Russia's Strange State Purchases: Books, Oars, Hearses

A hearse for an administration, a seduction book for the Department of Presidential Affairs and other weird purchases made by official departments (yes, for budget money)

State purchases are a constant headache for officials forced to share information about tenders for elite alcohol, luxury cars, gold watches and other public servants' needs. But sometimes on the portal, one can find really strange lots: for example, recently the Department of Presidential Affairs ordered literature on seduction and books with recipes. We remembered which state purchases surprised everyone.


In late November, Russian media reported on strange purchases by the Department of Presidential Affairs. On the public procurement portal, a contract was found concluded by the book expedition of the DPA with Jupiter LLC on acquisition of 656 books for the amount of half a million rubles.

The list of literature, which, as writer Dmitry Bykov suggested, can be distributed in a kiosk in the Presidential Administration, was quite surprising. The enterprise, which deals with the provision of civil servants with printed publications, has ordered numerous editions of the Russian publicist Nikolai Starikov, known for his unusual historical interpretations, various books on psychology and self-development. For example, “Psychology of Compassion”, “Psychophilosophy 2.0. The book for those who are tired of being afraid”, “Shred the complexes! 140 tricks for a happy life”, children's literature and even a book called “Wine, nastoika, samogon. The best recipes.” There were also books on unconventional medicine: the list included “Healing properties of hydrogen peroxide” and “Horseradish for treatment and purification.”

The DPA refused to comment on the purchase.


In Yakutia, public procurement is less literary. In May 2016, BBC journalists found a lot called “ass” purchased by the Ministry of Health's auto parts division. The spare part was estimated at 3786.6 rubles, at that, it transpired that the “ass” was bought in 2015 – then its cost was 3631.7 rubles.

The Medical Center “Reserve” – ​​a subdivision of the regional Ministry of Health – said that the name got there due to a typo, though, they did not explain what spare part was actually meant. The rise in the price was explained by the possible change in the ruble exchange rate. However, the management of the Center assured that in 2015 the part was not purchased for budget funds – the list of spare parts was published within the list of potentially necessary ones in the event of a breakdown, and the “ass” eventually was not needed.


Some officials need very little to be happy: some tasty chewing gum would be enough. In 2013, employees of the Vladivostok institution called Economic Directorate of the Krai’s Administration placed a tender for the delivery of 400 packs of Mentos chewing gum with different tastes on the state procurement portal. On fresh breath, the officials spent 17 161.82 rubles.

Despite the indignation of the residents of Vladivostok, who spoke actively about the purchase on the Internet, officials did not provide any explanations.


At the end of 2016, Dmitry Sukharev, who at that time was an employee of the Anti-Corruption Fund, and now is the head of the Transparency International Center in St. Petersburg, noticed an unusual state order from the officials of the St. Petersburg Volkovskoye Municipal District. The Employees of the Municipal Administration planned to spend 2.5 million rubles for educational activities.

The fighter with corruption was interested in the subject of the planned meetings. The list of planned programs included the following topics: “National interpretations of Freemasonry: the tragic fate of the Grand Master de jure, or de facto”, “The concept of integrating a temple into a representative space of a manor universum”, “As if there is no grave ahead, but a mysterious ladder...”and “Anomalous and geopathic zones, psychopathology of illusions and hallucinations in the mystification of the history of St. Petersburg.”


The journalists favourite lot was found in the summer of 2017: the central drugstore of the city of Nakhodka posted a procurement tender on the portal, indicating in the Methods of procurement section that the purchase was carried out in three stages by “oar in cake hole within the 223- FZ”.

The documents of the tender also contained photographs of a woman in a towel with a bucket of champagne. NTV journalists found out that this was director of the pharmacy Ilona Ponitaeva, who felt that the picture was published by the former system administrator of the pharmacy, who quit with a scandal.


A hearse with a stereo was ordered by the Committee for Management of Municipal Property of Barnaul. This was reported by the pro-government movement “All-Russian People's Front” in 2014.

In an application published on the public procurement portal on April 1, the municipal officials promised 2.2 million rubles for a car with a “coffin stand”, “straps for securing the coffin lid”, engine heater, speakers and a rear-view camera. The Committee suggested that the description is suitable Peugeot Boxer or Citroen Jumper.

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