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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zhirinovsky School Receives a Building

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has handed over a building in the center of Moscow to an institute founded by Vladimir Zhirinovsky in a move that has been interpreted by some as a political favor to Zhirinovsky's LDPR party.

The instruction to transfer the building, which is located at 3 1st Basmanny Pereulok, to the Institute of World Civilizations, was signed by Kasyanov on June 28. The draft was prepared by the Property Ministry, whose press service was unable to explain why the ministry had let the IWC off paying about $102,000 in rent each year.

A government source said the initiative came from Kasyanov himself and that he ordered the draft to be quickly prepared. According to the source, the area of the building is about 3,000 square meters and the lease is $34 per square meter per year. The going rate for class C office space in the area is $295 per square meter annually.

Some Duma observers put the government's generosity down to the fact that the LDPR has frequently helped the Kremlin get important bills through parliament.

But LDPR leaders argued that the deal was linked to the institute's focus on geopolitics, a subject they say is not taught anywhere else in Russia. LDPR's Alexei Mitrofanov said the institute was unique and would soon be competing with Moscow's MGIMO diplomatic university.

Enrolling at the IWC costs between $520 and $760, depending on the course chosen. Director Valery Belov said 300 students are currently studying at the institute's four faculties -- international relations and geopolitics, practical psychology, contemporary law, and economics and modern social technologies.

Belov said Zhirinovsky founded the institute as a private citizen rather than as leader of the LDPR, thus avoiding violating the law on education and political parties.

As well as the IWC, 3 1st Basmanny Pereulok is home to an LDPR office, the Center for Young Initiatives and the Yantar bar.

But Zhirinovsky said that, in reality, his faction has no office in the building.

"Don't pay any attention to the sign," he said. "I put up a sign saying 'Deputy Zhirinovsky's Reception' at a club once. The police were hassling them and I decided to help."

The building was formerly home to the Labor Ministry, which, ironically, was headed in 1991 by Zhirinovsky's colleague in the State Duma, Alexander Shokhin. Shokhin said that when the ministry moved to Birzhevaya Ploshchad, the employment service remained at 3 1st Basmanny Pereulok until 1998, when the government decided to rent out the building to the LDPR.

"The service had to leave the building and merge with the Labor Ministry, which was extremely inconvenient," Shokhin said.

According to Zhirinovsky, the building was rented out not to his faction, but to the Center for Young Initiatives.

"I did help them to get the building," he said. "As a Duma deputy I help everyone. Currently, I'm helping a obstetric center in Ivanovo find the money to purchase an artificial inseminator."

Zhirinovsky said a party gathering was once held in the building but added that, as a deputy, he can use any building for this. He said the LDPR has never received anything for free from the government.

Before the Institute of World Civilizations, the only organization to receive a building for free from the present government was the Center for the Development of the Russian Language on Ulitsa Vozdvizhenka. Kasyanov's instruction stated that the building is needed for "strengthening the role of Russian language as the state language."

The honorary chairman of the Social Council for the Russian Language is President Vladimir Putin's wife, Lyudmila. The current lease rate for class C office premises within the Garden Ring is $355 per square meter per year -- $60 more than at 3 1st Basmanny Pereulok.