Oct 26, 2009
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Watch out: Russian officials' taste for luxury revealed

Oct 26, 2009

MOSCOW, Oct 26, 2009 (AFP) - Russian officials regularly flaunt designer watches worth up to one million dollars, a newspaper revealed Monday 26 October, in a rare investigation of the extravagance of the political elite.

The Vedomosti business daily published 34 photographs of officials that clearly show their watches and reported their prices according to a catalogue for the US market and representatives of the watch companies.

The priciest watch belonged to Vladimir Resin, the deputy mayor of Moscow responsible for the construction sector. He was shown wearing a DeWitt La Pressy Grande Complication watch worth 1.03 million dollars.

President Dmitry Medvedev is shown with a far more modest timepiece, a Breguet worth a mere 32,200 dollars.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Vladimir Putin twice gave away Blancpain watches worth 10,500 dollars, the newspaper wrote.

While on official trips in Russia, he gave one watch away to the son of a Tuvan shepherd in August and one to a metalworker in Tula in September.

Putin's taste in watches pales in comparison with the luxury brands preferred by lower-ranking officials.

Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov wears a Bovet watch worth around 300,000 dollars, the newspaper wrote.

Kadyrov wrote in an income declaration in June that he owns only a 36-square-metre flat and a Lada car and earns just 118,000 dollars.

Transport minister Igor Levitin wears a Patek Philippe worth 74,800 dollars and the governor of Samara region, Vladimir Artyakov, poses in a DeWitt watch worth 223,427 dollars.

Valentina Matviyenko, the governor of Saint Petersburg, wears a Harry Winston watch worth 26,600 dollars. In April, she declared an income of 58,777 dollars.

Her press office refused to comment to Vedomosti, calling their enquiry "show business."

Vedomosti reported that it asked all the officials to comment on their watches, but only four gave information, with two saying the watches were gifts.

Russian newspapers rarely print outright criticism of the private foibles of officials although Vedomosti is known for speaking out in its sometimes tart editorials.

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