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Lukashenka's henchman uses clever trick to avoid sanctions
Dzmitry, Alyaksei and Vital Aleksin / collage by Euroradio
One of the biggest Belarusian businessmen Alyaksei Aleksin almost ended up on the EU sanctions list. This is a case where 'almost' counts. Aleksin is said to be one of those who were crossed off the list at the last minute. But the office of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and her associates may finally get the entrepreneur, who is sometimes called "Lukashenka's purse", under sanctions.
By all appearances, the businessman is well aware of it. Otherwise, how else to explain the fact that Aleksin decided to "get ahead of the game" and to prepare the landing spot?
(Almost) everything is given to children
The well-diversified Energo-Oil is Aleksin's largest company. It both trades in tobacco (Tabakerka kiosks), owns MTBank, works in the hotel and restaurant sector, and maintains a sport and shooting complex. Previously, the direct owners of the company were Alyaksei Aleksin and his wife Ina. But now the businessman is technically out of the game.
Aleksin has transferred his share to his sons, junior Vitaly and senior Dzmitry.
Vitaly Aleksin seems to be too young to have had time to make a name for himself in big business. Basically, he became known only through playing soccer. The 23-year-old heir to a business empire played for the amateur team Energo-Oil.
Dzmitry Aleksin, on the other hand, has been in business for a long time. His name first made headlines in 2013, when it was reported about his possible detention as one of the top managers of the companies of another businessman who is close to Lukashenka - Yury Chyzh. Later it turned out that the law enforcers had questions for Dzmitry's father. The case was quickly resolved.
It is interesting that Dzmitry Aleksin had already been 'involved' in the situation with sanctions in the past decade. When Yury Chyzh had sanctions imposed on him, he formally became one of the owners of Neonafta in Latvia. Incidentally, he was then the same age as Vitaly is now. Ina Aleksina and Alyaksandr Hrakhouski also had shares in the company.
Today Dzmitry Aleksin, judging by Latvian registers, owns two other family assets in the country - the biofuel company 'Mamas D' and the brewery 'Latgales Alus D'. The co-owners are his mother Ina. Alyaksei Aleksin himself is long out of the official list of beneficiaries, that is de jure has no foreign business. At the same time, his son's Latvian assets have been showing good financial results over recent years.
The sons of the Aleksins are not public people. Almost nothing is known about Vitaly and very little about Dzmitry. But there is a funny thing: he once sponsored the shooting of a music video for the band "Tyani-Tolkai" (Push-n-Pull) and played the leading role in it. As a young man, Dzmitry was a real socialite, but as his father became seriously immersed in the business, he retreated into the shadows.
Ina Aleksina, a Russian citizen, is not only co-owner of Energo-Oil and Latvian assets, but also of companies in Russia. For example, she owns 80% in the company OJSC "Agro", which sells food products and rents premises.
Thus, today almost all of Alyaksei Aleksin's assets are out of the picture, he remains a co-owner only in the transport and logistics company 'Bremino-Group'.
Another trick the family can pull is related to the spelling of the surnames: Alyaksei and his sons have the Latin surname Aleksin, and Ina - Oleksina. And European bureaucrats are like that: if sanctions are imposed on a person with a specific surname, then only against them. They can't understand the difference between the Latin translations of the Belarusian and Russian versions of the surnames.
Not only the Aleksins
This is not the first "trick" that the Belarusian businessmen use to escape sanctions.
For example, at the end of 2020, Mikalai Varabey, who was included in the sanctions list, registered his assets on his top managers. Formally, he now has nothing to do with Interservice and Absolutbank. Like Aleksin, Varabey retained his share in the Bremino-Group.
Alyaksandr Shakutsin also has a trump up his sleeve. His son, Alyaksandr Shakutsin Jr., is, according to Euroradio, co-owner of his father's company 'Spamash' and also a member of the top management of 'Amkodor'. In theory, there is nothing to prevent Shakutsin senior from increasing his share up to 100%.
Another candidate for inclusion in the sanctions list is Alyaksandr Mashenski. But according to our information, he still has not transferred his shares in the companies to anyone. But among the foreign assets he officially owns are the Russian distributors of 'Santa Bremor', and it is unlikely that Western sanctions can seriously harm them.