Nouvel Observateur, “The immigrants of Londongrad”, July 2007

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Nouvel Observateur, “The immigrants of Londongrad”, July 2007


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The immigrants of Londongrad

They are millionaires, singe without complex, buy the most beautiful houses and make fly away the prices: the new Russians arrived, for the happiness of the Stock Exchange

On Tuesday evening, in the lounges of the hotel Mayfair, a luxury hotel of London situated within a stone”s throw by the piano bar where the spy Alexandre Litvinenko would have been poisoned in the polonium, two big receptions compete in brightness… The first one is a big dinner given by Lakshmi Mittal, the fantastically wealthy Indian tycoon of the steel. Other one, Russian holiday, organized by Elena Ragozhina, the boss of the publishing conglomerate Russian Media House, who publishes luxury magazines in Russian. The invitation card was clear: rigorous smart holding. Indeed! Some are even downright astonishing. Sculptured in a twinkling green sheath, a creature in the false airs of Donatella Versace seems disguised as siren. Perched on their low-fronted shoes Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo, young beauties walk casually their bag Prada and their model”s silhouette. Ambassadors, businessmen, some stars…. Every Russian jet-set of London is there, under the flashes of the photographers. Whereas the singer Katia Melue, in leather basque, bursts out on the stage, the champagne, the vintage wines and multicolored cocktails flow in streams. The evening is sponsored by luxury brands. Spirits, jewelers, prestigious real-estate and a flavor – ” most expensively of the world “, as underlines it elegantly the label – too much were not asked for being able to slide their luxurious brochures in the bag present offered at the end of evening to the guests… Elena Ragozhina, who organizes regularly charity galas, puts back The award Of the best donor To a blasé and brown person in his fifties: the boss of Gazprom in London… It is Not the only big hat of the evening. Good about ten oligarches would be there Incognito. Here is which justifies big arm posted in the entrance with their Auricles. Atmosphere!

Welcome to “Londongrad” or ” Moscow on the Thames “, As the Russians call henceforth the British capital. With about 300 000 nationals came from all former Soviet Union, they establish Today the biggest community abroad. Young king of the aluminium Oleg Deripaska ( 37 years), installed in the smart district of Belgravia, Roman Abramovitch, who acquired the club of football of Chelsea, his mentor sulphurous Boris Berezovski, charged with plot against Poutin 1 er in July, are figureheads. Naturally, all are not all millionaires. According to Olga Sirenko, who created the russianlondon. com Web site, ” One Third is there To earn the keep, a third for his Career … And the last third, It is This fringe of Incredibly rich population which does not know Not what to make of His money “.

What they like in London? A cosmopolitan big city, ” Hype ” And ” Trendy ” As they say, at half past three of Moscow. The charm of London Stock Exexchange, the biggest financial center of the world, where the Russian companies Would have raised 2, 1 billion euro during the only first half of the year 2007. And Especially an irresistible fiscal system: so, this nice status indeed Private individual of ” not taken up residence resident “, who allows the foreigners of not not Be imposed on the earnings realized outside Great Britain. Cut to measure For these businessmen which always work in Moscow but want to escape in The seizure of the Kremlin. No taxes, either, on plusvalues for them Foreigners… If we add it a certain ease, when we are ready to invest 1, 5 million euro, in bonds of British treasure, to obtain visa and even Passport, we understand why London, after Switzerland, Malta or Cyprus, is Become the earth promised by the new Russians. Moreover, Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, calls back them every opportunity: these immigrants are more That welcome in the British capital.

For a very good reason. Between domestics, private tutors, gardeners, but also lawyers, councillors, and the other consultants, these new kings of the oil contribute to the economic excitement of the capital. Keen on big marks, big-time gamblers, amateurs of good tables, they are massive golden customers. To them only, they moreover propelled in summits, for four years, an already unaffordable real-estate market. The most modest acquisitions start in 750 000 euro. Five years ago, over this price, a transaction on fifteen was made by a Russian. In 2006, it was one on five. And for the goods of 7, 5 million euro exception, it is one on two. Always cash naturally. In the heart of Kensington Palace Garden, the district of the billionaires, and in some metres of the house of Lakshmi Mittal, bought about 130 million euro and considered this day as the record transaction of the British capital, the oligarch Leonard Blavatnik, him, bought three. Side by side… Every real estate agent has its anecdote on these little common customers. A financier of about fifty years, which had already two mansions in Bets, a yacht, a private jet looks for a pied-à-terre for 7, 5 million euro… Other one has just acquired seven parking spaces for his personal fleet. The third requires the exact copy of pieces of the palace of Versailles. ” For the most part of between They, It is Third Or the fourth House, later Residence In Moscow, the datcha, and the villa on the coast Of Azure “, Confirm George Shishkovsky, who created LondomDom, an agency specialized in the collection of apartments for these superrich. Big victorian houses of the districts of Belgravia, apartments of South Kensington, lofts of Chelsea… They invest all the beautiful districts. In London, no Russian enclave: ” It just has to be smart, central, As far as possible Pakistanis, and in Nearness The best Establishments School “, Notice Igor.

The main part, the schooling of the children. The market of the supposed repeaters Allow the pupils to integrate the schools of the good British company Is in full boom. No doubt, indeed, to send them to schools Russians. The new generation will be totally bilingual, cosmopolitan and broken In the rules of the good British company.” For the Russians, it is Absolutely essential “, Explain Elena Ragozhina. A typical couple? The husband works in Moscow, and brings in the weekend in London. The children are in pension Boarding school . As for the woman, she leads one Existence of jetsetteuse, between New York, Bangkok and Bali, in search of More beautiful spas of the planet. Suzan, a decorator who takes charge with renewing Apartments for the Russians, so has a customer engaged in her Restoration of an incredible 10, 5 million dollar apartment with sight on Buckingham Palace.” Between two planes, she calls me To say to me That she Tracked down Such models Of bathtub fabulousOr an extraordinary, but impossible spa of herTo see, she is Never thereAnd the works AdvanceStep. ” This diligent attendance of luxury hotels has Moreover modified the tastes of these new Russians: while the first one Vagueness swore only by the ostentatious gilts, the marble and the heavy Furniture of time, the new Russians are in the point of the design most Tendency.

Yes, they changed. The first ones, at the beginning of 1990s, Came to put their money under cover. Igor still remembers the first ones New-comers, with their suitcases, filled with notes.” They were Investors, Who wanted Place Them Money. Banks were Suspicious Not Wanted not to deal with They. ” They bought luxurious houses on a whim, without negotiating. The financial crash of 1998 put a brake to the market. It was necessary to wait for 2002 to see them returning en masse. But they are not any more the same. Ended the folklore. ” They are younger, less Rich, more Informed “,Assert Anastasia Babanina, creator of Vendome Estate, her too specialized in her Real-estate collection ad hoc. The sulphurous billionaires disappeared, these bosses Which confused boxes of the company and the personal kitty are more made Rare.” Today We see arriving from employees Frames sup, financiers “, Notice Anastasia Babanina . Disappeared, the ostentatious bodyguards, the most striking errors of taste. Cosmopolitan and policés, these new Russians look like more and more the world financial elite. Certainly, they are far from being integrated into the good British company. But they are recognized as of very good and of very major customers, which it is absolutely necessary to hold. Only here is. On this crazy real-estate market which progresses of 30 % a year, the British capital begins to become extremely expensive. Even for them. ” I try Of them Show That, for the same Sum, they can have Many Better in Bets “, Explain Anastasia Babanina. One of his customers has so just bought to himself a pied-à-terre to Neuilly, for about 8 million euro. She is convinced that the Parisian market is promising. But regret that the Russians are not understood there still indeed. ” English people have a relation Done wonders for the self-confidence With the money That the French peopleHave A lot of evil to be adopted. The Russians like Bets… But it would be necessary that Frenchman Show one themselves Little more friendly. ”

Natacha Tatu
Le Nouvel Observateur