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A humble military wife How a top Russian army official converted Mariupol’s misery into a luxury lifestyle for his spouse

Source: Meduza

Alexey Navalny’s investigative team has published a new exposé of corruption in the upper echelons of Russian power. This time, the story revolves around Svetlana Ivanova — a well-known lioness of the Russian beau monde since the turn of the millennium, who left her first husband to marry, back in 2009, Russia’s now Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov. In the years since, Ivanov has distinguished himself by overseeing the Defense Ministry’s construction contracts and, it turns out, converting profits from projects like the Russia’s “reconstruction” of Mariupol into a spectacular lifestyle for Svetlana. Last summer, in advance of the EU sanctions against Ivanov, Timur and Svetlana divorced. The only practical consequence of the divorce, however, is that she continues to travel freely around Europe, while her “ex-husband” cannot.

Navalny’s Team based its investigation on a cache of 8,000 leaked emails, sent and received by Svetlana Ivanova over 12 years, and containing a rich (in every sense) record of her social life, her purchases, construction projects and real estate transactions, yacht rentals, antiquing, and her jewelry collecting. The emails contain blueprints, bills, and thousands of photos.

It’s a bonanza.

Svetlana Zakharova married Timur Ivanov in 2009, right after divorcing the wealthy businessman Mikhail Maniovich. No later than 2010, the couple began to spend every August on the French Riviera, renting luxury villas and yachts. Team Navalny’s investigators studied Svetlana Ivanova’s correspondence from 2013–2018, realizing that the family spent no less than 850,000 euros (now about $900,840) on their Saint-Tropez rentals alone. Another 250,000 euros ($265,000) was spent on renting yachts.

In 2011, the Ivanovs bought a 2001 Rolls-Royce Corniche, placing a Luxemburg corporation on the title. The car came with a 120,000-euro ($127,175) price tag. Refurbishing it cost an additional 75,000 euros ($79,500). The investigators point out that, in 2011’s money, 120,000 euro would have been about five million rubles — while Timur Ivanov’s court affidavit, filed for the purpose of determining child support for his ex-wife, stated that his monthly income was 112,000 rubles a month, or 1.3 million a year — that is, about a quarter of the Rolls-Royce.

How the Russian military profits from war

Ivanova liked expensive clothes, it appears, buying, for example, Dolce & Gabbana gowns priced between 52,000 and 94,000 euros (a ceiling of nearly $100,000). She liked jewelry, too: one of the rings she bought cost $104,000. She pursued antiques, once paying 7,000 euros ($7,415) for a set of ornamental glass birds. Her 2018 Istanbul birthday party cost 178,000 euros ($188,600). In 2021, she celebrated her birthday at her home in a ritzy neighborhood outside Moscow. (Even Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attended!) The same year, the Ivanovs vacationed in the Altay mountains, together with Peskov and his wife, Tatiana Navka.

According to Team Navalny, Ivanova spent more than 109 million rubles (roughly $1.5 million) in 2020 alone. Ninety million went towards buying out her ex-husband’s share in their apartment on Moscow’s iconic Povarskaya Street. The couple’s real estate holdings don’t end here, however. In addition to this apartment (and the birthday-bash home outside Moscow), the Ivanovs also own a 19th-century mansion on Moscow’s Prechistenka Street. It’s true that, on paper, the Rublevka home belongs to the “Russian Federation,” and the mansion to a company owned by Ivanov’s personal driver. The same helpful driver also “owns” the Ivanovs’ Rolls-Royce Ghost and a G-class Mercedes.

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Svetlana Ivanova’s bills, be it for jewelry or home renovations, are often paid by other people and corporations. One notable entity in their midst is Olimpsitistroy — a major contractor for the Defense Ministry, currently involved in constructing new apartment buildings in Mariupol, the once-thriving Ukrainian urban center demolished by the Russian army. One of the companies connected to Olimpsitistroy and also paying Ivanova’s bills happens to own a riverside home of close to 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet) in the Tver region. It was Ivanova herself, however, who approved the architect’s plans for its construction.

In the past, Ivanova had Israeli citizenship (it’s unknown if this is still true). Together with her first husband, she owned an apartment in Tel-Aviv, but she never declared this property while married to Timur Ivanov — a violation of Russia’s rules on financial disclosures for state officials. None of her grown children live in Russia. In March 2022, shortly after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ivanova traveled to France to visit her daughter and then her son in the UK. On the way, she picked up some jewelry from Joel Arthur Rosenthal, and some new clothes at Prada.

Last summer, the Ivanovs divorced, but only on paper, since Ivanova’s emails show no evidence of the couple’s actual separation. The move proved to be a shrewd one: in October, Timur Ivanov came under the EU sanctions, but his “former” spouse did not.

In December, just a few weeks ago, she apparently visited her daughter, once again.

More corruption in the Russian military

‘Immortal love’ and heirloom real estate Team Navalny exposes the secret wealth of Gen. Alexey Sedov, head of the FSB’s Second Service

More corruption in the Russian military

‘Immortal love’ and heirloom real estate Team Navalny exposes the secret wealth of Gen. Alexey Sedov, head of the FSB’s Second Service

Translated by Anna Razumnaya

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