Ruslan Suleymanov, once believed to be the man who would help the Ultimate Fighting Championship host an event in Russia, has been arrested for embezzling funds from a state corporation.
Suleymanov, the former head of the defense company "Prompostavka" and President of Club Martial Arts N1, was arrested on Wednesday, May 30, along with former Director General of Moscow Design Bureau "Compass" Murad Safin. Officials later announced that a total of four suspects had been detained by operatives. The operation was carried out by Moscow's Economic Security Service, in cooperation with the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the UEBiPK Research Affairs staff. According to reports, the businessmen were accompanied from their homes by numerous guards, including the FSB special forces and riot police -- now part of the National Guard by presidential decree.
According to a representative of the Interior Ministry, the well organized group of executives acquired foreign trade contracts for the supply of civil and military purpose products by negotiating and operating under fake companies over a five-year period between 2011 to 2016. During that time, Suleymanov and his associates allegedly embezzled 800 million rubles (approx. 12 million USD) from the state.
Russian outlet "Kommersant" reported that the decision to remove Suleymanonv and Safin from their respective positions occurred in late 2015. The board members opted to vote the executives out of their positions after audit reports showed "obvious embezzlement." However, the "Prompostavka" board decided to suspend the activities of the organization and sent the reports to law enforcement agencies for investigation. This eventually led to Suleymanov and Safin's arrests.
Prompostavka and Compass are both subsidiaries of Rostec, a Russian state-run corporation that was established in late 2007 to promote development, production and exportation of hi-tech industrial products for civil and defense sectors. One of their main goals is the enhancement of military and technical business cooperation with foreign states. Their continued increase in sales helped make Russia the second largest global weapons exporter behind the United States.
Though the suspects have not been officially charged, a motion for their detention has been filed with the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow.
Suleymanov became a recognizable name in the mixed martial arts space when he founded the LEGENDS promotion and Combat Sports Club No 1 in 2012. Though his promotion hosted a total of three events, they included a roster of fighters like Badr Hari, Mirko Crocop, Melvin Manhoef, Andy Souwer, Paul Daley, and Alexey Oleinik.
Suleymanov attended several UFC events, including UFC 169, through an invitation by Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. At the time, he was widely considered to be the promoter who would help the UFC host an event in Russia.
"We met Dana twice, with Natalya Bulanova, PR Director of both the LEGEND and Combat Sports Club No 1, joining us during the last meeting," Suleymanov told Planeta Octogono in 2014. "Both meetings were purely friendly, no business discussed. If UFC decides to have us as partners for their show in Russia, that will make us happy. And we will do our best to assist. Above all else, this could be a significant event in the Russian martial arts industry."
Though no official plan were ever set in motion, Suleymanov was prepared to help the UFC venture into Russia.
"We will examine the request closely and will try to render assistance to this reputable organization. We will discuss all the details: what specifically would they want us to do? Is it within our power? And we will match it against our own tournament plans and schedule."
Ruslan also brought in a fair amount of UFC fighters to Russia for seminars in his fight club. Champions and former title holders such as Jon Jones and Fabricio Werdum made several visits to his club.
Jones even took Suleymanov around the party scene in Baltimore.
"Once me and Ruslan Suleymanov came to Baltimore and Jon invited us to his party,"Bulanova told BloodyElbow. "It was a pre-fight dinner with only his closest friends invited. He introduced us to his family - parents, wife and friends. Then he brought us t-shirts from his exclusive collection."
Given the recent developments, the UFC is unlikely to solicit Suleymanov's help for a show in Russia. However, that may not be much of a concern, as the promotion has yet to announce a potential show in the Russian federation.