As Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, it’s Dmitry Peskov’s job to comment on important happenings in Russia.
Last Monday, he weighed in on Chechnya strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s apocalyptic rant to HBO. In it, Kadyrov promised dire consequences if the U.S. attacks Russia. He said, “America is not so strong that we would consider it Russia’s adversary. We are the strong country and nuclear power. Even if they completely destroy our country, our nuclear missiles will automatically be launched. We will turn the whole world upside down and bend it over with its ass up.”
As the head of the Chechen republic, a Muslim region only nominally governed by Moscow, Karyrov overstepped his authority by commenting on international politics.
According to Putin’s press secretary, Kadyrov’s words were “taken out of context,” and if one puts them “back into context, nothing outstanding was said.”
While many prominent Russian politicians have promised “to screw the West from behind” in the event of nuclear war, Russian citizens remain skeptical that their political class will actually have the guts to do such a thing.
Why? Because a significant number of high-ranking Russian politicians have family members in the West—who would, in turn, be victims of a nuclear attack.
Take, for example, Peskov. He is one the most trusted people in Putin’s entourage and has served him since 2000. His ex-wife, Yekaterina, and their three adorable children have lived in a posh apartment on Avenue Foch in Paris for more than 10 years. Tatler magazine describes Yekaterina Peskov, “The light from the generous Parisian windows generously gilds Katya’s wavy hair, and, this morning she looks like a perfect girl: hooligan’s ripped Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, a simple white Ralph Lauren shirt, no jewelry—only a patriotic [Russian-made] ‘Rocket’ watch on her wrist.”
Until recently, Yekaterina Peskov was living in France on the grounds that she was a member of Franco-Russian Dialogue, an organization sponsored by Vladimir Yakunin, one of Putin’s most trusted oligarchs at the time. (Coincidentally, his children and grandchildren live in Britain and Switzerland.)
At the end of May, however, Putin personally appointed Yekaterina Peskov to head Russia’s Center for Science and Culture in France. She is a philologist by education with no background in culture other an being “a regular heroine of high-society chronicles and glossy magazines,” as reported by The New Times.
Peskov’s 19-year-old daughter Liza graduated from Ecole de Roches, an elite boarding school in Paris, and now attends university in Paris.
“It makes me laugh when they say I have to live in Russia,” Liza Peskov said to Gazeta.ru in her latest interview. She has been living in France since she was nine, considers herself local, and agrees with President Donald Trump that “Paris is no longer Paris.” She complained, “Rip-offs await you at every step. Never change money on the Champs-Elysees. Nice people from Arab or African countries at currency exchanges will tell you long stories about their hard life. In the winter, they will count your money at such a rate that your blood will turn cold. During your walk to the Louvre, you will be approached by an amiable native of the southern countries with the ‘gold’ ring that you allegedly dropped, and he is ready to return it to you, naturally, for a reward. If you need to go inside any institution, you will certainly be searched, but a woman wrapped up from head to toe, including her face, will be waved through with a fawning ‘Bonjour, Madame!’ I am by no means a racist, but I agree with you, Mr. [U.S.] President!”
“I, like many in my generation, am a person of the world—a cosmopolite,” the daughter of Putin’s press secretary declares to her countrymen, “and I laugh at the constant accusations that I have to live in Russia.”
Her friends are mostly French and Russian émigrés. In the interview, Liza says that she has no desire to leave Paris. “I am immensely happy and grateful to my parents for the opportunity to live in Paris!” she said.
On Instagram, Liza shared her perspective on Russia’s education system. She posted that she wanted to throw up when she thought about Russia’s “killed” education.
Additionally, Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov’s step-daughter, Sasha, is a U.S. citizen.
For Russia’s political class, providing their children with education in the EU and U.S. is the norm—not the exception.
Ekaterina Vinokourova, the only daughter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, spent 17 years in the U.S. and studied political science at Columbia University and economics at London School of Economics.
Alexandra, daughter of Deputy of Russian Parliament Petr Tolstoy, was recently accepted into Yale University, which she thinks is “very cool.” She shares Liza Peskov’s attitude towards Russian education and does not recommend enrolling in the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University: “It has become so bad; I would not endorse.” And “God forbid” studying at Moscow’s Higher School for Economics. Alexandra says, “Having studied in this system, I was very disappointed.” Her father was elected from the United Russia party and endorsed by Putin. He has his own talk show on Russia’s First Channel on which he regularly bashes U.S. and the West.
In his interview with Moscow Speaks, Tolstoy said he would not comment on his daughter’s opinion. He said, “This is her private life. Why should I discuss it? The fact that she does not like a particular college does not mean she is not a patriot. It’s all bullshit.”
Three of Russian parliamentarian Sergey Zheleznyak’s four daughters attended colleges in the U.K. and Switzerland. Zheleznyak, co-author of the Russian “foreign agent” law makes frequent appearances on Russian TV programs condemning “U.S. aggression.” Zheleznyak defended his daughters’ education, “My daughters will finish their education and return to Russia to live and work here. I do not see anything bad or unpatriotic about this.”
Investigation by anti-corruption activists proved otherwise. Anastasia Zheleznyak, the eldest, started her education at the American School in Switzerland (TASIS) in 2009, continued it at Queen Mary university in London, and, instead of returning to Russia, decided to continue her education at King’s College in London.
While studying there, she worked at BBC News, where she met her husband, Mark McClymont. “Having had a conflict with the governments of the western countries,” Zheleznyak broadened his perspective, “I have had no conflicts with the people of these countries,” which is why he had no issue with his daughter marrying a “honorable” Scottish man “from an honorable Scottish family.”
Yelizaveta Zheleznyak, another daughter of the belligerent Russian politician, also worked and studied in London.
“My eldest daughters know that they could be prevented from finishing their education abroad due to my position on international politics or due to the complicated international situation and are ready for this,” Zheleznyak posted on his Facebook page. His fears of being the cause of his daughters’ expulsion to Russia from western countries have not yet materialized.
The son of Russian MP Alexander Remezkov, after graduating from boarding school in Pennsylvania, continued his education at Hofstra University on Long Island, N.Y. His second son studied in England’s Malvern College, and his youngest daughter lives in Vienna, Austria. Remezkov, who represents Fair Russia party in Parliament, says, “My children are patriots of their country and want to tie their life and work with Russia in the future.”
First Vice-Speaker of Russian Parliament Alexander Zhukov’s son Petr studied in London. This inconvenient fact became known to the Russian public only after the young Zhukov was imprisoned for 14 months in the U.K. for taking part in a fist-fight during a drunken brawl.
The son of former Governor Nikita Belykh, who is in jail facing charges of bribery, also studied in London.
Lyubov, daughter of Vice-Premier Alexander Khloponin, studied at London School of Economics.
Anton, the oldest son of former Children’s Rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov, received his education at the University of Oxford and in an undisclosed New York “school for economics.” The youngest son of the politician was born in Cannes.
Former Minister of Russian Education and Science Andrei Fursenko hid that his son Alexander studied abroad, too. His son currently lives with his mother in the U.S.
Further, many of the children of powerful Russian politicians don’t want to return to their homeland.
Anastasia, daughter of MP Vyacheslav Fetisov, has lived in the U.S. her entire life and does not know how to read or write in Russian. The daughter of Parliamentarian Irina Rodnina lives in Washington D.C. Nikolai, the son of the Parliamentarian Elena Mizoulina, graduated from University of Oxford and now works in Belgium. Former Governor Edward Rossel’s daughter lives in Germany with her German husband and daughter. The daughter of Boris Gryzlov, the former speaker of Russian Parliament and member of Vladimir Putin’s Security Council, received Estonian citizenship. The great-grandson of Stalin’s Foreign Minister Molotov and son of current MP Vyacheslav Nikonov, is a U.S. citizen. Vyacheslav Nikonov appears on talk shows nearly every time “hostile U.S. policy towards Russia” arises.
The list of high-profile Russian politicians’ children who live posh lives abroad while their parents express their Russian patriotism is endless.
On her Instagram, Liza Peskov, daughter of Putin’s faithful press secretary, likes to mock her Russian peers, who are allegedly envious of her high class origin and luxurious lifestyle: “To say the truth, my guilty conscience has absolutely tortured me. I cannot fall asleep anywhere—not in any of my yachts, not in any of the palaces, nor in any of the air-jets can I close my eyes. Not a single servant can console me. The moment of truth has come. I am Elizaveta Dmitrievna Peskov, the daughter of the country’s main billionaire and thief, press secretary of the head of the state. This is the first post that I write on my own. All the others were paid for. A whole team of slaves plows, who I pay with your money for the sake of my PR. My diet consists of lobsters, sprinkled with macadamia and saffron, on the top of which there is a pile of caviar of albino beluga and Devonian crabs. In short, it consists of everything you can’t afford to pay for out of your pocket, because your slave’s pocket is my pocket, embroidered with 60-carat diamonds… I sleep on marble beef covered with eiderdown. Before doing any physical exercise, I do my favorite procedure: gold wrap. The procedure consists of wrapping my body into pure gold bullion. Of course, gold is extracted by the regular folks. The procedure is paid for by the people’s money… Some slaves write to me that, having lived in a palace, I cannot have opinions about five-story apartment buildings. Why not? My palace is 6 stories high, so my opinion is well-grounded. I am involved in theft. I am very lucky since my dad is the main thief in the country, and he teaches me all the subtleties of this profitable art… I have heard that people have to work, but I am sure that I will never know your destiny of slaves. I do not study anywhere because I am stupid from the day of my birth, but this is not a problem since they, of course, will buy the [college] diploma for me! At the end of the day, if I need anything I simply buy a slave at the people’s expense! So the future belongs to me!”
(In their comments, her readers do not appreciate her sense of humor. One commented, “In every joke there is a joke. The rest is the truth.”)
So, indeed, many Russians suspect their corrupt political class will have a lot of thinking to do before launching the first nukes.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechen republic who promised “to screw the west from behind” in the next war, has two sons he adopted from an orphanage in addition to ten children of his own. Unlike Press Secretary Peskov, it’s easy for Kadyrov to threaten the West from his gilded palace: none of his twelve children study or live abroad.