The Russian business men control only one casino in Bucharest, but they manage several Romanian gambling joints. And a part of the money collected from gambling by Tolstoi and Dostoievski’s today countryman make their way to the Romanian writers. Actually, the Romanian Writer’s Union is dependent upon 264,000 Euros, money that it gets on a yearly basis from a gambling company for which it made the Vernescu House available. But, more or less paradoxically, the Russian businesses report hundreds of thousands of Euros losses yearly.
The Vernescu House
The famous Palace Casino works in the Vernescu House. The business is controlled by Russian Sergei Kozyavkin, who took it over from the Israeli Avi Cohen. In 2015, the Israeli Cohen started the Adir Brand Holding SRL company, that rented the casino from the Romanian Writer’s Union (USR) for 22,000 Euros a month. The Union gained ownership of the Vernescu House in 1990, thanks to then prime-minister Petre Roman, without any legal cover. Ten years later though, the Culture Minister solved the legal issue using an artifice: it put the Vernescu House into the Union’s service for 49 years. USR used the building only to rent it the Israeli. The Palace Casino was owned by the Casino Palace SRL company, also controlled by Cohen, while the slots machines were administered by Palace Slots Internațional. Later, the Israeli sold its companies to Sergei Kozyavkin, a Moscow resident. The three companies were administered by Mariana Belezekova, also Russia born. Another company controlled by the Russian is Zea Development. The four companies controlled by the Russian Kozyavkin have reported, in the 2016 fiscal year, losses of over 9.7 million Lei. The president of the Romanian Casino Association, Sorin Constantinescu, says he handled the renting of the Vernescu House when asked by Varujan Vosganian, prime vice-president of USR and vice-president of ALDE. Constantinescu declared that one of the conditions in the renting contract was that the tenant has to make contributions to the Union. This is how Russian Kozyavkin’s company ended up sponsoring the USR Awards Gala, the main event for Romanian writers. The Union’s president, Nicolae Manolescu, was unreachable. Furthermore, Constantinescu said that Palace is for sale: „The Russians are trying to sell it for a year. They bought the bussines from some Jews that tricked them. They paid 4-5 milion Euros, now they want to sell it for 1.5 million Euros. But there is no one to sell it to”.
When the Russians gamble, the Romanian government loses
Liudmila Sapega, born in Novosibirsk, Russia, is also into the gambling industry. She managed Aurum Slot Room, a company that owns several gambling joints nation-wide. Later, Sapega started Satin Fashion Uniform, a gambling industry uniform manufacturer. According to the Registry of Commerce data, Liudmila Sapega is an associate in six gambling companies. She owns one of these companies, Victory Games, together with Vladimir Leoniv and Aleksandr Lev. The company was declared insolvent. According to data from ANAF, the company had, at the end of 2017, a total debt of 77.4 million Lei. Sapega and Leonov own another company, Aura Gaming International, together with Novaia Kompania, a Moscow registered company.