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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Men of Modest Means, at Least on Paper

On the whole, the men running for election to the Kremlin this June are a modest enough bunch, judging by the property and income to which they admit.


But, then again, they may be more shy than modest.


Certainly, by the standards of prominent politicians around the world, the 46 square meters of living space in liberal challenger Grigory Yavlinsky's apartment is, well, small. The same goes for the income on his 1995 tax return, filed as required by law with the Central Election Commission. It says he earned $27,000 last year.


And compared to some, Yavlinsky is a high roller. Weightlifter Yury Vlasov did not even file taxes, because he is unemployed, according to an election commission spokesman.


Retired General Alexander Lebed and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov say they earned $7,500 and $6,500 last year, respectively.


The Moscow Times was not able to discover the size of Zyuganov's apartment in a well-guarded brick building on 2nd Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ulitsa. But he does have a good address. His neighbor in the building at one time was the Moscow Communist Party boss -- Boris Yeltsin.


"Of course," Zyuganov has not privatized his apartment, said his aide Vladimir Pozdnyakov. Moscow realtors estimated that property in the building would sell for about $3,500 per square meter.


Perhaps more surprisingly, Yavlinsky, the free marketeer, also has not yet gotten around to privatizing his apartment at Krylatskoye, a prestigious area States and Western Europe. He also listed $120 from his state pension.


And of all the candidates, Gorbachev has the most desirable real estate. Industry analysts estimated Gorbachev's privatized 95- square-meter flat at Sparrow Hills, near Moscow State University, would cost around $6,000 to $8,000 per square meter to buy.


Yeltsin, 65, is also in good economic shape, but no thanks to the $480 a month he was paid for being president in 1995. According to his tax filings, Yeltsin cashed in $280,000 from Western publishing houses for his autobiography, "The View From the Kremlin," published two years ago.


But being president does allow Yeltsin to live well. His state-supplied apartment in the prestigious Krylatskoye region in western Moscow is reportedly some 180 square meters and, if sold on the market, would fetch from $5,000 to $6,000 a square meter, realtors say. On top of that, he has a prestigious dacha in Zhukovka, the traditional resting place of Kremlin leaders west of the city.


But just how serious are any of these declarations of income? Analysts warn, first of all, that they represent only a small part of the wealth of Russian leaders, most of which comes in the form of perks.


"All candidates have numerous non-monetary incomes," said Andrei Kolganov, an economics professor at the Moscow State University. "President Yeltsin of course receives nearly everything by virtue of his office, but the other candidates also have large hidden incomes from their parties, the State Duma or commercial organizations," Kolganov said.


But the numbers do also appear open to question.


The presidential campaign sports, for example, two businessmen of legendary wealth -- eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fyodorov and medical supplies king Vladimir Bryntsalov.


Bryntsalov, who heads the Ferein pharmaceuticals concern with 15,000 employees, says he is worth $2 billion and lives in a style that makes the claim at least plausible. He recently finished construction of a second house outside Moscow, resplendent with 12 bedrooms, three dining rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a shooting gallery.


According to his tax return, Bryntsalov earned $31,000 in 1995, or roughly $2,500 a month.


Fyodorov, who keeps horses and also runs a substantial business, says he earned just short of $60,000.


For the top of the heap New Russians, these are small salaries. It is not unusual for top managers in successful Russian companies to earn more than $10,000 a month, said an executive at a major Russian oil company, who asked not to be named.


The Central Election Commission is not unduly concerned about whether the information given by the candidates in their tax returns is correct, and it does not check them. "It was not our idea at all," a spokesman of the commission said of the tax returns. "It came as part of the law on elections. "But observers remain skeptical.


"It is not unusual in Russia that the tax returns only reflects those incomes that cannot be hidden, such as official salaries or royalties," Kolganov said. "The rest is impossible for the tax authorities to check, and they still have no legal basis to make a cross-check between the incomes and property holdings of citizens."


That still leaves the ever flamboyant right-wing nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky. He, apparently, is a model of moderation. Officially, Zhirinovsky made slightly more than $6,000 last year and since 1982 has been living in a flat with 32 square meters of living space at Sokolniki in northern Moscow, not a particularly high-profile region.


However, life is not so tough. Like Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky has accepted a state dacha -- "just like most Duma deputies are supposed to," said Lyubov Zhirinovskaya, his sister and political supporter.


Only one of the candidates, Communist Party also-ran Aman Tuleyev, hails from outside the Moscow region. He has a four-room flat in the Western Siberian coal mining city of Kemerovo and is still trying to complete the construction of a dacha he has been working on for five years, an aide said.


"He only owns 15 sotok [0.15 hectares]," an aide to Tuleyev said. "And the dacha is nothing but a shack."


'95 income ($) Housing Dacha





Vladimir Bryntsalov 31,420 15 rooms Private


Svyatoslav Fyodorov 59,702 3 rooms Private


Mikhail Gorbachev 234,342 3 rooms State


Alexander Lebed 7,479 3 rooms No


Martin Shakkum 13,924 3 rooms No


Aman Tuleyev 4,552 4 rooms No


Yury Vlasov Unemployed 3 rooms Unknown


Boris Yeltsin 5,772 7 rooms State


Vladimir Zhirinovsky 6,350 2 rooms State


Gennady Zyuganov 6,521 Unknown State





-- Julie Solovyova contributed to this report.