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Ponzi Scheme by Russian Bernie Madoff

Financial genius from Russia Sergei Mavrodi tells how financial pyramids are built and how not to go crazy without freedom.

Naturally, on August 94th, when MMM collapsed and the resulting wave, like a tsunami, covered 15 million depositors at once (52 of them committed suicide, hundreds ended up in hospitals with heart attacks or ended up on the street, having lost their apartments), young people simply do not remember, but how did a person deprived of special charisma and charm manage to appease the Russian Themis? The goddess of justice at one time turned out to be surprisingly condescending to Sergei Panteleevich – he got only four and a half years and was released a month after the sentencing. This is especially impressive after the American pyramid builder Bernie Madoff was generously soldered for 150 years (although Mavrodi “huddled” the poor, and Madoff dared to get into the pocket of the rich, members of all kinds of closed clubs, and their wine, of course, is incomparable).

Madoff was not forgiven for not making money, but only collecting it, but Mavrodi, on the contrary, was given credit for it. In Russia, there is still an uncontested version that the authorities turned a blind eye to MMM while it helped to divert cash from the consumer market and curb galloping inflation, especially since the officials were terribly busy – they were distributing state property for next to nothing, but as soon as Chubais’s “privatization” entered the decisive “monetary” stage, their eyes turned to the prosperous Mavrodi, who by that time had created the “Party of People’s Capital” and began to pursue “an aggressive policy on the stock market.” Was he “asked” to share? Just took everything away? Bargained in exchange for freedom? Is this not the reason that Sergei Panteleevich, who is now dog-poor, does not feel the slightest guilt before the losing investors?

To those who looked at the creator of the MMM from the foot of the pyramid he built, Mavrodi seemed like a prophet and a saint, whose halo is brighter the more zeros in the sums he uses, but in fact, Sergei Panteleevich is only small (a little over 160 centimetres) man with great ambitions. Well, isn’t his vanity evidenced by Mavrodi’s paid days of free travel in the Moscow metro, being a deputy in the State Duma, an attempt to run for president of Russia in 1996, and even portraits on “Mavrodiks” in the place where Soviet people are used to seeing only Lenin? Well, he cannot come to terms with the fact that he lost to Russian billionaires without the prefix “ex”.

Exactly one year after his release from prison, Sergei Panteleevich presented to the people his book “The Son of Lucifer” – a speech in it about how Satan subjects different people to temptation and how human nature manifests itself, which is invisible in ordinary situations. True, the author did not succeed in regaining the status of the ruler of thoughts with the help of literary exercises. Maybe due to the fact that the Russians have long ceased to be the most reading nation, or maybe 150 stories written during their imprisonment are not so talented?

And finally, a new attempt to climb to the top is financial. The time has been chosen competently – there is a crisis in the yard, and now potential participants in the game “MMM-2011”, whom Sergei Mavrodi, who has not visited the dentist for a long time, grins on the Internet, will have to decide: what is it – the smile of Fortune or the insidious grimace of Temptation?

Sergei Panteleevich, I dreamed for a long time – and I do not hide it! – to meet you. And the reason is simple: I am very interested in you, and your fate, and the time that brought you to the crest. For some reason I am sure: our conversation will intrigue millions of readers …

Let’s hope.

It is said that you were born with a congenital heart defect and the doctors have not given you more than 18 years of life – were they really sure that by this age you would certainly die?

Well, how certainly? – warned that this is the most likely outcome. I grew up very sickly, and they, in general, did not imagine that I would ever have time to grow up.

Nevertheless, you managed to become the Moscow Sambo champion…

Yes – oddly enough, by the time I came of age, everything passed. The doctors, in fact, promised so: either their sores will outgrow, or … Rather, however, the second …

I know you had 12 concussions – where can you earn that much, admit it?

Not in some kind of fights, by no means, but in the most ordinary, everyday, in general, situations. I was a very restless child, and somehow, I was unlucky all the time: either you fall with your head, or you just hit.

Did it leave any imprint on you?

Well, I don’t know – this (laughs) is for you to judge.

According to rumours, you have a phenomenal memory …

Possessed in childhood, that is, he could repeat a passage of almost any size that was read to me aloud, but now that’s it. As a result of all these concussions, my memory has become just good, well, thank God: in figs it is needed – phenomenal? Just don’t (laughs) experiments, or maybe you’re going to test it?

It is said that you had outstanding abilities in the field of physics and mathematics – how was this manifested?

At school, I often taught lessons for the teacher, won various Olympiads … Mathematics was easy for me, as well as physics – I especially liked these disciplines, but by the first year I had lost interest in them. You see, as a kid I dreamed of going to PhysTech.

To the famous Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology…

Yes, and since I was the winner of all Olympiads in the world (including the Physics and Technology Olympiads), there was only one exam to pass – as far as I remember, it was written physics. If I got an A, I became a student, if not, I had to take the rest of the exams on a general basis.

Usually, I didn’t spend much time at the Olympiads – all this took me literally half an hour. I come, write, give the leaflet with the decision and leave – I never even checked it, but since PhysTech was a dream, this time I took it seriously: I checked and rechecked the answers 10 times. I formulated the tasks as a problem, solved them as a problem – well, I sort of did everything, but got three. “This cannot be,” he was surprised. “How?”, And there, if you file an appeal, they show you a proven work and explain what you are wrong about. I look: everything is in order, but in one of the problems there is a purely arithmetic error, well, like twice two is five.

I wanted to do this, I wrote everything down in such detail, and now I overdid it … Discouraged, the examiner asked the question: “How is it – am I passing physics or what? This is a purely arithmetic error. ” “Yes, young man,” he replied … As I remember now: such an uncle sits and explains to me with a show-off: “Yes, an arithmetic error, but you are entering the Institute of Physics and Technology, your electric stove has a power of 10 million watts, and this did not surprise you at all.” Fuck you, I think, in figs with your tiles and with your watts – took the documents and entered the Faculty of Applied Mathematics at the Institute of Electronic Engineering. Finger of Fate!

By the way, this story had a very interesting continuation. Many years passed, I created “MMM”, sat in jail, then left and became a deputy …

… the State Duma of Russia …

… yes, and just in the Mytishchi district, where the PhysTech is located. Well, one day an assistant comes in: “Sergei Panteleevich, the leadership of PhysTech came to me – they ask, do you want to become a Doctor of Physics and Mathematics? They will write everything themselves – all they need is your consent”, but by that moment I didn’t need it.

Were you cold and burned out?

Yes, everything has its time. This is all about how fate plays with us – but if they told me at school that I would become a Doctor of Science at PhysTech, I would be in seventh heaven with happiness. It would seem that for this one should go to college, unlearn, gnaw the granite of science, finish graduate school and so on, but no! (Sad). It’s a pity that it’s not on time …

Once, in the final of one of the physics Olympiads, you were asked to explain why a person is drowning in a quagmire – have you coped with this task?

You see, a swamp is not a liquid, but a suspension of the smallest particles, the pressure is not evenly transmitted there, as in water, and because of this, Archimedes’ law (according to which a buoyant force acts on a body immersed in a liquid, equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by it from this it follows that any attempts to swim out only accelerate the dive, so you should not twitch if you get into a bog – you have to wait for someone to throw a rope to you.

Symbolically …

How not to get into the swamp is what you need to take care of. But if it’s already there, it’s better not to fuss. This is our life!

We are getting closer to the main thing. How, when and who came up with the idea of creating “MMM”?

You know, if a person answers such a question, he is lying – I am completely sincere. What would you like to hear? That I was sitting under a tree, an apple fell on my head and I created “MMM”? This is all nonsense. It is impossible to formulate this process. Creativity is a mystery. It cannot be said that everything happened at such and such a moment, and I cannot name the day and hour when this idea struck me.

Okay, but is she yours?

Naturally!

It was just rumours that one day some influential people came to the quiet genius of Mavrodi with the proposal: “Let’s open a joint-stock company for you – you are like a facade, and we are a roof” …

Perfect delirium! Firstly, no one can push to the emergence of such super-large-scale ideas – it’s like being a co-author of Napoleon, and secondly, it is real to help only up to a certain level, and since I was already at war with the state … Although this is not the point – all the same, such arguments do not convince anyone. Here is an absolutely compelling argument: in such enterprises, dummies are not left alive …

… so that no one ever knows who the real owners are?

Of course. Everywhere in this kind of business, on such a scale, the chairpersons are removed, and the fact that I have lived up to that time and am talking with you today is absolutely indisputable evidence that no one was behind me.

So, “MMM” was invented and organized by you …

Yes, all this was created from scratch personally and by me alone. I will add that only an average level of business can be done …

… a group of comrades …

… but the really big ones, the level of Caesar, Napoleon, go up alone. You see, all collective decisions are half-hearted, that is, by consulting with someone, you deliberately lower the bar. Optimal paths are non-standard, so most do not see them – otherwise they would be standard.

Why, if not a secret, “MMM”?

The name is explained very simply – these are the first letters of the surname of those who were part of the initiative group. In other words, when the cooperative was created, according to the law, at least three people had to enter into it, and it was purely by chance that those two whom I found had surnames beginning with “m” too. Therefore, “MMM” turned out, but it could have been anything.

How many people were MMM contributors in total?

About 15 million, but considering that the majority had relatives and friends …

A whole state within a state – isn’t it?

Therefore, when I was arrested, the state was playing with fire. It seemed to people that, creating “MMM”, I did not take into account something there, did not understand that the state would eventually intervene, and as a result they covered me, but I could have unleashed a civil war …

Easily: they would say to the depositors: “Go to the Kremlin!”

… and everything would have turned out completely differently. I just stopped at some point, did not step over the blood. Whether it was the right decision or not is a moot point, but what now?

Do you know how much money people took to “MMM”?

Well, you ask me such questions … (Laughs)

Well, at least roughly: it was billions, maybe trillions of dollars?

Let’s not talk about money, otherwise after this conversation they will post new articles to me. Everything that is in the materials of the investigation, it was …

How many dug up there?

Yes, something like $ 100 million (laughs).

From the way you laughed, I understood: the numbers are funny …

How funny? That is, but on the other hand, now, for example, there are shares of “Gazprom” (again, also in the materials of the investigation file – these are not my speculations). Eight percent – before the crisis, in my opinion, they cost $ 25 billion.

Did you personally own these shares?

No. According to the law, when privatization was in progress in Russia, Gazprom shares were also put up (which, by the way, they were not going to do, and only thanks to my efforts this happened). Only residents of the gas fields and employees of Gazprom were allowed to purchase them, although this seems to be state property and belongs to everyone, that is, citizens were initially divided into white and black – the former is allowed, and the latter is not. Nevertheless, all our laws are bypassed completely elementary, it is just that unnecessary papers must be invented and filled in … I had to issue shares for persons who lived in those places and, according to the law, had the right to purchase them for vouchers.

So you bought eight percent of Gazprom shares after all?

Yes, and this, again, I emphasize, is not my irresponsible talk – everything is in the materials of the criminal case (there the persons are indicated on which the purchase is made). They accuse me all the time: “He circumvented the laws,” but what does “circumvent” mean? – there is no such word in jurisprudence: it is from the evil one! I observed, but you can’t plant just because a person found holes in the legislation – it is not forbidden to find them …

Do not leave!

Yes, mend these holes, so I didn’t break the law.

Excuse me, but who has these Gazprom shares now?

From owners, by proxy. Contracts have been concluded with them that this is my property, which does not belong to them.

In other words, can you get your securities at any time?

I could, but now because of the bailiffs I can’t. The authorities declare that I am a fraud and a villain, I deceived everyone, but in fact, the opposite is true. When I got out of prison, I immediately announced: I will deal with payments, although no one obliges me to do this: I got mine, served my time and owes nothing to anyone under the law. Formally, the shares of Gazprom are mine – I could, for example, take them and go somewhere to the warm islands: to live and live and make good money.

25 billion!

Yes (smiles) – not God knows how much, but quite a lot. Such a situation would suit the authorities, but since I announced that I was going to pay off the deposits, they were alarmed at the top. Well, imagine what will happen if now in Russia, where there is complete poverty and collapse, I start distributing money? I will instantly turn into a political figure on a Russian scale, but who cares? Yes, no one, and since no one is interested in depositors, everything was done so that I could not deal with payments. I have, so you know, everything is seized, described, and the court forbids me to make any purchase and sale transactions …

For a long time?

Forever, as the state plans, – there is no statute of limitations.

They say that the money that people carried in “MMM” was not measured in bags, not in suitcases, but in rooms?

Well yes!

Have you seen these rooms filled with bundles of banknotes?

Obviously, it seems to you that at the sight of such a picture your eyes should light up, but it’s just paper, and besides, I haven’t been to the office, so …

If I’m not mistaken, you generally controlled the “MMM” by phone …

Of course. Everyone is so amazed, but in fact, why be surprised? Physically, why am I there – to get confused with people who are doing business, under their feet, to interfere with the managers? Any questions in our age of all kinds of communications can be solved by phone, and my personal presence, thus, is sheer show-off. Going there with a bunch of guards, scaring everyone with your appearance, then coming back – nonsense! If you are mired in routine, it means that the business is poorly organized.

Fine!

Hmm, and that’s what they did. Almost any teller could go there freely, take and leave as much as she wanted – there was no control.

Well, they went for sure, and took …

Of course. You see, it seems wild, but in fact it was just production costs: shaking, shrinking and breaking glass containers. Overhead – nothing more, but put yourself in my place for a second.

A couple of rooms there, a couple here …

Well, no, they didn’t steal on such and such a scale, because when the level drops by half, it is noticeable (laughs). How many people can you take? Well, he put the pack somewhere in his bosom, but how to deal with it? Imagine that you are a leader and this is your situation. What to do? Create a special service?

Hire guards – they will steal …

Only in an organized manner – they will be taken out by trucks, because they will get full access. Therefore, we will have to create a special service to fight this special service …

… her brave fighters will not infringe on themselves either …

In short, this is the classic way – to fight one enemy, you create for yourself another, more and more terrible, which as a result devours …

…you…

Of course, it is psychologically very unpleasant to know what is being stolen. This situation is annoying, but it must be perceived …

… philosophically …

… just as a fact that your friend is stealing from you. It is no coincidence that the Bible says: do not tempt!

Many of your employees got rich by stealing from such enticing rooms?

Probably, but I don’t want to use the word “steal”, because, I repeat once again: do not tempt!

You broke this commandment …

Yes, and once I have tempted, I am to blame, not they – I put them in this position. Well, it is unnatural for human nature to go into a room full of money, where packs lie underfoot, and not take anything from there.

From my point of view, the best advertisement on post-Soviet television (and on Soviet television, consider it, was absent!) Was an unforgettable series from the life of Leni Golubkov and “MMM” – whose idea was it?

My. Advertisers, on the other hand, initially leaned towards computer videos: “You know, this is so cool!” …

… but the population does not understand …

Now, who will understand us – it’s the tenth thing. I insisted: “Advertising should be effective – this is the only criterion, and nobody, by and large, is interested in its beauty. In general, to win at exhibitions, you can shoot at your own expense. ” The very idea of an ordinary person and in the future the series was invented directly by me, and the specific characters and the name of Lenya Golubkov were directed by Bakhyt Kilibaev. It is curious that this series attracted the audience to such an extent that when I came to the bank, the tellers asked me: “Will they get married?” I asked: “Who?” – “Marina Sergeevna and the submarine commander.” – “This is an advertisement,” he told them, “are you out of your mind?” – “No, I see, but will they get married?”

You yourself have a saga about new boots, a car and a house in Paris, which Rita Golubkova dreamed of so much, and Leni’s slogan: “I’m not a freeloader – I’m a partner!”

To me, this ad seemed normal – unlike the one that was at first. After all, everyone has already forgotten that we were looking for “the very same” by trial and error, that is, we did not immediately find Lenya Golubkov. Before him there were students – remember?

No…

At first, for each population group …

… were going to shoot their own video …

Right. There were pensioners, housewives, students, but then it turned out that Lenya Golubkov is a universal master key for all souls (sorry, but since I was sitting, I am supposed to use this kind of comparison) and works great for all categories of viewers.

Plus, Permyakov’s getting into the image is the most accurate …

Undoubtedly, he is a very good actor.

In general, it was amazing: he brought money – after a month he took more, and you can, in general, not work, do nothing …

This is another myth, Dmitry, that such a mechanism existed only in MMM – in the same bank, for example, you also do nothing and receive dividends.

I agree, but not so big …

The same is true for any transactions with securities.

Then let us clarify: at what percentage did MMM accept money from depositors?

Let me remind you how it actually worked. You see, you were preparing for the conversation, but still, apparently, you don’t know something – it only means that an ordinary person is even less aware of it.

I just didn’t wear money at MMM …

That’s not the point. Everything was different: you buy my ticket (first there were promotions, and then tickets, because problems began with the Ministry of Finance) and even though you can get it on the same day – like a dollar!

Freely convertible shares?

In fact, yes. The points of sale and purchase – the same as currency ones – were at every step, and at any moment go and return the ticket at the rate (it could not be that you came and you were not paid anything). Meanwhile, the exchange rate changed twice a week: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and grew at a rate of 100 percent per month. For six months, the number of our depositors reached 15 million, the turnover amounted to a third of the Russian budget, and the cost of tickets increased 127 times.

At the trial, however, all this was presented in a very perverse light. Some retired woman was crying: “In February I bought shares with my last money – I was dying of hunger, but they deceived me, everything collapsed”. “Listen,” he appealed to her, “I sympathize with you, but you could have sold these shares at any moment – for example, when their value increased 10 times. Then it increased 20, 50, 100 times – you kept everything, and this was your last money? At any moment you could get 100 times more than you paid – was that not enough for you? “

An interesting, agree with me, phenomenon, and I can tell you a couple more stories that confirm: human psychology is something. Somehow an assistant from the Duma turns to me: “Sergei Panteleevich, one woman is eager to see you – she says she has lost some amount. We ought to return her – in the Duma she is a secretary, a useful person, we work with her. ” “Well, okay,” I nodded, “find out what’s in there and how.” It turned out that she bought 100 shares for 1,000 rubles, of which she later sold 80. I received 80 thousand clean.

Not bad…

Me: “Listen, what was she deceived about?” “But they promised me 100 thousand,” the lady said, “where else 20? Return my money!”. And – this is quite obvious – she spoke sincerely, did not try to deceive. I just thought that she was really not given …

Such a people will not lose a war …

Or, for example, another episode. A security guard comes to me: “Sergei Panteleevich, some grandfather settled on our stairs – he claims that he sold everything, now he has nowhere to go and he will spend the night here, right at the entrance.” Me: “Okay, give him everything back. Buy tickets and let it roll. ” The next day I ask how you are doing. “They gave everything to him, he was lying on the floor, he almost wanted to kiss Sergey Panteleevich’s feet”. Well, a month later the guard reports: this grandfather is again at the door. “How? – I didn’t understand. – He seemed to have given everything … “. “And he,” he says, “walked away and thought: “Why leave?”. I invested money in tickets again – it was after the crisis! Well, what can you say?

Is this love for freebies peculiar only to Russians or are other peoples also subject to it?

If they give money and they don’t take it, it means that you simply did not organize the case, and how can you ask such questions after the arrest of Bernard Madoff? His firm is an example of the fact that the States have it too, besides, after “MMM” – what do I need Madoff? – in the USA, the Stock Generation game was created on the same principle. It functioned perfectly, and the turnover there was not less, but more than that of “MMM”.

Is it true that the entire Swiss Embassy in Russia, headed by the Ambassador, played MMM?

Of course, it’s true. In general, I rarely lie – only when it is absolutely necessary, but such situations are rare.

High-ranking Russian officials: deputies, ministers and higher – did not try to come to an agreement with you: “We are investing so much – give a guarantee that we will get 10 times more”?

I have never supported any guarantees, any special relations with anyone, absolutely and in any form – only on a general basis. Many are also interested in my connections with the underworld, but I had only contact with him: the guards came up to me and said that some group – and the crime had gained a lot of power – was asking to be served without queuing. “No,” I snapped. “On a general basis, please.”

The racketeers tried to run over you?

It was extremely difficult to do this, because I was constantly surrounded by guards. Only a madman would dare to do this, seeing the guys from the FSB, the tax police and other serious structures …

Who guarded you at that time?

Group “Alpha” – operating with almost its full complement. You know, one fine day, when their salary was delayed by accident and they arrived, I went out onto this (shows) balcony and saw a courtyard full of cars!

How much is how much? 20-30 people?

Much more, but, in fact, it’s all show-off.

The bandits, as I understand it, could not even approach you …

I won’t say whether they could or not – I only know that there was not a single attempt. Fate turned so that I then sat on a special block with the coolest killers: with Sasha the Soldier (Alexander Pustovalov, a former Marine Corps Special Forces soldier, was sentenced to 21 years.) …

… who killed Solonik?

Yes, with Lesha the Soldier (Alexei Sherstobitov, formerly a senior lieutenant of the internal troops, holder of the Order of Courage, which he received as a cadet for the detention of a particularly dangerous criminal, was sentenced to 22 years.), I sat with all the “Orekhovskaya” – this was then the main group, with the “Kurgan”, and asked them if any attempts were being made on me. “No,” they answered, “not a single one,” that is, even it never occurred to them, my story was so loud …

So, they were not going to encroach on you, but why? It would seem: here they are, real money – just come, take it …

There is an even more interesting question: why weren’t MMM tickets forged? There was a very amusing legal situation there, and this only confirms how stupid the people are. You could not even fake them, but simply order and print – these were not securities, but ordinary candy wrappers!

Didn’t you print?

No – we just woke up in the end, but it was too late.

Do you know why MMM tickets weren’t forged for so long and why did the bandits not come to you? I think they could not imagine that a loner started such a game …

Maybe so.

They believed, I am sure, that behind you one of the state figures is standing in full growth …

I don’t think that would have stopped them. Then they ran into everyone, and government figures too – you just forgot that time. There were no untouchables at all – they shot everyone in a row: these bandit groups considered themselves the masters of everything and everyone. Well, well, it carried …

Miracle, huh?

I don’t know if it’s a miracle, but it happened.

Did any of the high-ranking Russian officials invest their money in MMM? Did you know such people?

I can say that when I came to the Duma, almost all of its members came running to me to change tickets, that is, the deputies also played, but everything was anonymous. Do you understand what the beauty is? It’s like a dollar – almost the same …

Moreover, they did not require passports when buying or exchanging them …

Yes, and it is not known who played who did not. Everyone probably succumbed to excitement, because it was stupid not to do it. When money is given for free, how can you refuse? If you don’t play, you’re just an idiot.

Is it true that you advised the Russian Ministry of Finance on the creation of GKO (government short-term bonds)?

Head of the Securities and Financial Market Department Zlatkis – personally.

Bella Ilyinichna?

Yes, she suddenly began to show an extreme interest in “MMM”, only then I did not know what they were up to GKO. I believed that the Ministry of Finance was simply trying to grasp the situation – to figure out if there was a violation of the law …

Did she study the mechanism?

Well yes. Be that as it may, in August 1994 I was arrested, and in October these T-bills came out, which in fact were a complete copy of “MMM”. Alas, trying in every possible way to get away from recognition, they made a number of fundamental mistakes that ultimately led to a disaster. This, of course, is just my opinion, but …

You know, personally, I consider you a real financial genius …

…Thank you!

… however, the media around the world invariably rank you among the top 100 Most Outstanding Adventurers of All Time …

I heard something, but I am not happy about it. (Disappointed). Well, a hundred – there is only the first place and all the others.

Do you have the feeling that, compared to you, Ostap Bender, who sacredly respected the Criminal Code, is just a boy?

I did not violate the law – my enterprise was absolutely legal, and although they say: the pyramid collapsed, but this is all nonsense – I created a perfectly functioning structure, and then the state got in and everything collapsed. It provoked panic – every day for two weeks or something, officials, right up to the president, kept repeating on TV: “This is a scam, take your money back!” Well, let Medvedev announce tomorrow that Sberbank is a scam: what will be left of that day after tomorrow? However, this was not the end.

When it became clear that everything was a disaster, I lowered prices 127 times, again to a thousand. “Citizens,” he said, “do you see what these freaks have done? They created a panic, and for any financial structure it is disastrous, but it’s okay. Now I am lowering prices, but I am increasing the rate of growth of stocks: their value will grow each time not twice, but four times. You saw how I did it all, raised it without having anything, but now I have a structure and funds are not limited. It is absolutely clear: I will spin everything again, and I don’t need to spin anything – the panic will subside, and the prices will return to their previous levels in three months, so I advise you to buy tickets. Now the situation is ideal for this – everything starts from scratch again. ” After that, crowds again lined up to buy.

Amazing …

Thus, I restarted the system …

… reboot …

… and when the authorities realized that nothing was taking me, when everything was already ruined – that’s when they arrested me. You have already forgotten everything: you believed in the version that the pyramid became too big and collapsed – but this is all nonsense!

Why did they try to destroy “MMM”, I guess: you became a political figure …

You know, investigators quite frankly told me: “Sergey Panteleevich, how could you not have been arrested? Another month or two – and there would be no president, no one in the country: there would be only Mr. Mavrodi, ”and this situation is unacceptable, because the question stood squarely: either me or the state.

When the authorities attacked me for the first time, I bristled at once: “Oh, so?” I didn’t stand on ceremony with them … “Well, then, tomorrow I will call a referendum,” and according to the law, the referendum was then the highest institution of democracy and no one could question or dispute its results. Do you need a million signatures for him? This is how I, with my 10 million depositors, amassing in a week. I put the question of trust, and all the figs: the president, the government, – and then I declare that the interests of “MMM” are the interests of Russia.

Yes, you played dangerous games …

Why? – it was an ordinary war, and it is always dangerous, and when you get involved in such a confrontation, you have to understand what it is fraught with. For example, I am simply amazed at the stupidity of those who claim that Khodorkovsky entered the war with the state – where did they see it? He had funds, but they were arrested, and the funds are just accounts, a number, and if you own at least 100 billion dollars, tomorrow they will be arrested – and you have nothing. With only money, it is impossible to fight, but behind me stood an army of depositors, that is, the authorities had their trump cards, and I had mine, and I could win this war, I could quite easily become the president of Russia myself. No one had the slightest doubt that this would be how it would be, I was just a homely person, although I should probably have become one.

For their money, of course, they would vote in droves – what are you!

Moreover, everyone then hated this Yeltsin power – the whole country was destitute. Nobody supported the top, so everything was so simple that …

“Being a genius,” you once said, “is very boring: this is a curse, not a gift, a beetle in an anthill, eternal loneliness, nothing is interesting.” Do you consider yourself a financial genius?

When asked such questions, it is somehow awkward, but I will answer with the words of Robert Fischer. There was such a world chess champion, you know?

Legendary. And half-crazy …

When asked: “Who is the best chess player on the planet?”, He replied: “Modesty is a very good thing, but it’s stupid to hide the truth – it’s me” (laughs), so … I consider myself not even a genius – this word is wrong. Genius is the best among equals, and I am the only one, do you understand? Not the biggest ant, but a beetle in an anthill – that’s how I perceive myself.

“MMM” lasted six months – any pyramid, in your opinion, is doomed to collapse?

First, no one knows what a “pyramid” is, and although everyone speculates with this word, there is no such concept in the Criminal Code. Why? Because it is impossible to define what it means. This is when the subsequent are paid at the expense of the previous ones? But then any financial structure has signs of a pyramid and automatically falls under this definition.

Any bank …

… or, say, any pure gambling game. Nevertheless, if we really operate with this word, it would be necessary to figure out what’s what … They say, for example, that Madoff had a pyramid. His brainchild lasted 20 years and collapsed only because the crisis broke out, but during the crisis, sorry, almost all banks collapsed, and their depositors also lost money, although people, of course, feel better because they went bankrupt in a healthy structure.

I will not present my opinion – only facts. Madoff, after so many years of prosperity, collapsed by accident, in other words, the lifetime of any properly organized financial pyramid is estimated at least in decades. Or an even better example is the dollar. It is no longer a secret to anyone that this is a pyramid, nevertheless, everything functions perfectly, that is, the entire world financial system is based on a pyramid. Good or bad is a difficult question, let’s get it differently: was it possible to organize a financial structure …

… like “MMM” …

… not based on a pyramid? Nobody checked this and could not verify it, because, you yourself understand, you cannot enter the same river a second time, but if decades are allotted to it, the question arises: how is it worse than any bank? He also lives for decades, and that it should eventually collapse, then, as they say, nothing lasts forever. And the Sun will go out, and the Earth will cool down, and a person will die anyway – so why should he not be born at all?

I have no doubt that when persecutions and repressions began against you, when you were already in prison, you asked yourself more than once: where did I go wrong?

I was not mistaken anywhere; I just did not step over the blood. When I was sitting on Petrovka in 1994, crowds of hundreds of thousands gathered under the windows – they chanted: “Seryozha! I understood that it was possible to command: “To the Kremlin!” One day, one attempt is given, because tomorrow lawyers will come, because this is the psychology of the crowd, or, so to speak, the masses …

… and the cry must be thrown while it is wound up …

Yes, because tomorrow everything will start to decline, and we must decide: either, or … I was sure that if I didn’t use my chance, they would probably remove me in prison. By the way, later I asked the investigator why they hadn’t done this … He shrugged his shoulders: “Well, a mess, actually, Lord!” How will it be removed?

Physically…

Of course – they will simply kill. Naturally, then they would say that the investors turned over the paddy wagon and Mavrodi fled, that they saw him somewhere in Haiti … I never doubted for a minute that this is how everything would end – it was the most reasonable way from the point of view of the authorities, but since they are fools, fortunately for me, they did not go for it. In short, there was a situation when it was necessary to decide, and I was not afraid of anything …

Was it tempting to command: “To the Kremlin!”?

What do you mean “wasted”? – I had a completely cold calculation. In essence, it was necessary to provoke riots, civil war, then to bargain with the authorities, and if I chose this path, I would get out of prison completely calmly. The question was: should I buy my own freedom …

… at the cost of blood?

And a lot of blood, because at the top they understood who they were dealing with (so that I, their arch-enemy, would be released, serious blood had to be shed). I did not go for it, but I am not trying to pretend to be a hero and am not at all convinced that I did the right thing. I think if I did decide, it would be better for the country in the end, in any case, worse than now, it still can’t be (laughs).

I’ll ask you a question in the style of the 90s of the last century: did someone cover “MMM”?

No! Here connections with the authorities could hide …

… and in state structures, did someone cover you?

Also nobody. Yes, I was repeatedly invited to the Kremlin, but I did not appear. By the way, this is where the problems began …

Have you been invited to the Kremlin?

For conversations. In private.

Why didn’t you go?

What for? I didn’t need them.

You, in my opinion, are either slow-witted or lazy …

It’s not laziness. You see, this is all unpleasant, humiliating: once you step over yourself, twice – so gradually you will lose yourself.

Let’s say, but here you are – the owner of a multibillion-dollar empire, next to the Kremlin. It is clear that you will not be left alone if there is no highest permission for that, so did you – a mathematician, an intelligent person – did not understand that you should negotiate?

I’m trying to explain it to you, but you still don’t want to understand – think in stereotypes that have remained since then … Listen: there was a war, which means that I had the same resources as theirs.

I don’t mind, but even in war they agree …

There was no need for me. I spoke with the tallest faces from a position of strength, could continue to communicate in that tone, that is, I had no need to seek their favor.

Well, so be it, but was there a chance to reach an agreement? Would they compromise with you?

Hardly, because I have already threatened the existence of the system itself.

If someone from the state skies told you: “Sergei Panteleevich, you have money – we have power: let’s unite our efforts. You periodically bring us money, but we will not touch you,” would you agree? Was it possible in theory?

No, everything has become too big. Events developed rapidly, leaving no time reserve, and in a month the situation would become unmanageable. The authorities could not allow the appearance of an uncontrolled person who would wake up tomorrow, call a referendum and disperse everyone – something had to be decided.

I’m sorry, again for my own: but you can put this person under control?

What are you speaking about? – I myself was going to put everyone under control. No!

From the point of view of power, you are a dangerous person …

Yes, that’s why it all ended naturally, and today I think that it was probably necessary to go all the way, not to stop.

While in prison, you conducted an election campaign and in October 1994 you became a deputy of the State Duma of Russia instead of the executed deputy Aydzerdzis. Admit it, you bought the mandate?

There was no need for me to buy it – I had such a rating that I won the election quite calmly (then, despite some abuses, they were real – it has now turned into a parody). I participated in them on a general basis, but if I had such an opportunity, I would have bought the mandate with pleasure. I did not hide the fact that I was going to the parliament …

… for inviolability …

… yes, it’s lawmaking and I don’t need it.

Was it interesting to you at the State Duma meetings?

I have not been to any.

Didn’t go at all?

Only the first time, when I was confirmed, I did not appear in the hall again.

How did the Duma work without you?

Well, see how it ended? What laws did she pass?

Tell me, did you have a real chance to become the president of Russia?

Of course. I say that I could call a referendum and become absolutely calm – it was so simple … On the other hand, when power itself comes into hands, you don’t want it at all …

In October 1995, the Duma deprived you of your mandate on the grounds that you “neglected your duties as a deputy and continued to engage in commercial activities.” How many years then did you hide in rented apartments and were actually on the run?

More than seven, in my opinion. Yes, somewhere like that.

Aren’t you tired of this kind of life?

Oh, you know, I am a completely domesticated person and did not experience the slightest discomfort.

Are you and yourself good?

Absolutely, that is, I could have been hiding for another hundred years – this in no way bothered me.

Didn’t you want to go abroad?

Never, and by the way, have never been abroad at all – I don’t even have a foreign passport and never have.

What are you doing?!

Oh, what is there to do something, Lord?

Maybe if you went, you would like it …

No, a person, I believe, should live at home.

Consequently, you were not tempted to go somewhere, even in the midst of the persecution?

Never, under any circumstances, was I going to run, leave, because this is, so to speak, life …

…my…

Living out, not living. A person must live in his own language environment, in his country … I would never, even in the most extreme situations, leave her, and after all, when I was hiding, I was sure that if I was caught, I would get eternity.

I mean, life-long?

Well, not for life, but I thought that in aggregate they would give 30 years. Just magically, everything turned so that they were sentenced to four and a half years.

Eternity is good as they said …

Well, what then? No, never, even in the most difficult moments, I did not have the slightest urge to leave, although then I already had (- a virtual stock exchange, registered in the form of a gambling game registered on one of the Caribbean islands.), And I could do nothing.

With that kind of money, you could get a gorgeous job …

Yes, to buy an island or a country and live for my own pleasure, but no – I was hiding in a nearby house …

Here, on the Frunzenskaya embankment?

Of course. Look, you can see it from the window.

Who, they say, will look for you near the apartment? It makes sense …

These are fools who are leaving somewhere (laughs). Nobody, however, was looking for it.

Is it true that you were caught wearing a wig, and even a woman’s?

Well, why should I put on a woman’s wig when they are already pounding at the door – what, the officers of the criminal investigation department will come in, and I will tell them: “This is not me”? What kind of idiocy? – another replicated nonsense.

So you were arrested at home, and not somewhere on the street?

Of course. They opened the apartment for three hours, and then everywhere they wrote that I was wearing a wig …

Did you want to discredit?

Well, judge for yourself, why should I sit in a wig at this time – am I crazy? In addition, they also found a fake passport. “Yes, in three hours,” he explained to them, “I could eat it.”

Is it true that while the capture team was biting into your armored door, you were sitting in your chair listening to Brahms?

Well, not all three hours … Yes, let them break it, Lord – why should they make life easier?

Why Brahms?

It so happened – I composed songs on classical melodies. Did not hear? Maybe I’ll lose later.

According to rumors, after your arrest, 17 KamAZ trucks of cash were taken out of the MMM offices – is this a myth or …?

Of course, it’s true – this fact figured in the case materials, in court it sounded again. It was confirmed by witnesses, which was shown then, by the way, on all channels, and at the trial, when it surfaced, the prosecutor calmly said: “How do you know that the money was taken away by the special services? The fact that these people were in camouflage does not prove anything – did you check their documents? These were unknown persons – everyone! “

Where did this money disappear?

And it is unknown – they disappeared into the vast expanses of the Motherland.

How many volumes did your criminal case have?

Two and a half thousand. This is about a room – that’s how much paper has been worn out.

A whole library …

Yes, and each volume contains 250-270 countries. I was charged with a lot of articles of the Criminal Code, but since our authorities are idiots, I was put on the wanted list only for one – “Fraud”. Well, what about our law? When declared on the wanted list, the statute of limitations is suspended. You can run for at least 100 years – from the moment they are looking for you, the clock does not tick, but since I was not wanted under other articles while I was running, the statute of limitations for them has expired. Of course, the prosecution could have come up with something during the investigation …

… resume …

… to fix this mistake, but they all screwed up. It ended with the fact that one fine day, unexpectedly (as winter always suddenly comes to our utilities), it turned out that the statute of limitations had expired and most of the presented articles had disappeared. As a result, of the two and a half thousand volumes, 650 remained – “Fraud”.

Also, a lot …

But still better (I have saved several volumes).

Have you been charged with large-scale fraud?

No – that’s why I left. You see, they opened a case against me under article 147 of the old Code …

… as part of an organized group?

No no! It was written in my indictment, and when they began to show it to me, the new Criminal Code came into force, where in the article “Fraud” …

159th …

… the fourth part has already appeared – “in an especially large”, but in my indictment it is written: “large”, that’s why it fell under the third part. The word “especially” decided my fate – fate intervened …

How many years were you given?

Four and a half, and since this article provides for up to six, it is said that I received little. However, according to my article they gave me the maximum.

Didn’t you manage to be released on parole?

Oh, what kind of parole? I served everything, from bell to bell, and on special block 99/1 – this is a prison in a prison … It is very small, located on the territory of “Matrosskaya Tishina”, and few people know about it – almost no one.

Were the conditions there?

Households are relatively comfortable, but I was sitting with killers, maniacs and others … Cells for three, four, five places are not overcrowded.

But not five stars? There were just rumors that Mavrodi was serving time in luxury …

This is all nonsense – everyone there is serving time the same. Ordinary cells, but in reality, living conditions in prison are secondary, this is nonsense. There is a very difficult psychological situation there, because it is, in fact, a death row, where everyone only thinks about how to get out of life. The audience there is like that – it is “twenty” for happiness, all the talk is only about this, and the fact that you got there is already a sentence to some extent. They practically do not come out of there, and they do not keep them there for more than a year, because the roof of the people blows off – they start barking at the guards.

Like a dog?

Yes, literally: av-av-av! At one time I was interested in psychology … At some symposium, scientists tried to define the basic concepts of the human personality – that is, those whose deprivation causes irreversible changes in the psyche, and so, one of them is freedom. It is impossible to define what “freedom” is, but at the same time, when it is deprived, you feel it immediately. Depending on your personal qualities, you can resist more or less, but if you sit for a long enough time, something begins to happen to your psyche – well, a person cannot be unfree!

When you talk about a prison, they start asking what the conditions were, but all this is nonsense. So I seem to be sitting in my apartment anyway and I feel great, but tell me tomorrow that you can’t go out – the situation will change fundamentally. If you have not experienced it yourself, it is impossible to explain – just as it is impossible to formulate what hunger, thirst, wind are – that is why they are basic concepts! In every cell – it’s not a secret now …

… as well as TVs, refrigerators – even a woman can be brought …

Yes, there are TVs too, but there is nothing where I was sitting, the isolation is complete. There, in fact, for this purpose they are placed, and this very seriously affects the psyche. I say that they haven’t been kept there for more than a year – people cannot stand it. I was locked up for four years, but nothing …

Is it true that in prison you wanted to commit suicide?

No, never – complete nonsense!

Is it completely without water?

Without – eight days, and even in the heat. It is believed that a person lives for four days without water, and psychologically it is again difficult. During a wet hunger strike, when you only drink water, there is a gradual loss of strength and to a certain extent the situation can be controlled – in other words, if you are a healthy person, tomorrow, for example, you will not die. With a dry hunger strike, everything happens unexpectedly, that is, you go to bed and do not know whether you will wake up the next day or not. Some kind of instant failure in the body – that’s all!

During the dry hunger strike, did you behave adequately?

Yes, it’s absolutely normal, although psychologically, I repeat, it’s not easy.

You often sat in the punishment cell …

Repeatedly.

How did murderers, hitmen and other hardened criminals treat you in prison? Didn’t make any claims: “Oh, you bastard, you deceived the whole country – we are here now …!”?

Not the slightest complaint, despite the fact that I was sitting with five thieves in law, was not to me. The phrase “thief in law”, by the way, is well-worn, so no one really understands what it means. In prison, the person who is called that is simply God, in the literal sense of the word, them, such, for the entire former USSR …

… a little over a hundred …

100 only Russian, and in total, it seems, 500. You can sit in prison all your life and never see the thief. 99 percent of the convicts have never seen them.

You already had a chance to communicate with five …

Probably, this is a record, because I was in a special block – they are put there. One of the thieves declared me a friend, and this is, in fact, a security certificate. If you go into the cell and say: “I am a thief’s friend,” no one will touch you, even look askance in your direction …

Will we name this thief?

No, well, of course not. The second thief, who has 35 years of imprisonment behind him (also one of the very famous ones), said: “Seryozha, when you enter any cell, immediately ask: “Do you know such and such a person? He asked me to convey that any problems brought to me he would consider as his own. ” One more… (Pause). Well, what to tell? The attitude towards me in prison was normal, respectful, and not because I am Mavrodi, that I have “MMM” – in fact, my prison status is essentially low …

What, as the prisoners say, “suit” did you belong to?

A Kommersant is a person who is “milked” and so on. In other words, I started out with a low status …

From a low start …

Exactly. Of course, everyone knew that I was not just a businessman, but Mavrodi, nevertheless in prison they immediately see a prisoner, and the attitude towards him is corresponding … Just imagine that we will be accommodated in this room. The camera is the same size: here (shows) there are bins, there is a long-distance man, that is, sorry, a toilet, and we live here for months without getting out. Can I hide something here, play? Moreover, thieves are experienced people, and the same can be said about the protection.

… At the special block, the attitude towards everyone is very selective, and this does not depend on money – only on how a person has shown himself. Is that why I had so many hunger strikes? I categorically refused to observe the prison regime, I thought that it was humiliating, that I was sitting unfairly. When I talk about it now, it seems to be nonsense: because the jailers demanded to keep their hands behind their backs, to declare hunger strikes – there is just some kind of kindergarten, but in reality all these are not trifles. The psyche breaks down with such requirements – today you put your hands behind your back, and tomorrow or the day after tomorrow you will march and carry out any orders. No wonder that in fascist Germany the greeting was “Heil, Hitler!” You may hate Hitler and Nazism, but if you say “Heil!” Every day …

… you will love the Fuhrer, how dear …

… something is happening to your psyche. That is why the security guards who are engaged in searches do not like everything in ordinary life? Yes, because their service inevitably leaves an imprint on the psyche. You can’t be a security guard at work, spy on and eavesdrop, but come home and immediately become normal – you can’t take it off like clothes.

Such things break, that’s why I refused to comply with the regime. Yes, it was incredibly difficult, generally unthinkable, since such behavior there, to put it mildly, is not welcome, but when they realized after the 10th or some other hunger strike that I simply would not live to see the trial, I would die at the bosses

The commander of the assault battalion in Afghanistan, who personally shot the hostages – women and children, with whom you were sitting in the same cell, said that in the life of a tougher person than you, he did not see – what did he mean?

I don’t know, I didn’t ask again. These are indeed his words, but what is most interesting, I did not give any reasons. It is curious that about the same two of my former cellmates said, and one of them, the notorious Lesha-Soldat, literally said the following: “There is only one truly dangerous person in the isolation ward – all the rest are just pretending”.

Let us pass from prison now, with your permission, to your personal life, which is shrouded in your aura of secrecy. Is it true that when you headed “MMM”, you personally conducted beauty contests, and simply bought the winners?

Let’s not touch on all this – I don’t like talking about women.

Then I will quote you. “Why complicate things? – you write. – You come up and say: “I am such and such, not a pervert, nothing unusual. Let’s meet from time to time – I cry so much, and if you want no one ever to know about it, no one will ever know about it. ” There was not a single refusal – after all, reasonable people, and women in particular. That’s right, you need to sell easily and expensively “…

My words, but I will not comment on them.

You were married to “Miss Zaporozhye” Elena Pavlyuchenko …

Was …

Under what circumstances did you fall in love with her?

I don’t want to, I don’t like to talk about personal topics – there is something unnatural in their public discussion, and it hates me.

Was Elena waiting for you from prison?

The situation is this: when I landed on the bunk, I was sure that I would never leave here, and everyone was convinced of this – investigators, lawyers (I was just incredibly lucky). A specific question arises: if you (not you personally, I mean) suddenly get tens of years, will your wife wait for you? Is it realistic to demand this from a person? After all, there is, after all, ordinary physiology, we are all living people, besides, it is still unknown how you will act when you are released. Maybe you can send her …

This problem arose not for me alone – it arises in front of everyone. You have a difficult psychological situation, you are facing a term – in fact, your life is at stake, and this is the only person close to you, but at the same time you have to make a choice: take care of your wife or yourself, ruin her life or not. How do most prisoners behave in this situation? They meet on a date and say: “Darling, I face such and such a term. You are free, do what you want “, but in fact, for a woman, this is a psychological trap, because she cannot answer:” Of course, dear – why didn’t you give me up at all? Good luck!”. Naturally, the wife in tears: “No, I will wait!” For this, everything is said …

Such is the situation, therefore, if you really want to give her freedom, the first step must be decided by myself, which I did. Simply, without any warning, being sure that I would never leave there, I wrote two statements: about a divorce and to the name of the head of the prison that I ask you not to let my wife go on dates anymore. I put it, in other words, before a fact without any talk there.

You are a strong-willed person!

I think that I did the right thing, and by the way, one of the thieves, who had the richest experience in this sense, told me how a woman behaves in such a situation. She is a frivolous creature and, as a rule, does not understand the seriousness of what is happening, so the first reaction is almost like that of the Decembrist’s wife, but time passes, there is no money, problems accumulate, nothing improves. She has an incubation period of three or three and a half years – during this time comes the understanding that there is nothing ahead, one hopelessness. Moreover, she begins to hate you, her love turns into hatred: “Okay, I was a fool, but you understood everything and I was just used so that I could carry you the programs …”. For a woman, after all, three or three and a half years is a huge period, an era …

… she’s getting old …

… and it turns out that in a few years it comes to her: she lost them because of you.

Life is a tough thing, even cruel, it’s just that an ordinary person does not come across such things: there are simply abysses into which it is better not to look, because there is nothing but dirt, betrayal and lies there. Here we live in the usual temperature regime, but if the degree rises slightly, everything will be different. All moral values, concepts that seem unshakable, suddenly stagger, and it turns out that they …

… very shaky …

Yes. In general, I believe that everything has its melting point: love, loyalty, honor, friendship – however, this is obvious, and on an intuitive level it does not even cause any doubts (it is clear that, say, the same torture can be used to get anything from anyone Another thing is surprising: how low this temperature is!

If suddenly tomorrow, God forbid, they put you in jail, the day after tomorrow all your best friends will turn their backs on you (although no one tortures them). This psychological phenomenon is very interesting – I have seen this many times, but I do not know the explanation. I just accept it as a fact that all childhood friends whom you count on as yourself will scatter on the very first day, and a person whom you don’t notice at all will help. Why it happens? Dont clear. Here Galich has a song: “I would like to know ahead of time who to avoid, and who had a smile with the communion …”, but, unfortunately, it is impossible to know ahead of time.

One of my cellmates, the head of a martial arts school, was helped by a student, whom he did not even pay attention to, and he spent a lot of time: he carried parcels, took his children to school, and all his friends … Another cellmate, a military man, said: “I had a childhood friend with whom we went through Afghanistan, I saved his life more than once. All he had to do was call, pick up the phone, but when my wife bothered him with a request, he simply said: “Don’t call me again.” That’s all, and this is not an isolated case, not some bastard did that – this, unfortunately, is the usual reaction of the majority.

After you wrote a declaration of divorce from your wife, came to your senses, did you even cry a little?

Well, I’m a living person … I didn’t cry, of course, but psychologically it was very difficult.

Forgive me, did you love your wife?

I will not answer this question, I don’t want to! Let’s talk about prison, about “MMM”, but you don’t need to breed nurses: you loved, forgot … All this is not for public discussion.

The tear, however, rolled down?

No comment.

Why, if not a secret, are you alone today, although you could well make some woman happy?

I do not feel the need to marry, so I remain a bachelor. You know, Socrates, one person once asked: “Should I marry or not?” The sage replied: “Whatever decision you make, you will still repent” – this is from the same series.

I quote Sergey Panteleevich Mavrodi: “When everything is available, you don’t want anything. There, at the top, there is nothing – there is a vacuum, but to understand this, you have to climb there. I climbed and found out “…

Yes, there really is a vacuum.

Didn’t this knowledge poison you?

It’s hard to say – you are asking a question that I cannot answer. It is only an external observer who can see – from the outside, and a person, if he is poisoned, does not understand what the nuance is. A vicious circle turns out.