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Cablegate: Russian Far East: Local Firm Wins Tender to Build Landmark

R 200826Z JUN 08
FM AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0968
INFO MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION
AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOKQ42

UNCLAS VLADIVOSTOK 000064


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELTN PGOV KCOR ECON RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN FAR EAST: LOCAL FIRM WINS TENDER TO BUILD LANDMARK
BRIDGE -- UNDER SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES

REF: VLADIVOSTOK 058


1. Summary. A local company has won a tender to build a
landmark bridge across Vladivostok's picturesque Zolotoy Rog
Bay. Tikhookeanskaya Mostostroitelnaya Kompaniya (TMK), based
in the southern Primorye town of Ussuriysk, won under suspicious
circumstances, however: all of the other firms dropped out of
competition on the day before bids were due. Some here say that
TMK has links to embattled Governor Sergey Darkin, and believe
that the firm's victory indicates that Darkin may hold on to his
job. End summary.

2. A Primorye company has won the tender to build a bridge
across Vladivostok's Zolotoy Rog Bay as part of the city's
preparations for hosting the 2012 APEC summit. The selection of
Tikhookeanskaya Mostostroitelnaya Kompaniya (TMK), based in the
town of Ussuriysk, 65 miles north of Vladivostok, may be seen as
a sign that local companies are not going to be excluded from
APEC preparations, as some had feared. The fact is, however,
that TMK (in English, Pacific Bridge building Company) was the
only bidder for the tender, despite earlier proud reports from
regional officials that not only several Russian companies, but
also Chinese, Japanese, and Korean firms would participate in
the bidding.

3. Just two weeks ago, Giprostroymost-Sankt-Petersburg
Institute -- part of consortium with three other design
construction institutes, including Vladivostok's
Primorgrazhdanproyekt -- reported that it was absolutely sure of
its victory in the tender. But, incredibly, all of the firms
except TMK bowed out of the competition on the very day before
the tenders were due. As a result, on the morning of June 18,
the official web site of the 2012 APEC summit declared the
tender invalid. By the evening of the same day, however, the
Primorye government officially declared TMK the contest winner.
The director of Primorye's Department of Road Construction,
Leonid Vilchinskiy, said that the decision was made in full
compliance with the federal law on public procurement.

4. Construction of the bridge, estimated to cost 17.9 billion
rubles (757 million USD) is to be completed by the end of 2011.
TMK, which is known principally for its work on road
reconstruction and building, has no previous experience building
such large spans. Many of the company's projects, however --
such as the Nekrasovskiy highway overpass, the ongoing
reconstruction of the Khasan highway southwest of Vladivostok,
and a joint home-building venture with Arkada-House Co. -- are
said to be connected with Primorye Governor Sergey Darkin.

5. (Note: Darkin returned recently from Moscow, where he had
spent a month allegedly recuperating from heart problems after
his home and office in Vladivostok were searched by regional
anti-corruption investigators. Most here believe that the
Governor's real purpose for being in the capital was to lobby
Kremlin officials to allow him to keep his job (reftel). End
note.)

6. As for the Zolotoy Rog bridge, the company plans to involve
Russian subcontractors and foreign vendors in the project, so
its role will mainly be to manage the work and supervise the
flow of federal funding. Independent architecture expert
Valentin Anikeyev called the selection of TMK for this unique
project "a complete adventure."

7. Comment: TMK's success, coming in the wake of Darkin's
predicted demise at the hands of regional anti-corruption
investigators, has led some analysts to speculate the Governor
is invulnerable. Others predict, however, that the bridge
project may yet become another subject for investigation. End
comment.

ARMBRUSTER

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