In light of new reports that confirm Russian billionaire Konstantin Nikolaev as the Vladimir Putin ally and oligarch who allegedly received a $125,000 proposal from alleged Kremlin agent, Maria Butina, for the purpose of funding her efforts within the United States, below is a rundown of the NRA’s connections to Nikolaev and his wife, Svetlana Nikolaev. Nikolaev allegedly didn’t fully fund Butina’s $125,000 request, but did pay for travel expenses related to her gun rights group.
- Nikolaev’s wife, Svetlana Nikolaev, is the president of Promtechnologies, the parent company of a Russian gun manufacturer called ORSIS. According to an earlier report by The Guardian, Nikolaev has been named in several Russian media reports in recent years as an early investor in ORSIS’s parent company. But the company insisted he was not currently an owner of the firm.
- In 2015, then-future NRA president Pete Brownell led an NRA delegation to Moscow to meet with Butina’s gun rights group, and tour the facilities of ORSIS. The delegation — which included David Keene, a former NRA president; Paul Erickson, an NRA-affiliated political operative who is romantically linked to Butina; Joe Gregory, an NRA Golden Ring of Freedom charter member; and Sheriff David Clarke — met with Svetlana Nikolaev during that trip, as can be seen on an ORSIS promotional video.
- Svetlana Nikolaev sits on the board of a Russian ammunition maker, Tula Cartridge Plant, which supplies the munitions for a Russia-linked U.S. ammunition company that has been featured at every NRA convention since 2011, including the most recent NRA convention in Dallas. The U.S. ammunition company, TulAmmo USA, named after the Russian city, Tula, from which its munitions are exported, has undergone scrutiny because of its ties to the sanctioned Russian companies and individuals that control Tula Cartridge Plant, including the recently sanctioned oligarch, Igor Rotenberg.
- According to The Guardian, Konstantin Nikolaev has other “longstanding business ties” to Rotenberg and his father, Arkady, a childhood friend of Vladimir Putin, including ownership in two other companies with significant business from the Kremlin.
- Last week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) pushed for the Treasury Department to investigate ties between Russian oligarchs and two Russia-linked U.S. gun and ammunition companies, TulAmmo USA and Kalashnikov USA. Sen. Wyden also questioned whether the companies’ operations were in violation of existing Russia sanctions.
“Nikolaev’s wife has her own connection to the Rotenbergs. Svetlana sits on the board of directors at TPZ, a Russian ammunition maker, where Igor Rotenberg is one of the biggest owners. Nikolaeva chaired TPZ’s board until last year, according to company filings.
“In April this year, Igor Rotenberg reduced his stake in TPZ from 47% to 20% after he, too, was sanctioned by the U.S., which threatened to damage TPZ’s ability to export bullets. Half of the shares Rotenberg offloaded went to a newly created company led by one of his father’s top executives. The American distributor for TPZ was listed as an exhibitor at this May’s NRA convention in Dallas, prompting criticism.
“TPZ has received financial support from Putin’s government and military. State agencies have recently held stakes in TPZ and the company is still listed online among government military holdings. TPZ received an $8m line of credit from a state bank in October last year and has been loaned tens of millions of dollars by other state banks, according to records.”