Official holiday. Weddings parties thrown by Russian functionaries and Deputies for their daughters
Present the daughter's wedding as an official holiday and fire field artillery guns in a protected wildlife refuge... Spend the official income earned over the course of 15 years of faithful service in one day... Transfer scheduled flights to another airport terminal, block highways, and close an entire resort city for a private event... What else are Russian officials and Deputies ready and willing to do to make happy their grown-up offsprings?
Three years after the wedding of Anastasia, daughter of Moscow Vice Mayor Aleksander Gorbenko, shocking details of that party became known to the public. It turned out that Sobyanin’s deputy for regional security and information policy had presented the daughter’s wedding as an official holiday.
Moscow Vice Mayor Aleksander Gorbenko
Anastasia Gorbenko had a dream: the skies must show all the colors of the rainbow on the day of her marriage. The loving father could not disappoint her. It was difficult to fulfill that wish though. The wedding ceremony was held in a golf club in the Ramenki district on the west of Moscow. The club location was very convenient: there are plenty of deluxe residential complexes nearby, including Zolotye Klyuchi (Golden Keys) where convicted Aleksei Ulyukaev, ex-Minister of Economic Development, used to live, Dom Na Mosfilmovskoi (Home on Mosfilmovskaya Street), and the ‘Deputies’ Home’ on Ulofa Palme street. The only problem was that the golf club is located in Setun River Valley State Wildlife Refuge.
The protection regime in wildlife refuges is not as restrictive as in strict state nature reserves – but it is still prohibited to fire field artillery guns and scare animals there. Any "intentional disturbance" of Red Data Book weasels, black polecats, and muskrats is strictly forbidden. A special decree also prohibits mass sport, festive, and other events in the wildlife refuge. Exceptions are possible – but only in specially designated places and subject to the approval of the Department of Nature Use and Environmental Protection of the City of Moscow. Furthermore, the Regulations on the Organization and Conduction of Festive Artillery Salutes in the City of Moscow strictly prohibit pyrotechnic shows in "wildlife refuges and national parks" of the Russian capital.
A less experienced and powerful father would likely give up. But Aleksander Gorbenko is proficient in solving difficult tasks. He found a way to circumvent the law by addressing Orion Art Limited Liability Company conducting salutes and fireworks on municipal holidays as per orders of the Moscow Government. Its portfolio includes pyrotechnic and laser shows in celebration of the Russia Day, Graduate Ball on Red Square, Sochi Olympics, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, G20 St. Petersburg summit, etc. Nobody would be surprised if the company receives one more such order. Therefore, Gorbenko decided to officially record the wedding fireworks as an artillery salute in celebration of the Defender of the Fatherland Day and personally endorsed the permission to celebrate it in the wildlife refuge. The document signed by the Moscow Vice Mayor states as follows: “In accordance with the Decree of the Moscow Government № 869-PP of September 20, 2008, On Organization and Conduction of Festive Artillery Salutes and Firework Shows in the City of Moscow, Orion Art Limited Liability Company is permitted to conduct a firework show on February 27, 2016, from 21:00 to 22:00 (duration up to 7 minutes) using pyrotechnic items, caliber up to 75 mm, in the framework of a private festive event carried out by Grata Open Joint Stock Company in celebration of the Defender of the Fatherland Day in the Moscow Golf Club...”
What is that Grata Open Joint Stock Company carrying out a “private festive event” for ‘Defender of the Fatherland’ Anastasia Gorbenko? Several legal entities with such name are registered in Moscow – but none of those is an open joint stock company. The only Grata Open Joint Stock Company was registered in the Belgorod region in 2002 and liquidated in 2006. In other words, it is technically impossible to locate the customer who has ordered the fireworks...
The scheme was not flawless – but it did not matter: the much-desired goal was achieved. On the night of February 27, salute guns opened fire in the golf club. The skies were shining. The dream of Anastasia Gorbenko came true. The awesome fireworks became a decent finale of the lavish ceremony.
From the very beginning, the wedding of Vice Mayor’s daughter had resembled a fairy tale. Anastasia exchanged rings with her chosen one in Petroff Palace Boutique Hotel; then the newlyweds had a photo shoot in the former Emperor’s residence – Grand Kremlin Palace. The pictures taken under the golden vaulting of Aleksander Hall were especially good. Then the couple went to the banquet hall of the Moscow Golf Club where the high guests had already been waiting for them. One of the guests – Sergei Khlebnikov, Commandant of the Moscow Kremlin – wished the young family good luck from the stage.
Top line celebrities, including Grigory Leps, had entertained the guests. While listening to the music, the guests were treating themselves with risotto with shrimp and caviar. The tables were heaped with expensive delicacies. Nobody – except for media – had tried to estimate the cost of the event. However, the journalists found out that Vice Mayor's family has spent at least 1.5 million rubles ($22.9 thousand) on foods – a personal menu for one guest in Village Kitchen Restaurant costs some 8 thousand rubles ($122). The entertainment was also pretty expensive: Leps charges 100 thousand rubles ($1.5 thousand) and up for a performance at a private party – and he was not the only celebrity on the wedding of Gorbenko's daughter.
However, the Vice Mayor could be relieved from the need to pay for the miraculous fireworks. By some coincidence, after the salute in celebration of the Defender of the Fatherland Day conducted by Orion Art Limited Liability Company on February 27, 2016, the number of governmental contracts awarded to it by the Moscow Government has drastically increased. In 2015 and 2016, the company had earned on governmental orders 34 million rubles ($519.8 thousand) per year – while in 2017, the total sum of such contracts increased to 135 million rubles ($2 million), including 57.3 million rubles ($876 thousand) received from the Moscow Directorate of Mass Events to conduct salutes in all districts of Moscow in celebration of the City Day and all fireworks conducted since December 2017 and until March 2018.
The fairy-tale-like marriage has miraculously changed the life of Anastasia Gorbenko’s darling. In three years, ordinary Belarusian programmer Dmitry Chuyashov turned into a successful businessman. Currently, the young husband is the General Director and co-owner of Double Pro Limited Liability Company, co-owner of Mostonnel’stroy Limited Liability Company, and sole founder and General Director of Mosbeton Limited Liability Company. The above companies are making good money on governmental orders: in the last three years, they have generated 179 million rubles ($2.7 million).
Both Mostonnel’stroy and Mosbeton render services mostly to the Moscow Metro. Subordinates of Vice Mayor’s son-in-law repair escalator on Lubyanka, Akademicheskaya, Kaluzhskaya, Chistye Prudy, and other stations. They also build new subway lines, including a part of the section leading to Govorovo station of Solntsevskaya line. Since 2017, Mostonnel’stroy and Mosbeton have also been serving Kazan-based Kazmetrostroy company and earned almost 100 million rubles ($1.5 million) on contracts performed for it. Interestingly, all the contracts have been awarded to the companies belonging to Gorbenko’s son-in-law on a sole source basis. As it always happens in fairy tales, nobody dares to challenge the legendary warrior... What a happy continuation for the story that had started from festive fireworks in celebration of February 23 that have wonderfully turned into the wedding salute!
Anastasia Gorbenko and Dmitry Chuyashov
But who can blame Aleksander Gorbenko for his excessive love to the daughter and her darling? Who won’t through a lavish wedding party for his small princess? Nobody can withstand such a temptation – as a result, officials of all levels spark public outrage on a regular basis because of the love to their offsprings. One of the most high-profile scandals has escalated in July 2018, after a fantastic wedding party thrown by Vladimir Radchenko, Head of the Interregional Inspectorate for the North Caucasus Federal District of the Federal Tax Service (FTS), for his daughter.
ТThe event was amazingly large-scale. The taxman invited more than 300 guests to the wedding of 22-year-old Marina Radchenko. Entire delegations from the North Caucasus republics arrived to wish the newlyweds luck. Abubakar Mal’sagov, ex-Chairman of the Government of Ingushetia, was in charge of the group of businessmen and officials from that republic. Akhmat Semenov, First Deputy Head of the Administration of the Head of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, and Republican Police Chief Ansar Botashev represented the guests from Cherkessk. Murat Kerefov, First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, and ‘vodka king’ of Kabardino-Balkaria Ruslan Bifov, brother of Anatoly Bifov, Deputy of the State Duma, led the delegation from Nalchik. Movsar Tsamaev, Head of the FTS Department for the Chechen Republic, and his deputies represented guests from Chechnya. The delegation from Dagestan was the most numerous; the most prominent figure in it was Artur Murtazaliev, Head of the State Financial Control Service. Other VIP guests included major general Abdulkhakim Gadzhiev, Deputy Commander of the National Guard of Russia in the North Caucasus Military District; Abazin billionaire Sergei Gogov; Andrei Kulakov, the biggest developer in Yessentuki; and Veniamin Khubiev, owner of aerial ropeways in Dombai Ski Resort.
The welcoming host has accommodated the officials and businessmen from the entire North Caucasus in deluxe Rodnik (Spring) Hotel at his own expense – the cheapest suite there costs almost 7 thousand rubles ($107). The celebration was held in the most expensive and pompous concert and banquet hall of Pyatigorsk – Sid Hall. Journalists have estimated the cost of every detail of the lavish party thrown by the senior regional taxman. For instance, Radchenko has spent at least 400 thousand rubles ($6.1 thousand) on costumed character puppets welcoming the guests at the entrance. More than 1 million rubles ($15.3 thousand) have been spent on the decoration of the hall and photo shoot desks with green and white roses. The bride’s custom-made gown produced by the most expensive wedding boutique of the North Caucasus had cost 1.5 million rubles ($22.9 thousand). An entertainer from Moscow was retained for some 500 thousand rubles ($7.6 thousand). The Krasnodar-based company that has organized the event charged 1 million rubles ($15.3 thousand) for its services. The performances of Assa dance group, a fiddle orchestra, and United People cover group had cost some 700 thousand rubles ($10.7 thousand). 750 thousand rubles ($11.5 thousand) have been paid for the photo album and film about the wedding. The pompous fireworks resembling a Victory Day salute in a large city were pretty expensive as well – at least 600 thousand rubles ($9.2 thousand) have been fired into the skies at the end of the celebration.
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Radchenko has paid some 300 thousand rubles ($4.6 thousand) for the buffet lunch and candy bar. The banquette was much more expensive – at least 3.5 million ($53.5 thousand). But it was worth every penny and offered plenty of dainty dishes: marbled beef tournedos with tiger shrimps, lamb crusted with Provence herbs and garlic, duck in pineapple, rabbit stewed in white wine – and this is just an incomplete list of meat meals. The fish menu was equally lucrative: grilled trout, pike perch, octopus, mussels, shrimp, calamari, scallops, and huge Kamchatka crab legs. The drinks were on a par with the lavish celebration: vintage wines, Champaign, etc. The six-storey wedding cake alone had cost 400 thousand rubles ($6.1 thousand).
At a conservative estimate, the total budget of the wedding party thrown by the supreme North Caucasus taxman was some 10 million rubles ($152.9 thousand). Its cost exceeds by several times the total declared income of the loving father earned over the course of several years. According to Radchenko’s income declaration for the year of 2017, he has earned 2.862 million rubles ($43.8 thousand), while his spouse – slightly more than 300 thousand rubles ($4.6 thousand). In other words, to afford such a wedding, the tax functionary had to put aside his entire official salary for 15 years – spending nothing on food and other needs.
The generous gift to the newlyweds was pretty expensive as well. According to the bridesmaid, the loving father presented to his daughter an apartment in Moscow because Marina Radchenko has recently graduated from the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. In addition, the couple spent the honeymoon in a five-star hotel on Bali – the regional taxman has paid 1 million rubles ($15.3 thousand) for this.
It is unclear yet what changes await the young husband – some Aleksei Saliev largely unknown to the public. The darling of the North Caucasus tax commissioner’s daughter is currently familiarizing with his new role. According to the guests, he had felt himself out of place during the wedding celebration. Apparently, he hadn’t expected such a grand scope and overwhelming love of the father-in-law. But over time, Saliev should get used to this and succeed in business – similarly with his ‘colleague’ Chuyashov.
In the Republic of Tatarstan, people understand and respect the desire of officials and Deputies to throw lavish wedding parties for their daughters. For instance, Il’sur Metshin, the perpetual Mayor of Kazan since 2005, has married his 19-year-old beautiful daughter Aliya in the grand style in 2015 – but retained both his post and almost untarnished reputation.
The celebration was held in Nizhnekamsk – its Mayor Aidar Metshin is a brother of the Kazan Mayor. Initially, Il’sur Metshin was not confident of the loyalty of his fellow townsmen and tried to keep the event in secret. Even the most high-ranked guests were prohibited from posting any pictures on the Internet. The invited VIP persons have shown understanding and abstained from publishing photos from Aliya’s wedding on social networks.
Но командовать столичными звездами — а их на свадьбе было предостаточно — так просто не получается. Покрывало тайны сорвал неугомонный Филипп Киркоров, выложив в свой Instagram снимок из аэропорта Бегишево с надписью «Всем привет из Нижнекамска!» А на странице московского диджея Нейтрино появилось фото, на котором кроме него самого запечатлены резидент Comedy Club, лидер группы USB Дюша Метелкин, сын Ильсура Метшина Тагир и популярный в Татарстане шоумен Динар Залялов. Так шило вылезло из мешка, но на политической карьере Метшина это никак не отразилось. Земляки проявили такт и понимание.
However, it was impossible to control numerous Moscow celebrities retained to entertain the guests. Restless Philipp Kirkorov has unveiled the secret by posting in Instagram his photo in Begishevo Airport with the following caption: “Greetings from Nizhnekamsk!” DJ Nejtrino published a picture showing himself; a resident of Comedy Club; Dyusha Metelkin, leader of USB band; Il’sur Metshin’s son Tagir; and popular in Tatarstan entertainer Dinar Zalyalov. The mystery was exposed – but this hasn’t affected the career of Metshin in any way. His fellow townsmen have shown sensitivity and understanding.
The people’s choices of Tatarstan also don’t suffer reputational losses because of their excessive love to daughters. For instance, in March 2018, Ravil’ Ziganshin, Deputy of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan, has married his older daughter so pompously that the whole City of Kazan had discussed that event. The following celebrities had performed at the lavish party held in Piramida (Pyramid) Cultural and Entertainment Center: singers Dima Bilan, Grigory Leps, and Aleksei Panaiotov, Comedy Club resident Timur Rodriguez, actress and hostess Yana Churikova, and Frukty (Fruits) band. The father of the bride has paid the entertainers at least 10 million rubles ($152.9 thousand). The parliamentarian’s daughter has married a member of the Moscow Chechen diaspora – so, the concert program also included Caucasus dances. To make sure that nobody disturbs the high guests, the security was tightened up in Kazan for the duration of the wedding party: some roads were blocked, while scheduled flights for ordinary people had arrived to the old airport terminal. The city dwellers have shown commendable understanding for the temporary inconveniences.
The party began outdoors: the lovebirds exchanged rings in the open air. The road to the decorated altar was paved with mirror planks. Then the guests were invited to a hall featuring 6-meter-high windows and an open deck to view grand fireworks ordered by the Deputy.
Ziganshin has loosened purse strings on celebrities again. According to journalists, the parliamentarian has paid for their performances several tens of millions of rubles. Pictures posted on social networks showed Philipp Kirkorov, Ani Lorak, entertainer Dmitry Khrustalev, Comedy Club resident Katerina Skulkina, rapper L'One, and a number of other ‘expensive' stars. But the users could see the photos of their favorite artists only for a short time: by the next morning, many accounts with pictures and videos of the wedding have been blocked. Times change, and a new trend emerges in celebrations thrown by officials and Deputies: It does not matter how much have you spent, how many laws breached, and what inconveniences caused to the people. What does matter is that no pictures must appear on the Internet.