Our Analytics 4 june — 12:55

Ruins that remained after Azerbaijani oligarchs (Article four)

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BY MAMMAD EFENDIYEV, ELDAR ALIYEV, ELNUR MAMMADOV, ECONOMICS SECTION

PHOTOS BY SAMIRA MAMMADOVA

An in-depth study of the country's metallurgical industry as a whole is impossible without studying the situation in its individual enterprises. Moreover, this would help give an exhaustive and final answer to the inappropriate questions and populist statements of the infamous Zulfugarov brothers. And since they did not let us enter their enterprise Bakı İnşaat Sənayesi OJSC, we decided to start with another plant, whose name was also heard in the mass speeches of the employees of this enterprise, organized recently by its owners.

People of the older generation remember that, at the very entrance to Binagadi settlement, they were greeted by smoke clubs of the Bunyad Sardarov plant, whose products were well known in all parts of the Soviet Union. Here, cast iron and steel were cast. The factory produced gearboxes and engines, high and low pressure fountain fittings and other equipment for the oil industry of the USSR.

The plant looked so during the USSR time

The enterprise was famous for its alloyed and special steel, produced in various forms. But even before the collapse of the country, the Baku Steel Mill split into a separate production unit from the plant, the capacity of which even for those times was considered very high - 12-15 thousand metric tons per year only by shaped casting (the most expensive casting method). And the total capacity, together with steel billets, exceeded 100 thousand tons. And this volume, together with the products of a number of other foundries in Azerbaijan, was sufficient not only to fully meet domestic demand, but also to sell to other union republics.

1990s were pernicious for the industry as a whole, and the Baku Steel Mill in particular. The collapse of the USSR led not only to difficulties with the supply of raw materials and the sale of products, but to a sharp decline in demand for metallurgical products, including within the newly independent Azerbaijan. Numerous factories for the production of ferrous metals, as well as machine-building enterprises, closed one after another. Shrewd managers of factories sold the most expensive equipment for those times for a pittance quite often to neighboring Iran and Turkey at the price of conventional scrap metal. Of course, it was not possible to pour cast iron and steel for sale under the scrap metal brand. The plant gradually fell into decay.

And in such a difficult situation for the plant, namely in the 1990s, the Zulfugarov brothers, Logman and Nureddin, who came from Russia, stood at the helm of the Baku steel plant. Then the privatization of state property was just beginning, small objects were moving under it. But already in 2003, on the basis of the steel plant, OJSC Bakı Poladtökmə was established. If you think deeply, fate provided them with a good opportunity - on the surviving equipment, with an experienced team that has not yet disintegrated, it was possible to restore and even to arrange the production of new, more complex and expensive products. But, unfortunately, the brothers went the other way, tested by their predecessors. They quickly realized that the restoration of complex production requires a lot of money and time, which did not suit them at all. Money was needed big and fast.

Nureddin Zulfugarli

Logman Zulfugarli

Without thinking for a long time, the brothers set up the most primitive production of the most common steel billets for bars and long products in one of the corners of the factory, and all the equipment from the remaining areas, suitable for the release of more expensive products, was sold. Like, why look for thinned buyers for complex and specific products, when steel billets are in great demand in the markets of neighboring countries. Completely changing the profile of the plant, the brothers destroyed the foundry in the country, which is the basis of the metallurgical complex, which, in turn, can be safely called the foundation of all industry. And the general crisis in the country, and in the region as a whole, plus the lack of foundry production, led to the collapse and the entire engineering industry.

Moreover, choosing the easiest way for easy profit, the brothers purchased in Turkey for a relatively modest price an already-in-use technological line for the production of reinforcement bars and channels for the logical completion of the entire casting cycle for the production of these products. This line has already been installed at this plant, and the brothers were preparing to establish a full cycle - from casting to production of reinforcement bars and channels. But the ensuing arrest for attempting to organize a coup along with former Minister of Economic Development Farhad Aliyev prevented them from implementing a long-standing dream. The brothers somehow issued 80% of the company's shares to the name of the unknown resident of the Lerik region Geray Mammadov, leaving only 20%. And these very 20% they persistently kept in prison and after being freed, they still guard them today. The fifth part of shares does not allow them to control the work of the new owner of Baku Steel Constrution, who has a share of 80%. They need them very much, and not just for dividends. Thanks to even this small share, they in every possible way interfere with the work of the new owner of the enterprise, inserting sticks into the wheels of the revitalized renewed plant. On the territory of another factory "Bakelectrosthamt," formerly owned by the brothers, and later also transferred to the ownership of another company, they still do not admit representatives of the true owners, waiting, apparently, for a new scandal involving the "labor collective", which we will tell about in detail in the next article. Their goal is simple - to aggravate the situation as much as possible, in the hope of gaining further benefits in the future.

Thus the brothers plundered the plant

Even the roof was taken away

There are no furnaces too

Even the roots of the mass rally organized recently by the brothers at OJSC "Bakı İnşaat sənaye" should be sought precisely in these 20%. They were supposed to leave the technological line for the production of reinforcement bars and channels procured in Turkey to the new owner of the plant - Baku Steel Constrution OJSC. But taking advantage of the temporary confusion, they furtively took all the equipment to the fully owned by them JSC "Bakı İnşaat Sənayesi". And when the new owner, having obtained the appropriate court decision, tried to take out the equipment, the handicraft oligarch-brothers arranged this kind of mass meeting. The message about it was "leaked" to the media, but we were not allowed to get informed about it. It is not so difficult to understand for whom and for what reason such a spectacle was prepared.

Unfortunately, the limited statistical data on this industry and the total absence of production statistics at Zulfugarli enterprises do not allow us to state growth or decline of production at JSC Bakı Poladtökmə. Such calculations will be carried out later, when we have specific indicators for the rest of the enterprises. Yes, no matter how the Zulfugarl brothers hide their statistics, for which they apparently have enough reasons, it will reveal itself. After all, there are general statistics on the industry; other participants of the market, as preliminary discussions showed, do not hide their indicators either. And, having compiled a simple equation with one unknown, it is easy to calculate it. True, this will require a lot of time and effort, but the results, even today, can be argued, will not be in favor of the brothers.

In the meantime, to assert this, it is enough to talk with living witnesses, who have seen both the good times of the plant and the subsequent destruction of it. All of them unanimously assert that Zulfugarli brothers finally destroyed what little they inherited from the equally destroyed Soviet Union. And even quote the words of the brothers themselves, asserting at one time that the plant, during their management, produced only 30-40 thousand tons of steel billets per year against one hundred thousand tons of complex steel products in the Soviet years! It is even difficult to imagine how it was possible to finish off the plant in just a few years reducing its production by more than two times. And the damage caused in monetary terms is difficult to calculate. But it is even more difficult to imagine how the brothers can beat themselves in the chest, presenting themselves to the public as saviors of the national economy.

That's what's left of the most powerful Soviet enterprise

Some rusty shells

For some reason, however, they forget how one of the brothers "grabbed" the entire administrative building of Bakı Poladtökmə OJSC, taking advantage of the fact that the company was run by themselves. And so, even all these troubles could not prevent Logman Zulfugarli from acquiring through "a decision of shareholders" a large administrative building that rises exactly at the entrance to one of the largest Baku districts - Binagadi. To find out just how legal was assigning by one of the brothers of a huge factory administrative building to himself is the work of other bodies. But the brothers completely forgot to do something for the plant itself.

Our authors group managed to visit the territory of the plant (unlike OJSC "Bakı İnşaat Sənayesi", where the entrance for us is strictly prohibited).

Frankly, for decades of journalistic activity, we have never been able to encounter such a terrible picture of industrial production either in our country or in other countries. And, believe us, it was not from the Soviet power that such a wreckage was inherited by the present owners of the enterprise. In those years, even a more or less significant industrial enterprise had isolated production buildings equipped with appropriate equipment. The Soviets did not allow for empty buildings, in any case: for this, managers could not only be expelled from the Party, but also brought to more strict responsibility. However, once equipped with hi-tech equipment, the area of many hectares today is completely empty. There are no windows, no doors, not even a roof - only naked walls, weakened by the destruction and robbery of the oligarchs. And these walls are about to collapse too. Stolen and taken out is everything that could attract attention. And this was done not by Soviet leaders or current owners, but by intermediary managers - handicraft oligarchs - the Zulfugarli brothers. And this applies not only to the technological lines, but also to various auxiliary sites - the transformer section, the cooling tower and many other facilities, the use of which even experienced technologists and metallurgists could not understand.

And the semblance of intra-plant roads, if you can call them so, you will not find today even in the most remote villages. Not to mention that there is not a single tree, not a single gazebo in the shade of which you could hide in a hot summer day. In short, no production, no infrastructure, no social corners. All this makes today strongly think about the new owners of the company: is it worth investing here at all? It is much easier to demolish all this and build a new modern factory. That's what the Zulfugarov brothers left in the legacy of Baku Steel Construction. And is this called a concern for people, their own collective, the country, what the brave brothers cry about from all the stands?!

All is stolen, and even the walls

There were only crumbling walls left after Zulfugarli

In addition, it must be taken into account that the plant's capacity at that time was no less than 100 thousand tons per year, even on steel billets. In addition, even preliminary surface comparisons, according to experts, show that consumption of, say, electricity to produce 1 ton of steel billets at the plant at that time almost twice exceeded the accepted average industry indicators. This gives grounds to suspect the brothers in concealment of up to half the volume of production. How much is this suspicion right will be shown by our further investigation...

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