There continues to be no good news for Russia. It also means that we may be in for another round of unfortunate “accidents” for powerful Russians who have recently criticized kleptocratic strongman Vladimir Putin. He will soon announce whether he intends to remain president until at least 2030.
But Russia’s continued military pantsing and its weakened “military superpower” status also means the brazenly corrupt oligarchy that surrounds Putin needs to ramp up their own propaganda efforts, lest the toilet-less Russian masses get too uppity or another Russian paramilitary group decides to march on Moscow just for funsies. Putin’s press secretary just gave Russian viewers a wonderfully tacky defense of the oligarchy: Sure, we might be murdering your sons in a war of conquest dreamed up by an aging mob boss, but our kids have had it tough too!
As you can imagine, the world community is having great fun with Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov’s version of “spartan”—even if Russians at home need to keep their own thoughts to themselves.
Indeed, this particular Kremlin daughter has an Instagram that looks anything but spartan. (And it’s a bit off-topic, but do the ultrarich these days do anything but travel the world to strike poses? And do the moderately wealthy do anything but trail after them, striking the same poses but on rented sets?)
Peskov’s current tale of his daughter’s woeful experience in France is not new. It’s an expression of one of the kleptocracy’s most enduring propaganda bits: “The West” is portrayed as both a place of subversive decadence and of abject squalor depending on the needs of the day, even as the Russian kleptocracy itself has largely abandoned their home country in favor of lives of European luxury.
A particularly pointed CNN story from 2022 called out Peskov himself in a report on the lavish lifestyles of Kremlin-connected sons and daughters.
Peskov – who’s held his role for nearly a decade and reportedly made $173,000 in 2020 – has been seen wearing a $600,000 designer watch and went on a honeymoon that included a roughly $430,000-a-week yacht off the coast of Sardinia, according to an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Foundation founded by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Based on property records, social media posts and traffic violation databases, the Anti-Corruption Foundation also revealed Peskov’s wife, ex-wife and children own luxury vehicles and multimillion-dollar homes all over the world – including Russia and France – a display of riches in stark contrast with the nearly 20 million Russians living in poverty.
Again, a fair chunk of the Russian population doesn’t have indoor plumbing, but the Kremlin’s press secretary sports a half-million-dollar watch he couldn’t possibly afford on his salary. His family collects luxury homes like other people collect stray cats, all while the oligarchy declares the West to be “satanic.”
This is the current list of Russia’s top “unfriendly countries.” You could also call it “nations Russian oligarchs prefer for their summer homes.”
In the meantime, Putin’s kleptocracy continues to press the usual authoritarian themes.
It’s the same old, same old from the Russian propaganda mills. Incidentally, Peskov’s daughter isn’t the only member of his family to have endured hardship. Reportedly, Peskov has claimed that his son Nikolai served on the Ukrainian frontlines. However, that doesn’t appear to have been the case. A journalist for the Polish news agency Belsat wrote, “According to information found on Telegram, [Nikolai’s] Tesla X received tickets in Moscow when he supposedly was at the front.”