How I spent my summer: holidays of Russian officials
On August 2, an act, which reduces annual paid holidays of Russian government employees by five days – to 30 in total – came into force. From now one, officials were equaled to ordinary citizens. But are their plans for holidays equal to those, which simple Russian workers shared with social scientists?
Popular trend of this summer - native holiday resorts. However, most likely they became popular because of the known developments around Crimea in 2014. The mentioned events led to creation of sanction visa and finical lists of the European Union, Canada and the USA, in which many high-ranking officials and parliamentarians of Russia were included. Thus, for example, in July of last year Finland refused to issue admission to the country to speaker of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin. At the same time, in August, 2015 speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko received American visa with restrictions – only three days, with the proviso that she would not leave further than on 25 kilometers from the center of New-York’s Manhattan, where the UN center is located. All the following steps, which Russian government took, under the slogan Enemies Everywhere, led to the fact that today officials have to spend their holidays in their homeland.
Of course, this trend was born in ruling elite. In 2013 the President Vladimir Putin was on vacations in Tyva and Khakassia with Dmitry Medvedev and Sergey Shoygu and in 2014 – in Siberian taiga. According to the President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, this summer Putin will not have a possibility to leave on vacations because of too busy schedule. However, after coming back from his trips around regions, the President usually does not go straight to the Moscow Kremlin, but stops in nearest state residences – in Sochi or in Strelna near St. Petersburg.
The Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has already visited Crimea this year, where he spent his days off in the family circle. He also plans to spend several days in Sochi, where he usually stays at residence Riviera, 2 kilometers from the city. This building of 1930th years was built near count ruins of the oldest Sochi sanatorium Caucasian Riviera of the beginning of 20th century. The PM reconstructed it after its previous owner – Putin – has left. The interior is rather nice - arches with columns, fountains, thujas.
Photo: Valentina Matviyenko in Kislovodsk. Photo by Tatiana Gushchina
According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, Valentina Matviyenko has already been on vacations in the Leningrad Region, in Kislovodsk (combining it with her working trip) and in Crimea. Now she is going to Ladoga.
Pavel Astakhov also has spent his holidays in Crimea. It is expected to be his last holidays as children’s ombudsman. However, shortly before his trip, media had written that he was actually going to join his wife in Monte-Carlo. According to some reports, for several years now Astakhov’s wife has been renting apartments in one of the most expansive hotels of the Principality – Hotel Monte-Carlo Bay. Price of the cheapest room in the hotel estimates at more than 42 thousands rubles a day. However later, to prove his honesty, the official posted a photo of him against Foros. Such mistrust to the his personality from the side of mass media can be explained by Astakhov’s well-known addiction to all foreign. Till 2012 his wife owned an apartment in 176 square meters in Monaco. She also gave birth to their child in France.
Photo: Gennady Zyuganov in the Oryol Region. Photo by Vladimir Velengurin
Deputies also follow the fashion. The Leader of Communist Party of the Russian Federation Gennady Zyuganov has visited the Oryol Region, where he was born. Though this time, the communist combined his visit with political agitation, in advance of September elections to the Parliament of the country. The trip was coincided with anniversary celebrations of Oryol – the city turned 450.
Senator Elena Mizulina and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu also have visited their small motherlands. Mizulina went to city Buy in the Kostroma Region, while Shoygu was developing his painter’s talent in the Republic of Tyva.
Photo:Sergey Shoygu in Tyva
At the same time the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has gone further and called all “our ministers, deputies, senators, bankers and military leaders” to visit him, posting in his Instagram:
- I am sure that the real patriots will not go on vacations to the resorts of those countries. Which murmur about some sanctions addressed to Russia and its citizens. So, submit applications for an aestivo-autumnal season, buy tickets to Chechnya! You will be delighted.
But not all Russian officials share Kadyrov’s enthusiasm. Many of them think about abroad trips in the old fashion.
For example, the Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich went to Latvia. Though he has not left the public affairs in Riga and has met with the capital’s mayor Neil Ushakov. After discussing consequences of the food embargo, introduced by Russia against Latvia two years ago in reply to European sanctions, Ushakov expressed his hope for early cancellation of part of the mutal restrictions.
Some officials will go to their houses abroad. For example, the most popular direction among deputies of the State Duma − Spain. There, the Deputy Arkady Ponomarev has three flats with total area of 484 square meters, Vladimir Potsyapun has a flat of 88 square meters, Aleksander Bryksin owns a flat of 75 square meters, Umakhan Umakhanov's wife has a house of 312 square meters, a child of chairman of committee on the budget and taxes Andrey Makarov has two land plots (1489 square meters and 1426 square meters) and a house (318 square meters). A happy owner of a land plot (3477 square meters) with a house (927 square meters) is the spouse of senator Ahmet Palankoyev. While wife of the Minister of Education Dmitry Livanov owns part of a house and parking for a water transport (probably, for the Jeannot Prestige-36 yacht of her husband) in Spain.
Also in Cyprus there is a land plot (571 square meters) and a house (228 square meters) of deputy Valery Yazev’s wife and a summer house (126 square meters) of Leonid Simanovsky’s wife.
Other France lovers – the Minister of North Caucasus affairs Lev Kuznetsov (land plot, house, flat and three garages) and Deputy of the Edinaya Rossiya (the United Russia) party Mikhail Slipenchuk (flat of 94 square meters). The latter has a great choice where to go on vacation – land plot and house in Congo and several hundreds plots in Russia.
The Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation prefers Italy, where he has a house and a land plot for recreational purposes (8,2 thousands square meters). The Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets also owns a flat in Italy (250 square meters), she even has a country house in Switzerland. Wife of minister of affairs of Open Government Mikhail Abyzov owns a house in Great Britain, while wife of Minister of Labour and Social Protection Maksim Topilin has a flat and garage in Bulgaria. At last – soul mates of deputy Sergey Petrov and the President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov (figure skater Tatyana Navka) − have plot and flat in the USA respectively.
However all mentioned above is only declared property. According to Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF), son of Zhirinovsky, deputy Igor Lebedev owns a luxury apartment in Dubai with 7 toilets. While according to RBC, deputy from LDPR Sergey Zhigarev may possess not declared apartment of 347 square meters on an ocean coast in the American state of Florida.
Some officials in regions were not lucky before summer holiday. Thus in May, the Prosecutor’s Office of the Krasnoyarsk Region found out that in conditions of the scare budget total business trip expanses for 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 of the staff Krasnoyarsk’s Administration estimated at more than 5.6 million rubles. Officials spent funds from the city budget on the trips in increased comfort abroad dated for festive actions – flight by business class and accommodation in expansive hotels (among the visited countries − Spain, China, Korea, Slovakia, Japan, in total 16 trips). This summer the officials would not have a possibility to use the same scheme.
Photo: Shuvalov's plane
In comparison with them, some high-ranking government employees do not need to think of such trifles at all. As the ACF has found, the Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, as well as his wife and dogs, can afford to fly by private Bombardier Global Express plane to any point of the world. Only last year the plane has made 18 flights to Salzburg (near Shuvalov's country house), Prague, Riga and to Cyprus.
The Deputy of United Russia party Grigory Anikeyev also has a possibility to go wherever he wants, he owns a helicopter AS 350 B3, worth more than 2 million euros, and a cross-country conveyor HAGGLUND BV 206, two fishing boats, three Mercedes-Benz cars and two cars of health service just in case.
Nikolay Valuyev, in his turn, lives more modestly, besides two ordinary cars Toyota Land Cruiser 200, he owns a snowmobile, off-road buggy, snow and swamp-going vehicle and three boats.
Not all Russian officials will be able to go on vacations this summer. It’s all the fault of election campaign before the September parliamentary elections.
Thus, speaker of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin and Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin will not go for holiday. Fair Russia supporter Sergey Mironov has declared his desire to go to Belokurikha in the Altai Region, but next year.
The LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky will go on vacation only after elections − at the end of September. So far it is still unknown where exactly will he go. However, according to his statement to Komsomolskaya Pravda, the most attractive places today are Sochi ("Curative bathtubs perfectly tone up!") and Crimea ("It is in fact same as Ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Scythians, Pechenegs, Khazars!").
Photo: Natalya Poklonskaya on the combine
For the Prosecutor Natalya Poklonskaya, who will spend summer in Crimea, it is no time for rest. A main goal of her trips around the Black Sea, Krasnoperekopsky and the Razdolnensky Region of Crimea she called a meeting with the citizens and identification of problems at the sites. Poklonskaya has learned about high prices, and also about difficulties with water, gasification and roads in the Northern Crimea. By now she has already helped citizens of residents of the Pervomaysky district by participating in harvesting, driving the brand new combine.
The city police detained two officers of the Russian FSB and the deputy chief of the Internal Affairs Directorate for the North-East Administrative District Department of the Interior Ministry of Russia for Moscow, who are suspected of bribe-taking.