A Feast in Time of the Plague

April 10, 2014
Vladimir Yakunin

John Wilson, a Scottish writer, is the author of The City of the Plague, a scary story from the 17th century which takes place in London. In Russian school, we don’t study Wilson, but we read Alexander Pushkin. Among Pushkin’s Little Tragedies, there is one called A Feast in the Time of the Plague, a terrible story which takes place in the 19th century when the entire city is dying of cholera and one person is having a feast.

In the 21st century, a feast in the time of the plague is taking place not in London, not even in Russia, but in Antigua, a tiny island in the Caribbean. But the diagnosis is still the same as the one Wilson and Pushkin have made.

Yesterday, on his Facebook page, Vladimir Baksheev, a Russian businessman who, by the way, is originally from St Petersburg, posted an amusing picture. Here it is:




Three men in white shirts, with sunglasses on, sailing in the Caribbean with the help of a professional skipper. Let’s read carefully the photo caption written by the Global Positioning System (GPS): “English Harbour, Antigua.”

At first glance, nothing remarkable. But, if you look more closely, the third man, starting from the left, wearing a hat, is alleged to be Andrei Yakunin. Yes, that very same Andrei Yakunin, whose father, Vladimir Yakunin, the chief executive of Russian Railways, former KGB agent and long time ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, is on the sanctions list decided by the U.S. government.

By the way, did you know that Vladimir Yakunin declared that U.S. authorities have placed him on the sanctions list because of his “honest and fair statements”?

Information about the offshore Yakunin’s “fair and honest” empire can be found here.

Now, here is a closeup of the alleged Andrei Yakunin. Meanwhile, don’t forget that Alexei Navalny sent requests to law enforcement agencies in the U.K. and Switzerland about corruption “involving Vladimir Yakunin and his family members, including his son Andrei who resides in the U.K.”

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Here are excerpts from Navalny’s complaint, which he submitted to the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO):

“Based on our investigations it becomes evident that business activities of Andrey Yakunin are followed by substantial widespread conflicts of interest for himself and his father, Vladimir Yakunin, as well as other managers from Russian Railways and its subsidiaries. The existence of such conflicts of interest may lead to serious corruption offenses in this state corporation and abuse of power or improper performance by its President,Vladimir Yakunin.”

If you look through the list of Vladimir Baksheev’s Facebook friends, the man who posted the photo of the yacht, you will find Andrei Yakunin. On his Facebook profile, Andrei Yakunin says that he lives somewhere between London and St Petersburg. Alexei Navalny claims that Andrei Yakunin’s London house is worth 4.5 million pounds.

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Here is another quote from Alexei Navalny’s complaint to the SFO:

“Based on our understanding of the letter and spirit of the Bribery Act of 2010, we believe that if the son of a foreign public official is a permanent resident of the United Kingdom and has gained multi-million profits from business with the state corporation headed by his father, it should lead to further investigations by relevant authorities in the United Kingdom.”

By the way, under the alleged picture of Andrei Yakunin on the yacht, there are four “Likes”. Among them, there’s one “Like” from his wife Natasha Yakunina. She also lives between London and St. Petersburg (strange, no?). On Monday, she posted a new picture of herself nude. Hang on, guys!

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It’s almost languorous. She’s hiding her breasts behind the trees. That’s how Vladimir Yakunin’s son’s wife is posing for the picture. Her Facebook friend could not resist and asked Natasha: “Is that a masterpiece from your husband?” “You guessed exactly,” answered Natasha Yakunina in the photo comments. By the way, if you look through Natasha Yakunina’s profile, you’ll have a chance to get a better look at the yacht, presumably the one on which someone looking like Andrei Yakunin is posing with his friends.

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Alexei Navalny also sent a request to the Interior Ministry of Switzerland about Natasha Yanikunina.

Four charitable organizations in Europe were registered under the name of Yakunin’s family members and Natasha is one of them. Now the activities of the “charities” will be investigated by Swiss prosecutors. Afterwards Swiss authorities will decide whether these are legitimate charitable organizations or money laundering operations.

I am writing all this because it is sometimes useful to read Pushkin again, or, if you own property in London worth 4.5 million Pounds, then you can re-read John Wilson, as your English is supposed to be good enough.

While the Obama Administration is punishing Vladimir Yakunin by freezing his assets and banning his visas, and while European prosecutors are dealing with the offshore schemes, his children are quietly traveling in the warm waters of the Caribbean. And yes, by the way, they don’t seem preoccupied by the annexation of Crimea. For sure, they will never set sails to this part of the world, so far from Antigua.