EU adopted the 11th sanction extension. Some prominent Russian business figures and venues are included in it. The logic behind it is simple: everyone who is significantly contributing to the Russian budget should face consequences. Meanwhile a controversial Ukrainian businessman Evgeniy Chernyak continues to control a significant amount of Russian vodka market. He has built a presence in Russia long time ago and will not go from it for good. By paying huge taxes in Russia Evgeniy Chernyak fuels the war and literary asks to be sanctioned. So why Ukraine hasn’t done it yet? And why Evgeniy Chernyak enjoys freedom of movement when other Ukrainian men are barred from crossing the border?
Evgeniy Chernyak enjoys favourable conditions during all presidents of Ukraine. It means that he is under protection of someone from the deep state. It saves him from almost anything except perhaps of getting his bottom kicked:
In Ukraine, Evgeniy Chernyak is a fairly popular entrepreneur who managed not only to create a global alcohol empire but also to enter the public sphere through a popular YouTube channel. For many of our fellow citizens, Chernyak remains an example because, as he positions himself, he is a ‘businessman from the people.’
People who have interacted with Chernyak on a closer level have a different opinion of him: he is self-centered and quite unpleasant. However, this is a subjective opinion of our interviewees. His true human qualities are expressed differently. In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, and in April of the same year, it began destabilizing the Donbass region, which led to an almost eight-year war that escalated into a full-scale invasion.
The Russian Temptation of Evgeniy Chernyak: Why Ukrainian Law Enforcement Doesn’t Notice the Russian Business of a Domestic Multimillionaire
During this time, Chernyak’s company, ‘Global Spirits,’ known for its products such as ‘Khortytsa,’ ‘Morosha,’ ‘Pervak,’ ‘Odessa,’ and others, continued to operate not only in Russia but also in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Even the full-scale invasion did not change anything. The Ukrainian entrepreneur transferred the business to proxies and continues to make money in Russia.
The only thing Chernyak dislikes is the truth. Last year, our publication repeatedly detailed how his business continues to operate on the territory of the Russian Federation. The public exposure of the situation displeased the vodka magnate, so he took the matter to court, demanding that the articles be declared false. The legal proceedings lasted nearly a year and concluded just two days ago. The court rejected Chernyak’s claims in full. Thus, Ukrainian justice acknowledged that our materials were accurate, and therefore, Chernyak does have businesses in Russia. We will not provide the full text of the court decision (as it spans 10 pages), but we will make its introductory and operative parts public.
A year has passed since the publication of materials about Chernyak’s business in the aggressor country. We decided to check whether he has divested his enterprises in Russia, whether he continues to trade alcohol in the aggressor country, thereby filling the Russian budget with taxes that are partly spent on the production of missiles, bullets, and other weapons that daily kill Ukrainians.
Hidden in a plain sight: Evgeniy Chernyak’s business in Russia
Either Chernyak considers us all fools, or he simply doesn’t care. Vodka from his brands continues to be sold on Russian territory, despite the fact that a bloody war, initiated by Russia, has been ongoing for almost one and a half years. To camouflage the products, a “funny” rebranding was carried out: “Khortytsa” became “Khorta.” It is under this name that vodka can be easily purchased in Russia without any problems.
Except for three letters in the name, nothing else has changed: the same company logo, label, and description are placed on the bottle. In Ukrainian stores, ‘Khortytsa’ looks almost identical.
For the sake of objectivity, let’s consider two contrasting scenarios.
Let’s assume that Chernyak did sell his business in Russia. In that case, someone is illegally using his brand without changing the corporate style and bottle design. Any respectable businessman would have already approached the media and filed a lawsuit regarding the unauthorized use of his trademark. Chernyak did nothing of the sort. Vodka “Khorta” (read as “Khortytsa”) is being sold in the aggressor country, and nobody seems to be bothered by it. Therefore, we would immediately dismiss this scenario.
The second, more likely scenario is that Evgeniy Chernyak sold his factories to a front person and continues to produce and sell alcoholic beverages in Russia. This scenario is also confirmed by Russian propagandists. In February 2023, one of the popular propaganda resources (we won’t mention the name to avoid promoting occupier media) confirmed that the new “owner” of Chernyak’s factories, Alexander Bespalov, is a mere figurehead. It turned out that the “multimillionaire” who bought Chernyak’s Russian assets is an employee of “Rodnik i K” (one of Chernyak’s factories). The reason why Russians even remembered the Ukrainian businessman is quite simple. According to their information, supposedly 10% of Chernyak’s Russian enterprises’ income goes to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Although we don’t believe this, even if it corresponds to reality, such actions by the Ukrainian oligarch are merely whitewashing his own reputation.
Contributing to the Russian budget
In fact, Chernyak himself did not hide the fact that before the full-scale aggression, he had two factories in Russian territory. However, as we have already noted, it seems that he sold them. The assets of the Ukrainian businessman in Russia are highly profitable and expensive.
According to the official accounting of the vodka factory “Rodnik i K,” the enterprise generated revenue of 7.2 billion rubles in 2022, with a profit of 375 million rubles. At the same time, the business is valued at 1.9 billion rubles (approximately 23 million dollars). The most striking fact is that in the past year, the enterprise paid over 14 billion rubles to the budget of the aggressor country. With these funds, the Russian military-industrial complex can manufacture 3 “Kalibr” missiles or 6 T-90 tanks. And this is just one of Chernyak’s factories.
Financial statements of LLC “Rodnik i K”
Another enterprise that was part of Chernyak’s “Global Spirits” group has an eloquent name, “Russian North.” Although this vodka factory is less profitable, it still generates significant funds for its founder. Last year, the revenue of “Russian North” amounted to 4.2 billion rubles, with a net profit of 170 million rubles. The business is valued at approximately 1 billion rubles or 12 million dollars.
Similar to “Rodnik i K,” “Russian North” also contributes significant funds to the Russian budget. In the past year, the enterprise paid 8 billion rubles to the treasury of the aggressor state. That’s equivalent to 1.5 “Kalibr” missiles or 3 T-90 tanks.
Chernyak has something to explain not only to the Ukrainian society but also to the Security Service of Ukraine. Why has this oligarch been conducting business in the aggressor country for nine years without facing any consequences? During these years, Chernyak’s structures have paid hundreds of billions of rubles to the Russian budget, which is now being used to kill Ukrainians.
Ukraine has been at war for 16 months. Numerous women and children have left the country due to the danger, and men of conscription age have been banned from leaving the country. Except for volunteers and people with health issues or taking care of their families. It makes us wonder: Is Evgeniy Chernyak a volunteer, or is he unfit for service?
Otherwise, we cannot explain how he calmly travels abroad with another shady young multimillionaire and organizes some pompous forums there.