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Moscow Times
July 25, 2003
Politicians' Patriotic Vacation Plans
By Anna Dolgov
Special to The Moscow Times

As the lazy days of summer set in, government officials are on their way out of the sweltering capital for vacation spots from the Black Sea to the Gulf of Finland.

The vacation season seems to have softened the mood among the usually reticent ruling elite, and some were willing to share their plans. Many insisted they are patriotic enough to stay in Russia for their breaks, which last between a week to a month -- not a surprising choice, perhaps, when a vacation in the homeland doesn't mean weeding strawberries near a tumbledown dacha like ordinary Russians but resting up at a plush government sanatorium.

Tax Minister Gennady Bukayev and Railways Minister Gennady Fadeyev both plan to go to ministry-owned sanatoriums on the beaches of the Black Sea, NTV television reported.

Press Minister Mikhail Lesin also is off to a seashore somewhere, but the exact destination remains unclear, said a Press Ministry official who asked not to be identified.

"Sometimes he goes abroad, and sometimes he stays in Russia. But this is a somewhat private matter," the official said.

Recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister Galina Karelova said she hasn't decided yet where to go for her five-day break.

"Unfortunately, I can only take five days off -- a short break," she said on NTV. "I will have to go and see my mom. Then I need to recharge my batteries. Therefore, I have not even chosen where to go yet. But the main thing is that I have to have a good sleep."

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov usually goes south to Crimea. "I swim and make notes for my next book," he told NTV.

Asked whether he was penning his memoirs, he replied, "No, not yet. It's still early for memoirs."

Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, an avid photographer, said he intends to take pictures "somewhere involving the sea."

Since 2000, President Vladimir Putin has spent several weeks each summer at the Bocharov Ruchei residence near the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The mansion was built by Khrushchev and boasts a park, swimming pool and private beach.

Putin received an invitation from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi last month to visit his luxurious La Certosa summer residence in Sardinia. Putin's two teenage daughters spent a monthlong vacation on the island last August.

The Kremlin press service on Thursday refused to comment on the president's vacation plans this year.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's plans also were unclear. He has a busy schedule of government meetings and business trips planned for much of the summer.

A few officials are using their vacation time to keep on working. Valentina Matviyenko, the presidential representative in the Northwest Federal District, went on leave Wednesday to launch her election campaign for St. Petersburg governor, Interfax reported.

She gets to keep many of her job perks, such as the use of office cars and security guards, Matviyenko's press service said, according to Interfax.

Regional governors and State Duma deputies appear to be leaning toward Russian vacations.

Leningrad Governor Valery Serdyukov likes to go to his dacha in the lakeland Priozyorsky district to fish and hunt quails, Izvestia reported this week. Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Khloponin prefers to roam the roads on his powerful BMW motorbike, while Bryansk's Yury Lodkin opts for the traditional Sochi, the newspaper said.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, however, likes more exotic destinations. In previous years he has taken in mineral mud baths in the Tuva steppes, practiced his downhill skiing in the Alps and gone horseback riding and hunting in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha nature reserve in Belarus, Izvestia said.

One of the few confessed fans of foreign resorts is Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiyev, who likes to go to Switzerland, the Czech Republic or Turkey. Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel prefers the United Arab Emirates and former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe.

Over at the Duma, the corridors and meeting halls have grown quiet after parliament let out for its summer recess on June 23.

Speaker Gennady Seleznyov left Wednesday for a sanatorium near the town of Sestroretsk, near St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland, spokesman Sergei Kostornoi said.

"The vacation will be purely symbolic because it will be combined with some pre-election work," Kostornoi said, referring to December's parliamentary elections.

"But if a man wants to spend his vacation doing that, well, that's his business."

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky was planning to go to the western Ukrainian town of Lviv to visit friends, spokeswoman Yevgenia Dillendorf said.

Yavlinsky, a Ukrainian native, typically visits Lviv during his summer vacation.

Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov has just returned from a trip to the Caucasus resort town of Kislovodsk and showed up for his first day of work Wednesday, spokesman Vladimir Titov said.

Where other deputies were spending their summer was not clear. Nobody could tell -- the lawmakers and aides were all on vacation.

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