Audiophiles Versus The Russian Mafia

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by Josh Ray on May 22 '06

 Images Newsart 052306Mike

It's not every day the entire audio industry goes to war against the Russian Mafia but, well, today is that day. A group of Russian gangsters/anti-audiophiles has its sights set on the world's largest manufacturer of vacuum tubes, ExpoPul. ExpoPul is American owned and based in Russia. Their Sovtek, Electro-Harmonix, Tungsol, Svetlana, Mullard and other tubes find their way into just about everyone's hi-fi and pro components, accounting for two thirds of the glass market. Sure, there's tubes from China and elsewhere, but losing ExpoPul would be a sad, sad day.

So what's happening? Corporate raiders strong-arm companies through all sorts of illegal tactics to sell their businesses on the cheap. RBE is the bad guy here, who, along with their evil club, has so far swallowed up 1400 companies in 2005 alone. Here's what's going down:

RefEnergo shut off ExpoPul's electricity on March 29, 2006, boasting to Chinchikov that their efforts would succeed because they had paid off everyone and his mother.

And his mother. Gotta love it. After that:

...just as the Governor was getting electricity restored, the gas was shut off. Another appeal to the Governor got the gas turned back on. Men in leather jackets began loitering outside the factory gates while others did minor damage to the facility. As a result, on April 7, thousands of workers from ExpoPul and neighboring companies also under siege paraded in front of the Saratov government complex.

It's a movie just waiting to be made! ExpoPul is owned by Mike Mathews, pictured above, former promoter of Jimi Hendrix. He purchased ExpoPul in 98 and is based out of New York. So who will play Mike Mathews? Bruce Willis? Daniel Day Lewis? Charlize Theron? Food for thought. In the mean time, it seems the Russian government is slowly moving to prevent ExpoPul from drowning into the vodka vat. Exciting stuff and be sure to read Stereophile's awesome coverage of the whole scandal. If you're down with letter writing campaigns, Stereophile tells you whom to flood. And if you're an international assassin with a love of audio equipment, not only are you the coolest person in the world, but your time to shine has come. Audio needs you.


So that means I should stock on NOS tubes while the getting is good? Seriously, I'm reading the Stereophile news and all I can think is "WTF?" Doesn't the Russian mafia have bigger fish to fry these days? In any case, this sucks. Where do I sign? :P