Valentin Vinogradov
March 22, 2024

Valentin Vinogradov Seeks Russian Help Against British-Ukrainian Businessman

A convicted Russian fraudster given political asylum in Slovakia has been accused of working with the Russian authorities to target a British-Ukrainian businessman.

Valentin Vinogradov has filed court papers in St. Petersburg that claim his former boss is supporting Ukraine’s armed forces against Russia.

Vinogradov’s cooperation with the Russian authorities comes despite the fraudster fleeing Russia and receiving political asylum in Slovakia.

Vinogradov was found guilty of defrauding Eduard Shyfrin’s Midland Group by a Moscow court in 2020 and was sentenced to four years in prison. His Russian assets, including an Aston Martin and several properties, were also seized.

The judgment was made in absentia after Vinogradov fled Russia in 2017. He eventually turned up in Slovakia, where he claimed political asylum.

Despite this asylum claim, the former businessman is now trying to gain favor with the Russian authorities by targeting Ukrainian-born Shyfrin as well as Shyfrin’s sister, who lives in Ukraine.

In the Russian court papers, Vinogradov sought to attack Shyfrin, saying: “E.V. Shyfrin is a citizen of Ukraine and takes an active position to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

Vinogradov is also understood to be encouraging the Russian authorities to open additional investigations into Shyfrin’s past business activities.

Shyfrin has been vocal about his support for Ukraine since the invasion. Shortly after the start of the war, Shyfrin wrote to the Russian embassy in London, protesting the invasion. He also renounced his Russian citizenship.

Shyfrin has written articles against Russian aggression in the Jerusalem Post and donated money to various entities in Ukraine. In August 2023, he received the Cross of Freedom medal.

Shyfrin’s support for Ukraine has apparently irritated the Russians, who have begun a politically-motivated criminal case against him. Shyfrin only learned from Russian mass media that the Kremlin had issued an arrest warrant for him.

Shyfrin’s lawyers have written to Slovakian prosecutors to warn them of Vinogradov’s actions.

They said: “Our client has also asked us to convey to you information that Mr. Vinogradov’s activities have physically threatened Mr. Shyfrin and members of his family.”

Vinogradov was given asylum under questionable circumstances by former justice minister Gábor Gál, who was subsequently accused of corruption offenses by Slovak police in 2022. It is also unusual for asylum to be granted to people convicted of commercial rather than political crimes.

According to the evidence presented in Vinogradov’s fraud trial, he had worked as the managing director of Midland’s property development arm. Vinogradov had arranged the acquisition of a shopping mall in Moscow for $89 million but had falsified documents to inflate the price.

As a result, the court heard that Vinogradov could pocket at least $15 million from the deal. When Vinogradov’s employers discovered the fraud, they began legal action against him.

Evidence of Vinogradov’s fraud was obtained when the High Court in London granted Midland Group permission to get details from Vinogradov’s bank accounts, which showed the money looted from his employers. As a result of the London ruling, a court in Cyprus issued an interim worldwide freezing order seizing Vinogradov’s assets in 2021. This freezing order is still in force.

Vinogradov’s attempt to enlist Russian help against Shyfrin is likely to raise awkward questions for the Bratislava government.

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