US sanctioned company set up by Russians in Melitopol to steal Ukrainian grain – subject of CJI investigation

Transportation of stolen Ukrainian grain by company “State Grain Operator” from occupied Melitopol, September 2022

The USA imposed sanctions on company “State Grain Operator”, set up by Russian occupants to steal the Ukrainian grain from the occupied part of Zaporizhzhya regions, and its director Nikita Busel. The Center for journalist investigations investigated the activity of company and its management in the material “Occupation operator. Who steals the Ukrainian grain from Zaporizhzhya region” in September 2022. 

The official website of the United States Department of State published the list of legal entities and physical persons under financial sanctions of the USA, as the CJI reported. 

As it is indicated in the document, sanctions are imposed on “State Grain Operator” “for being responsible for or complicit in, or for having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, activities that undermine the peace, security, political stability, or territorial integrity of the United States, its allies, or its partners, for or on behalf of, or for the benefit of the Government of the Russian Federation”.

“The State Unitary Enterprise “State Grain Operator” was created on the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhya region in May 2022. It has been registered in the Russian Single State Register of Legal Entities in December 2022 (its taxpayer’s code is 9001011019). The Register does not disclose names of founders of this “state enterprise”, having its legal address in occupied Melitopol.

Russian occupants appointed Saint Petersburg businessman Nikita Busel as the General Director of “State Grain Operator”. He owns hotels in Saint Petersburg and Moscow region and a network of confectioneries. Busel is the founder of company “Impuls” (its previous name – “Megapolis”) which won multibillion tenders for road construction. 


Nikita Busel, the General Director of occupation “State Unitary Enterprise “State Grain Operator”

Main task of “State Grain Operator” is to purchase, store and dispatch to Russian or Crimean ports the grain harvested on the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhya region. Though purchasing prices of “the Operator” were below the market level, private farmers were de facto forced to cooperate with this company-monopolist. 

As occupants reported, 3.5 million tons of grains were harvested in Zaporizhzhya region last year. The crop has been purchased by 14 branches of “State Grain Operator” located in occupied Zaporizhzhya region. 

The CJI’s investigation “Occupation operator. Who steals Ukrainian grain from Zaporizhzhya region” uncovered other companies, their owners and managers, involved into the transportation of stolen Ukrainian grain. For example, the stolen Ukrainian grain is transported by railways through company “Tekhnotrans” owned by Russian citizens Viktor Chuikin and Diana Maksymova. Billionaire Chuikin has been among the first Russian businessmen who transported the grain by railways at the beginning of 2000s.