Alex Konanykhin (born Alexander Pavlovich Konanykhin ( Russian : Александр Павлович Конаныхин ) September 25, 1966) is an entrepreneur and former banker. He started his career by founding a private bank in Russia towards the end of communist rule. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Konanykhin is sometimes spelled as Konanykhine.

Konanykhin and his wife left Russia in 1992, and seven years later were granted political asylum in the United States. [4] The asylum grants were reversed in 2004, but reinstated in 2007. [8] He spent his career career in the United States, being a citizen of Italy, Russia, and Argentina. [1] He has founded companies including KMGi Groupand TransparentBusiness. His company , which offers editing services on Wikipedia, was banned from editing on the online encyclopedia on October 17, 2013. [9]

Early life

Konanykhin studied at the Department of Space Research at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology to pursue a career in engineering. [10] In 1986, he was expelled from MIPT for running a small business during his summer vacation. [11] After expulsion His, He Took advantage of the loosening business climate During Mikhail Gorbachev ‘s Economic Reforms ( perestroika ). Within a few years, he became the head of a $ 30 million construction company. [12]

Career in Russia

In 1991, Konanykhin supervised the Russian Exchange Bank, which became the first institution to receive a currency-trading license from the Yeltsin government. [4] In 1992, he was one of the delegates to accompany Yeltsin to Washington, DC, where they met with President George HW Bush , and afterwards, in Canada with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney . [12]

In 1992 he was kidnapped while on business trip to Budapest, Hungary , during which time his business assets in Russia were seized. [13] Konanykhin fled to New York where he delivered protest letters to senior Moscow officials and members of the press warning of the looming “mafiocracy”. This prompted an investigation by the Moscow-based military prosecutor’s office, and Konanykhin soon found himself under investigation. The prosecutor, Alexander Volvodez, now charged Konanykhin with illegally wiring $ 8.1 million from the Russian Exchange Bank to overseas accounts, and demanded his extradition to Russia. [14]

As hearings in American federal court would later show, during this time the FBI had opened a division in Moscow; Because American prosecutors and FBI officials were anxious to develop a relationship with Russian law enforcement officials, they had agreed to assist in his request for Konanykhin’s deportation. However, as a result of a violation of the Convention, a person may be deemed to have committed an offense. [14] The allegation was later proved false and dismissed during Konanykhin’s first grant of asylum in 1999. [15]

First immigration trial

On June 27, 1996, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents along with Russian federal prosecutors arrested Konanykhin and his wife, Elena Gratcheva, at their Watergate apartment in Washington, DC The couple was taken to Arlington, Virginia , and charged in federal immigration US visas and visa requirements. [10] Between July 19 and August 2, 1996, hearings were held by Judge John M. Bryant to determine if, as Konanykhin claimed, his deportation was being masterminded by Russian prosecutor Volunteer for political reasons, and if Konanykhin’s life and / or freedom Were in danger. The trial had to be carried out on the issue of whether or not the police had taken over the Russian banking industry, and also the United States government had been fooled into going after Konanykhin. [14]

In short Konanykhin testified he was being targeted by Volvodez and the Russian government because of his anti-corruption campaign, and his lawyers. [16] [17] Appearing as witnesses at the trial were FBI agents who testified that the Russian mafia had previously taken out a contract on Konanykhin’s life. Also appearing were former INS prosecutor, Antoinette Rizzi, who had previously been in charge of the government’s case against Konanykhin, and formed KGB agent Yuri Shvets . Both Rizzi and Shvets testified that they had serious doubts about the charges filed against Konanykhin by Volvodez and the American government. [14]

On August 26, 1997 in Federal Court in Arlington, Virginia , a settlement agreement was reached between Konanykhin, who had spent more than 13 months in INS custody, although Gratcheva had been released on supervision, and the District Director of the Arlington INS District Office , And endorsed by District Judge TS Ellis III . [18] Judge Ellis stated that the testimonies of Yuri Shvets and Antoinette Rizzi in Konanykhin’s immigration case “credible and somewhat disturbing”. [11] ordered the INS to pay $ 100,000 from Konanykhin’s legal fees to pro bono counsel at Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn . [19] The settlement also ordered US Assistant Attorney Robert Spencer to confirm within 30 days that there would be an internal probe by the Department of Justice into the conduct of INS lawyers at the hearing. [19]

Libel lawsuits and political asylum

In a lawsuit filed in February 1997 with the Arlington County Court Circuit Court, Konanykhin alleged defamation against the Russian newspaper Izvestia which had reported that Konanykhin was involved in various criminal acts. The following Claimed que la information Was erroneous and published with “reckless disregard for ict truth or actual malice.” [20] An Arlington County Circuit Court jury recommended Konanykhin be Awarded $ 33.5 million. [20] Soon thereafter la même short Awarded _him_ year additional $ 3 million in a libel case against the Russian financial journal Kommersant . [21] According to The Sunday Times , In 2010 the amount of money that has been spent in a libel follows. [22]

On February 23, 1999, Judge Bryant granted political asylum to Konanykhin and Gratcheva, saying the form banker faced persecution and possible death if returned to Russia to face embezzlement charges. In his decision, Bryant wrote that testimony from several experts had convinced him that Konanykhin was being targeted for prosecution for political reasons. [4]

Temporarily freed from his trials with the Russian and American governments, Konanykhin and Gratcheva went on to develop a $ 100 million Internet startup in New York called KMGi, among other businesses. [23] On November 20, 2003, however, the Board of Immigration Appeals revoked Konanykhin’s political asylum and ordered him to Russia. [24] The ruling came out after the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky , Konanykhin’s rival in Russia and business partner during his exile. Konanykhin had served as vice president for the international development of Khodorkovsky’s bank, Menatep . [24]

Second immigration trial

Konanykhin and Gratcheva fled to the Canada-US border to evade immigration authorities. There, on December 18, 2003, they were arrested by several Department of Homeland Security Agents at the Peace Bridge . [6]Konanykhin and Gratcheva were deferred at the Federal Court. On January 26, 2004, Judge TS Ellis III delivered his ruling, which found the arrest unlawful, and allowed the couple to stay in the United States temporarily, until called in their immigration case were exhausted. [25]

For the second time the Department of Justice was ordered to pay compensation to Konanykhin for unlawful arrest. [26] All charges against him in Russia were dropped in 2005. [27] [28]

On September 18, 2007 in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia , Konanykhin was granted asylum for the second time. [26]

Career in America

He and his first wife established the Internet business KMGi (an advertising agency), Publicity Guaranteed, [29] and The Syndicated News, an online marketplace. [30] In 2004, Konanykhin was named “New York Businessman of the Year” by the Republican National Committee . [31]

His firm, KMGI established a subsidiary, , a business centered around creating Wikipedia articles for companies. [32] Paid editing of Wikipedia has sparked considerable debate, [33] due to conflicts of interest. Konanykhin has called for a boycott of Wikipedia fundraising campaigns, “We believe that boycotting fundraising efforts of Wikipedia might compel it to raise billions through advertising and develop content of better quality.” [34]

In 2011 Konanykhin was named the winner of the WW IT Visionary Award by CIO Magazine (in Spanish: WW IT Visionary 2011 by CIO America Latina ). [35] In 2011 Konanykhin’s firm KMGi founded TransparentBusiness, which allows employers or clients to monitor the activity of those working for them on computers. [36]

Published works

  • Defiance: How to Succeed in Business Despite Being Hounded by the FBI, the KGB, the INS, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, Interpol, and Mafia Hitmen Renaissance Publishing, 2006; ISBN 978-0-9727377-0-8 [37] [38]

Popular culture

  • Brian Haig’s book, The Hunted ( ISBN 0-446-19559-6 ), is a novel based on the life of Alex Konanykhin and Elena Gratcheva. [39] The book is dedicated to the late Gratcheva.

See also

  • List of people


  • St. Petersburg Times [40]
  • US Judge Rules Konanykhin Can Stay, For Now [41]
  • Book Review: Defiance by Alex Konanykhin [42]
  • Escape from the KGB and FBI [43]
  • The USA is going to send the financial form of President Boris Yeltsin back to Russia [44]
  • Doing Business With Russia [45]
  • Konanykhin Hearing Begins [46]
  • US Judge Rules Konanykhin Can Stay, For Now [47]
  • US Rethinks Konanykhin Case [47] [48]
  • US authorities arrested Khodorkovsky’s former partner [50]
  • Geopolitics: The new Cold War [51]
  • Konanykhin Finds No Freedom in US [52]
  • Russian banker [53]
  • Russian Banker Released From Custody In USA [54]


  1. ^ Jump up to:b “Trillions in Taxpayer Money Lost to Overbilling” . Washington Informer . September 18, 2013 . Retrieved October 9,2013 .
  2. Jump up^ Danielle Sonnenberg (2007-07-19). “Foreign Entrepreneurs Finding the American Dream” . TheStreet.
  3. Jump up^ Shane, Scott (2006-12-10). “Correspondence – Spy Wars – When an Ex-KGB Man Says They’re Out to Get Him” . Russia; UK: New York Times. Alex Konanykhin, a former Russian banker who was born in the United States in 1992 after training KGB officers muscled him out of his own business.
  4. ^ Jump up to:d Shane, Scott (1999-02-23). “Federal judge grants Russian banker political asylum” . The Baltimore Sun .
  5. Jump up^ Jeff Sanford (2007-06-04). “Geopolitics: The new Cold War” .
  6. ^ Jump up to:b Douglas Farah, “Couple Tied to Putin Foes, Fights Deportation,” Washington Post , January 9, 2004.
  7. Jump up^ Constable, Pamela (1996-06-29). “Russian Pair in Custody, Accused of Embezzlement” . Washington, DC : The Washington Post . Alexander Konanykhine, 30, and his wife, Elena Gratcheva, 34, are now in custody in Virginia
  8. Jump up^ “Konanykhin Granted Political Refugee Status – Kommersant Moscow” . . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  9. Jump up^ SeeCommunity
  10. ^ Jump up to:b Constable, “Russian Pair in Custody, Accused of Embezzlement.”
  11. ^ Jump up to:b William Norman Grigg, “Cozy with the KGB”, The New American , Volume 13, Number 20, September 29, 1997.
  12. ^ Jump up to:b Pamela Constable, “From Russia with Chutzpah” , The Washington Post , August 18, 1996.
  13. Jump up^ Ralitsa Vassileva (host) and Jonathan Mann (interviewer) (November 24, 2006). “New Outbreaks of Violence in Iraq After Sadr City Attacks, Radioactive Element Found in Body of Ex-Spy, Vladimir Putin Denies Kremlin Involvement in Poisoning” . . Retrieved June 29, 2012 .
  14. ^ Jump up to:d Constable, “From Russia with Chutzpah.”
  15. Jump up^ “Federal Judge Orders an Internal Justice Department Probe,”Baltimore Sun, February 23, 1999.
  16. Jump up^ [1],; December 10, 1996.
  17. Jump up^ Emily Compston, “My Fear of the Mobski”,The London Daily Express, December 10, 1996.
  18. Jump up^ Alexander, Karen, “Russian Freed, INS Faces Ethics Probe”,Legal Times, September 1, 1997.
  19. ^ Jump up to:b Alexander, “Russian Freed, INS Faces Ethics Probe”.
  20. ^ Jump up to:b Jessica S. Buel, “Jury Awards $ 33M Russian Damage Ruling” The Arlington Journal , December 15, 1999.
  21. Jump up^ “US Court Finds Kommersant Guilty of Libel,”The Moscow Times, January 25, 2000.
  22. Jump up^ Ciara Kenny (November 21, 2010). “The Naked Truth about Libel”. The Sunday Times .
  23. Jump up^ Baroney, Michael, “Russian Rebel”,Profit Magazine, September, 1999.
  24. ^ Jump up to:b “Former banker ordered to return to Russia” . 2003-11-25 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  25. Jump up^ Jerry Marken, “Deportation Threat Lifted, Decisions Allow Russian to Stay in US Indefinitely”,Washington Post, January 30, 2004.
  26. ^ Jump up to:b “Escaped Banker Acknowledged Victim of Russia” [ (in Russian). Russia: Kommersant . 2007-09-20. Judge Bryant upheld Konanykhin instead of the Department of Justice
  27. Jump up^ Andres Amerikaner (January 6, 2008). “Luxury Food Market Targeted By Entrepreneur” . Miami Herald . Retrieved June 29,2012 .
  28. Jump up^ Andres Amerikaner (January 6, 2008). “Luxury Food Market Targeted By Entrepreneur” . Miami Herald via . Retrieved June 29, 2012 .
  29. Jump up^ Staff (2009-07-08). “Deal Radar 2009: Publicity Guaranteed” . Sramana Mitra . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  30. Jump up^ “About Us” . Intuic . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  31. Jump up^ Al Kamen, “In the Loop,”The Washington Post, February 13, 2004, page A25.
  32. Jump up^ “The promise and perils of crowdsourcing content” . The Economist . London, UK: The Economist Newspaper Ltd. 2011-01-13. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011 . Retrieved 2011-01-26 . Alex Konanykhin of WikiExperts …
  33. Jump up^ Read, Brock (2007-01-24). “Wikipedia Blocks has Pay-for-Play Scheme” . . Retrieved 2012-02-12 .
  34. Jump up^ MarketWatch (March 1, 2011). “Wikipedia Experts Call for No Donations to Wikipedia” . Retrieved October 11, 2013 . Reprinted on
  35. Jump up^ Marcelo Lozano (October 24, 2011). “ALEX KONANYKHIN – WW IT VISIONARY 2011” . CIO Magazine .
  36. Jump up^ “KMGI control software presents the use of work time”. PC World. February 23, 2012.
  37. Jump up^ Defiance: How to Succeed in Business … . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  38. Jump up^ “Defiance, or: How to Succeed in Business While Being Targeted by the FBI, the KGB, the Department of Homeland Security, the INS and the Mafia Hit Men . “ Archived from the original on February 2, 2011 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  39. Jump up^ The Hunted . . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  40. Jump up^ “St. Petersburg Times” . 2003-11-25 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  41. Jump up^ “US Judge Rules Konanykhin Can Stay, For Now” . The Moscow Times. 2004-01-28 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  42. Jump up^ “Book Review: Defiance by Alex Konanykhin” . 2006-07-31 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  43. Jump up^ “Escape from the KGB and FBI” . . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  44. Jump up^ “The USA is going to send the financial form of President Boris Yeltsin back to Russia” . English 2003-11-27 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  45. Jump up^ “Doing Business With Russia” . Franchise in Russia . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  46. Jump up^ “Konanykhin Hearing Begins” . 2004-01-15 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  47. ^ Jump up to:b “US Judge Rules Konanykhin Can Stay, For Now, THE MOSCOW TIMES” . 2004-01-28 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  48. Jump up^ “US Rethinks Konanykhin Case” . The Moscow Times. 2004-01-29 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  49. Jump up^ “US COURT TO HEAR FORMER RUSSIAN BANKER’S CASE” . 2004-01-16 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  50. Jump up^ “US authorities arrested Khodorkovsky’s former partner” . English 2004-01-13 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  51. Jump up^ Jeff Sanford. “Geopolitics: The new Cold War” . . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  52. Jump up^ “Konanykhin Finds No Freedom in US” . The Moscow Times. 2004-01-19 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  53. Jump up^ “Immigration panel backs off effort to deport Russian banker” . 2004-01-28 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .
  54. Jump up^ “Russian Banker Released From Custody In USA” . 2004-01-29 . Retrieved 2010-12-28 .

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