Villas for gentlemen: Head of Presidential Administrative Department builds new cottages for political elite
Construction of 20 new state villas has started recently in Arkhangelskoe settlement. The project has a multimillion budget. The size of a deck in such a villa exceeds the living space of an average Moscow one-room apartment. The homes won’t be available for rent; the Head of the Administrative Department of the Russian President will personally determine their fate. The CrimeRussia obtained more information about this cottage construction for the political elite.
Pristine nature, undisturbed forests, tennis courts, bathhouse, boat station, and cottages – the Arkhangelskoe health complex in Voskresenskoe settlement provides all conditions for comfortable recreation. The distance between the healing oasis and Moscow is only 9–10 km by the Kaluzhskoe highway, but in fact, this health complex is a world away from ordinary people – none of them can rest there. The complex belongs to the Administrative Department of the President of the Russian Federation, and the easiest way to get there is to become a friend of frequent guests – high-ranked governmental functionaries. Such well-known personalities as German Gref, Aleksey Kudrin, millionaire Vitaly Malkin and Vladimir Rushailo are residents of this settlement. The 20 new villas are also being constructed not for ordinary citizens.
Recreation by a reference
All the Russian people have learned from our Prime Minister that there is no money in the country – but we should take care. Still, the governmental acquisitions web site has posted information about the construction of 20 new state villas. The customer is the Administrative Department of the President of the Russian Federation.
The cottages are being built in a settlement of Voskresenskoe subsidiary holding, on the territory known as the Arkhangelskoe Health Resort or Arkhangelskoe Health Complex Federal State Autonomous Institution of the Administrative Department of the President of the Russian Federation. This prestigious cottage settlement has a century-long history: before the revolution, this land belonged to merchants Yuriev; then the manor had been nationalized; in various years such members of the Soviet political elite as Kalinin, Krzhizhanovsky, Molotov, and Kaganovich had been vacationing there; Nadezhda Krupskaya spent the last years of her life there as well.
A century later, this place is still being used for recreation by the national political elite and top-rank officials. The territory is strictly guarded by the police. “The complex provides all amenities required for comfortable countryside recreation; it is serviced by experienced and trusted personnel and equipped with an advanced security system,” – the web site of the Arkhangelskoe countryside residences says. Extra options include everything to indulge the special guests in every pleasure: banquet halls, beauty salon, tennis courts, bathhouse, boat station, billiard saloon, and karaoke.
There is enough space there for rest and recreation – the area of the settlement is 135 ha, including extensive parts of a scenic park and almost virgin forests. The official web site of the Arkhangelskoe countryside residences states that “the closed, strictly guarded territory of the complex borders from two sides on the Sosenka and Desna rivers”.
Several types of accommodation are offered to visitors: wooden two-storey homes starting from 132 thousand rubles per month; brick duplexes starting from 180 thousand rubles per month; and the magnificent Arkhangelskoe main manor with a fenced territory of 3.9 ha, swimming pool, billiard saloon, and other attributes of luxury for 1,200,000 rubles per month. This information is available for public on the web site of the Arkhangelskoe countryside residences.
But in reality, it is not that easy to get access to the ‘special’ recreation. We have called the number provided on the web site to inquire in more detail how to book a vacation in the strictly guarded settlement.
The first condition not listed on the web site is: you must spend at least a month in the health complex; the accommodation is not rented for lesser terms. This allows to debar some ‘undesirable’ contingent: not all citizens can take a vacation for a full calendar month – and not many people would be willing to vacate for two weeks at the cost of a whole month only because this is a special resort managed by the Administrative Department of the Russian President.
In fact, the resort administration makes exceptions and allows some visitors to come for a week-end or holidays – but this is only for members of the club.
“Is it possible to come for a shorter period, for instance, for the November holidays?”
“You can come for a shorter period only if some of your close friends lives here and can refer you. Only then can we evaluate your application,” – Anna Shestakova, an employee of the health complex, explained.
If you don’t have right people among your friends, your only option is to pay for a full month. It turned out, however, that this still does not guarantee that you get a cottage.
“Is it possible to rent a cottage for the month of January to cover the New Year holidays?”
“You know, we have some established customers who visit us on week-ends and holidays, including the New Year. In these periods, we are almost fully booked. It will be known in December whether anything is available or not”.
The first come first served principle does not work in this health complex. The priority is unofficially given to the returning guests. This is the second filter to debar outsiders. If you are seriously planning a family vacation during the winter holidays, you will not wait until high-ranked officials finally decide where they would like to rest – the risk to end up with nothing right before the holidays is too high.
There might – or might not – be some luck with booking a cottage – but it is absolutely impossible to rent the main manor, regardless of the vacation duration, season, and even amount you are willing to pay for this luxury. It turned out that, despite the information posted on the web site, the main manor is completely unavailable for ordinary citizens. In other words, even is somebody is ready and willing to pay 1.2 million rubles for a vacation in the Arkhangelskoe manor, he/she still will not be able to rent it.
“No, this is impossible,” – Anna Shestakova said. – “The main manor is not for rent”.
“But why? It is listed on your web site as a facility available for rent”.
“No. This can be done only by a personal permission of the Head of the Administrative Department of the President,” – the employee replies. Her skeptical smile indicates that this is absolutely not real.
The main manor of the Arkhangelskoe Health Complex
And finally, the third filter for those who do not have the magical status of a people’s servant but want to rest in the prestigious settlement is the application for accommodation and security check. Personnel of the Arkhangelskoe Health Complex have explained that all people willing to rent a cottage in the settlement are subject to a check by the security service who can deny access to them without giving reasons.
In April 2016, the Administrative Department of the President has announced a tender for protection services for a construction project – 20 new cottages. However, the building of new accommodation does not mean that it would be easier for ordinary citizens to book a villa in the Arkhangelskoe Health Complex.
The countryside recreation issue
“New villas are under construction in the health complex,” – a CrimeRussia source confirmed. – “But these will not be available for rent”. According to our source, the new cottages will be distributed directly by the Head of the Administrative Department of the President (since May 2014, this position has been held by Aleksander Kolpakov, the former officer of the Committee for State Security of the USSR and Federal Protection Service of the Russian Federation).
The tenders posted on the governmental acquisitions web site also indicate the special, privileged status of the new housing. The project name is: “Construction of 20 state villas for the Arkhangelskoe Health Resort Federal State Budgetary Institution of the Administrative Department of the President of the Russian Federation”.
We attempted to estimate a minimal cost for the state budget to create conditions for comfortable life and recreation of governmental functionaries.
In April 2016, a tender for protection services for the construction site has been posted on the web portal. The project completion date is April 2017. The starting price for the services to be rendered by a private security company is 1.8 million rubles.
Based on other tenders posted on the web site, the facilities requiring protection are already in place.
It can be assumed that the cottages have already been built, and currently their finishing and improvement of the surrounding territory are ongoing.
For example, in September 2016, the Administrative Department of the President has signed a contract with some Renovation Limited Liability Company to install oak staircases in the cottages. According to the documents, the improvement of the new villas should be finished by December 31, 2016 and will cost 9 million rubles to the budget. 6 million rubles have been spent for parquet works in the cottages – the contract with MebelTekh Production and Technical Enterprise Limited Liability Company is posted on the governmental acquisitions web site.
The CrimeRussia managed to obtain layouts of the future standard villas (the editorial office has breakdowns of premises with floor plans). The layouts clearly indicate that these homes are intended for special guests.
See breakdowns of premises with floor plans in the attached files
A standard villa for special quests has two levels and a semi-basement floor with technical rooms, laundry, and garage with the area of 34.8 square meters. Upon entering the first floor, the visitors get into a spacious lobby (27 square meters). A living room (26 square meters) is located on the left, and a reception room (68.8 square meters, almost a half of the whole first floor) – on the right. From the reception room, the visitors can go out to the deck, which is larger than an average one-room apartment in Moscow – 55.75 square meters.
A cloakroom, wind porch for the staff entrance, and service room – apparently, for servants – are also located on the first floor.
When the visitors come upstairs, they see an 8-meter corridor leading to 2 cloakrooms, 2 washrooms, and 4 bedrooms (12.9, 17, 19.79, and 22.82 square meters).
Obviously, such a luxury layout requires proper interior environment. Therefore, the Administrative Department of the President has shown a true generosity in furnishing the standard villas. According to the open data, the cost of furniture for 20 state cottages is almost 1 billion rubles – i.e. furnishings of a single home is some 5 million rubles. The furniture for special guests is also very special, for examples beds, bedside cabinets, shelves, desks, and many other items have been ordered from Dolce Vita – a luxury Italian furniture producer.
The improvement of the area where the VIP cottage complex is located is also pretty costly. The works should be finished by October 2016. The total cost of landscape gardening, construction of paths and roads, children’s playgrounds, barbecue zone, pavilion, etc. is over 80 million rubles.
In addition, according to the governmental acquisitions web site, a sport and fitness complex is under construction in Arkhangelskoe; it should be completed in two years. At a conservative estimate (based on the data available on the web site), more than 1 billion rubles have already been spent on this project.
Cadastral map of the Arkhangelskoe resort
According to the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre, and Cartography, Arkhangelskoe-29 Non-Commercial Cottage Partnership is registered on the territory of the health complex. Arkhangelskoe-29 was established in 2002. According to the Consolidated State Register of Legal Entities, the association of land owners is registered on the territory of Arkhangelskoe state settlement. The non-commercial cottage partnership has six cofounders, including Vladimir Rushailo, the former Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, and Vitaly Malkin, the ex-Senator known for his record incomes (in 2011 Malkin has declared income over 1 billion rubles) and undeclared real properties in New York and Canada. Natalia Bondarenko, the spouse of a vocal supporter of the current government Vitaly Malkin, is also a cofounder of this organization.
A land lot of 6.2 thousand square meters and a 4-storey cottage in the state settlement are registered in the name of Natalia Bondarenko. Media had repeatedly reported that Vitaly Malkin himself lives in the Arkhangelskoe Health Resort of the Administrative Department of the President surrounded by scenic forests. Forbes wrote that the total area of the three lots owned by Malkin and his wife is 1.5 ha. It was noted that the former Senator owns the largest lot in the health resort; his parcel was reclassified from the lands of strictly protected areas and objects’ category to the lands of settlements category. Pavel Borodin, the former Head of the Administrative Department of the President (held this post in the period of 1993–2000) assisted Malkin in the acquisition of a cottage in the elite settlement.
German Gref, the Head of the Sberbank of Russia, Mikhail Fradkov, Aleksey Kudrin and Vladimir Rushailo also live in the health complex and are neighbors of Malkin. By the way, in 2005, Vladimir Rushailo has attracted attention of Aleksander Khinshtein – the journalist was interested how had Rushailo managed to acquire a mansion in the state settlement. The legitimacy of transferring a state property to private hands also raises questions.
The new villas built at the expense of the state budget would likely be used for recreation of special people close to the circles of power – or pass into the ownership of the political elite. Whichever is true, apparently, there is a new trend among high-ranked officials – build countryside homes not only on their own money of questionable origin, but at the taxpayers’ expense as well. Ordinary citizens can’t even dream of these state villas.