by Mariusz Sepioło, FRONTSTORY.PL
Fan of Putin and Assad, wood trader in Odessa, owner of numerous companies set up in tax havens, friend of spies, anti-vaxxer. Who exactly is Nabil Malazi?
This article was originally published in Polish on FRONTSTORY.PL
Grey block of flats in Gocław, a Warsaw neighborhood, where apartments serve as business offices for numerous firms: advertising agency, kitchen design studio, art agency. And one particular construction company called Euromid International, which has offices not only in Warsaw, but in Nuremberg, Damascus, Khartoum and Dubai as well. It belongs to Nabil Malazi, inconspicuous old man, a Syrian who’s been living in Poland for over 50 years, and a vocal supporter of presidents Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad.
When Russia invades Ukraine at the end of February 2022, Nabil Malazi posts a series of texts in social media.
23rd of February, one day before Russia’s attack, he repeats the message circulated by Russian propaganda – “Latest news: FSB informs that it thwarted a terrorist attack in Crimea.” That news is completely fake.
24th of February, he posts – “Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation: Ukrainian border guards cross into Russia in large numbers to surrender.”
25th of February, he inserts a link redirecting to an article titled “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a correction of history, says President Assad.”
27th of February, he posts on Facebook – “Welcome Bandera’s grandsons. Buy them forks and axes.”
Reinforcing Kremlin propaganda and supporting Russian aggressors is business as usual for Nabil Malazi, who also happens to be an avid opponent of covid-19 vaccines. He attends anti-vaccine rallies regularly – Anna Mierzyńska from OKO.Press covered his activities in September 2021. Malazi marches side by side with pro-Kremlin nationalists. In the past, he formed a pro-Russian party Change (Zmiana) along with Mateusz Piskorski, who was arrested on treason charges.
Contacts and business activities of Malazi, a man actively supporting Polish anti-vaxxers, are truly impressive.
Diligent student making a career
The 1970’s, Rzeszów University of Technology enrolls students from distant countries that maintain good relations with Polish People’s Republic. One of them is a Syrian by the name of Nabil al-Malazi. He graduates with honors and receives a degree in engineering – the then Minister of Higher Education and Technology presents Malazi with an award for best dissertation. From his official CV posted on one of his companies’ websites, and cited by Malazi himself during our conversation, we learn that in 1977-78 he works as junior assistant at Rzeszów University of Technology.
For the next two years – again, this is what a bio posted on a company website tells us – engineer Malazi works for Miastoprojekt, Polish company based in Lublin. In 1980, he moves to Libya, ruled by Muammar Gaddafi, where he builds highways, a hospital and a factory in Benghazi. Upon his return to Poland, he finds employment in few construction companies in Kielce, but decides to leave again – this time he moves to Soviet Union. In Saint Petersburg, he works on construction sites by the banks of Neva River, in city’s port.
Malazi returns to Poland once again. It is early 1990’s, a golden era for engineers specializing in big construction projects, as work starts on first malls and shopping centers. Two of those – in Cracow and Poznań – are built by Nabil Malazi. In 2002, Syrian engineer registers a company called Euromid International. Today, it has office in Lublin, with a forwarding address in Warsaw.
From Damascus to Pacific
Malazi created an international consortium with a multistory structure. Euromid International is not the only company he owns. Another one – Euromid Construction – is also registered in Warsaw, although in a different part of the capital (Muranów neighborhood).
German language version of Euromid International website informs that the company is conducting business operations in many parts of our globe. It is active in Poland, Damascus (Syria), Dubai (UAE), Khartoum (Sudan), and Turkey (no specific location given), and its German office is located in Nuremberg. Enoxpetrol, another company that forms Euromid group, is also registered at this address. Malazi owns one more similarly oriented company, Euromid Petroleum registered in Nottingham, but this one remains inactive.
Malazi’s name and the name of his company appear in Panama Papers report. In 2016, an international group of investigative journalists published a long list of companies benefiting from tax havens’ regulations. It included Euromid International – Nabil Malazi Ltd. (a construction company), operating in jurisdiction of Niue, a tiny island country on the Pacific Ocean. Euromid International used brokerage services provided by Interhold Banas that serviced a total number of 139 companies. IB business office is located in Warsaw’s district of Bielany. One of its shareholders is Paweł Banaś (in some documents named as Paul Banas), who first contacted Panamanian Mossack Fonseca law firm in 1990’s. Back then, Banaś looked for tax services on behalf of Quantum Investments Limited, a company registered in Niue that owned PKN Orlen stocks (previously named Petrochemia Płock). We wanted to ask Banaś few questions about his business ties with Malazi but has not responded to our requests for contact.
Since 2016, Malazi has owned 50% shares of Euromid International – Triumph Ukraine, a wood trading company from Odessa. The other half belongs to the founder of Triumph Ukraine, Alexander Shchigielsky. TU was registered in 2010 in Odessa. We don’t know much about Shchigielsky. He was born in 1963 in Belarus, but lives in Odessa. He is still an active businessman, and takes part in construction tenders.
Some international companies belonging to Malazi are active as well. We know this from public offers made by Khartoum branch of Euromid, which looked for “used rails classified as scrap metal” in December 2021.
In an interview given to FRONTSTORY Malazi talked about his businesses openly. From his words emerged a certain modus operandi. He starts with opening a company abroad – a kind of Euromid branch. Then, he searches for people who can help him get the business going, and, most importantly, find financing. If that happens, company takes part in tenders, looks for contractors and subcontractors. If the funds can’t be secured, company withers. But Malazi never closes his business offices. That is why there are so many companies sharing the same name, doing business in different parts of the world.
Some of them are no longer active, explains Malazi, like the company from Odessa, for example. All that is left are entry in the register of entrepreneurs, and business office registered in a building that serves as virtual headquarters for 48 different firms.
According to Malazi, “the most active” of his companies operates in South Africa. Records show that it was registered 10 years ago, and its director can be connected with eight other companies. Malazi also claims that he has “a signed agreement to build a refinery” in Africa, but “ongoing negotiations” with Egypt and Jordan had to be put on hold “due to current situation.” (The interview took place after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.) He also has a “business partner in Qatar”, who “was securing funds” for refinery.
When asked about his tax haven companies, Malazi confirmed that his “consortium” was registered in Niue, but at this moment it remains largely “inactive”. The same goes for his firms registered in Ukraine and Thailand. Companies stopped operating, because Malazi couldn’t find the right people, “tradesmen” as he calls them, for the job. The only things left of his Thai company are a distant memory and a credit card, still valid, issued by a local bank.
Peace with Russia, alliance with China
In Poland, Malazi participates in social actions and projects: he becomes chairman of Syrian Club, and president of Cultural and Educational Society Orient. He is regarded as an influential person.
Malazi is very vocal in his criticism of Israel and supports Palestinian struggle for independence. Polish nationalists view him as a man with connections to the Assad family, who rule Syria. Anton Shekhovtsov, analyst and director of Centre for Democratic Integrity, who investigates ties linking European politicians with authoritarian regimes, describes Malazi as a “member of Syrian Social Nationalist Party.”
Nabil Malazi is also a close friend of Polish nationalists, who openly voice their pro-Kremlin ideas. He started spreading Russian propaganda long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In June 2021, Malazi addresses people participating in “Dmowski’s March” organized by Piotr Rybak, who became a known figure after he burned an effigy of a Jew on main square of Wrocław. Participants waive Russia and GDR flags. Eugeniusz Sendecki, doctor and a radical nationalist with strong anti-Western views, speaks after Malazi. He is also a founder of National Televison. It’s biggest “star” Wojciech Olszański, alias Aleksander Jabłonowski – actor and pro-Kremlin nationalist – was arrested in Kalisz for shouting anti-Semitic slurs. One of the latest videos made by Sendecki shows him holding sheets of paper with words: “Free Wojciech Olszański”, “Alliance with China”, and “Doctor Al-Malazi to MSZ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Camera also captures Malazi himself – he holds a paper that states: “Peace with Russia.”
Political views links Malazi with people of the old regime, like Bolesław Borysiuk, doctor of Institute of Science College of the CC PUWP (Central Committee of Polish United Workers’ Party), and former employee of Friendship (Przyjaźń), magazine published by Polish-Soviet Friendship Society, or Andrzej Czechowicz, former agent of Polish People’s Republic intelligence, with whom Malazi poses on a photo posted on Facebook. Malazi has ties with former members of Self-Defence (Samoobrona) party as well. He often introduces himself as a member of European Center for Geopolitical Analysis (ECAG), think-tank founded in 2007 by Mateusz Piskorski, nationalist and former Andrzej Lepper’s assistant (check our article on vsquare.org).
Let us refresh your memory. In 2016, Piskorski was arrested and charged with espionage – he presumably spied for Russian and Chinese intelligence. Piskorski was released in 2019, when he paid bail set for 200,000 zlotys. He still awaits the outcome of his trial. In 2017, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed that 21,000 euros were transferred to ECAG account as part of money laundry scheme called Laundromat. That money came from Russia.
Piskorski still publishes his texts in Polish Thought (Myśl Polska), magazine praising Putin’s exploits. It is run by Jan Engelgard – nationalist and author of a book titled “Russophobia Virus.” One week before Russian invasion of Ukraine, Piskorski wrote that “there will be war if such decision was made by Anglo-Saxon West in offices were true power resides.” When Vladimir Putin recognized Donetsk and Luhansk republics as independent states, Piskorski called Ukraine “Lenin’s creation” on Polish Thought YouTube channel.
From right to left
Nabil Malazi is also a secretary of Friends of Cuba Society. Its chairwoman, Beata Władysława Karoń, is a member of Red History Society that “promotes physical activities which hark back to traditions of worker’s and people’s sports.” Going through the lists of both societies’ audit committees, one can find the name of Jacek Cezary Kamiński, who in 1980’s founded a far-right party National Rebirth of Poland, before moving to a pro-Russian National Party. Six years ago, Kamiński became the president of Ukrainian Committee Society (Mateusz Piskorski is on its board). As an “expert on Ukraine”, he writes for left-wing portals. In 2016, Kamiński visited Donetsk People’s Republic. Although Malazi likes to rub shoulders with nationalists, he keeps a window to a pro-Russian leftist world fairly open.
In 2008, Malazi becomes vice chairman of a newly formed, pro-Kremlin Patriotic Poland party. It’s made of people associated with Loyal to Sovereign Poland society, like Paweł Ziemiński, who wrote a letter of congratulations to Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
Names of fellow party members Malazi and Ziemiński can be found among thousands of documents that leaked from Alexander Usovski’s mailbox. Volunteers from Inform Napalm initiative discovered that Usovski, citizen of Belarus, used Russian money to fund anti-Ukrainian actions in Poland, and to spread pro-Russian propaganda.
That money went to, inter alios, Mateusz Piskorski and members of nationalist organization Camp of Great Poland, who fought in Donbas alongside separatists and circulated pro-Kremlin propaganda in Poland.
Ziemiński is mentioned in Usovski’s documents (mostly emails obtained by hackers from CyberHunt and Ukrainian CyberAlliance groups) with reference to the interview he gave to a pro-Kremlin portal Regnum.ru. Ziemiński talked, among other things, about sanctions imposed on Russia after annexation of Crimea, and how they “should be revoked as quickly as possible.” He also said that he expects “something more than good neighborliness” when asked about Poland-Russia partnership.
Flags stained with blood
And what Usovski’s emails tell us about Malazi?
Just to remind you: In 2015, Malazi becomes vice president of Change (Zmiana) party. Hacked emails suggest that Malazi and Bolesław Borysiuk (co-founder of pro-Russian Party of Regions) flew to Odessa in April 2015, accepting the invitation issued by “Rodina” – party founded by Dmitry Rogozin, who at that time served as a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.
In one of leaked emails, Camp of Great Poland member Wojciech Wojtulewicz calls Malazi “a brave friend,” when mentioning a protest staged in front of Ukrainian embassy in August 2018. In one of his publication (“Down with Banderians!”), Wojtulewicz raves about people voicing their protest “against NATO, capitalism, and fascist junta from Kiev, and their support for Donbas heroes. Here are people from Falanga and Camp of Great Poland, even from All-Polish Youth.”
When speeches start, Mateusz Piskorski “places the blame squarely on United States and Poland.” Bartosz Bekier, leader of nationalist Falanga, stresses that his organization “not only supports the oppressed people of Eastern Ukraine, who strive for freedom, but also raises awareness of their genocide, which Polish propaganda distorts, stupefying Polish citizens.” Nabil Malazi is also present. Wojtulewicz writes that Malazi “bravely holds Polish and Ukrainian flags stained with blood.”
There are more ties linking Malazi with Kremlin supporters. Anton Shekhovtsov from Centre for Democratic Integrity claims that Malazi accompanied Janusz Niedźwiecki during his trips to Syria. Niedźwiecki was detained by ISA (Internal Security Agency) in 2021, and charged with espionage – he spied for Russia. Niedźwiecki started his political career in Palikot’s Movement, but left the party in 2014, accusing its leader of financial frauds. He briefly joined PSL (Polish People’s Party), and then moved to Change, party formed by Piskorski and Malazi.
Shekhovtsov writes that Niedźwiecki, Jarosław Augustyniak (another vice president of Change party), and Tomasz Jankowski (Change party secretary) traveled with MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke to Moscow and Grozny in 2016. Two years earlier, the same Polish politician, now a leader of Confederation party, attended a conference co-organized by Nabil Malazi in Damascus. Malazi invited not only Piskorski and Korwin-Mikke, but also Nick Griffin, a neo-fascist from British National Party.
Nabil Malazi describes Israel as a “Zionist creation.” In 2019, he runs for office as a candidate of politically irrelevant 1Poland party (founded by Konrad Daniel). One of his campaign slogans is: “No Jews.” In 2014, Malazi protests in Warsaw, alongside members of radical and anti-Semitic National Rebirth of Poland, “in defense of Palestinians, who are being murdered by Jews.” Protesters – roughly 50 people – carry Hezbollah emblems. “Show me one Jew, who rules Israel, and is a Semite!” – demands Malazi in an interview given to online television channel eMisja.tv in 2018. Its YouTube channel has 115,000 subscribers, and Facebook account is followed by 13,000 users. In recent weeks, eMisja.tv published interviews with Mateusz Piskorski, Dawid Hudziec from Camp of Great Poland, and Bartosz Bekier from Falanga.
Friends, businessmen, terrorists
Malazi speaks very fondly of Bashar al-Assad, who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians (killed, inter alia, in chemical weapon attacks). “Even if he is a dictator, he is our dictator and it’s nobody else’s business. Period,” he admits openly.
Malazi travels to Syria often to serve as an intermediary between European nationalists and al-Assad regime. In July 2013, he co-organized (probably with funds obtained from Syrian authorities) a meeting between Syrian officials and Belgian MEPs Filip Dewinter and Frank Creyelman, both members of eurosceptic and nationalist party Vlaams Belang. On VB website, one can find photos of Creyelman, Dewinter, and Malazi posing together in Damascus in 2013. At that time, Assad regime slaughters rebels and civilians, using chemical weapons (chemical attack on Ghouta).
Shekhovtsov managed to confirm that the conference was attended by Mateusz Piskorski, leader of pro-Russian party Change, Bartosz Bekier, leader of nationalist and pro-Russian Falanga, who organized a rally in support of al-Assad in 2012, and Roberto Fiore, Italian neo-fascist and founder of openly pro-Putin party Forza Nuova (members of FN frequently participate in Independence Day marches organized in Warsaw).
In one of interviews, Malazi calls Frank Creyelman his “friend” and admits that the Syrian conference was organized with his active support.
Creyelman’s name – this time written in Cyrillic alphabet – appears in other documents as well. The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) confirmed that Flemish MP was “an independent observer” during Luhansk People’s Republic elections in 2018. According to Creyelman, elections were “very democratic, much unlike in Belgium, where system forces people to go and vote.”
Hackers from the Shaltai Boltai group obtained documents confirming that Frank Creyelman served as an observer during an illegal Crimean status referendum in 2014. At that time, Crimea was visited by Hungarian MEP Béla Kovács, who was subsequently charged with espionage, and Mateusz Piskorski from Polish party Change, a close associate of Malazi.
We have asked Internal Security Agency, Minister and Special Services Coordinator office, and public’s prosecutor office if any investigation concerning Malazi was ever conducted. We wanted to know if his political and international activities, his membership in Change party and Syrian Social Nationalist Party, and finally his dealings with pro-Russian separatists in Odessa, were regarded as a concern. Public’s prosecutor office never conducted any investigation involving Malazi. ISA press office told us: “No comments.”
Malazi uses social media to distribute typical set of Kremlin-made propaganda themes, including an anti-vaccination disinformation. He attends anti-vaxxers rallies, where he poses for pictures alongside Witold Sadowski, alias General, who has ties with Polish Yellow Vests (PŻK). In July 2021, people with PŻK emblems attacked vaccination center in Grodzisk Mazowiecki.
When Russia invades Ukraine and starts to bomb Ukrainian cities, secretary of Change party, Tomasz Jankowski, warns on Facebook: “I strongly urge my female and male colleagues, who are engaged in correcting fake-news (…), to stop IMMEDIATELY if they are living in European Union. It’s for your own good (…). Security services in EU countries will need success stories soon, and they’ll start looking for “Russian agents.” Don’t put yourself in the crossfire.”
Malazi is one of the very few people still openly supporting Putin on Facebook (his account was unblocked one day before Russian invasion), and using their real names. He is backed up only by pro-Russian troll accounts that, until recently, posted mainly about covid-19 vaccines.
by Mariusz Sepioło, with Julia Dauksza and Anastasiia Morozova, FRONTSTORY.PL
This investigation is a part of an ongoing project called “From disinformation to hate” carried out through an Active Citizens fund (fundusz Aktywni Obywatele).
We are starting a series of reports on Russian connections and influences in Poland. We have been covering major figures of pro-Kremlin propaganda, and their operations, for years on our vsquare.org and FRONTSTORY.PL websites and other media, publishing texts written by Paweł Reszka, Anna Gielewska, Pavla Holcova, Szabolsc Panyi, Konrad Szczygieł, Wojciech Cieśla, and many more. In 2016-21, we have uncovered behind-the-scenes actions of Alexander Usovski, Bela Kovacs and Mateusz Piskorski. We have exposed the gears of pro-Kremlin propaganda machine, its disinformation operations, and assets accumulated in Poland and Central Europe. We have watched closely, how radical groups and organizations act, including the arson attack on cultural center in Uzhorod. In 2019, we have uncovered the assets and modus operandi of Russian bank operating in Visegrád countries.
Below, you’ll find a list of selected articles on Russian connections and influences (in English).
Travel Agency “Eye of Sauron”, 4.08.2021
The Ghostwriter Scenario, 13.08.2021
Privet, You Have Just Been Hacked, 30.03.2021
Make Spain Great Again, 26.04.2019
Usovsky’s Network Active in Poland, 18.05.2018
From Internet Brigades to Troll Factories, 28.12.2017
The Dogs of War, The Dogs of Disinformation, 24.11.2017
The Hunter of Russian Propaganda, 21.10 2017
The Man Who Wanted More, 14.10.2017
A Story of the Snake That Ate Its Own Tail, 4.10.2017