First lady of Kuzbass Anna Tsivilyova is not only married to a regional governor. She’s also related to Putin and owns a major stake in one of Russia’s biggest coal companies.

Anna Tsivilyova, the wife of the governor of Russia’s Kemerovo region, happens to be the daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cousin, according to a new report from the investigative outlet Agentstvo. What’s more, according to the journalists’ findings, she and her husband acquired a major stake in one of Russia’s biggest coal companies thanks to the generosity of one of Putin’s oldest friends — billionaire Gennady Timchenko. Though the coal company, Kolmar, had financial troubles in the past, it has since been propped up by the Russian government. 

According to Agentstvo’s investigation, Anna Tsivilyova’s maiden name is Putina. She was born in Ivanovo and her father is the Russian president’s cousin. In the 1990s, Tsivilyova worked as a psychiatrist in a local psychiatric hospital. But after Vladimir Putin became president of Russia she moved to Moscow and began working in the medical equipment supply business. She married Sergey Tsivilyov, the future governor of the Kemerovo region (Kuzbass), in 2007.

In 2012, the couple acquired a major stake in the coal company Kolmar. Agentstvo notes that the Tsivilyovs appeared to have had no prior involvement in the coal business and, judging by the revenue of the companies where they worked at the time, couldn’t have been able to afford a stake in such a company (Kolmar was valued at around $400 million in 2012). According to Agentstvo, the Tsivilyovs were given the shares by Putin’s close friend, billionaire Gennady Timchenko — who, before bestowing this generous gift, owned 60 percent of Kolmar. 

Agentstvo also notes that Kolmar previously suffered “enormous financial difficulties,” but, in recent years, began to receive help from the government. After coming under the Tsivilyovs’ control, the company received 11 billion rubles (around $144 million) in direct support from the state budget, as well as a 4-billion-ruble ($52-million) soft loan and tax benefits. 

Sergey Tsivilyov took up the post of Kemerovo regional governor in 2018, in the aftermath of a devastating shopping mall fire that killed 60 people. His wife headed up the regional council for social issues. Agentstvo’s sources claim that Tsivilyova is actively involved in discussions about the region’s affairs and is behind many of her husband’s important initiatives. 

To conclude the investigation, Agentstvo compares the Tsviliyovs’ story to the case of billionaire Kirill Shamalov — the son of businessman Nikolai Shamalov who, according to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters, was married to Putin’s alleged daughter, Katerina Tikhonova. 

“The Tsivilyovs’ story is just one example of the feudal customs in modern-day Russia. In 2013, Putin married off his daughter Katerina. After the wedding, the family of her husband Kirill Shamalov, already close to the president, received a royal dowry: the Shamalovs were given a stake in Sibur, a private petrochemical company, which at one point was spun off from state-owned Gazprom with Putin’s help. A few years later, Katerina and Kirill’s marriage fell apart and Shamalov’s ‘dowry’ was taken away.

It’s likely that the president also treats Kolmar as [his own] property. At any rate, one of Agentstvo’s sources, [who is] well acquainted with the circumstances of the deals surrounding the company, pointedly answered the question who owns Kolmar: ‘He does…’.”  

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