Some Russians are unwilling to risk their lives in the trenches for Putin’s imperial ambitions. The relatives of the Russian bureaucratic elite choose to avoid the army and frequently travel abroad. However, they now feel greater embarrassment and attempt to conceal this fact.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, reportedly, in the recent past, requested that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner Group mercenary organization, take his son to the front lines. It is believed that Nikolai Peskov served as an artilleryman in Ukraine for six months. After returning, the son of Vladimir Putin’s closest associate told Komsomolskaya Pravda that he had taken part in the fighting and even deserves the medal “For Courage.”
However, there are doubts about the war stories told by young Peskov. According to information found on Telegram, his Tesla X received tickets in Moscow when he supposedly was at the front. Peskov is the son of a Kremlin spokesman from his first marriage. He has a reputation for reckless and illegal driving, evident even during the past decade he lived in London.
The current public relations effort may be aimed at demonstrating that even the children of the elite are willing to serve in the military. Nikolai Peskov became famous last year when he received a call from Alexei Navalny’s associates claiming to be military commission officials shortly after Russia announced its mobilization. He declined their request to join the army and indicated that it wasn’t a suitable location for him to be in.
The new aristocracy
Nikolai Peskov, aged 33, is a typical example of the privileged youth in Russia. They are the offspring of officials or business magnates and tend to follow similar career paths predetermined by their parents. These individuals often travel overseas during their teenage years or even earlier, attending prestigious schools and universities in countries such as the UK, USA, Switzerland, and occasionally France or Germany. As a result, they tend to spend more time out of Russia than within its borders.
Some, especially if they plan to pursue a career in administration and services, may consider completing their studies at one of Russia’s esteemed universities known for producing skilled state personnel, such as Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), Diplomatic Academy, FSS Academy, St. Petersburg University of Economy and Finance, or Moscow University of Management.
When these individuals in their thirties return to Moscow, it’s usually to secure lucrative jobs in state-owned companies, often senior management or board-level positions. Those with influential family connections may even be appointed to ministerial posts, like Dmitry Patrushev, who became the Minister of Agriculture due to his father Nikolai Patrushev close ties with Putin as a most crucial security guard and the longtime head of the FSS.
In theory, war should hinder the life plans of these privileged kids, especially young individuals who are still studying abroad or enjoying a carefree lifestyle. It is inappropriate to flaunt one’s lavish life in the evil West while young Russians die on the front lines. However, Putin’s new aristocracy seems unwilling to change or let go of their extravagant habits like a casual approach spent millions left and right.
A few weeks ago, Ukrainian Pravda journalists tracked down Svetlana Ivanova, the former spouse of Russian Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, in Courchevel’s well-known French alpine destination. There are suspicions that Ivanov’s divorce may have been fake, as it occurred last year when the Minister responsible for Russian army purchases was on the list of Western sanctions. Due to her husband’s status, Ivanova may have been restricted from traveling abroad.
Furthermore, it has been discovered that two daughters of Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister, Alexei Krivoruchko, hold or are eligible for American citizenship. They were born in Miami, where Krivoruchko’s wife frequently visits. Due to sanctions, Krivoruchko himself is unable to travel to the USA.
“The masks have been dropped, and it is obvious to us that the NATO bloc is waging a hybrid war against Russia and Belarus,” said Sergey Naryshkin, the head of the Russian hForeign Intelligence Service, last year.
At the same time, his daughter went on vacation numerous times to Turkey, Italy, and Greece – after all, member countries of evil NATO.
Instagram and other social media provide thousands of sweet holiday photos and selfies shared by family members of the Russian elite. However, Ksenia Shoigu, the daughter of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, appears more discreet. She has yet to share any photos bragging about her vacations in Europe or the USA, only those taken in Dubai.
– Ah, how beautiful. What is the name of the island? – friends of Yulia, the wife of Sergei Matviyenko, ask in the comments section under the photo with a holiday view.
His mother, Valentina Matviyenko, Chairwoman of the Federation Council, is one of Putin’s closest personal assistants. She organized the para-elections in Russia. The commented sight on the picture was from the Maldives, from the hotel where a day costs 3,000 Euro.
War births shame
The daily sums mentioned are trivial to the young elite who party outside of Russia. This group typically owns shares in companies associated with the pro-Kremlin oligarchs, which offer profitable services to the state. As a result, they earn millions of dollars and enjoy an easygoing lifestyle. It is similar to feudal rent, akin to the dividends the Russian aristocracy received from their land estates during the Tsarist Empire.
Some time ago, the younger generation of the Russian nomenklatura could openly study and play in the West with the full support of the state without being discreet about it. Before passing in April last year, even Vladimir Zhirinovsky must have known that his granddaughters attended TASIS, a prestigious American school in Switzerland. Despite his public criticism of the US and threats of nuclear war, Zhirinovsky did not see any issue with his grandchildren learning from American teachers.
A decade ago, the Kremlin strongly promoted educating the elite abroad. Vladimir Yakunin, a prominent oligarch in Putin’s circle and former President of Russian Railways for ten years until 2015, created a foundation to send the best students from Moscow State University to highly-regarded Western Universities. Yakunin’s sons attended prestigious institutions such as the London School of Economics and Columbia University’s business school. However, Yakunin no longer promotes foreign education due to sanctions imposed on him, which restrict his entry to multiple Western countries.
However, it is increasingly difficult for the relatives of people close to Putin to hide their foreign voyages. Many prefer living in cities like Miami, London, or the Côte d’Azur over Moscow or Krasnoyarsk. Spouses and adult children travel to the West while they still can before being subjected to sanctions. Each Nomenklatura Clan has concealed assets overseas, such as real estate, companies, and bank accounts, which are now monitored by Western special and financial services. These investments require special attention from their owners, including communication with law firms, direct conversations, and swift transactions. Even the relatives of Putin’s Ministers and Generals face these challenges and strive to remain anonymous.
Yet, it only sometimes succeeds. The paparazzi follow the more prominent ones. Such was the case with Daniil Solovyov, the son of the leading Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov. Twenty-one-year-old Daniil is a model and artist. Pictures of him taken at parties in London’s gay clubs were published in The Sun Magazine. The father was furious and assured his son was in Moscow, not London. He failed to mention in that statement why young Solovyov was not serving on the military front, like many of his peers, whom he sent to war by the millions with his propaganda tirades.
Michał Kacewicz / belsat.eu
Translated by PEV.