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EU-sanctioned Synesis linked with Aleksin and Presidential Administration
Alyaksandr Shatrou (wearing glasses) during a study tour to North Korea / facebook.com/alexshatrov
Synesis holds a special place among the Belarusian companies that have come under the EU sanctions. An IT firm and resident of the Minsk-based Hi-Tech Park, the company has created the Kipod video surveillance platform, which the EU believes security forces in Belarus use to identifying protesters.
But Synesis is connected with the Belarusian regime much more closely than simply as a developer of a video surveillance system commissioned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Euroradio has learned that a businessman close to Lukashenka is directly related to the company.
When it comes to Synesis LLC, three of its owners are usually mentioned: brothers Alyaksandr and Pyotr Shatrou, as well as Mikalai Ptitsyn. But they don't own the whole company. Ina Aleksina (0.06%) and Energo-Oil-Invest (24.99%) own a little more than 25% of the share in the total.
The company "Energo-Oil-Invest", in turn, is owned by Ina and Alyaksei Aleksin. Yes, the same Alyaksei Aleksin who is a businessman close to Lukashenka, who is popularly called the 'tabakerka baron'. Tabakerka is a network of retail kiosks selling tobacco products.
This is not the only legal entity in the Synesis group of companies associated with the Aleksin couple.
From oil and gas to IT
In 2018, a national operator for monitoring transit traffic appeared in Belarus. A trademark was created for the new area of operation -- “BNGarant”, owned by ALC Belneftegaz. Three years earlier, by a government decree, Belneftegaz had become the national guarantor of ensuring the payment of customs duties and taxes.
ODO Belneftegaz is known as an operator of wholesale trade in petroleum products and the beneficial owner of CJSC MTBank. 40% of the company's share is owned by Ina Aleksina, the remaining 60% - by her husband Alyaksei Aleksin, the bank's website in the shareholder section states.
In the same 2018, a new subsidiary of Synesis was registered - Synesis Stigma LLC, created specifically to work on a system for monitoring international transit traffic. The company has developed its own platform for electronic sealing of trucks and monitoring the status and location of transit cargo.
Ptitsyn and the Shatrou brothers together own a 25% stake in Synesis Stigma. The remaining 75% belongs to the Belneftegaz, which is owned by Alyaksei and Ina Aleksin.
Aleksin and others
Alyaksei Aleksin used to be a civil servant. He was the chief specialist of the department of energy resources and petroleum products of the Belvneshtorginvest company, which is part of the Presidential Property Management Department. After that, he worked in the circle of businessman Yury Chyzh, who was close to Lukashenka, where, as it is believed, he was in charge of the wholesale trade in petroleum products.
In 2012, shortly after the imposition of sanctions against Yury Chyzh by the European Union, his entire business for the sale of petroleum products in Europe migrated to Alyaksei Aleksin. The companies Energo-Oil, Belneftegaz and Neonafta began to deal with this. It can be said that Aleksin eventually replaced Yury Chyzh in the pool of businessmen close to the authorities.
Alyaksei Aleksin, together with two other businessmen close to Lukashenka - Alyaksandr Zaitsau and Mikalai Varabey, who was included in the third package of EU sanctions - owns the Bremino Group, which implements large projects for the construction of infrastructure for international trade, and is also a national logistics operator.
Want a lottery ticket?
Another Synesis project is the development of a software package for the BelBet instant online lottery. To support the project in February 2020, a separate company was created - Synesis Lotto LLC. The company is owned by Mikalay Ptitsyn and Alyaksandr Shatrou.
In Belarus, the exclusive right to lotteries belongs to the state. The issue of lotteries is allowed exclusively to government departments and legal entities. BelBet is a project of the national operator “Belarusian Lotteries”, which is owned by ... Presidential Administration. It is the largest player in the lottery business in Belarus. The company runs 22 out of 29 lotteries and actually covers almost all areas of this profitable business - from instant lotteries to draw.
The sanctions imposed against Synesis forced the company to take action. On December 18, it announced the intention to appeal the decision of the European Union in court. The company considers it deeply flawed and based on a misunderstanding of how face recognition technology works.