Last heights of Dmitry Teslenko

His colleagues remember the head of the financial and economic department at TAIF JSC who died in the mountains

Last heights of Dmitry Teslenko
Photo: TAIF press centre

An enthusiastic florist and climber, who reads books with a passion and always strives for self-improvement, kind, with an open, endearing smile and ready to support in difficult times. He is a patient teacher for subordinates, but at the same time, a demanding leader who knows how to ask for assigned tasks. A man who is infinitely in love with the dawn over the rocky peaks, with the work he had given almost a quarter of a century to, and with people… About how Dmitry Teslenko will be remembered by his colleagues — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

“We are going to assault the summit”

These words are the last ones that Dmitry Teslenko, along with several photos, sent to the corporate WhatsApp chat of the financial and economic department of TAIF JSC, created at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also notified that he would not be in touch for the following two days. It was an extremely rare case for the head of the financial and economic department. He was usually ready to answer any question that arose 24/7, wherever he was. But travelling in general and mountains in particular is something special: the third, after family and work, Dmitry Teslenko's passion.

Shortly before the tragedy, Dmitry Teslenko sent several photos to the corporate chat and said that the group was going to assault the summit. Photo: Dmitry Teslenko

There are not so many photos in the office of Deputy Director General for Economics and Finance at TAIF UC JSC Guzelia Safina. But these, dated in different ways, are both similar and so different — it is impossible not to notice: at the very peak of the snow-capped peaks, the TAIF flag is flying, which Dmitry Teslenko is holding in his hands.

Photo from one of the peaks conquered by Dmitry Teslenko. Photo: from the archive of Dmitry Teslenko

Guzelia Mukharyamovna is the person who, back in 1999, hired Dmitry Teslenko at TAIF JSC and with whom he worked side by side for almost 23 years, recalls:

“I do not even know the year when this hobby began. Moreover, he had never had such a thing before. But it wasn't just a hobby, mountains were his passion. He knew all about it. He prepared for every little thing in advance. I prepared himself in advance. It's like he's been a mountaineer all his life. He really liked it. He didn't need anything else — no sea, nothing. Only mountains. And such peaks... for him, it was life. He was glowing, both when he went to the mountains and when he returned. I asked: “Doesn't your wife take offense at that you are alone on vacation and in the mountains?" He laughed: “No, we have an agreement.”

Alla Evstafyeva, today deputy director general — director for economics and finance of Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC, one of Dmitry Teslenko's students, as she calls herself, in an interview with the journalist of Realnoe Vremya, recalled that Dmitry Ivanovich's passion for mountains manifested itself about 10 years ago. Immediately and seriously.

“The first time it caused us surprise. The second time — the understanding that he liked it. The third time — when you see a man returning bright-eyed, telling with such enthusiasm about what he had seen there, experienced — it was clear that this was such a dream for him, which was realised every time.

Dmitry Teslenko crossed paths with Fanis Kalimullin, the advisor to the deputy director general of TAIF JSC, in the early 2000s. The two economists quickly found a common language. If they could even argue about work-related issues somewhere, defending each their own opinion, but in the end they still came to a common — optimal — option for solving the issue, then outside of the offices one of the topics that often arose was just hobbies.

“The mountains were his outlet. I felt that he rested there. Numbers... tables... computers... all this is a serious burden. In his spare time he prepared for a new ascent, for a new meeting with mountains. Every weekend he went to the gym, trained, kept himself in shape. He said that he had goals, that he had several more ascents in his plans. He had a map in his office on which he marked where he had been. I like to just travel more: to see countries, get acquainted with the culture, how they live. And for him, the mountains were the main thing. Every time when he returned, he showed where he had been, how he got there, what kind of logistics there was. What a pitching was when he went to Antarctica. That the return flight could be cancelled, how he did not have time. How it took 27 hours to get. And in all this there was some kind of drive for him.

Fanis Kalimullin: “There was some kind of drive for Dmitry Teslenko in the mountains. I felt that he rested there.” Photo: Dmitry Teslenko

The map, which was repeatedly recalled by Dmitry Teslenko's colleagues and acquaintances, appeared relatively recently — about three years ago. This is a gift from TAIF's accounting department and its head, Olga Ignatovskaya.

“Have you been in his office?" the first thing she asked the journalist of Realnoe Vremya about at the very beginning of the conversation. She immediately explained why she was interested in this: “His office characterises this person very much. In addition to the business environment, neatness and a large number of papers, he has a lot of photos there — where he has been. Which peaks he has conquered. On the map that we presented him, one can erase the points where they have already visited. And he always said: “You see — your map. I have already been here, I have been here ...” He called such countries and cities that not everyone knows about.

“There are still a lot of unerased places on this map in Dmitry Ivanovich's office. Not everyone has such a passion for learning about the world, for travelling, for new information and the desire to get it. Many do not go further than their city, their dacha. Dmitry Ivanovich tried to see as much as possible. This means that a person has a broad outlook, a desire to see global trends. The whole life consists of little things, and if you don't notice them, you won't be able to see more in all colours," Ruslan Shigabutdinov, the director general of TAIF JSC, is sure. Dmitry Ivanovich could see it. And appreciate such moments.

Ruslan Shigabutdinov: “Dmitry Ivanovich tried to see as much as possible.” Photo: TAIF JSC's press centre

Director General of Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Kazan Rinat Sabirov met Dmitry Ivanovich almost 20 years ago when he held the position of Adviser to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan on the issues of the petrochemical complex. Having appreciated each other's professionalism, of course, they used to argue about something, but on many issues they were a united front. And a purely working relationship after a while turned into a friendly one. Sabirov, of course, knew about Teslenko's passion:

“I know that he had conquered all the mountains in Russia. It was inside him. Not on the surface. This was his deeply personal sphere. Therefore, many of my colleagues were even surprised: was he a climber?

“Dmitry Ivanovich constantly improved his results. It seems that he had always liked to travel: if he had a vacation, he went to get acquainted with a new country. And then there were mountains. And from that moment they were every year. With an increase. He once shared that when the last attack was coming, he was very tired. During the ascent, even such thoughts arose: “Why do I need all this?" But then, after a short time, reliving in the thoughts these moments of ascent, these gusts of wind, the dawn at the very top, feeling it again ... the aftertaste, salt, adrenaline that I did it, you realise that this is a part of yourself, and you begin to prepare to conquer the next peak," Alexander Tarasov, the deputy head of the financial and economic department of TAIF JSC — head of the financial service, shared his memories. A keen athlete himself, he perfectly understands the feelings and aspirations of his immediate supervisor.

Alexander Tarasov: “Dmitry Ivanovich constantly increased his results, conquered all the big peaks.” Photo: from the archive of Dmitry Teslenko

Angelina Yakovleva, deputy head of the financial and economic department at TAIF UC JSC, for a long time Dmitry Ivanovich's right-hand man in almost everything related to the activities of the department, in a conversation with the journalist of Realnoe Vremya admitted:

“Mountains were really his passion. He prepared for this. He studied the routes. He didn't share his plans in advance. But he often stayed up late at work, and when they came to him with some question, sometimes they were interested in: “Where are you going this time?" He smiled and could answer with a riddle. For example: “To the biggest island.” But after the trips, he talked, showed photos.

“Once, when he had just returned from one of his trips, when emotions were apparently still very strong, he showed photos. And his eyes glowed. He generally had a very interesting and very insightful look. So bright and tenacious… His eyes spoke. They reflected his emotions so strongly… You could tell from his eyes at once: he was angry, he was strict, he was kind or he was laughing. He laughed not only with an open smile, but also with his eyes. And so, when he was talking about mountains, his eyes were glowing," Guzelia Abzalina, the deputy director general of TAIF-NK JSC for economics and finance, told about one of the many moments.

Guzelia Abzalina: “When Dmitry Ivanovich talked about the mountains, his eyes glowed.” Photo: Dmitry Teslenko

“We talked a lot with him about the mountains. The passion for travelling, and such a difficult one, cannot be called a relaxed pastime. He prepared for these expeditions very seriously, subjected himself to significant loads and tests. With the final assaults at night, when it's dark and cold, in order to meet at the top at dawn. Surprisingly, he took the TAIF flag with him on all these expeditions and raised it over the top. These photos that he had in his office were a gallery that said that his personal successes and the company's successes were one thing for him. It really was his life," Albert Latypov, the head of the legal department of TAIF JSC, added to his colleagues.

Albert Shigabutdinov: “Dmitry Teslenko gained strength in the mountains to feel the acuteness of the issues being resolved more vividly.” Photo: TAIF JSC's press centre

Few people knew Dmitry Teslenko better than Albert Shigabutdinov. One of the founders of TAIF, who led the Group for a long time, and today is the director general of TAIF UC JSC, while remaining the chief adviser to the director general of TAIF JSC for development and being a member of the board of directors of SIBUR Holding PJSC, treated the head of the financial and economic department with sincere respect. A professional who lived and was inspired with work:

“He is one of those who devoted all his time to TAIF. The work he did was very difficult and serious. And his hobby, mountains, was designed, it seems, to give him the opportunity to somehow distract himself, gain strength to feel the urgency of the issues that we solve.

Business of life

Now it's hard to believe, but in 1999 Dmitry Teslenko spent 3 months trying to get a job at TAIF. But the decision was postponed until he, a technician by education (graduated from the Leningrad Institute of Precision Mechanics and Optics with a degree in “optical engineer-designer of optical and optoelectronic instrumentation” — editor's note), did not receive an unexpected offer:

“I asked: “Would you like to work with me?" He: “I'm not an economist.” And I say: “You worked in the Foreign Economic Service (Dmitry Ivanovich's second additional education is “practical application of marketing”, received at the Higher Commercial School at the All-Union Order of Friendship of Peoples Academy of Foreign Trade. He also worked as Deputy Director General for Marketing and Sales at the Kazan Optical and Mechanical Plant and at MP Etalon — as Deputy Director for Commerce — editor's note). You have a technical education. Do you want me to teach you? But it will take a lot of patience. If it suits you.” But she warned that he would have to work day and night. He took a moment to think.

It was Guzelia Safina who hired Dmitry Teslenko to work in the TAIF Economic Department. Photo: TAIF JSC's press centre

Teslenko didn't think for long. And, having made the decision, as it turned out, he chose the business of his life.

TAIF is generally distinguished by that the relations between its employees are not just business, but very open and warm. Here they know how to enjoy victories with the whole team. If you work on a difficult task, then all together. Not arguing until you are blue in the face, defending your point of view, but jointly look for the best solution:

“And it isn’t a matter of being right but tasks and objectives. Our task is not to prove that I am right or not but to achieve a goal. And this is the company’s task, while you cut it into small pieces for everybody. It is like a submarine: we all will either win and come back or nobody will come back. Everybody has a task: somebody is responsible for the engine, somebody is for the periscope, somebody launches a torpedo. Yes, the captain steers the ship but he can also make a mistake. It is important to work as one team, and the teamwork, distribution of functions, responsibility, the readiness to demand something from both people and yourself are the foundation. And Mr Teslenko had a gift for considering all possible scenarios in advance, not to rush, not to run but calmly: ‘Let’s calculate, analyse and sort it out,’” Ruslan Shigabutdinov said.

TAIF knows to both be happy with common victories and do the toughest tasks together. Photo: TAIF press centre

“He is one of the rare people who never reflected on why something was impossible to do. He always found solutions, and we discussed with him how this could be done. He offered options, there is a big number of them, which of them was optimal, which was tougher. Together we discussed those difficulties we could overcome with the team to take up a burden within our power. And we always found solutions that were then used in facilities, in results, in financial and economic accomplishments. He was one of the rare people for whom the words honour, honesty, truth weren’t just beautiful words but a lifestyle. This is why for me it was very easy to work with him. We used to finish each other’s words. Yes, it was a huge workload both for him and me... To every time find solutions to the seemingly impossible problems... He constantly worked, almost till the last day, under Mrs Safina. And I can confidently say that such unity, such productive work between subordinates and the boss can rarely be seen. And we have had it in our team. And Mr Teslenko’s merit is significant here too,” stressed Albert Shigabutdinov.

Albert Shigabutdinov: “We always found solutions that were then used in facilities, in results, in financial and economic accomplishments.” Photo: TAIF press centre

In his work, Dmitry Teslenko actively used all those lessons Guzeliya Safina once taught him. And she believes that there is no big secret in what she taught. To think and constantly improve yourself are two pillars of success. The climate in the staff is third.

Mr Teslenko taught everybody and continued learning himself throughout his career at TAIF. Photo: TAIF press centre

“I have always said: ‘Please, don’t simply agree with my opinion. Think, you can disagree but provide arguments. And then we will make the right decision together.’ He continued learning during these 23 years. We all learn. Life, factories, laws, investments change. Only the postulates of accounting remain unchanged, and of course, efficacy, quality, price, sum, incomes, expenditures, profit or loss are unshakable concepts. Also, our economic management has always been like a family. I warn everybody from the beginning: ‘I won’t tolerate if you squabble.’ We almost live here, not only work. If we have conflicts or somebody starts saying something about others somewhere, how can we look into each others’ eyes? We always support, replace each other. Mr Teslenko organised everything so that everything works like a well-oiled mechanism. While the employees almost prayed to him turning to him for advice. He was like dad (wiping her tears).”

Mr Teslenko could strictly inquire about the job done and be a careful manager. Photo: TAIF press centre

Mr Teslenko could strictly inquire about the job done but also he always cared about his employees. If it is a holiday, everybody celebrates it. If it is a corporate party, the Financial and Economic Department is a team. He loved to make presents himself. Everybody received though small but memorable individual souvenirs by an occasion. And he always knew how to raise the mood and charge people with optimism.

“He visited the management often, several times a day. And he greeted people each time, even in the evening. It is 5 p.m., time to go home, while he says: ‘Hello!’ And everybody seemed to wake up, the mood went up. He was always positive but with full responsibility. He knew how to change one’s mood,” Angelina Yakovleva recalls him with a smile.

Dmitry Teslenko had the ability to see all the nuances and specifics of any project. Photo: TAIF press centre

“Perhaps, we managed to get his calmness, ability to constantly withstand any stressful situations, we learnt this from him. He didn’t show his emotions. He never lashed out at his subordinates. Clearly, there can be strained moments when it is necessary to very quickly do some tasks given by the management. And it always was such calm teamwork. If we have no time, it means we do it together. If something goes wrong, we look for a solution together, invite somebody else to help us to sort it out,” Alla Yevstafyeva complements her colleague’s words.

Olga Ignatovskaya stresses Dmitry Teslenko’s scale of thinking. According to him, the head of the Financial and Economic Department had an amazing ability to see the full picture in a given task. He saw it fully, from all angles, with all possible pitfalls and strong points:

“He looked at all the tasks globally and could always correct, give one a tip. If it was necessary to explain something to people who maybe are out of the loop, he did it professionally, very delicately. Not everybody has the communication skills he had,” she notes.

Dmitry Teslenko considered any tasks globally, he immediately saw strong and weak points. Photo: TAIF press centre

“We, economists, have a saying: all successes are manufacturers’ successes, while all imperfections are economists’ imperfections. If a situation was wrongly presented, interpreted, analysed. Mr Teslenko was a big professional. Working in such a group as TAIF, which united tens of companies, he knew how to understand everything, quickly switch from one sector to another: Kazanorgsintez, Nizhnekamskneftekhim, TGC-16, TAIF-NK — petrochemistry, gas and chemistry, oil refining, energy, telecommunications, construction... And he did it. Our work is efficient if any business makes a profit, operates effectively. We can talk about efficacy by analysing figures. For this purpose, it was necessary to understand the essence of the business. He was a board member of Kazanorgsintez for many years, therefore he always was involved in the audit commission, always asked both machine and equipment and commercial specialists clear questions. He was a top professional, I can say this for sure. And he spoke the same language with manufacturers, perfectly understanding the heart of the technology,” explained Fanis Kalimullin.

Dmitry Teslenko spoke the same language with both the management of companies and factory workers. Photo: TAIF press centre

And this applied to absolutely all areas of diverse activity of Group of Companies. Dmitry Teslenko himself was a board member of a number of companies belonging to Group: KARSAR LLC from 2000, Tatnefteproduct JSC for 10 years, from 2007 — 2017, Kazanorgsintez PJSC from 2008, TAIF-NK JSC and TGC-16 JSC from 2012. In 2018, TAIF-NK AZS LLC joined the list. And he knew every business inside out.

Dmitry Teslenko himself was a board member of a number of companies belonging to Group. And he knew every business inside out. Photo: TAIF press centre

Director of the Legal Department of TAIF JSC Albert Latypov completely agrees with this definition:

“Mr Teslenko had such a unique quality, the ability to see inconsistencies, he brought it all into one system, as it should be. And if he saw something wasn’t done perfectly somewhere, he paid attention to it. And this provided a chance to polish everything until it became perfect. It is tough now to formulate this in the past tense, he had a lot of workloads. And he was really a pillar of the huge company. He perfectly knew all nuances of manufacturing processes, he understood how the end product was made, how it was calculated, why it was sold this way, how every person’s contribution is determined. And he always was concerned about the result. He really devoted himself to his job a hundred per cent. And workaholism is certainly his characteristic. No matter how hard it was, how tight the schedule was, he can do the task, he can do it.”

Come hell or high water

Dmitry Teslenko didn’t work with Rinat Sabirov — adviser to the Tatarstan prime minister in gas and petrochemical affairs in 2003, then head of the department of the administration of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers, then an aide to the Tatarstan president supervising the same issues — in one team but they were in contact in many issues.

Dmitry Teslenko and Rinat Sabirov were often opponents but at the same fellows. Photo: TAIF press centre

“I cannot say we were friends but he was... close to me because of his creativity, composing, innovative attitude to the work. There are a lot of performers, but there are few composers. And he was... The word ‘was’ doesn’t add up... The economy is the control centre, the dispatcher’s room of the whole petrochemical complex. At TAIF, it was him, the head of the Financial and Economic Department. We closely interacted because the government was a shareholder of the largest petrochemical enterprises in Tatarstan. We did all calculations for the management of the republic together too. I didn’t need to look for his work or mobile phone number to call. And he always responded,” noted Rinat Sabirov. And he added: “What is also important, he was always an objective economist. Because petrochemistry is more than just the economy. The words that the economy is a quintessence and continuation of politics aren’t accidental. He never boiled down to partial subjectivism. And if the layout through the prime cost, through components of the isoprene rubber look this way, it means it is true. Laws of the economy aren’t bought and sold. His objectivism, together with great commitment, responsibility, is a quality that only appreciates with time. We were often opponents in the work in the Board of Directors at KOS and NKNK. And our opinions didn’t always coincide. And he skillfully defended his point of view. Everybody who worked with him shoulder to shoulder grew whether they wanted it or not. He constantly improved himself too. He was modest, but his expertise was huge. And I felt sometimes like I was in a foxhole with him, back to back, and if you start to attack, there is no need to look back, he is certainly nearby.”

“Mr Teslenko is not only a real professional who sincerely and completely dedicated himself to work but also a smart manager. Over the time we worked together, I never heard him say something was impossible. He always carefully examined the scope of upcoming tasks and could see possible difficulties immediately, and not only simply see but also find solutions. There are a handful of people like him, passionate, truly rapt. We lost not only an employee and colleague but also a single-minded man for whom TAIF isn’t a workplace but a job of his life...” First Vice Director General of Production and Commerce, Board Chairman of TAIF MC JSC Rustem Sulteyev shared with Realnoe Vremya’s journalist.

“I worked with Mr Teslenko since 2007, for nearly 15 years. Over this time, for me, he became one of the examples of an honest, careful attitude to work, the skill to do the toughest tasks without emotion. Mr Teslenko was always a great specialist, a professional, always remained a very pleasant person to talk to. There are few such people as Mr Teslenko, a handful,” believes Director of the Petrochemistry and Oil Refining at TAIF MC JSC Rustem Akhunov.

Albert Shigabutdinov: “Over 23 years of work at TAIF, Dmitry Teslenko knew about the company everything.” Photo: TAIF press centre

He was modest, who doesn’t show off, was open to others and always ready to listen, give one a piece of advice, help. He had an amazing capacity. If this was necessary, he could live in the office for days and inspire enthusiasm into many people around. This is who Dmitry Teslenko’s colleagues will remember him. While Albert Shigabutdinov emphasises:

“He worked at TAIF since 1999, for 23 years, in different capacities. He participated in many projects. Take any project, he is in, he made a contribution to them, it is a positive contribution that helped us a lot of. A lot depended on him... This person was the fount of all knowledge. He knew everything in detail — every ruble, every screw. He didn’t need to be told something 10 times... To find a solution, much time needs to be spent on preparation to understand the situation, yes. Especially in the last 10 years, we didn’t have such problems we couldn’t solve with Dmitry. We immediately started to discuss — what it was, how to do it better, there were different options. And it seemed that sometimes we did impossible tasks. It happened so many times that others concluded it was either early or late or we would never do this, while we found solutions with him. He is such a person... He was...”

A person one should and need to learn from

Albert Shigabutdinov believes that he hasn’t yet realised how big the loss was not only TAIF but also many people who ever met with Dmitry Teslenko even once suffered.

“Those men who achieved outstanding results, it is his merit. Few people come to think how much benefit he brought to people who live today, those who were next to him,” stresses the director general of TAIF MC JSC.

A letter of commendation of TAIF JSC is one of the most valuable for Mr Teslenko. Photo: TAIF press centre

However, Mr Teslenko’s students who are already accomplished specialists are convinced that they understand and realise the role this person played in their lives.

“I can proudly say today that everything I can do today and what I have achieved on my post today is a result of what Mr Teslenko founded back in the 1999-2000s. It is the foundation. Today I work as I was taught in grade one. The fact that today I occupy such an important position is my teachers’ merit, both that of Mr Teslenko and Mrs Safina. Yes, their visions and approaches are a bit different. Mr Teslenko looks at the figure within his expertise, while Mrs Safina’s horizon is broader and knowledge in related areas is deeper. But this ability to see the full picture came to me from them. When today I am asked how I remember all these figures and understand how and what they will influence, I always say that, thank God, I have had such good teachers in my life,” stresses Alla Yevstafyeva, vice director general of economy and finance at Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJSC.

Dmitry Teslenko generously shared his knowledge with the staff throughout his work at TAIF. Photo: TAIF press centre

“His strength allowed him to so confidently and effectively manage us, subsidiaries. For me, to be honest, Mr Teslenko is very respected, always, even now. When it was tough and you turn to him, say you reached deadlock and don’t know how to solve a problem, he gave you good tips. He did it so that we looked for a solution together with him. He is a very good teacher. He knew how to educate us, his subordinates, to come to him with a solution. And he correctly improved this solution. He made sure you made the necessary conclusion. And when you managed to find the right solution, he agreed with you,” Vice Director General of Economy and Finance at TAIF-NK JSC Guzeliya Abzalina shares her memories.

“We met in 2003 working at TAIF-ART, Pyramid Culture and Leisure Complex, where he was vice director general, while I was a young jurist. We worked next door. Mr Teslenko was my guide to the work in a big organisation, how processes were built. He was a manager. He was a demanding but also fair and very careful manager. And then, when we again met several years later at TAIF JSC, despite a bit different areas of work, we worked together on many issues, the feeling of team was very strong. His shoulder was felt. He was really a senior colleague with whom I could share some difficulties. And as a more experienced person, he was not only a mentor who teaches and say how it needs to be done. It was a person who examined a situation with you and taught you to think about how to get out of it. I can certainly say he was my teacher in some things. He gave me a rod, not fish (smiling), and he did it so naturally and organically. You didn’t leave him without understanding the core of the issue and the ways of its resolution. He educated the lads in his office in the same way. They supported him, while he supported them. And this allowed moving forward together at a crazy pace. The company’s success is mainly conditioned by the fact that everything is in order, there is a system. Everything is correct, timely, accurately,” said Director of the Legal Department of TAIF JSC Albert Latypov.

Mr Teslenko didn’t give a ready answer to a question, he taught you to look for a solution. Photo: TAIF press centre

“Mr Teslenko is a top professional. He is very hardworking, scrupulous, careful about details, with a wide horizon of our profession. And not only in this profession but in everything related to our work, through technology. It is a person whose experience needs to be learnt, looked at. It is stupid not to use it. At work, he absolutely freely shared his knowledge. At the workplace, one can come in, say: ‘Boss, it is lost,’ while replies, ‘it isn’t, and here is why.” And we examined the problem together. This happened multiple times. And we laughed then,” recalled Vice Director of the Financial and Economic Department of TAIF JSC, head of the financial service Alexander Tarasov.

Mr Teslenko was a mentor who taught to see the full picture of the task. Photo: TAIF press centre

“We always asked him for advice: why this way, how to do it better. You make a draft, bring it. He looked, analysed it. ‘Here it is a good idea, but let’s develop it this way.’ We always asked him for advice. He looked from above, at the full picture. And he knew how to guess or, more precisely, to foresee how an event will unfold,” said Angelina Yakovleva, vice head of the Financial and Economic Department of TAIF MC JSC.”

The last height

Dmitry Teslenko simply couldn’t leave something unfinished. And if a decision was made, he certainly completed the job. No matter the case. Aconcagua or the Colossus of America is the highest mountain in the Andes, the loftiest mountain in Argentina, South America, the western and southern hemispheres drew the alpinist’s attention as early as 2018. The mountain is 6,960,8 m high above sea level.

Dmitry Teslenko planned to climb the summit of Aconcagua as early as 2018. Photo: Dmitry Teslenko

However, the trip had to be postponed then, because of health issues.

“Yes, he was going to climb this summit but he started to have spine issues. I persuaded him to do an MRI and undergo surgery. So he calmed down for a year after the surgery. And then he started thinking about it again. He took a three-week holiday, he planned a holiday in January as early as September. I asked him: ‘Mr Teslenko, again?’ I tried to reassure him, but he was firm: ‘Mrs Safina, I calculated everything, I don’t have health problems.’ I told him: ‘Stop it.’ Him: ‘The last time. I wanted to do this a long time ago, planned it for long.’ When we went out, I threatened him with a finger and said: ‘Mr Teslenko, I remembered, as we agreed, it will be the last time...” Guzeliya Safina wipes her tears.

“We all were a bit against... I thought he would take it more seriously after the back surgery... Perhaps, he would choose smaller mountains... We expected the back pain to make him reconsider his plans. But we all turned out to be wrong. A strong will and desire turned out to be stronger than the pain, inconveniences and discomfort. Extreme sports are always both hard and dangerous. Not everybody can endure and finish. Not everybody dares. According to our information, 30 metres left to reach the summit. Unfortunately, the last height wasn’t conquered. He had such an expected heart attack. But he had our pennant in his rucksack. He had a flag of TAIF together with his belongings from Tatarstan, with documents, a family photo, the Russian passport. It is very symbolic when a real person pursued his goal, till the end, with a clear plan in his mind following a strict discipline. Unfortunately, we do not always know the capacity of our organism, its biggest and otherworldly capabilities. It is such a situation... Sad. Bitter. It is a pity that such a person died... A husband, father, brother, friend... Not everybody can live the last minutes next to the area you were interested in.”

Little left for the group with Dmitry Teslenko to reach the summit. Photo: Dmitry Teslenko

As witnesses say, the group with Dmitry Teslenko left the intermediate camp at 6,100 metres. During one of the stops on the expedition, he took a seat next to his rucksack like others and fell onto it a minute later. Despite the experience of both other alpinists and the instructor, the attempts to resuscitate him didn’t help.

There are lamps and flowers next to the portrait of Dmitry Teslenko smiling at passers-by in the foyer of both TAIF JSC and TAIF MC JSC. Several days passed since the sad news was received, but the company he gave so much power and energy refuses to believe that tomorrow the door won’t open as usual and such a familiar, cheerful, a bit high-pitch voice will not say: “Hello!” That new summits that were reached won’t be marked in his office on the map on the wall celebrating New Year and new holiday, that somebody else will water the flowers Teslenko himself planted accurately measuring water in the glass. But there is a job that will continue.

There are lamps and flowers next to Dmitry Teslenko’s portrait in the foyer of TAIF. Photo: Roman Khasaev

“I have been thinking about him lately... It is a loss, of course, for us... and for the family to lose such a person... The sorrow is endless. Perhaps, we haven’t fully realised it... A part of me died with him... It is hard. Yes. How I will live without him. There is nobody to replace him. When he went on holiday, I understood on day two I missed him. It is a person who will be etched on my memory forever, all my life. We will continue everything we have accumulated with him. I will meet with people, share. He left a lot of groundwork, plans. Something is already underway, something is just an idea. All this should be saved, analysed so that a piece of him will continue living in deeds. I am convinced that it was the right person, a real man books and films are about. He is loyal to his friends, job, his business,” Albert Shigabutdinov shared his pain.

Arseny Favstritsky
Tatarstan