There is a new growing media baron in Ukraine who almost unnoticeably to the wider public buys up mass media one after another. For the last year, Tetiana Snopko, a Dnipro citizen, has already purchased two media holdings and is obviously willing to buy more.
In January 2023, Tetiana Snopko became the sole proprietor of Ekonomika Communication Hub LLC with a nominal capital of UAH 1,330,000 and Mediamania LLC that manage three publications: Delo.ua business portal, womo.ua women’s portal, mmr.ua marketing website, as well as TOP-100 printed rating magazine.
Six months later, Snopko, little-known in the media circles, registered Hub Glavcom LLC with a nominal capital of UAH10 million and bought Ukrainian Media Systems LLC that owns Glavcom electronic news publication in July 2023.
August 31, 2023, yet another Media Hub Ukraine LLC with a nominal capital of UAH3 million emerged in the register of legal entities with Tetiana Snopko being the only beneficiary. According to the Ukrainian media market representatives, the new-made owner of five media is getting ready to purchase other Ukrainian media, in particular telegram channels.
According to the market representatives’ estimates, the cost of three publications and the magazine owned by Ekonomika Communication Hub LLC at the time Tetiana Snopko bought it could possibly range from $0.7 to $1.3 million, while Glavcom could have cost her $2.5 to $3 million.
We tried to figure out who Tetiana Snopko is and where she’s got so much money from to literally buy up one national Ukrainian media after another. And why she needs them given the fact that there’s been a major decline in the advertising market because of the war and today the media in Ukraine are toxic assets rather than profitable, which you can tell even by Ekonomika Communication Hub LLC with its revenues dropping, according to Youcontrol, from UAH 13.7 million in 2021 to UAH 4.8 in 2022, that is almost threefold.
Who Is Tetiana Snopko?
As open source information suggests, Tetiana Snopko, a 37-year-old Dnipro citizen, has been an employee throughout her entire career and has never had her own business. Pursuant to the register of ownership rights to real estate, she owns only a small two-room apartment with a total area of 42 square meters in the old prefabricated apartment block on Bohdan Khmelnytskyi Avenue, Dnipro city. Snopko also owns a 2017 BMW X3.
In Dnipro, Snopko was the editor-in-chief of the sports internet publication and she had been the communications director at Noosphere Ventures for over 8 years. It is the company whose portfolio includes dating and gambling websites as well as scientific startups and social educational projects. Noosphere Ventures belongs to Maksym Poliakov, a well-known Ukrainian entrepreneur from Zaporizhzhia city who was ranked 11th by Forbes in the list of the richest Ukrainians with a fortune of UAH800 million in 2022.
After the outbreak of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Snopko moved to the Czech Republic where, according to her friends, she was even looking for a job but already at the end of 2022 she started buying up the Ukrainian media and registering limited liability companies with a millions worth nominal capital.
Even though Snopko had got almost a minimum wage at Noosphere — according to the tax service, Noosphere NGO paid her UAH 6300 tо UAH 13,500 a month during 2018-2021. However, it wasn’t her only income. Since 2013, Snopko has been working as an individual entrepreneur in the area of Data Processing, Publishing Information on Websites and Related Activities.
According to her tax declarations, three companies, namely TT Media, Payment Work and PM Plus Media LLCs, paid her a year’s total of UAH 928,000 in 2018, UAH 1,045,000 in 2019, UAH 1,102,000 in 2020, and UAH 944,000 in 2021. That is for the last four years before the full-scale war when Snopko looked for a job in the Czech Republic, she had managed to earn about UAH4 million. Given the fact that she was likely using this money for living all this time, it is far from enough to buy several media at once and register companies with a total nominal capital of UAH 13 million.
Where is the Tetiana Snopko’s Money from?
Tetiana Snopko refused to answer this question when giving her comments to Forbes. Speaking of why she needed the mentioned media, she admitted herself that it was impossible to earn money off the media as business nowadays. ‘I can even tell you that the market is wild. It doesn’t exist… I’m from the IT industry, and for me the media is primarily a product, a platform, working with traffic. It is a digital asset in the first place,’ she said without explaining what it meant and what the point of making such purchases these days was.
Our sources from Glavcom’s editorial staff shed some light on this picture revealing us that Snopko wasn’t the final beneficiary of the purchased media but more likely a mediator, an “appointee”. The actual buyer of all the mentioned media is entrepreneur Maksym Krippa who has been barely known up until recently.
Maksym Krippa is a long-term partner of Maksym Poliakov, Tetiana Snopko’s former employer. Snopko has been providing her services as a PR-manager to both of them up to this day. According to Forbes, when it published the article about Krippa, it was Tetiana Snopko who communicated with its editors on his behalf and represented his interests. When asked directly about her relations with him, she answered that he was just the man she knows and described their cooperation as a “consultation”.
A lot of internet resources indicate that Maksym Krippa and Maksym Poliakov were developing the gambling and online dating business together in the early 2010s. As of 2013, Krippa and Poliakov owned GGS and GMS online casinos which is confirmed by the materials in the court case at the time on the division of assets with their Russian partners Sergey Tokarev and Rustam Gilfanov. Later on, Poliakov and Krippa started organizing online casinos under Vulk@n brand and actively developing the latter in many countries, including Ukraine where gambling was prohibited until 2020.
That’s why, in 2016, the Main Investigation Department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) initiated criminal proceeding No. 22015000000000379 under Article 203-2, clause 1, Article 203-2 (Illegal Gambling Activity), and clause 2, Article 258-5 (Funding Terrorism) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The investigation found out that despite the gambling prohibition in Ukraine Poliakov Maksym Valeriiovych and Krippa Maksym Volodymyrovych created a range of websites (www.vulkan-champion.co/ru/ru, www.casino-club-online.com, www.casino-velcam.com, www.vulkan-russia.com and www.vulcanoriginals.com) under Vulk@n brand and used them to provide online casino services.
According to the SSU’s information, Poliakov was the actual founder and investor of Vulk@n online casino, while Maksym Krippa was the CEO of CloneFish IT company that developed games for online-casinos and administered and maintained Vulk@n websites as well as protected them from electronic interferences by the authorities. In 2014, CloneFish became part of another Maksym Krippa’s company EvoPlay which is still developing games for online casinos.
In addition, to legalize the gambling money Maksym Poliakov, as the criminal proceeding materials suggest, together with his companions Ihor Spodin and Ihor Boshniakov created in Dnipro an organization called Association Noosphere (where Tetiana Snopko worked) and Avrora Tecnologies LLC whose current bank accounts received the money that was earned from the illegal activity of Vulk@n online casino and ‘further transferred to other dummy-like companies’ accounts. It was then cashed and distributed among those involved in this criminal activity.’
Moreover, a number of resolutions of the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Kyiv City dated January 2017 imply that a part of money siphoned to the offshore companies controlled by Maksym Poliakov was further processed and transferred to fund the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. That was obviously the reason why Funding Terrorism was the second clause in the criminal proceeding. We don’t know how this case has ended. Taking into account that there are no other related documents in open registers and the fact that in case of several other legal actions connected with Maksym Krippa (particularly regarding tax violations and drunk driving) he managed to evade responsibility, Poliakov and Krippa are most likely to have got away with it in this case as well.
Vulk@n’s Russian Roots
For Ukraine, after the resolution on legalizing the gambling market had been approved in 2020, it wasn’t big news that the lion’s share (mostly shadow) of this market was gamblers with Russian roots. In 2022, the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries had already granted licenses for working in Ukraine to the Russian bookmaker 1xBet that tried to disguise as a Ukrainian company titled Your Betting Company LLC. The public reaction made the Commission revoke the issued licenses but nobody promised to keep other Russian gambling business representatives away from our market.
April 15, 2021, Conqueror LLC obtained from the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries a license to provide online casino services under Vulk@n brand at vulkancasino.ua. Conqueror LLC is registered for offshore company Darlox Ltd (99.9%) and Stanislav Rudenko (0.1%), a native of Nizhyn city, Chernihiv oblast. However, before 2021, the beneficiary of Conqueror LLC was Cyprian resident Theodor Theodoros (Fedor Fedorov), the founder of Novologic company whose CEO in 2010-2015, according to YouControl system, was Maksym Krippa. Just two months before getting a license for working in Ukraine, Conqueror LLC removed Theodor Theodoros from its founders.
Whereas the owner of Vulk@n trademark in Ukraine is Cyprian company DAREOS LTD. The European Union Intellectual Property Office registered the right to Vulk@n trademark to the same company in 2021. In Russia, Vulk@ntrademark is registered to DAREOS HOLDING LTD which is identical to DAREOS LTD. They are both registered at the same address in Cyprus and have the same people in their management structure.
Thus, Vulk@n trademark owners in Ukraine and Russia are fully related non-resident firms implying the common business beneficiary in all the countries where Vulk@n online casinos operate.
Who are they? We have found the answer in the papers of administrative case No. D2021-0892 dated 2021 at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) where the abovementioned Cyprian company Dareos Ltd. managing Vulk@n (VULK@N, VOLC@NO, VULC@N, ВУЛК@Н) trademark submitted a complaint against Ukrainian citizen Serhii Myronenko for the illegal use of its trademarks and domain names on five websites, including vlk-casino-online.com and fan-vulcan.com and others, which provided gambling services under Vulk@n brand.
As part of this case, the plaintiff provided the WIPO with its data on its rights to Vulk@n brand as well as information on who owns these trademarks.
‘This entity [Dareos Ltd.] manages trademarks for the Ritzio International Group and group member Ritzio Purchase Limited (collectively, “Ritzio”), an entertainment group operating in the Russian Federation (“Russia”) since 1992 and in other European markets since 2005. The group’s website is found at “www.ritzio.eu”. According to the Complaint, the Complainants license the relevant trademarks to Ritzio,’ the case files read.
The fact that Russian company Ritzio is an ultimate beneficiary of the whole ecosystem of Vulk@n gambling sites is pointed out by another action No. D2015-0222 as of 2015 filed with the WIPO by EvoPlay LLC against Russian citizen Timur Ziganshin for the unauthorized use of Vulk@n domains in Russia. In its complaint, EvoPlay, a Ukrainian IT company, specified that it also received the exclusive rights to use Vulk@n trademarks from the Russian Ritzio International Group in December 2014.
That is a Ukrainian company in the midst of the Russian aggression against Ukraine started developing the Russian gambling business, at the same time vigorously protecting it from the illegal use of the trademarks in Russia itself.
EvoPlay is considered to be one of the largest Ukrainian IT companies presenting itself as an international gambling games provider with offices in Kyiv, Lviv, Prague and Limassol (Cyprus) and developing games for online casinos, mostly for Vulk@n whose all websites in both Ukraine and Russia use EvoPlay games.
The founders of Evoplay Entertainment LLC registered in Kyiv are Cyprian company EvoPlay LTD and Ukrainian citizen Ivan Kravchuk, and the ultimate beneficiary is some Cyprian Georgiou Savvas. But Maksym Krippa is the actual owner of the company which is confirmed by both a range of Ukrainian gambling market players and SSU’s archives that established a direct connection between Krippa and EvoPlay as part of the criminal proceeding. And another little trace that Krippa hasn’t managed to “clean up” on the internet despite all the recent efforts to hide his ties with Vulk@n casino.
One of Maksym Krippa’s phone numbers 06750…84 in GetContact app that shows what names different phone numbers have in the contact list has the tag Kripa Maksym Vladimirovich Evoplay.
In its turn, phone number 06744…85 of Oksana Kovaliova (Miroshnychenko) who was also part of the SSU’s criminal proceeding related to Marksym Krippa and Maksym Poliakov in 2016 as their accountant in Vulk@n project has the following tags: Oksana Acc Krip, Oksana Lawyer Evo, Oksana Lawyer Vulk@n Dnipro, Oksana EvoPlay.
Ukrainian Money for Funding the Russian Army?
Ritzio Russian holding is the actual creator of Vulk@n gambling brand that was born in the 2000s in Russia. After gambling had been officially banned in the Russian Federation, the company started developing the brand in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, Germany, Italy and Croatia where Ritzio administers more than 200 gambling clubs called Vulk@n, Vulk@n Stern and Vulcano della Fortuna as well as websites www.vulkanvegas.com and www.vulkanvegas-online.com with the corresponding mobile apps.
Ritzio holding belongs to the Russian billionaire Oleg Boyko who also owns Finstar holding and Rive Gauche perfume network. As of 2014, Russian Oleg Boyko owned Patriot Ukrainian private lottery that was part of Finstar investment holding through the Cyprian company Cehriba Investments Limited.
As Nashi Hroshi project reported in August 2014, Oleg Boyko made money off lotteries not only in Ukraine but also in his motherland. In the Russian Federation, his lottery was called Pobeda [Victory] and as it turned out its income was used to support the Russian army which at the time had already annexed Ukrainian Crimea and waged a war in Donbas. In 2016, Patriot private joint-stock company was sanctioned by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine ‘considering the involvement with Russian businessmen and possible funding of the Russian army.’
Meanwhile, in summer 2015, the law-enforcement bodies conducted a search of the EvoPlay office in 1, Naberezhno-Pecherska Street, Kyiv, on suspicion of working for Russian oligarch Oleg Boyko. The search confiscated the server with data on the company’s activities, a part of office equipment, gambling machines, accounting documents with several dozens of seals and stamps of different firms.
‘A part of income from EvoPlay activities obviously went directly to Russian billionaire Oleg Boyko since Ritzio International he owns has the exclusive agreement with EvoPlay for representing its assets in the gambling sector, namely Vulk@n trademark under which slot machine clubs worked in the past,’ the media reported back then.
That is only half a year after the journalists had published information that Russian businessman Oleg Boyko, a Ukrainian lottery owner, directed his earnings to fund the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Poliakov and Krippa became partners with Boyko, received rights from him to use Vulk@n brand and started managing the casino websites in his interests implying a regular fixed payment or some percent from income.
The Empire Expands. NAVI, GGBet, MainCast
As it’s been already mentioned, Maksym Krippa has been recently trying to hide this story and his ties with the Russian gambling market, cleaning up any mentions of him in connection with Vulk@n casino on the internet. And that’s understandable — building business in Ukraine with such past in the conditions of the Russian aggressive war would be hard, to say the least. We have to admit that to some extent Krippa has managed to foul his trail and start buying up Ukrainian companies, real estate and the media with the money he earned in the Russian gambling industry without attracting attention to himself as a business partner of the Russian oligarch who supports aggression against Ukraine.
Thus, in July 2022, Maksym Krippa became the owner of NAVI esports brand, the club whose teams have earned $18.7 million of prize money for 12 years. The company’s founder and owner was Oleksandr Kokhanovskyi whom Russian Forbes called one of the most influential people in the post-Soviet esports in 2019.
Despite the criticism, NAVI didn’t think, either before its owner had changed or after it, that there were any problems with Russian players being part of its teams who are still present in NAVI rosters. For example, Russians Andrey Kiprsky, Dmitry Ilyushin, Artem Adarkin and Aleksandr Pirogov are still listed on the NAVI website as players in NAVIteams. On June 20, 2022, in the middle of the Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, NAVI on its website informedthat it returned Ivan Kapustin to its team without saying a word about the fact that he was Russian. And in November 2022, NAVI was reported to have won PUBG Global Championship 2022 in Dubai earning over $1 million of prize money, and the tournament’s best player who got additional $10,000 was Artem Adarkin, a citizen of the Russian Federation and a player of Ukrainian NAVI.
Kokhanovskyi’s and Krippa’s soft position towards Russia is there for a reason. In 2018, Kokhanovskyi was a co-owner of ESForce, the third largest enterprise funded by USM Holdings belonging to Alisher Usmanov, a Russian oligarch close to Putin, who invested $100 million in Kokhanovskyi’s project in 2015. ESForce was bought by the Russian company Mail.ru Group in 2018. Kokhanovskyi’s partner from ESForce was Anton Cherepennikov, the founder of Citadel system that helps the Russian special services track internet users’ activity and monitor telephone conversations.
So it was not unusual for either Oleksandr Kokhanovskyi or Maksym Krippa to have relationships with a Russian businessman. Probably that’s why 1xBet, the notorious Russian bookmaker, was NAVI’s title sponsor in 2020.
Partnership between Kokhanovskyi and Krippa looks even tighter and isn’t limited to only one agreement regarding NAVI. Back in 2020, they bought the building of Dnipro hotel in the heart of Kyiv in Khreshchatyk Street at a high-profile auction for UAH1,111,000,000. The auction winner was Smartlend LLC registered at 130, Kyivska Street, Brovary city, in the building that according to YouControl belongs to Maksym Krippa. Oleksandr Kokhanovskyi presented this purchase to the public saying that, ‘It was Ukrainian IT guys rather than Russian oligarchs that have won the auction sale of Dnipro hotel.’
However, Andrii Kholodov, a people’s deputy at the time, made a statement that contradicted Kokhanovskyi’s words and pointed out that the purchase of Dnipro hotel might involve… the same old Krippa’s partner — Russian billionaire Oleg Boyko.
‘The auction sale of Dnipro hotel was likely won by Russian gambling baron Oleg Boyko (Ritzio Entertainment group: Patriot lottery, Vulk@n casino, Metro-Jackpot slot machine clubs, Khreshchatyk business center, OLBI Group),’ he wrote on his Facebook page.
To confirm that, he attached the archive tax data showing that Maksym Tereshchuk, the CEO and co-owner of Smartlend LLC that had bought the hotel, was an employee of such gambling companies as Fair Game, MDK and Proryv that were part of the already mentioned Oleg Boyko’s Russian holding Ritzio.
It came as no surprise that Boyko surname appeared in the agreement between Krippa and Kokhanovskyi. It is obvious that UAH1,111,000,000 for buying a hotel in the center of Kyiv is too much money for a Ukrainian firm with a nominal capital of UAH11 million. And it’s not that much money for a Russian gambling tycoon with an estimated fortune of $1.1 to $1.5 billion.
However, another well-known name surfaced in this story – Danylo Hetmantsev, the head of the Tax Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, whom journalist Serhii Ivanov has recently accused of working for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). Several firms where Maksym Krippa is an owner, namely Profit Team LLC and MidalLLC, are managed by CEO Oleksandr Osoka (who is also a co-founder of Maksym Krippa’s MK FoundationCharitable Organization) whose personal phone number 09763…35 in GetContact is associated with tags Oleksandr from Hetmantsev, Sasha State Property Fund and Dnipro Hotel Lawyer.
Danylo Hetmantsev was and, the odds are, is still engaged in gambling business. He was a stockholder of MSLlottery back in the days but Hetmantsev’s connection with this lottery can be traced today as well: Olena Polosenko, a current co-owner of MSL is also a co-owner of Hetmantsev’s legal firm Jurimex. Overall, the media earlier linkedthis lottery’s co-founders with sanctioned Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group.
Hetmantsev personally highlighted the purchase of Dnipro hotel in his social media. Danylo Hetmantsev, the head of the Tax Committee and former associate of FSB agent Volodymyr Sivkovych, probably assisted Krippa and Kokhanovskyi through Oleksandr Osoka in buying Dnipro hotel.
Why do Maksym Krippa and the Russian oligarch need a hotel in the center of the Ukrainian capital? When explaining the purpose of the agreement, Oleksandr Kokhanovskyi said that he and his partners would build the first esports hotel with an arena for hosting tournaments on the basis of Dnipro hotel and that it would take only one or two years. The war may have thwarted their plans but half a year later Dnipro Hotel private joint-stock company applied for registering Dnipro Casino trademark specifying the economic activity classifiers of casino and night club services rather than esports. And in 2021, Krippa with Kokhanovskyi submitted an application to the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries for opening a casino and slot machine halls in Dnipro hotel but it was refused. Either way, the plans have evidently changed.
Nevertheless, Maksym Krippa has been interested in esports for quite a while. He had entered this market long before purchasing Dnipro hotel and NAVI esports team. Maksym Krippa is also an owner of GGBet esports bookmaker which is NAVI’s title sponsor and which obtained the license from the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries for working in Ukraine on August 23, 2023.
And let’s not forget that GGBet is a Russian project that was at first intended to be a bookmaker department of Vulk@n casino. Bet.ru LLC was registered in Moscow back in 2011 and managed ggbet.ru bookmaker website in Russia. Later on, the bookmaker went international and got registered in Malta (https://ggbet.com) and Cyprus (https://gg.bet).
GGBet trademark belongs to Cyprian company Brivio Ltd that, in addition to https://gg.bet, also administers Vulk@n Vegas casino site (https://[email protected]) under Vulk@n trademark that, as it’s been already mentioned, belongs to Russian billionaire Oleg Boyko.
The CEO of Brivio Ltd is Theodor Theodoros who is at the same time the CEO of Cyprian company One World Secretarial functioning as a secretary of another Cyprian company Bevita Holding Limited, the founder of Russian Bet.ru LLC. It’s worth noting that in March 2023 the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky approved the resolution of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on sanctioning both Bet.ru LLC and Cyprian Bevita Holding Limited and its CEO Kowalska Iwanna / Joanna Kinga as operators of Russian GGBet bookmaker.
A couple of months later, the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries cancelled GGBet’s license for working in Ukraine because of GGBET LLC and GGBET HOLDING LLC created in February 2023. One hand hits, the other hand pats?
Where is Maksym Krippa in this Cyprian-Russian system of bookmaker’s companies? Despite his efforts to hide his name, registers still remember everything and leave traces. Theodor Theodoros, the CEO of Brivio Ltd, is a beneficiary of Ukrainian Novologic LLC where, according to YouControl, Maksym Krippa had been the CEO from 2010 to 2015.
Besides, One World Secretarial where Theodor Theodoros is the CEO serves as a secretary of Natus Vincere Esport CY (which, by the way, has the same registered office in Cyprus as Brivio Ltd) whose CEO is Yevhen Zolotariov, the CEO of NAVI club whose owner is Maksym Krippa since 2022. Yes, it sounds a little bit complicated, but all the connections are clearly traceable on the chart below.
However, it is not the whole ecosystem of Krippa’s today’s esports business. In addition to GGBet bookmaker and NAVI club, Krippa has created Maincast esports studio which, according to its nominal co-founder Vitalii Volochai, has 90–95% of rights to broadcast all esports tournaments in the Ukrainian language. In 2020, Maincast bought the rights to broadcast tournaments held by ESL, one of the world’s biggest esports tournament organizers, which costs it $2.5 million a year. Maincast is basically a platform for involving viewers in gambling with GGBet. NAVI teams play, Maincast broadcasts it, and GGBet brings profits to Maksym Krippa.
In case with Maincast, Maksym Krippa didn’t try to hide and became the founder of Ukrainian Maincast LLC himself. The second founder is Cyprian firm MainCast Limited, and the secretary — the same One World Secretarial that also serves as a secretary of Cyprian companies of NAVI club and Bet.ru LLC, a Russian manager of GGBet bookmaker.
Basically, One World Secretarial and its CEO Theodor Theodoros have become the links for the entire chain of Krippa’s companies closing the whole ecosystem of his gambling business: Vulk@n casino, GGBet bookmaker, NAVYesports club and MainCast broadcasting studio. However, there is another clue that connects abovementioned EvoPlay casino games developer with these companies. EvoPlay, GGBet and MainCast trademarks are registered in Ukraine through one and the same representative Sandra Santos Rodriguez.
Why haven’t we heard anything about Maksym Krippa before?
Because all his business was illegal. And when you make money illegally, it is dangerous to be in the public eye. Vulk@n and GGBet websites have been working outside the law in Ukraine and Russia throughout recent years. For example, European Pravda news website published Vulk@n casino advertisement back in 2015 – five years before gambling was legalized in Ukraine.
Moreover, GGBet bookmaker successfully made and is still making money on Ukrainian players on a range of its websites not licensed in Ukraine. Licensed ggbet.ua is currently under development and doesn’t work. That is, despite the fact that Maksym Krippa has received the license, he is still making money on illegal gambling without paying taxes to the budget of Ukraine just like all the previous years.
Either way, now that the “blind” Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries, which didn’t see the Russian origin of 1xBet bookmaker earlier and doesn’t see the same with Vulk@n and GGBet today, has granted licenses to Krippa’s gambling projects, one can become public and use billions earned on illegal gambling business to buy up companies, mass media and real estate. Which Maksym Krippa started doing without hiding that much anymore.
In addition to the abovementioned Dnipro hotel worth over UAH1.1. billion, Maksym Krippa bought Kniazhyi Dvir hotel and restaurant complex, a place for bankers to relax and host financial events, from the National Bank of Ukraine for UAH33 million in Kniazhychi village near Kyiv in February 2023. The only bidder and eventually the winner of the auction was Midal LLC where Maksym Krippa’s share is 99.99%.
Having paid UAH33,111,000, he became the owner of the complex with an area of almost 1.4 hectares and premises with a total area of 3787 square meters, including a hotel, sports and health center, events hall, three conference halls, 16 summerhouses, two swimming pools and an artificial lake. According to Glavcom’s (the publication Krippa bought through Tetiana Snopko) estimate, the price of $827,000 for this kind of property is much lower than the market value.
A month earlier, in January 2023, Krippa’s Midal LLC once again purchased an elite estate from previously nationalized Prominvestbank in Kozyn and Koncha-Zaspa villages near Kyiv for UAH311 million. It includes several residential buildings, and a shed, restaurant for 140 guests, administrative building, bedroom building, another residential building with an area of 1128 square meters and a few land plots.
Maksym Krippa has been actively buying up businesses and real estate all this time not only in Ukraine but also in the Czech Republic. Moreover, there is an interesting coincidence – just after Tetiana Snopko had moved to this country after the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Thus, pursuant to Czech registers, in April 2022, Maksym Krippa bought Czech company Arponi Solution and renamed it to GSC Game World Czech (GSC Game World has developed the famous computer game STALKER) and became its official final beneficiary since April 7, 2023.
On April 14, 2022, a new branch of NAVI esports club appeared in the Czech Republic – Maksym Krippa (who hadn’t become the official NAVI owner yet) bought Czech company Venroha Project and changed its name to Natus Vincere CZ.
However, the most noteworthy Krippa’s agreement in the Czech Republic was the purchase of the villa in Troja, an elite Prague district, at K Bohnicím 776/1A 171 00 Praha-Troja from Russian businessman Migridata Pirnazara, the former head of the board of directors of the Saint-Petersburg enterprise Nevsky Zavod Electroshield. According toCT24 Czech publication, ‘Pirnazara’s family sold its share in the company for which the house was registered, and Ukrainians Maksym Khaitulov and Maksym Krippa became the new owners.’ The agreement price is not mentioned but buying any real estate and business from Russians amidst the Russia’s war against Ukraine is quite telling.
As the registers evidence, the agreement took place on July 20, 2022, when Krippa and Khaitulov became the beneficiaries of Migridata Pirnazara’s RTR Co trading company. It was several months after this that Tetiana Snopko came back to Ukraine and started buying up the Ukrainian media.
Politics is the Final Goal?
Buying the media in Ukraine has always been connected with one’s desire to climb to power. As it’s been already mentioned, it is overall difficult to view the media in Ukraine as business projects, and even more so during the war. Yet as a tool of achieving one’s business or political goals it sounds about right.
‘The media market in Ukraine differs from others because most players are in it for political influence rather than business,’ Vitalii Lapteniuk, a partner in Flyer One Ventures, stressed in his comment to Forbes.
Taking into consideration that Maksym Krippa had already tried, although unsuccessfully, to become a deputy of the Kyiv City Council from Samopomich [Self-Reliance] Union party and before that he was an assistant of Ruslan Lukianchuk and Valerii Babenko, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada 6th convocation from Batkivshchyna [Fatherland]party, the version about his intentions to get into politics may be quite realistic.
The version that the media for Krippa is a way of clearing his name and, on the other hand, promoting his projects on these platforms makes sense as well. Which is already the case. For instance, delo.ua has a lot of fresh publicationsabout Maksym Krippa’s and his МК Foundation’s charitable activities. Moreover, the website regularly highlights the events related to NAVI esports club and has recently published a complimentary interview with Maincast’s manager Vitalii Volochai.
Given close ties and a rich history of relationships between Maksym Krippa and Maksym Poliakov with the Russian business, we can’t exclude the potential Russian interests behind the purchase of the Ukrainian media during the war.
Asking Maksym Krippa himself about all this turned out to be difficult as he is rarely if ever in Ukraine. Some media reported that he lives in Los Angeles but the registration data of his companies locates him in Dubai where he owns apartment No. 4803 in Burj Khalifa, the world’s highest skyscraper.
Whatever Maksym Krippa’s and his partner Maksym Poliakov’s purpose of buying the Ukrainian media is, such an active development of their gambling business empire riddled with Russian roots is alarming. So is the fact that the Ukrainian State that has been fighting against the Russian aggression and paying an enormous price for it for over two years is silently watching the Russian businessmen and their Ukrainian protégés who funded the Russian army spread their wings in Ukraine. Although the licensing of Russian Vulk@n online casino and GGBet bookmaker by the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries isn’t exactly what you’d call silence. It’s aiding.
P.S. When preparing this material, we came to know about another purchase by Krippa-Poliakov tandem. Artem Starosek, the founder of Molfar OSINT agency, bought AIN.UA internet publication in September 2023. According to Forbes, before Molfar, Starosek worked at Maksym Poliakov’s Noosphere Ventures where he did checks on the fund’s investment objects. Several IT market players confirm that AIN.UA de jure belongs to Poliakov’s former employee and de facto to Poliakov himself.