Sheriff (company)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native name
Company typeCorporate group
Founded24 June 1993; 30 years ago (1993-06-24)
FoundersViktor Gushan
Area served
Key people
  • Viktor Gushan
  • Dmitry Ogirchuk
OwnerViktor Gushan
Number of employees
13,157[1] (2012)

Sheriff (Russian: Шериф) is the second-largest company in the unrecognised breakaway state Transnistria, behind Moldova Steel Works. Based in the city of Tiraspol, it was formed in the early 1990s by Viktor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, former members of the KGB. Sheriff has grown to include nearly all forms of profitable private business in the unrecognised country, and has even become significantly involved in local politics and sport,[2] with some commentators saying that company loyalists hold most main government positions in the territory. Anatoly Dirun, director of the Tiraspol School of Political Studies, stated that "Viktor Gushan is the person with the most influence here, both in politics and economics."[3][4]


A Sheriff supermarket (under construction) in the city of Bendery
A Sheriff petrol station near Tiraspol

Sheriff owns a chain of petrol stations, a chain of supermarkets, a TV channel, a publishing house, a construction company, a Mercedes-Benz dealer, an advertising agency, a spirits factory, two bread factories, a mobile phone network, the football club FC Sheriff Tiraspol and its home ground Sheriff Stadium, a project which also included a five-star hotel.[5]

Political dealings and corruption[edit]

Due to Transnistrian government policies that have isolated the region from the rest of Moldova, Sheriff holds a monopoly in multiple industries in the unrecognized state.[6] In the early years, this has also led to corruption between the government of Igor Smirnov and Sheriff.[6] Where the company would support Transnistrian government policy and in return, the customs service, which was headed by the president's son, Vladimir, gave Sheriff an unfair reduction on taxes and import duties and is also said to be a major silent partner among the leadership of the company.[6] Some media sources have also claimed that Oleg Smirnov, who was another son of Igor Smirnov, was a part of top leadership of Sheriff company, though these claims have never been directly proven and following after 2006 the leadership of Sheriff have publicly opposed Smirnov's politics. Mysteriously following the 2011 Transnistrian presidential election which Igor ended up losing, allegations of Smirnov's clan involvement in Sheriff disappeared from articles about Transnistria.[7][8]

Over the years, Transnistria's indeterminate status has slowed the growth of Sheriff.[6][9] When a new party, Renewal, was formed in 2000 which had the goal of Transnistrian independence from Moldova and also supported big business interests, Sheriff supported them,[2][6][10][11][12] Sheriff co-founder IIya Kazmaly, as well as the company's Human Resources Director, Ilona Tyuryaeva, were elected to serve in Transnistrian parliament as members of Renewal.[13]

Sheriff has used its economic clout to sway elections in Transnistria, by virtue of their ownership of the country's mobile/landline phone network and of TSV, a local television station.[2] In the 2005 parliamentary elections, the Sheriff-supported Renewal party gained an absolute majority in Transnistrian parliament, winning 23 of 43 seats.[9][11][12] This victory ousted the long-time Speaker of Parliament Grigori Maracutsa, who was replaced with Renewal leader Evgeny Shevchuk, who also had strong ties to Sheriff.[9][11]

Following this electoral win, the government of president Smirnov later accused Shevchuk and Sheriff of plotting a coup d'état in Transnistria,[6] claiming that Sheriff was plotting to reintegrate Transnistria with Moldova, in return for profitable business conditions for the company there.[6] The claims were later denied by Sheriff, which maintained that they also desire independence from Moldova.[6][12] Following multiple attacks between the two parties, Smirnov ended received the support of the Russian government against Sheriff,[6] and Shevchuk disappeared almost entirely from the media despite being the president of Transnistria, and did not register to be a candidate in the 2006 Transnistrian presidential election.[6][14] However, in the 2011 Transnistrian presidential election, Shevchuk beat both Igor Smirnov and Renewal's new leader Anatoliy Kaminski to become president. On 29 December 2012, Shevchuk issued a decree abolishing all preferences previously granted to Sheriff by Igor Smirnov and which ending the period of the company's unfair market position in Transnistria's economy.[15][16]

In 2015, it was alleged that roughly one third of all the money from the Transnistrian budget was paid out to companies owned by Sheriff.[4]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Экономическая результативность". Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Transnistria 2006: Is Regime Change Underway?". BHHRG online. British Helsinki Human Rights Group. January 2006. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007.
  3. ^ "Crypto and Caviar: The Empire behind Footballing Giant Slayer 'Sheriff'". Balkan Insight. 11 October 2021. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  4. ^ a b Gershkovich, Evan (27 September 2021). "In Separatist Transnistria, Sheriff Calls the Shots". AFP. Archived from the original on 13 December 2021. Retrieved 13 December 2021 – via The Moscow Times.
  5. ^ "Sports in Pridnestrovie: Going for Gold". Archived from the original on 24 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Solovyev, V. & Zygar M. (19 September 2006). The Old Guard Wins in Transdniestria. Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Kommersant: Russia's Daily Online Archived 2 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2006-11-08.
  7. ^ McCracken, Patti (12 February 2006). "A place the world chooses to forget: Moldova's breakaway region is a pawn in its fight with Russia." Archived 24 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived 24 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2006-11-17.
  8. ^ Jahn, George (18 January 2004). "Hotbed of Weapons Deals." Archived 22 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine The Washington Times. Archived 30 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2006-11-17.
  9. ^ a b c "Moldova's Future Uncertain." Archived 11 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine (PDF). International Crisis Group. Archived 20 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 November 2006.
  10. ^ Protsyk, Oleh. "Moldova's Dilemmas in Democratizing and Reintegrating Transnistria." Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine (PDF). International Policy Fellowships. Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 November 2006.
  11. ^ a b c "Renewal, Pridnestrovie's reformist opposition party." Archived 1 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine Archived 22 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 8 November 2006.
  12. ^ a b c Botan, Igor (17 January 2006). "Democracy and governing in Moldova." Archived 22 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine E-Democracy. Archived 20 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2006-11-16.
  13. ^ "Официальный сайт Верховного Совета Приднестровской Молдавской Республики". Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  14. ^ "Four Persons Run For Head of Transnistria" Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 13 November 2006.
  15. ^ "An aided economy. The characteristics of the Transnistrian economic model". OSW Centre for Eastern Studies. 16 May 2013. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Нас ждут «голые» полки магазинов? Профсоюзные Вести, 16 February 2013". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2013.

External links[edit]