Russia » Politics
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russian leaders rest like tsars

People know a lot about the organization of presidents' holidays and their free time when it goes about Western leaders

The most important Russian holiday-maker has a lot of places to choose from for his holiday. Not all of them are considered to be his official residences, although there are almost a dozen of them. The leader's holiday is a very important issue in Russia. Such a holiday will be arranged unsparingly.

The time of summer holidays has come both for ordinary mortals and not-quite ordinary ones. For example, this time has come for heads of the states. It goes without saying that they are human beings like everyone else. Yet, they spend their working and free time quite differently than everyone else. Security people always surround them, they always deal with information, journalists always keep their eye on them. Reporters know that a president is a president even when he is on holiday: he will always be a potential source of very important news.

People know a lot about the organization of presidents' holidays and their free time when it goes about Western leaders. The American president has only one residence in Camp David. The British prime minister has one country residence too – in Checkers. Western leaders spend their holidays at home, at their friends', or at resorts. They always rest as private persons, almost always at their own expense. When someone breaks this order, it inevitably leads to a scandal. The president's life is transparent both at and off work.

Russia has a special tradition of its own about it. Russian top politicians spend their holidays at the expense of the state. As a rule, every new leader tries to make the number of state residences larger. Comrade Lenin used to say that rest is simply a change of work. Apparently, leading politicians apply this saying to their perception of the notion of rest – as a matter of state importance.

The first country residence for Russian top officials appeared during Lenin times. The place is known in Russia as Gorky. Lenin did not have enough time in his life to have a rest in another place. However, a monument “Lenin on Holiday” can be seen in the city of Simferopol, Ukraine, although the leader of the Great October Revolution has never been there. Local residents say, the monument is only a part of the former composition called “Lenin and Stalin on Holiday,” built in the 1940s.

Stalin has not been to Simferopol either. Nevertheless, it was Joseph Stalin, who inculcated in home politicians a taste for 'vacation in the south.' There were several country houses built for Stalin in the Caucasian region. Former summer palaces of Russian tsars Nikolay II and Alexander III became Stalin's country residences too. The Great Soviet leader has never visited some of his summer houses. He ordered to build a hunter's hut in Massandra. The no-nail house was built of Siberian larch. Stalin visited it once, the house seemed “too big” for him and he never returned there again.

No one dared to live in Stalin's numerous residences after his death. Nikita Khrushchev, the fighter with Stalin's legacy, has built a dozen of state residences for Soviet top officials on the Black Sea coast. There are several sad stories connected with them. Resting at one of those houses in 1964, Khrushchev missed a conspiracy against himself, which ended up in his overthrow. Mikhail Gorbachev was resting at another one in Foros and missed the whole Soviet Union as a result of that holiday.

Russia lost the majority of those summer houses after the break-up of the Soviet Union. They became the property of Ukraine. Now they are used by Ukrainian top officials, by President Leonid Kuchma in particular.

There is only one country house left in Russia from those times. The place is called Bocharov Ruchey (Bocharov's Stream) situated on the outskirts of the resort city of Sochy. The residence was built in 1955. Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev visited the house at the end of the 1970s to treat his joints. Boris Yeltsin rested there too. Yeltsin is known for his passion to have a good rest: in 1997 he spent more than 250 working days resting, “working on documents” in his various country houses.

Vladimir Putin likes to rest in Sochy too. The presidential administration is reportedly working on the plan to make the country house in Sochy his work residence. Putin accepts foreign guests and holds work meetings with his colleagues there. Not far from Bocharov's Stream there is a ski resort Krasnaya Polyana (Red Meadow). The president often goes there to ski on the slopes of Aibgi mountain. Sensible Russian oligarchs headed by Oleg Deripaska (Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Potanin were also in the group) planned to build a new ski resorts on the Red Meadow territory last year. The plan has been reportedly intercepted by Gazprom. The gas giant is ready to invest up to one billion dollars in the development of the site to make it become a second Davos.

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