My Big Corrupt Wedding
Nothing human is alien to Russian officials: they also marry and have children. Wedding is an expensive event ─ banquets and bouquets for millions of rubles, performances of the top Russian music-hall artists, Kirkorov, Baskov, Meladze and Leps, rented yachts and helicopters. The cost of celebrations often significantly exceeds the declared income of a couple who marries. Russiangate recalls high-profile wedding scandals of the recent years.
WEDDING OF PRESIDENT’S PRESS SECRETARY
In summer 2015, Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov and figure skater Tatyana Navka celebrated their wedding. The event was held in Sochi in the hotel Rodina Grand Hotel & SPA; among the guests, there were head of the Republic of Ingushetia Yunus-Bek Evkurov, Philip Kirkorov, Nikolai Baskov, Valery Meladze, Vladislav Surkov’s wife Natalia, Anna Semenovich, Alika Smekhova and other high-ranking officials and pop stars.
The couple planned to keep the details of the wedding party a secret, but staff at Rodina Hotel let the journalists know that they would host the event. Alfred Kokh, the former vice-premier of Russia, estimated the Peskov’s expenditures: according to his calculations, the wedding cost at least $ 600 thousand.
“Renting this hotel entirely in high season for even two days is worth a couple of hundred thousand dollars. If Peskov did not pay them, but they allowed him to do that anyway, it's a bribe. If he did pay, then where did the money come from?” Kokh asked. According to him, food for guests was taken from the Moscow restaurant Le Maree and could cost about $ 100 thousand, another $ 300 thousand was spent on artists' fees.
At the wedding, Peskov was wearing a Richard Mille RM 52-01 watch, the value of which the Anti-Corruption Fund estimated at $ 620 thousand. Later, Tatyana Navka explained that the watch is her gift for the wedding. However, the official is obliged to notify the management about the gift of such value. The honeymoon of the spouses also came out complicated: a source of FBK told that Peskov and Navka were spending their time in Sardinia on the yacht called Maltese Falcon, weekly rent of which costs 26 million rubles.
At the same time, the declared income of the President's Press Secretary is much lower: in 2016, the official reported 12.8 million, in 2015 – about 36.7 million, and in 2014, he declared 9 million rubles.
WEDDING OF JUDGE’S DAUGHTER AND INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE DETECTIVE
In July, lawyer Sergei Zhorin posted on Instagram a video from the wedding of Sofia, the daughter of Elena Khakhaleva, the judge and member of the Presidium of the Krasnodar Regional Court, and investigator of the Krasnodar Investigative Committee Vadim Badalov. The celebration took place in June, with Nikolai Baskov, Valery Meladze, Vera Brezhneva, Iosif Kobzon and Soso Pavliashvili performing at the event. Zhorin drew attention to the publication of a video from the wedding on the page of one of his colleagues.
According to him, the wedding cost about $ 2 million. At the same time, Khakhaleva's income in 2016 amounted to 2.6 million rubles. The Council of Judges of the Krasnodar Territory first found no reason to check on this information, but then still conducted an investigation. The Council did not find any violations and offered to check Zhorin himself, having considered the lawyer's report to be “pressure on the court”.
Judge Khakhaleva denied everything: according to the judge, her former husband and Sophia’s father took all the expenses, which were far less than $ 2 million, upon himself, and the stars came to the ceremony voluntarily. Meladze, Pavliashvili and Kobzon are longtime friends of her former husband Robert Khakhalev, a big landowner of the Territory.
WEDDING OF CONSISTENT DEUPTY
According to various estimates, in 2011, Oleg Pakholkov, a State Duma deputy from Fair Russia, spent from 9 to 20 million rubles for his wedding. Pakholkov with his fiancé, 18-year-old model Lada, celebrated in a tourist center on the banks of the Don. They invited a hundred guests and the popular Russian band called Smysloviye Gallutsinatsii (Semantic Hallucinations). The guests – deputies, artists and businessmen – were brought to the celebration on yachts, enjoyed specially tailored marine themes suits and journeys on hot air balloons.
In 2010, Pakholkov declared 1.9 million rubles of income, and in 2011 – 2.8 million. Ironically, as early as in 2016, Pakholkov suggested preparing a bill that would oblige Russians to prove the legality of having more than a million rubles. Pakholkov said that nowadays there is an inappropriate presumption of innocence in relation to such citizens, and investigative bodies are forced to prove the “vinacity” of money.
“A person who cannot explain the existence of his money – starting from 1 million rubles – robs the state. This is a crime against the homeland, it can be safely called treason,” the deputy said. After this statement, no information on the fate of the bill transpired in the media.
WEDDING OF DRUNK DRIVER
The wedding of LDPR deputy Kirill Zhigarev and a graduate of the Moscow State Technical University named after Bauman, Olga Parshenko, cost 9 million rubles. The event was held in June 2016 in the Moscow Region, in the elite village of Deauville, on the shore of a lake. The hosts of the ceremony were Valdis Pelsh and Olga Shelest; the musical program was delivered by the band Bravo and American jazzman Charlie Armstrong. Pelsh's fee was 1.5 million rubles, another 750 thousand were paid to Olga Shelest; the performers received 2 million rubles each. The banquet, rent, installation of the tent and catering cost 3 million.
In 2016, Zhigarev declared only 5.3 million of income. In 2015 and 2014, he earned respectively 3.9 million and 3.8 million. The deputy’s son, who was suspected of owning an undeclared apartment in Florida at a cost of $ 2.7 million, had previously drew journalists’ attention: Kirill Zhigarev was caught drunk driving with fake driving license several times.
WEDDING OF LITVINENKO’S KILLER
LDPR deputy Andrei Lugovoi, who is accused of murdering a former FSB officer and the author of the book The FSB is blowing up Russia, Alexander Litvinenko, and his fiancé, 23-year-old Ksenia from Nakhodka, celebrated their wedding on an equal scale.
It is not known how much the wedding, which the politician celebrated in the autumn of 2013 in the Abrau-Durso reserve in Gelendzhik, cost. The bride and groom travelled to the wedding venue on a helicopter, and the guests were chartered and placed in the Kempinski Grand Hotel; at the banquet, they drank champagne made in Abrau-Durso, the main dinner was held at the restaurant called Shater Primorye. The second day the newlyweds and guests spent in the Cossack village of Aderbievka, where they enjoyed fireworks on the lake shore.
Lugovoi can afford to rent a helicopter: in 2016, he earned 13.6 million rubles, in 2015 – 10.8 million, in 2014 – 30.5 million, and in 2011 and 1.03 billion rubles.
WEDDING OF SON OF MAYOR MANQUE
About the rich wedding of the son of the former mayor of the Dagestan city of Buinaksk, Huseyn Gamzatov, Life.ru was the first to tell in the spring. The wedding of Gamzatov’s son named Gamzat and his bride Saniyat, a teacher of junior classes in Makhachkala, cost at least 6.5 million rubles. Renting the venue was about 300 thousand rubles, 2 million rubles were spent for the banquet for 700 people, the same amount was spent on the flower decoration of the venue. More than 2 million, according to a source Life.ru was paid for the performance of singer Lubov Uspenskaya.
In 2014, Huseyin Gamzatov declared 1.1 million rubles, his wife – 1 million. There is no information for 2015 on the incomes of the former mayor, who resigned in January 2016, in the anti-corruption declarations of the leaders and employees of district administrations. But the Internet delivered its own verdict against the former district head: “After this wedding, Gamzatov will definitely not become mayor once again.”