Russian Oligarchs

Natalya Browning: A Mysterious Figure in Putin’s Inner Circle, 2023

Natalia Browning was born on November 11, 1978. She is the daughter of Elena Petrovna Timchenko and Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, a prominent Russian billionaire with close ties to President Vladimir Putin. She has a compelling life story. She was once married to Peter Browning, a British citizen, whom she wed while pursuing her education at Oxford University in 2002.

Natalya Browning is actively involved in several business ventures. Notably, she plays a significant role in Step Productions LLC, a company specializing in the production of documentaries and films. Additionally, she is a member of the board of directors at her father’s Russian oil transportation business, OOO Transoil.

In a notable development, on March 24, 2022, the United States Department of State announced sanctions against Natalya Browning and her mother. This decision was made due to their relationship with Gennady Timchenko, who had previously been sanctioned for his involvement in supporting Russia’s actions in Ukraine. These sanctions have far-reaching consequences, as they restrict any financial transactions or dealings involving Natalya Browning and her assets by U.S. individuals or entities within the United States.

Family

Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, Father

Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, a prominent Russian billionaire, is the father of Natalia Browning. He was born on November 9, 1952, in Gyumri, Armenia. His father served in the Soviet military during World War II.

Known as a long-time associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Timchenko is often referred to as one of Putin’s confidants. He is the founder and owner of Volga Group, a private investment group, and was previously a co-owner of Gunvor Group.

Timchenko’s interests extend beyond business; he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Kontinental Hockey League and holds the position of President at the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club. Notably, he holds citizenship in Russia, Finland, and Armenia.

However, it’s worth noting that Timchenko has faced sanctions from several countries, including Japan, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, the United States, France, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia. These sanctions are attributed to his alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis and his close ties to the Russian government.

Elena Petrovna Timchenko, Mother

Elena Petrovna Timchenko is the mother of Natalya Browning, married to Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko. She is also recognized as a co-founder of the Gennady and Elena Timchenko Charitable Foundation. Elena Petrovna Timchenko earned her degree from the Leningrad Red Banner Mechanical Institute with a specialization in radioelectronic devices. She began her career as an engineer at the Leningrad Institute of Textile and Light Industry.

For more than 25 years, Elena Petrovna Timchenko has actively engaged in charitable endeavors alongside her husband. She served as the head of the Neva Foundation, which played a significant role in promoting Russian culture in Europe. Additionally, she supported the establishment of the Klyuch Foundation, which focuses on preventing child abandonment.

Elena Petrovna Timchenko, in collaboration with her husband, established the Ladoga Foundation, which was later renamed the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Charitable Foundation in 2013. Her philanthropic efforts concentrate on addressing the needs of the older generation, preventing child abandonment, and providing support for cultural events across various regions of Russia.

Ksenia Frank Timchenko, Sister

Ksenia Gennadyevna Timchenko-Frank, born in Leningrad in 1985, is the youngest daughter of Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko. She is married to Gleb Frank, the son of Sergei Frank, who previously served as Vladimir Putin’s transport minister. Ksenia Frank currently holds the position of Chair of the Supervisory Board at the Elena & Gennady Timchenko Foundation.

Married Life

Reports of divorce from Peter Browning

Public records indicate that Natalya Browning married Peter Browning, a fellow student at Oxford University, in November 2002. It is worth noting that there have been reports suggesting that Natalya Browning may have later divorced Peter Browning and entered into a relationship with Gabriel Frolov, a former Russian Orthodox monk.

Relationship with Gabriel Frolov, a former Russian Orthodox monk

After the divorce from Peter Browning, Natalya is secretly in a relationship with the monk Gabriel Frolov. Russia’s renowned Valaam Monastery, located on an island in Lake Ladoga, is celebrated for its stark and natural beauty. Tourists frequently visit it, and Russian Orthodox monks who uphold vows of chastity and poverty while engaging in a distinctive style of liturgical chanting contribute to its maintenance.

A six-hour drive to the southwest, in the heart of St. Petersburg, lies another significant part of the monastery’s property, a courtyard integral to Valaam. A monk named Gavriil Frolov oversaw this facility for many years.

However, by 2020, Frolov had long departed from his monastic life. He had transformed into a prominent real estate and property developer, recognized for constructing and renovating shopping malls, sports arenas, and highway interchanges, along with the prestigious Mariinsky Theater, a source of pride for Russia’s second-largest city.

Gavriil Frolov has ties to Gennady Timchenko, one of Russia’s richest people and a close friend of President Vladimir Putin, who has endured numerous sanctions from both the United States and Europe, according to a recent investigation by RFE/RL’s Russian Service.

This RFE/RL investigation into how a former monk ascended to become a powerful property developer with high-level connections provides a revealing glimpse into the close intertwining of power, wealth, and family relationships in Russia under Putin. It underscores how those within Putin’s inner circle and closest associates have often experienced remarkable prosperity.

RFE/RL attempted to reach out to Gorka Group for comments, specifically inquiring about Gavriil Frolov’s background, such as whether he had been associated with the Valaam Monastery as a former monk and if he is indeed the husband of Natalia, the daughter of Timchenko. However, there was no immediate response from the company.

In addition, RFE/RL attempted to contact Gavriil Frolov via the mobile phone number listed under his name in various business registries. A recorded message indicated that the mobile number was not in service.

The legal status of Natalia Timchenko and Gavriil Frolov’s marriage remains unclear. Our investigation did not uncover any marriage records.

Nonetheless, flight travel records, which we obtained from the U.S.-based analytical company C4ADS, reveal that individuals registered under the name “Browning” (believed to be Gavriil Frolov and Natalia Timchenko) were documented on flights to Moscow in both September and December of 2015. One flight originated from Cyprus, and the other from Finland. Notably, during the second flight, the system indicated that the two were traveling together.

Further information from medical records reviewed by RFE/RL reveals that in 2014, a few months after Natalia Timchenko left Akantus Atelier, she gave birth to a daughter. In accordance with Russian tradition, children are given a patronymic, derived from the first name of the father. In this case, the daughter’s patronymic was “Gavriilovna,” derived from “Gavriil.”

Who is exactly Gabriel Frolov?

Gabriel Frolov, the proprietor of the Gorka group of companies, known for its government contracts for major construction and infrastructure projects, has an intriguing past. Prior to his current role, he lived a monastic life as a hierodeacon and served as the custodian of the Valaam Monastery courtyard in St. Petersburg. His departure from the monastic order coincided with his possible engagement to the eldest daughter of Gennady Timchenko.

Gennady Timchenko, a close associate of Vladimir Putin and a figure on the US and EU sanctions lists, has been accused of undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Notably, the monk Gabriel’s real name is Victor, but we suspect that he may have adopted the name Gabriel Frolov, a mysterious businessman with virtually no known biography.

Locating photographs of Gavriil Frolov, who assumed ownership of the Gorka Group of Companies in 2020, has proven to be a challenging endeavor. The only documented reference to him is a “working meeting on the cultural and educational complex in Kemerovo” at the Mariinsky Theater in late January 2021, where Gorka provided design documentation. In the available photo, Gabriel Frolov can be identified as the individual second from the left, wearing a mask.

Radio Liberty reached out to the Mariinsky Theater’s press office in an attempt to obtain additional photographs from this meeting. As a result, we acquired pictures that conclusively establish the connection between Hierodeacon Gabriel Frolov of the St. Petersburg metochion of the Valaam Monastery and the owner of “Gorka.”

The resemblance is apparent to the naked eye. It is further validated through analysis by Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services, which calculates a remarkable similarity score of 0.88, despite the nearly ten-year gap between the photographs. A score of 0.7 is typically considered sufficient to confirm that two photographs depict the same person.

Business Ventures of Natalya Browning

According to documents obtained by RFE/RL, Natalia was a patient at a prestigious medical clinic in St. Petersburg known as Sogaz, which caters to the city’s elite and has links to Putin’s eldest daughter. This clinic is also known for providing medical services to Russians who have worked as private mercenaries abroad for a company named Vagner.

Natalia’s registration at the clinic used what seemed to be her former married name, Browning.

British records confirm that Natalia married Peter Browning, a fellow Oxford student, in November 2002.

The name Natalia Browning first appeared in 2012 in a corporate registry in Luxembourg. This registry documented Timchenko’s transfer of shares in an obscure company called Sogeco Participations to family members, including Natalia Browning. The birth date listed in the registry matches the records from the St. Petersburg medical clinic for Natalia.

RFE/RL encountered difficulties in locating Peter Browning for comment.

Russian news reports have hinted at Natalia’s involvement in the film industry. In 2018, the business portal FinParty noted that she “had a role in the film industry.”

According to the Kontur.Fokus database, in 2010, Natalia Browning became the sole founder of Step Productions LLC. Unfortunately, there is limited publicly available information about this company, which changed ownership in 2020. Step Productions LLC was also associated with an unreleased documentary titled “Mist,” for which a brief teaser can be found on several websites.

Involvement with Step Productions LLC and her role in producing documentaries and films

Natalya Browning established Step Productions LLC, a film production company, in 2010. Unfortunately, there is limited public information about the company, and it changed ownership in 2020. Step Productions LLC was associated with an unreleased documentary titled “Mist,” and a brief teaser for the film can be found on various websites. While some sources suggest Natalya Browning’s involvement in the film industry, her exact role in documentary and film production remains undisclosed.

In summary, Natalya Browning founded Step Productions LLC, the company responsible for the unreleased documentary “Mist.” However, detailed information about her specific contributions to the field of documentary and film production is scarce.

Position as a board member at OOO Transoil, a Russian oil transportation company

Natalya Browning’s connection to OOO Transoil, a Russian oil transportation company, is solely due to her identification by the United States Department of State as the daughter of Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, who is the owner of OOO Transoil. Similarly, Ksenia Gennadevna Frank, another board member of OOO Transoil, along with her spouse, Gleb Sergeevich Frank, also received such designations from the United States Department of State. However, there is no publicly available information regarding Natalya Browning’s specific role within OOO Transoil or any other positions she might have held.

The Sanctions

Sanctions were imposed on Natalya Browning and her mother by the United States Department of State

Natalya Browning faced sanctions from the United States Department of State under Executive Order 14024, effective May 25, 2022. These sanctions were also extended to Gleb Sergeevich Frank and Elena Petrovna Timchenko. The US and other countries had already sanctioned Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, a close ally of President Putin, whose daughter Natalya Browning was.

These sanctions freeze any assets held by Natalya Browning under US jurisdiction and prohibit any transactions with her by US individuals or entities.

Additionally, on June 29, 2022, the Isle of Man government implemented financial sanctions against Natalya Browning. She was specifically designated under sanctions legislation, prompting financial institutions and individuals to verify if they maintained accounts, held funds or economic resources for her, or provided financial services to her.

In summary, Natalya Browning found herself subjected to sanctions by both the United States Department of State and the Isle of Man government. These sanctions froze any assets she may have had under US jurisdiction and imposed restrictions on transactions with US entities.

The reasons behind the sanctions and their impact on her personal and professional life.

Natalya Browning faced sanctions from both the United States Department of State and the Isle of Man Government, which came into effect on May 25, 2022. These sanctions involve freezing any assets she may have within US jurisdiction and prohibiting any transactions involving US persons.

The sanctions were imposed due to her familial ties with Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, a close associate of President Putin, who himself has been subject to sanctions by the US and other nations.

The impact of these sanctions on Natalya Browning’s life can be categorized as follows:

Personal Impact:

  1. Her assets within the United States have been frozen, potentially affecting her financial stability and her ability to engage in business.
  2. She is restricted from conducting transactions with US individuals or entities, potentially limiting her business activities in the US.
  3. These sanctions may also hinder her ability to travel to the US or to countries with similar sanctions in place.

Professional Impact:

  1. Being designated as a sanctioned individual could harm her reputation and credibility in the business world.
  2. The sanctions might restrict her business interactions with US individuals and companies, impacting her various business ventures.
  3. Furthermore, these sanctions could hinder her access to financial services and conducting financial transactions, which in turn could affect her ability to operate her business ventures.

Legacy and Impact

Explore Natalya Browning’s potential influence on Russian business and her family’s connection to Russian politics

Natalya Browning’s role in Russian business and her family’s ties to Russian politics has garnered significant attention from the media and have resulted in government sanctions. Here are the key points distilled from our research:

  1. Family and Business Ties
    • Natalya Browning is the daughter of Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, a close associate of President Putin and the owner of Transoil, Russia’s leading private railway operator for oil and petroleum transportation.
  2. Sanctions
    • Natalya Browning has faced sanctions from both the United States Department of State and the Isle of Man Government. These sanctions were imposed due to her family’s association with Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko.
  3. Business Ventures
    • Natalya Browning is reported to have founded Step Productions LLC, a film production company. In 2020, the company was transferred to another individual.
  4. Personal Life
    • Natalya Browning is reportedly married to Gabriel Frolov, a former Russian Orthodox monk who has transitioned into real estate and property development.
  5. Gabriel Frolov’s Business
    • Gabriel Frolov is known for owning a prominent real estate and property development firm, specializing in the construction and renovation of shopping malls, sports arenas, and highway interchanges.
  6. Government Scrutiny
    • The Timchenko family’s business activities have faced government scrutiny and sanctions due to their connections with President Putin and the Russian government.
  7. Impact of Sanctions
    • The sanctions on Natalya Browning and her family could potentially hinder their ability to conduct business, access financial services, and limit their travel to certain countries.

Conclusion

Natalya Browning‘s involvement in Russian business and her family’s ties to Russian politics have garnered significant attention, leading to government sanctions. She is the daughter of Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, a close associate of President Putin and the owner of Transoil, Russia’s largest private railway operator for oil and petroleum transportation. As a result of her family’s connections, Natalya Browning has been subjected to sanctions by both the United States Department of State and the Isle of Man Government.

She is known for founding Step Productions LLC, a film production company that changed ownership in 2020. Natalya Browning is reportedly married to Gabriel Frolov, a former Russian Orthodox monk turned real estate and property developer. Gabriel Frolov’s business portfolio includes significant projects like shopping malls, sports arenas, and highway interchanges. The Timchenko family’s business ventures have been closely scrutinized and sanctioned due to their association with Putin and the Russian government. These sanctions may impact their ability to conduct business, access financial services, and travel to specific countries.

Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris began his career as a journalist. He is one of the founders of the " Russian Oligarchs Tracker Unit ".

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