Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the elder statesman of Russian politics, is often not taken seriously by many. However, this is a mistake because the Liberal Democratic Party he founded is a structure that provides valuable insights into modern Russia. In exchange for loyalty to the party, almost anything is allowed: immoral actions, connections with criminal elements, and excessive enrichment of its leadership.
Some of the information about Igor Lebedev’s property, similar to what is outlined in this text, was published two weeks ago by the "Baza" publication.
Exactly one year ago, at the end of February 2018, the State Duma witnessed a scandal the likes of which had never occurred before. Three female journalists accused Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee and a member of the LDPR, of harassment. Public outrage demanded his expulsion from the lower house, but no punishment ensued. What’s more, the option of any sanctions against the parliamentarian was never considered since he had influential patrons, as recalled by a source close to the leadership of the lower house of parliament. Slutsky’s appointment as the head of the committee was personally supported by President Vladimir Putin. Zhirinovsky turned to Putin with a request to help Slutsky lead the International Affairs Committee, and the president endorsed the idea. Zhirinovsky himself has close ties with Vladimir Resin, the former overseer of Moscow’s construction complex.
A year later, Slutsky, when reminiscing about the harassment scandal, refers to a correspondent from "The Project" using the same word, "zayka" (bunny), which he used when addressing one of the journalists who accused him of harassment. Slutsky believes the scandal was "doomed to fade away" because it was "artificially created."
However, the impunity of the deputy becomes more understandable when you know the history of the party he represents.
LDPR: The oldest of the four parties represented in parliament. Founded in 1989 as the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union. The party has 293,578 members. In the 7th State Duma, the LDPR has 38 deputies. The leader of the faction in the State Duma is Vladimir Zhirinovsky. His son, Igor Lebedev, is the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma. Representatives of the faction head 5 committees. Between 2013 and 2017, the party received: 3.5 billion rubles from the budget.
Money in Exchange for "Services": Zhirinovsky had a habit of carrying ruble banknotes in his wallet to hand them out to ordinary citizens in front of cameras, while keeping counterfeit dollars in his pocket to dramatically burn them. This was revealed from his interview with MK. Ordinary people often turned to LDPR leader Zhirinovsky for financial assistance, not always aware of the potential consequences.
In the spring of 1999, Galina Novak, a Russian language teacher from the Moldovan village of Verkhnie Popeshti, visited Zhirinovsky’s Moscow office to request financial assistance. Her daughters were unemployed, and the elder had just given birth to a child while her husband had passed away. From Zhirinovsky’s office, Novak brought home 10,000 rubles and Zhirinovsky’s promise to hire her younger daughter, 24-year-old Valentina, as an assistant in the party leader’s household. This story was told by Novak herself to journalists of "Novaya Gazeta" 19 years ago.
A few weeks later, Galina found herself back in the deputy’s office, but this time it was Communist Vladimir Volkov’s office. She recounted that during Valentina’s work in Zhirinovsky’s house, she was often required to perform different duties, not always voluntarily. This incident from the late 1990s was described in "Novaya Gazeta," and its authenticity was confirmed by Volkov and a family acquaintance of the Novaks. "Valya didn’t want to talk about it, but I persuaded her," Volkov recalls in his conversation with "The Project." In Volkov’s office, Valentina put her complaints in writing: supposedly, she and an unknown young man named Alexey had to live in Zhirinovsky’s cottage and provide him with "certain services." Vladislav Yurchik, a Communist party member who was investigating the case, and his colleague Volkov provided the last name of the young man, but for ethical reasons, we do not disclose it. Valentina managed to escape only two weeks later, as recounted by her mother. After the incident, Valentina and Galina returned to Moldova, where they still live. Shortly after the escape, Sergey Abeltsev, a Zhirinovsky ally from the faction, came to the Novak family in Popeshti with a proposal to withdraw the accusations. Despite allegations of pressure, the authenticity of the story was never proven by law enforcement agencies. Some officials, including Oleg Shmunevsky, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Western District of Moscow, and Gennady Seleznev, the Chairman of the State Duma, commented on the case.
Volkov claims that he filed a statement with the Prosecutor General’s Office, which is confirmed by comments from Oleg Shmunevsky, the Deputy Prosecutor of the Western District of Moscow. Shmunevsky stated, "The lives of our citizens force them to engage in certain unlawful actions." He also noted that Novak did not provide any evidence and mentioned that Novak had complained to Patriarch Alexy II and the Moldovan authorities. The Chairman of the State Duma, Gennady Seleznev, was also aware of the case and even advised the communist to hire security, as recalled by Volkov.
The authenticity of Valentina’s story was never proven by law enforcement decisions. However, no serious investigations were conducted. "Zhirinovsky was needed by Boris Yeltsin’s team," according to Volkov. Four months after the scandal, the LDPR unanimously voted to approve Vladimir Putin, nominated by Yeltsin, as the Prime Minister of Russia.
Money in Exchange for Food: In November 2004, Vladimir Zhirinovsky was expected at the city court in St. Petersburg, but a witness was significantly delayed. Before the hearing, the LDPR leader, accompanied by security personnel, went to the grave of Galina Starovoitova, a deputy who had been killed six years earlier. To ensure the leader’s access to the grave, Zhirinovsky’s security broke the temporary fence, set up a stool, and a small table with a bottle of vodka near the grave. Sitting on the stool, Zhirinovsky simulated a discussion with his deceased colleague about the situation in Russia for 20 minutes. Before leaving, he left a half-empty bottle of vodka and "Zhirinovsky" cologne on the grave, saying, "This is for you on New Year’s," as reported by journalists from "Kommersant." On that day, the trial concerned the murder of Starovoitova.
Upon arriving at the hearing with his entourage, Zhirinovsky called the accused victims of a government mistake and accused Ruslan Linkov, an assistant to Starovoitova, of being involved in her murder. Linkov miraculously survived on November 20, 1998, when he and Starovoitova were shot in the entrance of her building. She died on the spot, while Linkov suffered a severe head injury. Starovoitova had been investigating the activities of the LDPR and had put forward a version that the deputies could have been selling weapons in exchange for Iraqi oil, according to Linkov. The UN program "Oil for Food" allowed Iraq, under sanctions, to receive food in exchange for oil but not weapons. Zhirinovsky, according to a later UN investigation, received oil in exchange for lobbying Iraq’s interests, a claim he denied.
Zhirinovsky’s appearance in court was not accidental; one of the witnesses spoke about the complicated relationship between him and Starovoitova. "Starovoitova had particularly hostile relations with the LDPR faction in the State Duma and with Zhirinovsky personally," said Senator Lyudmila Narusova. Later, in 2014, former LDPR deputy and Zhirinovsky’s assistant Mikhail Glushchenko, also known as Misha Khokhol, who was associated with the Tambov criminal group, confessed to his involvement in the murder. He had been arrested earlier in 2009 for the murder of three other people, including former LDPR deputy Vyacheslav Shevchenko, another prominent figure associated with the Tambov criminal group, known as "Uncle Slava."
Glushchenko and Shevchenko were not the only "authorities" in the LDPR. "Criminals entered the Duma to enjoy parliamentary immunity. They couldn’t be searched unless caught in the act," explains Andrey Konstantinov, the author of "Criminal Petersburg," who was well-acquainted with the realities of the 90s. A parliamentary seat at the time cost at least $700,000, and an assistant’s ID was worth at least $10,000, claims Dmitry Zapol’sky, a well-known journalist in Petersburg during that era. An episode that demonstrates the LDPR’s collaboration with criminal elements from that time is recounted by Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin), the alleged leader of the Tambov group, who spoke to "The Project" through his lawyer while being in investigative custody at Kresty-2 detention center. In criminal circles, he was referred to as "Kum," and in the press, he was dubbed the "night governor of Petersburg."
"One time doesn’t make you gay!" Vladimir Bryntsalov, a presidential candidate in the 1996 elections, joked while hugging Zhirinovsky with hearty laughter during a televised debate.
The politicians were debating that day, and Zhirinovsky remarked that Bryntsalov’s watch was far more expensive than his own (Zhirinovsky valued his watch at 80,000 rubles, while Bryntsalov’s accessory was priced at $80,000). Zhirinovsky then persuaded the businessman to exchange watches. Apparently, Zhirinovsky was not satisfied with Bryntsalov’s watch, and he wanted to sell them. To do so, he turned to another prominent figure from the Tambov group, LDPR deputy Mikhail Monastyrsky, who was also a well-known antique dealer. "Monya," as he was known in criminal circles, offered the watches to "Kumarin" and quoted a price of $30,000. However, Kumarin recounts that he declined to buy the watches and shared this information with "The Project" through his lawyer.
Unpleasant facts about all the characters in this episode will come to light in the future, which will be detrimental to the LDPR. Glushchenko, while confessing to his involvement in Starovoitova’s murder, will name Vladimir Kumarin as the mastermind behind the crime. Shortly before his death in 2007, Monastyrsky will admit to the police that he purchased his parliamentary mandate for $300,000.
Money in Exchange for Positions:
In 2010, a delegation from the State Duma, including Slutsy, went to Paris to meet with French parliamentarians. During a conversation with the French, one of the United Russia party members introduced Slutsy as a "colleague from the LDPR." After a pause, Slutsy, a liberal democrat, asked the United Russia member not to present him in that way. He stated, "They don’t need to know that I’m from the LDPR. I always introduce myself simply as a State Duma deputy," as reported by one of the delegation members. Slutsy justified this request by explaining that he joined the LDPR simply because he needed a seat in the Duma.
Traditionally, the LDPR faction consists of approximately one-third so-called "commercial" deputies, according to two individuals who have worked in the party’s apparatus at different times and a federal official familiar with the matter.
These "commercial" deputies obtain their mandates in exchange for various forms of assistance to the party. One of the most straightforward methods is a one-time payment. A place on the federal election list for the State Duma elections can cost between 100-200 million rubles, as claimed by a former LDPR deputy. A deputy from the "United Russia" party provides a similar estimate under the condition of anonymity. However, these figures are more likely for experienced deputies seeking re-election to the Duma. For newcomers, the amounts could be higher, starting at around 400 million rubles, according to a current federal official well-acquainted with the LDPR leadership. One current deputy even made a contribution of around 500 million rubles, as relayed by a colleague and acquaintance within the party.
Payment is sometimes made directly in the State Duma, according to two people in the faction’s apparatus. In 1993, Sergey Abeltsev, the deputy chairman of the Lenin Collective Farm, wanted to be elected to the Duma. He arranged to meet with Zhirinovsky through mutual acquaintances: he picked him up in his "Chaika" car from the party headquarters and took him to his home. There, over a sumptuous meal with cognac, they reached an agreement, then returned to the party’s office to finalize everything, as recounted by their mutual acquaintance. This is how one of the most controversial deputies in the Duma for many years ended up there, a deputy who would later silence Valentina Novak, according to the allegations of Deputy Volkov. In the current Duma, he no longer serves, but cash-filled briefcases still regularly appear in the party’s office, according to two employees of the party’s apparatus.
In other cases, payment is made through donations to organizations closely associated with the party, such as the Russian Union of Free Youth, the Center for Youth Initiative Support, and the Unemployed Youth Support Fund, as described by an individual close to the LDPR leadership. All these funds are headed by Deputy Vadim Denygin (and the Union of Free Youth was also led by Galina Lebedeva, Zhirinovsky’s former wife). These organizations indeed have significant turnovers. According to their financial reports, they received voluntary donations and contributions totaling 4.3 billion rubles between 2015 and 2017. All of these funds are registered at the same address on Basmanny Lane, where the Charitable Foundation established by Zhirinovsky is also located. In 2015, two of these organizations, the Center for Youth Initiative Support and the Union of Free Youth, also received money from the Presidential Directorate - a subsidiary structure of the organization placed orders for furniture in the State Duma for them, and they received these orders without competition. Denygin did not respond to Project’s questions.
Contributors often make multiple payments. A typical example is Slutsy, who is considered one of the LDPR’s most important sponsors, according to a federal official. Slutsy arranges trips for deputies to business events abroad and has even paid for Zhirinovsky’s birthday celebrations on one occasion, as claimed by a source close to the party’s leadership. Slutsy himself dismissed this information and other questions from Project about his work in the LDPR as "complete nonsense."
Finally, another way of earning is by advancing the careers of deputies. For example, Sergei Zhigarev, a deputy from the LDPR, is interested in becoming a governor, according to the federal official. To fulfill his ambition, he finances the LDPR, and Zhirinovsky lobbies for him in the Kremlin, according to a source cited by Project. Zhigarev did not respond to Project’s questions. At the same time, such deputies also enjoy parliamentary immunity. Several years ago, journalists found out that Zhigarev might own undeclared real estate in the United States, which could have led to the loss of his mandate.
Money in Exchange for Loyalty:
The reason why the Kremlin turns a blind eye to dubious operations within the LDPR is clear: the party guarantees loyalty on crucial issues, says a former federal official. In return, like the other three parliamentary parties, the LDPR receives the right to receive budget financing.
In the spring of 2013, Zhirinovsky made a very unpleasant statement for the Kremlin: publicly announced that his party would not support the appointment of Elvira Nabiullina as the head of the Central Bank. Upset Kremlin officials had to urgently arrange a meeting with the LDPR leader. However, they had no reason to worry because the conversation was short. The leader of the LDPR was explained: the vote is a matter of principle, and the candidacy of Nabiullina was personally proposed by the president, requiring the support of the entire so-called "systemic opposition," which includes representatives from the LDPR, the Communist Party, and "Fair Russia," as one of the participants in that conversation described the parties represented in parliament. Zhirinovsky did not resist for a moment and changed his position, requesting only a formal meeting with the future head of the Central Bank. As a result, the party unanimously voted in favor of Nabiullina.
Zhirinovsky always senses the political winds and knows when he can vote against government initiatives and when not to, according to a former Kremlin official. To prevent any mistakes, there’s a rule in the LDPR: when an important law is being considered in the State Duma, regular party members are prohibited from speaking, and only Zhirinovsky can address the issue, as recalled by former LDPR deputy Margarita Svergunova.
The LDPR often changes its stance but always in a way that benefits the authorities. In 1999, at a crucial moment, Zhirinovsky did not support the Communists in the vote on impeaching Boris Yeltsin, for which the Kremlin tried to help him become the head of the Belgorod region, as recalled by the region’s governor, Yevgeny Savchenko. Two years later, at the request of the authorities, he unexpectedly supported a law he had previously opposed, which allowed governors to run for a third term, according to a former State Duma deputy.
However, the LDPR’s loyalty is not limited to "correct" voting. Several months ago, the presidential administration drafted a bill that would give the authorities the power to control the internet in Russia. As is customary in such cases, the project was proposed not in the name of the president or the government but by a group of deputies, including one who must represent the "opposition." Kremlin officials then called on experienced LDPR member Andrey Lugovoy, asking him to sign the bill, without even informing Zhirinovsky about it, according to a person close to the Duma leadership.
The Kremlin can work directly with Lugovoy, as well as with about a dozen other LDPR deputies. The reason is that approximately one-third of the faction’s members are reserved for candidates delegated by the Kremlin, according to a person who worked in the LDPR apparatus. This is how Lugovoy ended up in the Duma faction led by Zhirinovsky, needing parliamentary immunity due to accusations in the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, or former head of the CEC Vladimir Churov, a long-time acquaintance of Vladimir Putin. Also, family members of important officials occasionally become LDPR deputies. For instance, in the fifth convocation of the Duma, the ex-wife of Oleg Govorun, the head of the presidential internal policy department (which oversees political parties), Tatiana Volozhinskaya, was a deputy. Two sources close to the party leadership told Project about the Kremlin’s request to include these individuals on the LDPR lists.
In exchange for such services, Zhirinovsky never directly asks for anything, but if he needs something from the Kremlin, he won’t hesitate to make a call, according to a former federal official. These calls became more persistent a few years ago, particularly when the LDPR leader wanted new premises for his Institute of World Civilizations. In 2002, the state granted the institute free use of buildings on 1st Basmanny Lane, and later, they passed into the ownership of a company belonging to Zhirinovsky’s family and associates, according to Rosreestr records: Building 1, Building 2.
Veteran of the Agency
"At the beginning of his studies, Zhirinovsky was an average student, receiving mediocre grades. But then, all of a sudden, he became an excellent student," recalls one of his fellow students at the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow State University, where the future leader of the LDPR (Liberal Democratic Party of Russia) attended classes in the late 1960s. Rumors of Zhirinovsky’s collaboration with intelligence agencies were already circulating at that time. Students speculated that his outstanding grades might have been the result of recruitment by the KGB. When young Zhirinovsky was present, they made an effort to discuss only "innocent" topics, remembers his fellow student, suspecting that Zhirinovsky might have been providing information to intelligence agencies.
In 1969, Zhirinovsky was sent on a business trip to a NATO country, capitalist Turkey, to work as a translator on a construction site. Upon his return, he told people that he had spent several days in a Turkish prison for selling badges with Lenin’s image on the streets, as recalled by an acquaintance of his from that time. Another classmate of Zhirinovsky also knew about his arrest for selling badges. Nevertheless, after his trip to Turkey, Zhirinovsky chose to pursue a career in law, possibly because the arrest had derailed his diplomatic prospects, speculates one of his fellow students.
Zhirinovsky’s professional path also suggests a possible connection with intelligence agencies. According to his official biography, the future politician completed internships at the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (Gosteleradio) and the State Committee for External Economic Relations of the USSR. He worked at the Soviet Committee for the Defense of Peace and later became an employee of the Dean’s Office for Foreign Students at the Higher School of Trade Union Movement. He later moved on to work at the Inyurkollegiya of the Ministry of Justice of the USSR.
By the late 1980s, Zhirinovsky held the position of legal consultant at the "Mir" publishing house, and from there, he was invited by Vladimir Bogachev to establish the Liberal Democratic Party of the Soviet Union (LDPSU) by invitation. Soon, a conflict arose among the founders, resulting in Zhirinovsky not only taking sole leadership of the party but also successfully registering it officially. This marked LDPSU as the first opposition party, as recalled by historian Yuri Korgunyuk.
"When Zhirinovsky took over the party, he was still driving an old gray Moskvich," reminisces party sponsor Andrey Zavidia, who ran for vice president alongside the LDPR leader in 1991. "But soon, he started outlasting anyone who could become his competition." By the 2000s, Zhirinovsky was driving an expensive Maybach car. In 2009, members of the United Russia party asked the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate reports that Zhirinovsky was using this car. The vehicle was registered in the name of Zhirinovsky’s ex-wife, Galina Lebedeva, and later transferred to the family’s partner, Alexander Mishin, according to the traffic police database.
The entire party operates on the same principle — enormous sums of money flow to Zhirinovsky’s family and associates within the LDPR, with his son, Igor Lebedev, being the key figure in this scheme, according to individuals within the party and federal officials.
Sports Star Igor Lebedev is passionate about football; he is a member of the RFU (Russian Football Union) executive committee and has expressed his willingness to lead the football association. Some party members even claim that Lebedev had plans to acquire a stake in one of the European football clubs. A former party staffer shared this information, but it seems Lebedev faced difficulties due to being included in the EU sanctions list. If football didn’t work out, he found success in basketball. To understand how, we need to delve into the family ties of the extensive Zhirinovsky family.
On the southwest outskirts of Moscow, right on the edge of the natural reserve "Dolina reki Setun" (Setun River Valley), stands a multi-story building for FSB (Federal Security Service) personnel. Nearby, there is a small gated community consisting of townhouses. In 1999, Zhirinovsky brought Valentina Novak, who later fled from him, to this place, as per her account relayed to "Proekt" by Deputy Volkov.
The settlement on Nezhinskaya Street is the compact residence of the entire extended Zhirinovsky family. The apartments here belong to Galina Lebedeva, Zhirinovsky’s former wife, whose divorce, according to acquaintances, might have been a sham (Anna Krylova, the press secretary of the LDPR faction, told "Proekt" that this wasn’t the case; the divorce was formalized in 1976 when "there was no point in a sham divorce"). They also belong to their son Igor Lebedev, Zhirinovsky’s nephew Pavel Zhirinovsky, and Alexander Balberov, a nephew and member of the State Duma of the VI convocation, whose relationship with Zhirinovsky was confirmed by a party source. Zhirinovsky doesn’t provide details about his illegitimate daughter Anastasia Vladimirovna, but from his interviews, it is known that her name is Anastasia Vladimirovna, along with her approximate year of birth, and that she was given her mother’s last name at birth. "Proekt" examined Rosreestr documents showing the ownership of the Nezhinskaya apartments by members of the family enterprise: Jeanne Gazdarova, the alleged mother of Zhirinovsky’s illegitimate son Oleg Eidelshtein (formerly Gazdarov), and Tatiana Tezikova, the probable mother of Zhirinovsky’s illegitimate daughter Tatiana Tezikova. In 2010, a namesake of Tatiana Tezikova transferred a share in another Moscow apartment to Anastasia Vladimirovna Tezikova. According to data from the traffic police database, Anastasia Tezikova, whose year of birth coincides with Zhirinovsky’s daughter (based on his interviews), has a car registered under the same phone number as the cars of Zhirinovsky’s ex-wife Galina Lebedeva and her business partner Alexander Mishin, while Zhirinovsky’s older sister, Vera, was one of the founders of the HOA (housing cooperative).
According to "Proekt’s" calculations, the Zhirinovsky family and their closest circle own 19 apartments and a non-residential space in the settlement, registered in Lebedeva’s company. Rosreestr extracts: building 1, building 2, building 2, building 2, building 3, building 3, building 4, building 4, building 5, building 5, building 6, building 7, building 7, building 7, building 7, building 7, building 7, building 7, building 8, building 8. The total area of the Zhirinovsky family’s holdings on Nezhinskaya Street is 6.8 thousand square meters, with a total value of approximately 2.7 billion rubles ($41.8 million). According to one luxury real estate portal, one square meter in an elite settlement costs 400,000 rubles.
Most of the apartments are owned by the company "Telmi," which is owned by an offshore company registered to Yuri Chaplygin, a namesake of Lebedev’s old friend Yuri Chaplygin, according to two of Lebedev’s acquaintances and Moscow "Dynamo" basketball player Nadezhda Grishaeva.
Nadezhda Grishaeva (referred to as such on her social media) captioned a photo on Instagram, where her daughter stands in front of a display of Zhirinovsky’s photos in the Manege, with the words "Nadya at the celebration of her father-in-law V.V. Zhirinovsky’s 70th birthday." Although Lebedev doesn’t mention his wife in his declaration, based on these words and the testimonies of several party members, it can be inferred that Grishaeva is Zhirinovsky’s daughter-in-law. According to two of Lebedev’s acquaintances, Zhirinovsky’s son and the basketball player have common children and regularly appear together at social events. "Grishaeva is not in registered marital relations with Lebedev, so she is not mentioned in the declaration for entirely legitimate reasons," says LDPR spokesperson Krylova.
Grishaeva had ten luxury cars registered in her name, including one Bentley Continental and nine Mercedes-Benz S-Class, including five Maybachs. Moscow residents even have the opportunity to ride in them; Grishaeva, of course not personally, but through hired drivers, is involved in elite transportation, transporting VIP clients using "Yandex.Taxi" and Uber services. The press service of "Yandex.Taxi" confirmed to "Proekt" that the service cooperates with Nadezhda Grishaeva’s individual entrepreneur, whose TIN matches that of Lebedev’s wife. However, they declined to disclose details of her business. "Proekt" also found confirmation that Nadezhda Grishaeva’s individual entrepreneur works with Uber. The company "Destiny," whose name matches that of Galina Lebedeva’s firm, and Nadezhda Grishaeva’s individual entrepreneur posted driver job vacancies on the HeadHunter job search website, requiring potential candidates to be registered with the executive transportation service Wheely. Uber, Wheely, and Gettaxi ignored "Proekt’s" request. However, in the official taxi registry, "Proekt" found no permits for Grishaeva’s cars to transport passengers.
Women of the Party
On the Spanish island of Ibiza, just 300 meters from the beach, stands the three-star Azuline Hotel-Apartamento Rosamar, complete with a pool. The building of this hotel is owned by Nadezhda Grishaeva, and the ownership company is Agua Azul SL, a subsidiary of Grishaeva’s company Hoteles Europe Daniella Invest SL. Hotel business seems to be closely associated with the Zhirinovsky family as well. Nadezhda Grishaeva’s husband, Igor Lebedev, owns a significant area in central Moscow, specifically 802.5 square meters on Volkhonka Street. In 2012, Lebedev fought a legal battle for this property against the Iraqi government. The dispute revolved around whether Zhirinovsky had indeed paid them for Iraqi oil received through the "Oil for Food" program. Lebedev won the case, and the property is now used as a hostel called Nereus, owned by a manager and business partner of Grishaeva and Galina Lebedeva.
Another hotel in Ibiza belongs to Galina Lebedeva. It is the Acta Azul in Barcelona. At least, a company named Spanish Destiny Invest SL, registered in the name of Zhirinovsky’s ex-wife, owns it, and it is in turn managed by Areir SA, the company that owns the hotel building, according to information published by "Baza." Galina Lebedeva may also generate income in Barcelona by leasing office spaces. She owns real estate in the city center, totaling 436 square meters across the first, second, and third offices.
However, Grishaeva and Lebedev have more than just business ties to Spain. In the coastal province of Alicante, the family and their partners own five houses and apartments. The largest property owned by Lebedeva is a large house (valued at approximately 1.3 million euros) with a pool in the town of Altea, offering picturesque views of the Mediterranean Sea. The total area of the buildings on Lebedeva’s property is around a thousand square meters, situated on a plot of 1,461 square meters, as per information from the Spanish Property Registry.
In addition to the villa, Lebedeva owns an 83-square-meter apartment in nearby Benidorm, valued at 200,000 euros. Grishaeva also owns property there. In 2016, she became the owner of three apartments with a total area of 178.7 square meters, valued at around 551,000 euros, in the Santa Margarita high-rise. To estimate the value, "Proekt" used the average price per square meter in the area based on Idealista, a Spanish real estate portal. These apartments are the first, second, and third.
Grishaeva reportedly purchased all of this property with her own funds, according to the LDPR faction’s press secretary. Igor Lebedev, on the other hand, does not require real estate in Spain since he was subjected to EU sanctions in 2014 and is unable to travel there. The press secretary further emphasizes that Grishaeva is a member of the Russian Olympic team and a participant in the London Olympics. She was a professional athlete, playing for Russian, Turkish, and French basketball clubs for 15 years, and she also had advertising contracts. A professional athlete is capable of earning the necessary funds for acquiring the mentioned properties in 15 years, claims Krylova.
In Moscow, Lebedev’s wife shares a neighborhood with the wife of another deputy, Leonid Slutsky. Both women own property in the skyscraper "Kutuzovskaya Riviera" on Nezhinskaya Street (the same street where the townhouses of the Zhirinovsky family are located). Lidia Lyskova, Slutsky’s wife, owns a three-story penthouse of 561.7 square meters on the top floors of the tower. Grishaeva’s apartment, on the other hand, is more modest, covering 117 square meters on the 27th floor. The current value of a similar-sized apartment in this building ranges from 47 to 75 million rubles (approximately $719,000 to $1.1 million). To purchase this apartment, Grishaeva reportedly sold her real estate in the very heart of St. Petersburg, on the Moyka River embankment, according to Krylova.
The desire to have a bird’s-eye view of the city appears to be common in this family, including Galina Lebedeva. Her four companies - "Raritet Yug," "Rezidentsiya-Siti," "Renta-V," and "SVAP" - own five apartments on the 54th to 62nd floors of the "City of Capitals" towers in Moscow City. The total area of these apartments is 1104.6 square meters, with an approximate total value of 615 million rubles or $9.4 million. To calculate this, "Proekt" used the average price per square meter for similar-sized apartments. Additionally, directly across from the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall on Tverskaya Street, one more apartment measuring 195.7 square meters belongs to Grishaeva’s company. Currently, a similarly sized apartment in this building is listed for sale at 163.4 million rubles (approximately $2.5 million).
The family also has interests on the coast of the Black Sea in Sochi. Grishaeva owns two non-residential premises totaling 873.5 square meters on the ground floor of the high-rise residential complex "Barcelona-Park" in Sochi, which was developed by her mother-in-law’s company, "Raritet," as per records from the Russian Property Registry: the first and the second. One of Grishaeva’s premises is being rented out. Based on the price of commercial premises per square meter in a similar property in Sochi, Grishaeva’s holdings would be worth approximately 74.2 million rubles ($1.1 million).
All the mentioned real estate was purchased by Grishaeva with her own funds, according to the LDPR faction’s press secretary. Igor Lebedev, she claims, does not require real estate in Spain since he was subjected to EU sanctions in 2014 and cannot travel there. Krylova further explains that Grishaeva is a member of the Russian Olympic team and a participant in the London Olympics. She was a professional athlete, playing for Russian, Turkish, and French basketball clubs for 15 years, and she also had advertising contracts. A professional athlete is capable of earning the necessary funds for acquiring the mentioned properties in 15 years, according to Krylova.
Barcelona-Park Residential Complex in Sochi Finally, once they leave Russia, the Lebedev couple can admire the beauty of the United Arab Emirates - one of the few countries where Russians can invest money of questionable origin without fear. In 2014, Alexei Navalny claimed to have found an apartment owned by Lebedev in the Botanica tower in Dubai, covering an area of 442 square meters. It reportedly cost Igor Lebedev 87 million rubles, although there is no mention of it in the politician’s declaration. A similar-sized apartment in this area now costs approximately 136.9 million rubles ($2.4 million). Igor Lebedev himself dismissed Navalny’s investigation as nonsense and provocation.
But the list of family assets doesn’t end there. Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s private country house is located in the Moscow suburb of Daryino, near the government-owned "Gorki" residences. It’s a well-known place, as in 2017, the party leader was seen swimming in the pool there with members of the LDPR Youth Organization.
Zhirinovsky’s estate spans an area of slightly less than four soccer fields, totaling 25.7 hectares with buildings covering 1,700 square meters. Additionally, he rents another 4 hectares. The records from the Russian Property Registry show the following: Plot 1, Plot 2, Plot 3, Building 1, Building 2, Building 3, Building 4, Rental 1, Rental 2. Just across the road, Zhirinovsky’s illegitimate son, Oleg Eydelstein (formerly Gazdarov), resides. He owns nearly 3 hectares with buildings and leases an additional 0.6 hectares. According to "Proekt’s" calculations, Zhirinovsky’s residence is valued at approximately 1.1 billion rubles ($17 million), and his son’s at 127.6 million rubles ($2 million).
Zhirinovsky’s illegitimate son also had a significant role in an important financial venture - he used to be the CEO of "Torgovaya firma Holder," a quarter of which was owned by Zhirinovsky’s former wife, Galina Lebedeva. The company held rights to trademarks featuring Zhirinovsky’s portrait and signature. However, the firm is currently undergoing transformation, and its financial reports are not accessible.
All the real estate uncovered by "Proekt" belonging to the Zhirinovsky family amounts to an enormous sum - 9.8 billion rubles or $150 million. This includes 51 properties, taking into account the Spanish hotel, Azuline Hotel-Apartamento Rosamar. Given their parliamentary salaries, Zhirinovsky and Lebedev could never have earned this money. Instead, they might have derived a portion of their earnings from Russian taxpayers, including those who never voted for their party.
As for the LDPR parliamentary party, it receives the legally mandated 152 rubles for each of its voters, which amounts to just over one billion rubles annually. According to "Proekt’s" calculations based on annual reports submitted by the LDPR to the Central Election Commission, from 2013 to 2017, almost 1.3 billion rubles were siphoned off to individuals closely connected to the Lebedev family, their companies, the Institute of World Civilizations, and the family company of former LDPR deputy Igor Ananskikh. This sum constitutes a third of the state funding received by the party over the same period.
The primary contractor in this operation was Daniel Bondar, a close friend of Lebedev who is involved in business with Lebedev’s family in Spain. Individual entrepreneur Bondar received orders worth 840 million rubles from the LDPR between 2013 and 2017, and his company, "Fin-Art Group," received 141 million rubles, while the CEO of "Fin-Art," Evelina Kim, received 87 million rubles. The party withdrew 128 million rubles for the maintenance of the Institute of World Civilizations. Approximately 21 million rubles were directed to Galina Grishaeva’s company, "Telmi." Additionally, about 6 million rubles went to the security agency "Faraon-M," registered at the address of the Lebedev family’s property in the Nezhinskaya settlement, and owned by Galina Lebedeva’s business partner, Yuriy Chaplygin. Lastly, Galina Lebedeva’s company, "Raritet-M," rented premises to the party in 2016 and received 1.2 million rubles for it. At some point, the party also collaborated with the company "Ruan," owned by the family of former LDPR deputy Ananskikh, which received 49 million rubles for party advertising. Ananskikh declined to comment, citing that he is not involved in this business anymore.
The LDPR is by no means a women’s party. Female employees working there have complained that they do not feel comfortable and do not see opportunities for career advancement. This is according to two individuals who have worked in the party apparatus and a former LDPR deputy. Men, who were once Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s assistants during their youth, seem to have greater influence within the party. For instance, Yaroslav Nilov, who became Zhirinovsky’s assistant at the age of 16, is now heading the key State Duma committee on social policy, which was responsible for implementing the pension reform. Another former assistant to Zhirinovsky, Alexey Didenko, who started at the age of 25, is currently the First Deputy Head of the party faction. Vasily Vlasov, the youngest deputy in the State Duma who entered at the age of 21, was previously the head of the secretariat of the party leader. Together, they form a third category of LDPR deputies alongside "businessmen" and "Kremlin loyalists."
However, there is currently a conflict between the two main male figures in the party - Zhirinovsky and Lebedev. During a birthday celebration for the party leader, everyone was raising toasts except for his son, who pretended to have a sore throat and signaled that he had a sore throat when it was his turn to raise the glass. However, some party members noted that on the same day in the State Duma, Lebedev was "laughing heartily," as reported by an acquaintance of Zhirinovsky. The conflict may be attributed to Lebedev’s ambitions, as he aims to lead the party after his father. Alternatively, it could be linked to Zhirinovsky’s weakened health and his fragile condition.