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Russia's richest oligarch cooperates with Russian defence industry and prisons. He's still not sanctioned by West

Thursday, 13 July 2023, 10:30

The Russian steelmaker public joint-stock company Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK), owned by oligarch Vladimir Lisin, a close Putin associate, who has not been subject to Western sanctions, has been fulfilling government orders for the penitentiary service and a facility that develops and produces radar control systems for the Russian Navy's artillery after the full-scale invasion.

Source: Skhemy (Schemes), a project by Radio Liberty

Details: Journalists earlier found out that Lisin's factory had been supplying steel to state-owned nuclear munitions producers in Russia until at least 2019.


According to the Russian public procurement website, NLMK secured at least eight wins in tenders for steel supplies for Russian government agencies in 2022-2023.

Quote: "Seven of them were for the supply of anisotropic and nisotropic steel for colony No. 1 in Kostroma Oblast (Federal State Institution (FSI) Penal Colony-1 (PC-1) of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia (FPSR) for Kostroma Oblast). The colony purchased steel from Lisin's company for a total of RUB 66.2 million (US$729,000). The eighth state tender granted to NLMK during Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine was for the supply of isotope steel to Izumrud JSC (the city of Vladivostok, controlled by the state-owned Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushchestvo)).

"NLMK emerged as the winner of the tender announced by Izumrud on 25 May 2022 without a competitive procedure (purchase from a single contractor). The subject of the procurement is "stainless steel in ingots or other primary forms and semi-finished stainless-steel products," Schemes reports.

Details: The Izumrud plant operates in the Russian military industry, producing, among other things, artillery control systems, engines for drones and systems for dropping explosives from UAVs.

In early 2023, Yuri Trutnev, Russian President Vladimir Putin's authorised representative in the Far East, paid an official visit to Izumrud.

Local Russian media describe Izumrud as a "backbone organisation, developer and manufacturer of radar control systems for artillery weapons on ships of the Russian Navy," investigators discovered.

Schemes adds that the UK sanctioned Izumrud in February 2023, and so did Ukraine in April.

The journalists contacted NLMK's press service for comment.

"FSI PC-1 of the FPSR for Kostroma Oblast is a manufacturer of electrical equipment for various civilian applications, including network and measuring transformers and LED lamps. Izumrud is also a manufacturer of household electrical appliances, including compressors, charging and discharging devices and switchboards. NLMK supplied the company with the required steel until May 2022.

No supplies were made to the company after Izumrud was included in the UK sanctions list. NLMK sells steel to the domestic market only for civilian use through its distribution networks. NLMK does not see any possibility to restrict consumers in the domestic market in the usual standard products for general civilian use without grounds," the company said.

Vladimir Lisin was the wealthiest Russian according to Russian Forbes in 2022 and the third richest in 2023. During the year of the full-scale war, Lisin's wealth has grown from $18.4 billion to $22 billion.

Background: Earlier, a Radio Liberty investigation revealed that since 2014 and until at least 2019, the Russian company NLMK, controlled by Russia's richest businessman Vladimir Lisin, had been supplying steel to Russian state-owned companies directly involved in the production of nuclear weapons.

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