Editor’s Note: The following is a story published by Naviny.by with the support of Objective Investigative Reporting Project, funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Re-publication of this story is encouraged with proper credits.
The story is available in Russian.
Mikhail Mamiashvili, Yury Chyzh’s business partner, hopes that the owner of the Triple conglomerate, will soon rejoin his family and his troubles will become a thing of the past.
Chyzh, who owns a 66.5-percent stake in Triple Ltd, was arrested by the KGB on March 11, 2016. On March 21, the arguably wealthiest businessman in Belarus was formally charged with felony tax evasion. His alleged damage to the state is estimated at millions of dollars.
As Mamiashvili, 52, a renowned retired Russian wrestler of Georgian origin, told Naviny.by, he has known Yury Chyzh for decades and the news of the businessman’s arrest came to him as “unpleasant news, to put it mildly.”
“I think every person should pay taxes and feel comfortable,” Mamiashvili said. “Hopefully, everything will eventually be okay for him and the father, grandfather and husband will return to his family and have no problem in this regard.”
Mamiashvili declined to comment on the charges his business partner faces. “I am not involved in the investigation of all these cases,” he said. “It is up to investigators and the court to determine the degree of his guilt. I am afraid my words may be used for unfounded speculation and conclusions. I think everything will work out all right for him when the investigation is complete.”
Mamiashvili, who won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and currently chairs the Wrestling Federation of Russia, became a shareholder of Triple Ltd in August last year. His stake is 16.75 percent.
Anzor Kikalishvili, a Moscow-born Russian billionaire of Georgian origin, became a co-owner of Triple on the same day.
In the late 1980s, Kikalishvili and Otari Kvantrishvili founded Twenty-First Century Association, a Moscow-based entertainment conglomerate that also ran a non-profit foundation to assist Russian athletes.
In 1994, Kvantrishvili was shot dead by a sniper while leaving a bathhouse. After his murder, Anzor Kikalishvili became the only head of Twenty-First Century Association.
The organization was widely regarded as a front for racketeering and Kikalishvili was identified by the FBI and Russian law enforcement officials as one of the heads of the Russian mafia involved in racketeering in the U.S. and Russia. According to FBI records, the organization ran a combat brigade of 50 ex-athletes to protect it from other mob families and carry out criminal activities such as extortion.
Kikalishvili has repeatedly denied being involved in organized crime.
In 1999, Kikalishvili engaged in politics and adopted a new name, Iosif Aksentyev, with a view to running for president in Russia.
He tasked Russian ice hockey superstar Pavel Bure with managing Twenty-First Century Association and founded a political party called the Russian People’s Party.
However, his political career turned out to be unsuccessful. He attempted to run for president in Russia in 2000 and 2004 but was not registered as a candidate.
Kikalishvili owns 16.75 percent of Triple Ltd.
Founded in 1992 as a company dealing in the wholesale of industrial and food products, Triple has since grown into a conglomerate that runs construction, building materials, non-alcoholic beverage, retail chain customs services, restaurant and other businesses.