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Do Russian politicians know how to rest patriotically?

The unspoken ban on holidays abroad is hard for the domestic elite. Some really do not cross the border of Russia, but clearly yearn for luxury hotels with all-inclusive service and funny animators. Others break down and go on a binge right in their native regions, destroying their careers. Still, others leave abroad “quietly,” carefully concealing their trips. Who got caught during the “forbidden” vacation? And how does the President’s administration try to sweeten the bitter smoke of the fatherland for officials and politicians?

In the summer of 2008, the sounding from the very top prescription “Enough messing around in the world, let’s rest in Russia” was heard for the first time. The pages of politicians and officials in social networks started to get filled with patriotic photographs from vacation in the Crimea and Karelia, Baikal and Altai.

It is difficult, of course, without the Seychelles and Nice, but they have to endure. What can you do if the President himself and his closest circle are resting exclusively on the domestic land, and settle down at home for a long time. So, in July it turned out that the main owner of the bank Rossiya and media tycoon Yuri Kovalchuk got himself a new huge mansion. Now the oligarch is a frequent visitor on Lake Ulovnoe near St. Petersburg, which is considered one of the purest in the Leningrad region. Two more of the eight first shareholders of the Ozero cooperative, Sergei Fursenko, president of the Zenit FC, ex-builder of spacecraft Buran and ex-President of the Kovalchuk’s National Media Group, and Viktor Myachin, former CEO of the Rossiya Bank, have also built their houses in the neighborhood.

The easiest way to get into a closed village of about 100 hectares is by air; a helicopter pad is specially equipped for this. Luxury mansions, spacious pools, and tennis courts – there is everything to relax in peace and quiet, sit with a fishing rod at the lake. The pastoral idyll is being broken only by one thing – the house of Kovalchuk himself, which looks more like a piece of Egyptian mummy than the estate of a respectable businessman. The architecture of the house accurately reproduces the complex Pod Pavilion, built in 2011 in Petaling Jaya, the administrative satellite town of the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. The company, which owns the Malaysian original, calls it a house-cocoon. The Russian replica is larger than the original; the area of the Kovalchuk’s house is 1345 sqm. According to the rough estimates of specialists, so much money was spent on its construction that it was possible to build half of the stadium in St. Petersburg. 

The rest of the political elite representatives also had to spend huge amounts of money to comfortably rest on their native expanses. For example, the Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin raised from the ruins the estate of the famous princes Vorontsov-Dashkov, leading the genealogy from Rurik himself. It is located in the village Alekseyevka between Saratov and Samara, where the speaker was born. Volodin allocated money to build a monastery with a helicopter pad in his small homeland. And now he flies to the renovated estate with a good purpose, namely to pray together with the Metropolitan of Saratov and Volsky Longin. Well, and of course, simultaneously bask in a bathhouse on the banks of the Volga, and then discuss the current affairs with Governor of the Saratov region Valery Radaev. 

It has been decided to sweeten the bitter smoke of the homeland for lower rank politicians and officials. The situation is fortunate with foreign real estate but they did not manage to acquire estates at home yet. Therefore, the Head of the Presidential Administration is ready to offer those who need tickets at preferential prices for all tastes. Deputy Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation, Sergey Storchak, has already used this opportunity. He visited Kislovodsk with his family. “We went there to one of the Presidential Administration health resorts. The European level, everything is perfectly repaired, ideal in terms of technical equipment of treatment rooms, etc., the food is great, but in the sanatorium traditions of the USSR,” the Deputy Minister complimented his vacation restrainedly.   

Sergey Storchak

Yes, Crimean sanatoriums still have a long way to grow to the level of the luxurious world standards. The Presidential Administration understand this and try to rely on diversity. By this summer they opened an updated sanatorium complex Amber Coast in Jurmala, where one can improve health together with children. And in total there are 13 health institutions and 18 sanatoriums in Moscow, Novgorod and Tver regions, Caucasian Mineralnye Vody, Black Sea coast and Riga seaside, in the Crimea under the supervision of the Presidential Administration. How much officials pay for rest in any of them, is kept a secret.

Yantarny Bereg health resort complex

But even if the vouchers are issued for free, it is still felt that the representatives of the domestic political elite do not like the sanatoriums of the Soviet model. They miss the fun all inclusive rest on the shores of the tropical seas. Therefore, sometimes they cannot resist and when they see people who seem like animators, they throw themselves into a dance. So, in early July, Chairwoman of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly, Valentina Matvienko could not resist the temptation. She went on a working trip to Saransk and saw the volunteers of the Mundial who were doing morning exercises with music. A reflex worked: Matvienko immediately joined the fervent girls and began to perform exercises with them. Matvienko was joined by Governor of Mordovia Vladimir Volkov and mayor of Saransk Peter Tultayev.

Two silver-haired politicians – President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov and Governor of the Kurgan region Alexey Kokorin – shook the cobwebs. In mid-July, they visited the Sabantuy holiday in the village of Almenevo. And they also could not resist, joining the fun, spinning in the dance two local beauties in national costumes.  

Alexander Bastrykin, Head of the ICR, neither could resist. July 25, he attended the celebration of the Russian Investigator Day, which invited the ensemble of Kuban Cossacks. Bastrykin looked at their fiery dances and set off to dance himself. And he swung his partner so much that everyone just gasped. 

Alas, not everyone takes separation from abroad with so much fun, songs, and dances. Many yearn for a merry vacation and muffle sadness the way they can. For example, like Finance Minister of the Saratov region Alexander Vyskrebentsev. On May 10, the 36-year-old official went on a regular vacation. And on May 25 at 4 o’clock in the morning, the traffic police officers stopped the Suzuki Grand car with state numbers, traveling with the lights off. A blonde, from smelling heavily drunk, was at the wheel. The bodysuit, that she was wearing, was unbuttoned and stuck out from her trousers. And in the back seat, a man was sleeping peacefully in his underpants, also obviously drunk. 

Now former Finance Minister of the Saratov region Alexander Vyskrebentsev

The drunk lady did not have any documents and she did not want to wake her companion, having warned the inspectors that if he woke up, they “would have problems.” But they still had to disturb peaceful sleep. ‘Heavily tired’ man rose with difficulty and immediately asked the police for a cigarette. And then he tried to escape. He did not intercede for his companion. She had to go to the police department, which the detainee objected actively. And only for aesthetic reasons – the road patrol car seemed not enough clean to her. 

The drunk lady turned out to be Maria Mishchenko, a 34-year-old specialist in the guardianship and custody of the Administration of the Oktyabrsky district of Saratov. Her companion was the Minister of Finance of the region. The car was the official car of the Center for Budget Studies, which, it would seem, the official did not have the right to use during the vacation.

The funny thing is that Vyskrebentsev is married and of course not to Mishchenko. As the relatives of the compromised lady official have told, she does not consume alcohol, especially now, when she is on a maternity leave. If the two colleagues had twirled a stormy romance somewhere in Thailand or Turkey, everything would have been fine. But in the homeland, a scandal erupted immediately. The video got on the Internet and quickly attracted the attention of the federal media. It was necessary for the Saratov authorities to hastily react to the unfortunate incident. A drunken wild ride cost Vyskrebentsev his career – a promising official was forced to resign from the post of minister on his own free will.

Sergei Zhigarev, State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), chairman of the Committee on Economic Policy, Industry, Innovative Development and Entrepreneurship of the lower house of parliament, as well as a member of the National Banking Council of the country apparently also lacks Brazilian passions. So the politician decided to organize his own festival. July 8, State Duma deputies went on vacation, and by the end of the first day of the well-deserved rest, Zhigarev was already on a hospital bed.

A year ago, a deputy who has been married for a long time and has three children, met with the 24-year-old model Olga Sintyureva. A stormy romance started, although Zhigarev did not get a divorce. He tried to win the girl with expensive gifts, drove her to fashionable resorts. But earlier this year, Olga decided to break up with a generous parliamentarian; she said Zhigarev began to get handsy. And soon she got acquainted with the native of Chechnya Timur and complained that a high-ranking fan does not want to leave her alone. As a real high-lander, Timur generously offered to help get rid of the unwanted admirer.

July 8, Olga met with Zhigarev and agreed to his request to return all the gifts. Together they sat in the Mercedes to go get the presents. And at that moment Timur approached the car. He pulled the deputy out of the passenger seat, threw him on the asphalt and began to beat him with fists in the face first and then with his legs. The beating was recorded with a security camera. 

Zhigarev endured so much that he had to go to the hospital. However, the deputy did not write a statement to the police. Instead, he accused the former mistress of embezzling 20 million rubles and 35 thousand dollars. On July 11, Sintyureva was detained and taken to the detention center on Petrovka street.

Here is a story worthy of a soap opera. It remains to add that Zhigarev, leaving the interrogation, did not answer the question of the correspondent of the online news portal Mash about his health. Instead, he pushed the journalist away and hit hard on the camera.

However, Zhigarev at least did not try to violate the directive, voiced by Volodin. In May, the speaker firmly stated that the State Duma deputies would not spend their holidays in countries that had declared sanctions against Russia. All parliamentarians will choose a holiday in our country. “I prefer to rest in my homeland – on the Volga and in the Crimea – than abroad. And I recommend it to others,” Volodin concluded. 

Vyacheslav Volodin

Many deputies frankly did not like this statement. Sure! Why should they rest in Russia, if they have bought apartments and mansions abroad long ago? According to the latest declarations, 21 deputies and 9 senators have foreign real estate indicated in the list of property. Mostly, in the Pyrenees, in Bulgaria or Switzerland. But they do not want to openly ignore Volodin’s appeal either. Therefore, the owner of apartments in Spain, State Duma deputy Konstantin Zatulin described his plans for vacation very carefully. Like he might not go home to Spain, “I usually go there in the summer just for a week, sometimes more, but this year we will not get to go there. I have no firm plans. Let’s see how circumstances, including financial ones, will develop, in order to go far or nearby. But in any case, I’ll come to my place in Sochi, and maybe somewhere else.”

The vice-speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Georgy Boos turned out to be more decisive. When the last plenary session of the lower house of the Russian parliament was over before the holiday, he ran down the central staircase to the exit from the old building of the State Duma. And he hurriedly told journalists, “Tomorrow I’ll run away! To the sea! To Europe! To sea! I will travel.” And then he concretized the route of his ‘escape,’ saying that he was going to central and southern Europe, including France

Georgy Boos

The other colleagues did not open their plans so frankly. They decided to rest abroad quietly. So, the deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Alexander Vasilyev, for example, already traveled in Scandinavia in July. And he came to a deep conclusion, which he shared with his Instagram followers: Scandinavians do not know how to draw a rainbow. They always skip the blue color.

Alexander Vasilyev

Maxim Zhavoronkov, First Deputy Head of the CEC of United Russia party and head of the organizational management, also made a deep observation during his vacation. In July, he went to travel across Europe. He drove to Warsaw, the capital of Poland, then drank beer and ate cabbage sausages in Saxony. And finally, he went to Spain, where he rested with his wife and three daughters.

Maxim Zhavoronkov

For the sake of justice, it should be noted that there are very few renegades, who do not only violate the unofficial prohibition, but also upload photos to the social networks. Most representatives of the domestic political elite follow the unofficial rule. They either do not cross the border, or hide it carefully. On the pages in social networks – only work photos or pictures from the rest in Russia. The fact that they actually happen to go abroad is possible to understand only due to careless actions of children.

So, Liza Peskova, the daughter of the press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov, recently set up her father. The girl says that she worked all summer in Paris. She celebrated the victory of the French national team in the World Cup 2018, driving around the capital in an open-topped car with a French flag in her hands. “I feel proud for Russia and for the best championship in history, and also, joy for the deserved victory of France! For whom did you root? Who was in Russia, tell me what you liked most.”

And on August 4 Lisa posted a photo, on which she is standing in an embrace with her father on a beach. One would wonder where the picture was taken if the girl did not leave France? And when did Peskov have time to get more tanned than his daughter?

Children of businessmen do not lag behind from children of politicians also. They stopped boasting of expensive yachts bought for daddy’s money and cruises on warm seas. So, only thanks to Natalia Rudova, the model and the star of several serials, it became known that 19-year-old Sergey Sarkisov, the younger son and heir of the billions of the RESO-Guarantee company head went abroad. June 18, 35-year-old Natalia posted a picture from Nice in the Instagram. The model was photographed in a bikini next to an exemplary student of the Economics Faculty of MGIMO University. Yes, Sarkisov got screwed because of dangerous liaisons… Henceforth he will be more careful. Like the rest, he will learn to hide unpatriotic inclinations and begin to upload photos from the Russian land to the social networks.

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