Kremlin Kids, Inc: How The Children Of Russia's Elite Keep Busy Avoiding The War
The offspring of Russia's elite were used to luxury loft apartments, expensive cars and carefree living. So how did Putin's mobilization for new troops impact them? As independent Russian news platform Vazhnyye Istorii found out, life essentially continues as normal.
There's a famous quote about war by the late Russian General Alexander Lebed that is universally true: “Let me recruit a platoon of the children of the elite, and the war will be over in a day.”
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Vazhnyye Istorii, as one of the few remaining independent Russian news platforms, decided to investigate what the offspring of the Russian elite thought about Russia's "partial mobilization" that was announced in late September, and whether any of them had been called up.
Few were willing to answer our questions, but we gathered plenty of pertinent information:
Alexey Stolyarov, son-in-law of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
Age: 32 years old
Aleksey is married to the youngest daughter of Defense Minister Ksenia Shoigu and earns a living from fitness blogging. His sports and entertainment YouTube channel focused on fitness and healthy lifestyle, with more than 3.8 million subscribers.
“On my channel, I show you the potential of the human body, strength, aspirations,” Stolyarov says in one of the videos, demonstrating his well-sculpted physique.
On the day when Vazhnyye Istorii tried to get through to him, Stolyarov was on his way to relax in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, which he informed his followers about on Instagram. Back in Russia, the son-in-law of the Defense Minister is doing well. His wife’s Moscow properties are a 148-meter loft in the elite Kadashevskiye Palaty residential complex and two penthouses of 435 and 191 square meters in the Art Residence residential complex.
Stolyarov read the questions by Vazhnyye Istorii about the mobilization but did not respond.
Ilya Medvedev, son of Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of Russia
Age: 27 years old
After the war began, Ilya Medvedev joined the ruling United Russia party. Andrei Turchak, the head of the party and one of the main supporters of the war, personally handed him a party card. His father, Dmitry Medvedev — who served as Russia's president (2008-2012) between the terms of Vladimir Putin — has become one of the most strident war hawks, calling for executions of Ukrainians and Russian opposition members and threatening nuclear attacks.
His son is not so belligerent — he wants to “apply knowledge” in the areas of children's and amateur sports, healthcare, education, business support and digital transformation. It is known that he worked for Russian social media site VK.
Ilya Medvedev told Vazhnyye Istorii that he had not received a summons from the military registration and enlistment office.
Alexey and Danila Gromov, sons of the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Alexey Gromov
Age: 30 and 27 years old
The first deputy head of the presidential administration, Alexey Gromov, has been in charge of Russian media and propaganda for many years.
Gromov's eldest son, Alexey, is making a career as a media manager. In particular, he worked in the state media holding RT as a head of the internet resource "Cube." He drives a Tesla, Porsche and Audi Q5, and owns several apartments in the center of Moscow, including the one received by his father from the presidential administration.
Once they heard Vazhnyye Istorii question about their attitude to mobilization, the Gromov sons did the same thing: they hung up.
Andrey Ugnich, son-in-law of the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Kiriyenko
Age: 33 years old
Sergey Kiriyenko is responsible for domestic policy in the presidential administration. He is considered the overseer of the Russian-annexed Donbas. The deputy head regularly visits the occupied territories, where he has become known for his belligerent statements.
Andrey Ugnich is married to the eldest daughter of Sergey Kiriyenko. They studied together in France, and now live in Russia. In 2019, Ugnich received a stake in a waste processing company in the Tambov region.
When Ugnich was reached by telephone from Vazhnyye Istorii, and asked about his views on mobilization, he immediately hung up.
Alexander Kolokoltsev, son of the Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev
Age: 39 years old
In 2021, Proekt media determined that the family of the son of Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev owned property worth 1.8 billion rubles (around $29 million). Alexander Kolokoltsev is a co-owner of a number of companies in the construction, catering and software development industries. There are people with criminal backgrounds among the partners of the son of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
During a conversation with Vazhnyye Istorii, Kolokoltsev Jr. said that he was ready to go to war in Ukraine if he received a summons: “As a patriot and citizen of my state, I will always defend it. If I am called up and mobilized, I will react responsibly and go to the front. I do not exclude that it will happen because my family has proper views.”
Mark Tipikin, son-in-law of the Governor of the Moscow Region Andrey Vorobyov
Age: 29 years old
Andrey Vorobyov is a member of the clan of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. He called him his "godfather in politics." The Moscow region, which he governs, is adorned with symbols supporting the war in Ukraine.
Mark Tipikin is married to Andrey Vorobyov's daughter, Ekaterina. The couple owns a mansion in Italy in the resort town of Forte dei Marmi. Tipikin drove Maybach and BMW cars in Moscow, as well as a Harley Davidson motorcycle. In 2020, he worked at the Kutuzov branch of the BCS investment company.
Tipikin did not answer a phone call from Vazhnyye Istorii, and then deleted the chat after we asked a question about his views on mobilization.
Daniel and Zaur Tsalikov, sons of Deputy Minister of Defense Ruslan Tsalikov
Age: 34 years old and 31 years old respectively
The eldest son of the Deputy Minister of Defense, Daniel Tsalikov, worked as the head of the sales support department of the defense enterprise JSC Sukhoi Civil Aircraft. In 2019, his brother Zaur Tsalikov worked at the Telematic Solutions IT company as a manufacturer of metering devices for housing and communal services.
Zaur Tsalikov told Vazhnyye Istorii that he would go to war if he was called up: “There is a call, there are obligations which must be fulfilled. Why didn't I volunteer to fight? And what do I have to do with the military? There are people responsible for military service, there are people with a military specialization. I don't have that specialization.”
Timur Boguslavsky, son of deputy of the State Duma Irek Boguslavsky
Age: 22 years old
The son of deputy of the State Duma from Tatarstan Irek Boguslavsky, Timur, participated in the GT World Challenge Europe as a pilot and is a winner of various championships. Boguslavsky shares on social networks photos of his vacation on a yacht, his travels and flights on a business jet. His sister Karina lives in London, owns a hotel in Italy and is known for having publicly declared her anti-war position.
Boguslavsky told Vazhnyye Istorii that he was studying at university and did not receive a summons: “The Сommander-in-Сhief announced that the mobilization was over. If there is a general mobilization, everyone will go, there are no exceptions.
"If martial law is declared, I will go. What am I supposed to do? Sit in the basement until they find me and open a criminal case? If there is a general mobilization in the country and martial law is [declared], this is the final straw. I think everyone will do [something] to protect their lands, their territories.”
Sergey Chemezov Jr., son of the head of the state corporation “Rostec” Sergey Chemezov
Sergey Chemezov Jr.
Age: 20 years old
While the head of the family, Sergey Chemezov, runs the “Rostec” state corporation, which produces weapons for the war in Ukraine, his son, also Sergey, has launched a clothing collection named "For World Peace", promising to send all the proceeds to the Red Cross for humanitarian assistance.
“Art is salvation, even in dark times. It helps you to stand on your feet, to walk and not to go astray. But these are all abstract things. It’s time to turn them into concrete ones,” he wrote on his Instagram account.
In 2019, Chemezov Jr. founded the For World Peace company, which produces clothes under the TSCH brand.
The son of the head of “Rostec” refused to answer our questions, saying that he was spending time with his family.
Dmitry Nikonov, son of deputy of the State Duma Vyacheslav Nikonov
Age: 20 years old
Vyacheslav Nikonov is the grandson of Joseph Stalin's Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov — the namesake of the Molotov cocktail, and who infamously divided Europe with the Nazis in 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
Nikonov speaks a lot on various issues, and as a deputy he supports all of Vladimir Putin's new laws.
Nikonov Jr. did not receive a summons. “I am glad that it [mobilization] is over, because I fell under it. If there is a general mobilization, I will go to war. For my country. I understand with whom [Russia is at war]. What is this question for? I feel uncomfortable answering it…”
Dmitry Nikonov is pursuing a career in the banking sector. He is now the chief analyst at Sovcombank.
Pavel Belousov, son of the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Andrey Belousov
Age: 28 years old
Pavel, together with his wife Evgenia Belousova, owns the Claire and Clarte company. The company's website indicates that it is engaged in engineering consulting and digitalization, having among its clients the state corporation Rostec, Roskosmos and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia.
“Am I a military commissar to know when it [a summons] will come?!" the son of the first deputy prime minister said indignantly.
"There are laws that must be followed. That’s all. Why does it matter what to fight for? What does the idea have to do with it? If the state believes that it is necessary, then it is necessary. I am an ordinary citizen of the Russian Federation liable for military service, I did not have a command to think about it. Why think about it? All sane people understand what is happening.”