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Who is Alexey Gromov? New report finds the de facto curator of Russian state TV owns major real estate and has ties to oligarchs

Источник: Proekt
Mikhail Metsel/TASS

The online media outlet Proekt (Project) has released a new investigative report about the Russian presidential administration’s first deputy chief of staff, Alexey Gromov — the man responsible for state propaganda on Russian television. Proekt reported that Gromov owns a country home in the wealthy Rublyovka district as well as an apartment in central Moscow whose cost greatly exceeds his income.

In 2002, Alexey Gromov received more than 30,000 square feet of land in Rublyovka that had previously belonged to the Russian government. According to Proekt, his property is located in the elite town of Ilyinskye Dachi and includes a home with over 10,000 square feet of floorspace. A similar property in the same neighborhood costs about 12.6 million dollars.

Gromov also owns three apartments in Moscow that contain almost 5,500 square meters of floorspace. Proekt reported that they are worth approximately 2.2 million dollars. Gromov received two of the three apartments from the government even though Russian law entitles him to only one government-provided home. The third apartment is reportedly owned by Gromov’s son, who is also named Alexey. Proekt noted that Gromov has been a government employee throughout his career and never officially earned more than 10.5 million rubles (almost $160,000) per year.

The report also noted that the junior Alexey Gromov has ties to the businessmen Oleg Deripaska and Roman Abramovich, the first of which has recently made headlines for his alleged ties with the model and sex worker Nastya Rybka. The younger Gromov is a collaborator of Deripaska’s in a project that aims to produce aluminum disks for use in automobile construction. In addition, the junior Gromov became a shareholder in Abramovich’s waste management company MKM-Logistika in 2017 before selling his shares in the corporation several months later to Abramovich’s business partner, Alexander Chigirinsky. Proekt estimated that Gromov’s son made more than 10.5 million dollars in profit in the bargain.

Alexey Gromov has worked in Russia’s presidential administration since 1996, longer than any other bureaucrat in the Kremlin’s leadership. He is responsible for the Kremlin’s political information operations, and Proekt described him as “the real boss of Russian TV in its entirety.” Every week, typically on Thursdays, Gromov holds briefings that include TV station directors as well as representatives of press teams from the president’s administration, the executive branch more broadly, the Duma, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and other government agencies. During these meetings, Gromov reportedly gives recommendations about what kind of light participants might or might not shed on recent events and reminds them not to air negative stories about regions where important events such as gubernatorial elections are ongoing.

Gromov’s acquaintances say he is personally involved in everything that has to do with Russian television. For example, in 2018, he forbade TV channels from displaying shots of an attack on a polytechnic institute in Kerch after the frames were broadcast on the Rossiya and Rossiya-24 stations. He also controls the Kremlin’s press pool and has the authority to exclude journalists from receiving important information if they publish negative stories about Vladimir Putin.

Mikhail Bryukhanov leads Rossotrudnichestvo, a federal Russian agency responsible for ties with Russian-speaking communities abroad. He has close ties with Mosko, the company that controls the Kremlin press pool’s travel — and he has reportedly been close with Gromov since their college years. Bryukhanov also owns shares in Mosko along with the pro-Kremlin actor Nikita Mikhalkov, the company confirmed. One of Bryukhanov’s acquaintances claimed that he has confidentially yielded control over those shares to his business partners. Members of the Kremlin’s press pool have said Mosko has forced media agencies to pay exaggerated costs for housing during international trips, charging 400 extra euros for a hotel room in Paris or $800 extra for a bus ride in Brazil.

Proekt’s sources told reporters that Alexey Gromov had previously carried the surname Grobov but changed his name before enrolling at Moscow State University. The word “grob” means “coffin” in Russian. It is also widely known that Gromov is a collector of rare coins and enjoys gathering mushrooms. He is not, however, a fan of new technology. The man in charge of the Russian government’s propaganda carries a telephone with physical buttons.

Alexey Gromov declined to speak with Proekt.

Summary by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Hilah Kohen