Sergey Aksyonov

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Sergey Aksyonov
Сергей Аксёнов
Aksyonov in 2018
Head of the Republic of Crimea
Assumed office
9 October 2014
Acting: 14 April 2014 – 9 October 2014
PresidentVladimir Putin
Prime Ministerhimself (2014–2019)
Yury Gotsanyuk (2019–present)
Preceded byOffice established
Prime Minister of Crimea
In office
27 February 2014 – 20 September 2019
Preceded byAnatolii Mohyliov
Succeeded byYury Gotsanyuk
Deputy of the State Council of Crimea
In office
17 March 2014 – 21 May 2014
Deputy of the Supreme Council of Crimea
In office
31 October 2010 – 17 March 2014
Personal details
Born (1972-11-26) 26 November 1972 (age 51)
Bălți, Moldavian SSR, Soviet Union
Political partyRussian Unity (2008–2014)
United Russia (since 2014)

Sergey Valeryevich Aksyonov (Russian: Сергей Валерьевич Аксёнов; Ukrainian: Сергій Валерійович Аксьонов, romanizedSerhiy Valeriiovych Aksionov; Romanian: Serghei Valerievici Aksionov; born 26 November 1972) is a Russian politician serving as the head of the Republic of Crimea since 9 October 2014, a territory internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.[1][2]


Sergey Aksyonov was born in Bălți in the Moldavian SSR on 26 November 1972. His father Valery Aksyonov was a Red Army officer and the founder and leader of a group called the Russian Community of Northern Moldova in Bălți.[3][4][5] After founding the group at the end of the 1980s, the tensions between Russians and Moldavians soon broke into a war. The Russian army came to help Russian paramilitary troops. Finally, Transnistria was separated from Moldavia in 1992.[5]

In 1989, Sergey Aksyonov moved to Crimea and enrolled in a college for military engineers in Simferopol; however, the fall of the Soviet Union occurred before he could graduate from the academy to become a Soviet Army officer like his father and grandfather.[5] He then refused to swear an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, which he considered 'an unjustly severed appendage of Russia'.[3][6]

From 1993 to 1998, he was deputy director of a company named Ellada, a business related to food products.[7][6] From October 1998 to March 2001, he was deputy director of the Asteriks company and since April 2001 he has been deputy director of the Eskada company.[6] Aksyonov is also the head of Crimea's Greco-Roman wrestling organization, Sports club Hwarang-do.[8][6] Aksyonov received his Ukrainian passport on 12 August 1997.[6]

Alleged links to organized crime[edit]

Sources have alleged that Aksyonov served in the mid 1990s as a lieutenant, or overseer, with the nickname "Goblin"[9][10][11][12][6] in the organized criminal gang "Salem (organized crime group) [ru]".[13][6] Aksyonov has denied the allegations.[10] Ukrainian politician and former chief of militsiya in Crimea, Hennadiy Moskal (1997–2000) claims that Aksyonov had connection with the criminal world. In 1995, some members of Salem had taken office as local deputies, receiving Legislative immunity.[14][15][16][17] "Aksyonov reportedly used to work side-by-side with another gang member, Serhiy Voronkov, in the early 1990s. According to Kyiv Post, Voronkov is a well-known mafia boss who was released from prison in 2008 and is still doing business in Crimea," said Andrei Yanitskiy, a journalist of Livy Bereh newspaper who investigated Aksyonov.[18] A native of Sevastopol,[19] Yanitskiy alleges that Aksyonov is still a member of the Salem gang.[18]

According to Mikhelson, Aksyonov started his criminal career in the gang "Greki" (Greeks)[6] that was created in Crimea by the Savopulo brothers,[6] and only later Aksyonov switched to more notorious "Salem".[6] In 1994, authorities were suspecting him and Aleksey Zhuk in the killing of Oleg Fenyuk through a contract.[6] Although the Greki were liquidated, unlike many others Aksyonov managed to survive.[6] Likewise, Zhuk was killed 10 minutes after his phone talk with Aksyonov, which raised suspicions among the former "partners".[6]

In January 1996, Aksyonov was wounded after a Volvo car in which he was driving overturned on the Simferopol–Moscow highway during a shootout.[18][6] According to official documents, the intended target was Samhan Mazahir-oglu Agaev (nicknamed "Sani").[6] Beside Agaev and Aksyonov, Aleksandr Bogomol and Pahrutdin Aliev were also in the vehicle.[6] The hit was conducted with automatic weapons by militants of the Greki gang Ruslan and Rusel from Yevpatoria who were driving a black Samara.[6] The hit was contracted by Ivan Savopulo.[6] Both Ruslan and Rusel were arrested on 24 January 1996, but were released due to lack of evidence.[6]

In 1997, the chief of Bakhchysarai patrolling unit Berezhnoi claimed that Aksyonov, with a former Major of militsiya, Vladimir Berenshtein ("Ben"), killed a chief of the Crimea network of heat supply Kuzin and a director of an alcoholic factory.[6] A HUBOZ operative stated that Aksyonov kept close relations with Sergei Voronkov ("Voronok") and the "godfather" of Salem Vyacheslav Sheviev (leader of Party of Economic Revival).[6]

Around that time, Aksyonov started to buy and stockpile weapons.[6] There is suspicion that the regional office of General Prosecutor of Ukraine received $60,000 to discontinue the investigation into the murder of Volodymyr Tykhonchuk.[6] Aksyonov also received all the assets of Agaev who was killed in the spring of 1997.[6] By 1998, both Salem and Bashmaki had become the most powerful gangs in Crimea and the President of Ukraine was forced to send special operations units of militsiya and the Security Service of Ukraine to restore order in the region.[6]

Aksyonov sued Mikhail Bakharev, Vice Speaker of the Crimean Parliament in 2010, for alleging such improprieties. Although the court of the original jurisdiction ruled for Aksyonov and demanded that Bakharev publish a retraction, the decision was overturned by an appellate court which determined that there was no evidence to disprove the allegations.[20] Andriy Senchenko, a Crimean member of Verkhovna Rada from Batkivshchyna party alleged that Aksyonov was involved in these activities together with Supreme Council Chairman, Vladimir Konstantinov.[14][21][22][23] Senchenko alleges that "there were reports that he participated in the contract killing of (Volodymyr) Tykhonchuk [in 2004], then head of Crimean State Securities Commission, and before that in the killing of head of State Property Fund (Oleksiy) Golovizin [in 1997]."[18] Aksyonov was investigated by the police for both murders, but has never been prosecuted. Senchenko believes Aksyonov managed to evade criminal responsibility due to his connections on the peninsula.[18]

During the armed occupation of the Crimean parliament by Russian forces under his command, Aksyonov was voted into office following a vote of no confidence in the new Ukrainian government.[24][25][3] Already having well documented links to organized crime, since 5 March 2014, he has been wanted by the Ukrainian Security Service after being charged under Part 1 of Article 109 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine ("Actions aimed at the violent overthrow, change of constitutional order, or the seizure of state power").[26]

Political career[edit]

Aksyonov was granted Russian citizenship as a resident of Moldova on 10 January 2003.[27]

In 2008, he became a member of the "Russian Community of Crimea" ("Русская община Крыма") and a member of public organisation "Civic Asset of Crimea" ("Гражданский актив Крыма").

Mykola Kirilchuk, a former Crimean Minister of Industry, stated that in 2008–2009 Aksyonov borrowed almost $5 million from him to develop the Russian Unity party. Kirilchuk has since fled Crimea and has been trying to get his money back though the court system.[18] Since 2009, he has been a member of the board in "Гражданский актив Крыма", co-president of Coordinating Council "За русское единство в Крыму!" ("For Russian Unity in Crimea!"), and leader of the all-Crimean public political movement Russian Unity ("Русское единство").[citation needed]

Since 2010, Aksyonov had been a deputy of the Supreme Council of Crimea, elected as a member of Russian Unity, which had 4% of votes (warranting 3 seats of total 100 in Crimean parliament) during elections into Supreme Council of Crimea.[28]

During a talk show on the TV channel ATR on 3 March 2012, Aksyonov commented about a possible accession of Crimea to Russia: "I think the time for this process has already passed. Today we live in Ukraine. I have a Ukrainian passport, Ukrainian citizenship, so all problems should be discussed only in friendly relations between our countries".[29]

Head of Crimea[edit]

From left to right, Sergey Aksyonov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vladimir Putin, and Aleksei Chaly sign the Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia.

Following the Ukrainian revolution, on 27 February an emergency session was held in the Crimean legislature while it was occupied by Russian forces without insignias.[3] After sealing the doors and confiscating all mobile phones, the MPs who had been invited by Aksyonov to enter the building, passed the motion in the presence of the gunmen armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket launchers.[3][18][30][31] The result was that 55 of 64 votes elected Aksyonov Prime Minister.[32] Various media accounts have disputed whether he was able to gather a quorum of 50 of his peers before the session convened that day, and some Crimean legislators who were registered as present have said they did not come near the building.[3] Others denied being in the city, and claimed that duplicate voting cards stolen from the Parliament's safe were used in their name.[33] Opposition deputies have avoided speaking out publicly out of fear of reprisal, due to threats received.[33] Crimean Prime Minister Anatolii Mohyliov was barred from attending the session.[33]

Under the Ukrainian constitution, the Prime Minister of Crimea is appointed by the autonomous republic's parliament following consultations with the President of Ukraine. The Director of the Information Analysis department of the legislature's secretariat, Olha Sulnikova, has stated that an agreement exists with ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.[30] The interim President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov decreed the appointment of Aksyonov as the head of the government of Crimea to be unconstitutional.[34][35]

On 5 March 2014, the Shevchenko district court of Kyiv issued a warrant for Aksyonov and Vladimir Konstantinov's arrest,[36] and the Security Service of Ukraine was charged to bring them to court.[36]

Due to the Crimean crisis, on 17 March 2014, he was put on Canadian, EU and US[37] sanction lists; his assets in these countries were frozen, and Aksyonov was banned from entering these countries.

Aksyonov in Armyansk, Crimea, September 2018

In the 2014 Crimean parliamentary election, Aksyonov ran as a candidate for United Russia because, according to himself, "The Popular Front" had delegated him to the United Russia party list.[38]

Sergey Aksyonov was re-elected after the 2019 Crimean parliamentary election.[39] But, during his second term, he refused to combine the positions of Head of the Republic and Prime Minister. The new Prime Minister was appointed Yury Gotsanyuk.[40]

Sergey Aksyonov at the 2019 New Wave Junior international contest for young pop music performers that was held in Artek.

Domestic policy[edit]

Aksyonov has promised that Ukrainian would cease to be an official language if Crimea joined Russia. "We use two languages on a daily basis – Russian and Crimean Tatar," Aksyonov said. "It's certain that the republic [of Crimea] will have two languages."[31] Aksyonov's main goals for the immediate future of Crimea is to "use the funds, allocated for construction of infrastructures, for healthcare, energy and so on."[41] Aksyonov has also pushed for the Crimean Bridge to be completed by 2018.[42]

Crimean Tatar minority[edit]
Aksyonov and Putin meeting with representatives of the Crimean Tatars, 16 May 2014

Sergey Aksyonov has led efforts to stamp out dissent among ethnic Crimean Tatars over the annexation, saying "All activities aimed at non-recognition of Crimea's joining to Russia and non-recognition of the leadership of the country will face prosecution under the law and we will take a very tough stance on this."[43]


Aksyonov says homosexuals "have no chance" in Crimea, and that "we in Crimea do not need such people." He also promised that if gays tried to hold public gatherings, "our police and self-defense forces will react immediately and in three minutes will explain to them what kind of sexual orientation they should stick to."[44]


  1. ^ "Sergei Aksyonov elected head of the Republic of Crimea". Rossiyskaya Gazeta (in Russian). Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Crimea profile". BBC News. 17 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Putin's Man in Crimea Is Ukraine's Worst Nightmare". Time. Before dawn on Feb. 27, at least two dozen heavily armed men stormed the Crimean parliament building and the nearby headquarters of the regional government, bringing with them a cache of assault rifles and rocket propelled grenades. A few hours later, Aksyonov walked into the parliament and, after a brief round of talks with the gunmen, began to gather a quorum of the chamber's lawmakers.
  4. ^ "'The Goblin': Crimean leader who pledges loyalty to Putin - Yahoo News". Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Crimea's New Boss". Time. 13 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Mikhelson, A. Under nickname Goblin: who was ordered to hand over Crimea to Putin. Ukrayinska Pravda. 15 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Откровения Сергея Аксёнова: «Четверка граждан» нанесла Крыму ущерб не меньший, чем при развале советской власти". Archived from the original on 27 February 2014.
  8. ^ De Waal, Thomas (6 March 2014). "The Novel That Explains Putin's Crimean Land Grab". Politico. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  9. ^ Associated Press (9 March 2014). "The 'Goblin' king: Crimea leader's shady past". The Japan Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  10. ^ a b Haddon, Katherine (11 March 2014). "New Putin-Backed Prime Minister In Crimea Used To Be A Gangster Named 'Goblin'". Agence France Presse. Business Insider. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  11. ^ Leader of the Crimean militsyia Moskal cooperates with the leader of organized crime group Aksyonov - attorney information. Crimean Information Agency. 2 November 2009.
  12. ^ "Prime Minister of Crimea" is elected a bandit who in 1990s had a nickname "Goblin" - Senchenko. 27 February 2014.
  13. ^ Ilya Somin (7 March 2014). "Crimea and the morality of secession". Washington Post.
  14. ^ a b "Meet 'Goblin' — Moscow's man in Crimea". Toronto Star/Metro News. 4 March 2014.
  15. ^ Roman Sohn (3 March 2014). "Ukraine: The Empire strikes back". EU Observer.
  16. ^ Oleg Shirokov (24 September 2009). "Salem as a Symbol of Criminality in Crimea". Salem News.
  17. ^ "(paywalled source)". cites documents:[1][2][3]
  18. ^ a b c d e f g "Pro-Kremlin Crimean leader Aksyonov denies allegations of criminal past". Kyiv Post. 15 March 2014.
  19. ^ Yanitsky profile Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine at the LB.
  20. ^ "Аксенов не смог доказать свою непричастность к ОПГ и проиграл суд Бахареву". Crimean Information Agency. 10 June 2010.
  21. ^ "Премьером Крыма выбрали бандита по кличке Гоблин, — Сенченко". Izvestia. 4 March 2014. Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  22. ^ Премьер по кличке "Гоблин" Radio Svoboda, 4 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Депутат Андрей Сенченко: комсомол – "Сейлем" - парламент". Cripo. 18 April 2008. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  24. ^ Crimean parliament dismisses autonomous republic's government Kyiv Post. Retrieved on 12 March 2013.
  25. ^ "Gunmen Seize Government Buildings in Crimea". The New York Times. 27 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. Masked men with guns seized government buildings in the capital of Ukraine's Crimea region on Thursday, barricading themselves inside and raising the Russian flag after mysterious overnight raids that appeared to be the work of militant Russian nationalists who want this volatile Black Sea region ruled from Moscow.
  26. ^ Цензор.НЕТ (5 March 2014). "Суд вынес постановление об аресте "марионеток Кремля" в Крыму". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  27. ^ About granting a citizenship of the Russian Federation. Ukase of the President of Russian Federation. 10 January 2003.
  28. ^ "Кто такой Сергей Аксенов | Новости Крыма". Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  29. ^ (in Ukrainian) Users find videos, Aksenov looks like campaigning for the unity of Ukraine, (3 April 2015).
  30. ^ a b "Crimea's new prime minister calls Yanukovych president, relies on Russian financial aid (UPDATED) - Feb. 28, 2014". 28 February 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  31. ^ a b "Preparations for Joining Russia Already Underway – Aksyonov". RIA.
  32. ^ "Депутат: Крымский премьер известен в криминальных кругах как "Гоблин"". Ukrayinska Pravda. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  33. ^ a b c "RPT-INSIGHT-How the separatists delivered Crimea to Moscow". Reuters. 13 March 2014. Archived from the original on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  34. ^ (1 March 2014). "Турчинов издал указ о незаконности назначения Аксенова премьером Крыма". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  35. ^ "Новим прем'єром Криму буде лідер "Русского единства"".
  36. ^ a b The court gave the green light to arrest "puppets of Putin" in Crimea. Ukrayinska Pravda. 5 March 2014.
  37. ^ Logiurato, Brett (17 March 2014). "Obama Just Announced Sanctions Against 7 Russian 'Cronies'". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  38. ^ "Aksyonov will take part in parliament elections on the United Russia party ticket". Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  39. ^ "Аксенова переизбрали главой Крыма на второй срок - ТАСС". TASS. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  40. ^ "Премьер-министром Крыма стал Юрий Гоцанюк". 1 October 2019.
  41. ^ "Crimean adaptation into Russia not smooth — republic's leader". TASS. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  42. ^ "Kerch Strait Bridge to be built despite Western pressure — Crimean leader". ITAR TASS. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  43. ^ "Despair and euphoria in Crimea six months after Russian annexation". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  44. ^ "Crimea Chief Says Gays Not Needed". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to Serhiy Aksyonov at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Crimea
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Position established
Head of the Republic of Crimea