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Maria Drokova, venture capital fund founder and former pro-Kremlin youth group press secretary, becomes citizen of Kyrgyzstan

Maria Drokova, the former press secretary of the Kremlin-sponsored youth organization Nashi who subsequently moved to the U.S., has received Kyrgyz citizenship, according to a presidential decree published online by the Kyrgyz authorities.

Drokova was a Nashi member from 2005–2011. She gained national (and later international) attention after she kissed Vladimir Putin at a Russian youth educational forum in 2009. Drokova founded the venture capital fund Day One Ventures in California in 2017, and has publicly distanced herself from Nashi in recent years.

The independent anti-corruption expert Ilya Shumanov told Radio Azattyk, RFE/RL's affiliate in Kyrgyzstan, that Russian intermediaries have begun offering to secure Kyrgyzstani citizenship for customers for prices ranging from $5,000 and $30,000. In February 2023, Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy Dastan Bekeshev said that he had seen an advertisement offering Russian citizens Kyrgyz passports within six to seven months for 300,000 rubles ($3,920).

In December 2022, The Washington Post reported that Western intelligence agencies suspected Russian venture capital investors of providing technology to Russia through American startups. One of the investors under investigation was businessman Sergey Belousov, whose companies Drokova earlier in her career and who has invested in Day One Ventures.

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