolongs the war.

It makes it more costly not only for the people of Ukraine through civilian casualties, but also for European taxpayers, because supplies to the Russian military, whether they are finished products or raw materials, require a response. More weapons, more defenses."

The sanctions coordinating authority has created a special page on the Internet with lists of individuals and companies that support the occupation of Ukraine. Some of these persons have already been sanctioned. However, there are many who have evidence of cooperation with the war machine in Russia, but are not on the European and US sanctions list. Among them is the Gavary concern. The Ukrainian authorities allege:

"Gavary Group openly supports Russia’s war against Ukraine and supplies Russian soldiers with warm insoles and shoes made of EVA polymers of its own production. Gavary brand cartridges are sold in millions of batches and go to the front.

"At the same time, the company continues to supply its goods to the European market: in particular, to Germany, Poland, the Baltic countries and Switzerland. For this, it uses a wide network of subsidiary companies both in the territory of the Russian Federation and in the territory of EU member states. In Latvia, natives of Russia own a shell company Softteh LLC."

Agiya Zagrebelska has no doubt that Gavary is involved in transactions with the Russian military complex and that therefore, strong sanctions should be applied. It is important to shed light on each such company and exclude it from the circle of suppliers of the occupying army, and sanctions are an effective weapon for this, she said.

"Sanctions work, sanctions work wonderfully well, and this is an argument why the pressure of sanctions should be continued," emphasized Zagrebelska.

According to Agiya Zagrebelska, information about this group of companies and its owners has not only been published on the Internet, but has also been sent to the institutions of the countries where this company operates, including Latvia. 

Seen a mistake?

Select text and press Ctrl+Enter to send a suggested correction to the editor

Select text and press Report a mistake to send a suggested correction to the editor

Related articles


Most important