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Russian billionaire Usmanov explains presence of several parties in real estate deal

Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov has denied bribe accusations

MOSCOW, April 12. /TASS/. The real exchange swap deal made by Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov was made with participation of several parties and at several stages, press service of the businessman said on Wednesday in its statement circulated in response to new accusations made by opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

Usmanov denied bribe accusations in an earlier interview with business newspaper Vedomosti and said the real estate transaction in the Moscow Region was a commercial one. The house on the land plot in the village of Znamenskoye that was the subject matter of the deal was built for his sister Gulbakhor but she refused to live there. As a result of the deal, Usmanov exchanged the plot of land together with a ready-made house in the village of Znamenskoye for another land site - in the village of Uspenskoye close to the businessman’s house. SotsGosProyekt Foundation and the East Invest Group planned to implement a development project on that plot.

"Despite explanations given by Alisher Usmanov in the interview with Vedomosti newspaper and information published in the same newspaper issue, Navalny continues repeating dumb things already stated before," the press service said.

The Fund for Struggle with Corruption led by Navalny published an article at the beginning of March claiming Ilya Yeliseyev, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s college mate, and the Sotsgosproyekt fund relate to him received a land plot and a house worth 5 billion rubles ($ 89.3 million) in the village of Znamenskoye in the elitist northwestern suburbs of Moscow.

"Mr. Navalny is fond of publishing nice pictures and topographic shot but is highly inattentive in reading documents. He again demonstrates lack of competence and tendency to lie or simply there are problems with vision," Usmanov’s press service said.

According to Usmanov, the donation agreement mentioned in allegations was part of the complex commercial transaction on acquisition of the plot neighboring his land estate. As a result of the transaction, SotsGosProyekt Foundation and the East Invest Group having the agreement on joint operations on that plot waived construction of townhouses and sold the plot to the businessman.

The East Invest Group received money within the deal framework and SotsGosProyekt Foundation received the plot and the house in Znamenskoye, owned by Usmanov’s sister before.

"That is why this deal has several stages and several parties," Usmanov’s press service said.

Alisher Usmanov is the biggest shareholder of USM Holding Company, which controls Metalloinvest metals giant, MegaFon cell phone operator and the Internet Company.

The businessman also owns large stakes in UTV Holding and CTC Media, and also the Kommersant publishing house and over 30% of shares of English FC Arsenal. Usmanov is also actively investing in foreign hi-tech assets, such as Xiaomi, Uber, JD and others.