Putin's man in the Donbass, the architect of the annexation referendums, has one foot in Palamós. He owns a mansion overlooking the sea in Cala dels Corbs, in an area of great beauty where four houses were built at the end of the 1970s. Sergei Kirienko, a senior Kremlin official, acquired one in December 2013 through a front man, Robert Gndolián, a close friend of his son, according to what the Russian investigative media Sobesednik (Interlocutor) and Vazhnie istorii (Important Stories) have published. .
The first medium discovered the property after an exhaustive investigation in which it analyzed the photographs that a daughter of Kirienko and her husband posted on social networks. La Vanguardia has been able to confirm that the main user of the house is Sergei Kirienko, although he has not attended in the last two years.
The Russian politician was included in the EU sanctions lists in October 2020, after the poisoning of the opponent Alexéi Navalni. Fleeting prime minister with Boris Yeltsin in the nineties, Kirienko, 60, has been deputy head of the Presidential Administration since 2016, a position that already gave him great power in domestic politics, but it was with the war in Ukraine that he has managed to climb positions and get even closer to Vladimir Putin, according to the independent portal Meduza, which calls him Viceroy of Donbass and even points him out as a successor candidate.
The Palamós mansion is in the name of a company, Bell-67 SL, which was acquired by Gndolián from its previous owner on December 17, 2013. He never saw Kirienko, not even Gndolián. The negotiations were conducted by a man named Vladimir Surnin, who had visited the estate several times since July of that year. He came to rent it for a few days, to check the comforts. The decisive meeting between the two parties took place at the Hotel Mandarín Oriental in Barcelona. Since the purchase, Bell-67 –whose sole business purpose is the management of these farms– has formalized five capital increases for a total of 2,862,292 euros.
The plot, which is bordered on the south by the coastal path that runs along the cliff, measures 2,831 m2. There is a main house, with two floors, with a total of 348 m2, and an old fisherman's house that was enabled for guests before the purchase of Gndolián.
Bell-67 also acquired an adjacent parcel, on the east side, basically forest. This totals 16,529 m2 and also has a small building, which was initially used as a garage and which Kirienko turned into a home for a security team. The men of the Russian politician – in addition to Surnin, Igor Rojalski, born in Split, who has been the administrator of Bell-67 since the operation, according to the commercial register, intervened in the negotiations – showed great interest from the beginning in converting the garage to that task.
A former councilor from Palamós, who knows the area well, explains that “during vacation time you cannot go through the access road without a vehicle appearing at full speed with some unfriendly guards who prevent you from passing”. The house also has security cameras.
Kirienko has been the architect of the referendums through which Moscow annexed four regions of Ukraine in September. He begins to be seen in the Donbass in May. In June, Kirienko walks around Kherson and Melitopol in military uniform. According to Meduza, it was Kirienko himself who applied to Putin to administer the occupied territories: "Its residents have to see that Russia has not come temporarily and that it is going to stay there," he told him.
In the rocky start to his political career, few predicted a bright future for Kirienko. In 1998, at the age of 35, he became Russia's youngest prime minister. The press nicknamed him "Mr. Kinder Surprise." He was almost unknown in Moscow, where he had come under the wing of Boris Nemtsov, and had been deputy energy minister for less than a year. Together with Anatoli Chubáis, Nemtsov (who ended up becoming a staunch enemy of Putin and was assassinated in 2015) then embodied the reformist current in Russia. But the young man lasted four months in office. He was struck down in the midst of a serious financial crisis and ruble devaluation, for which he was blamed by public opinion.
In those four months, Kirienko appointed a certain Vladimir Putin as head of the FSB, the intelligence services. Two years later, in another unexpected twist in history, Putin becomes president. And he appoints Kirienko special envoy for the Volga federal district, the only one of his envoys who is not a military man. It is a delicate destination, with ethnic minorities such as Muslims from Tatarstan or Bashkortostan, or with the main atomic research center. It is a springboard: in 2005, Putin puts him in charge of Rosatom, the state corporation of atomic energy, a position that he will occupy until 2016.
Kirienko has two daughters, Liubov and Nadia, and a son, Vladimir, who is CEO of VKontakte, the first social network in Russia. In February, after the invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir was included along with his father in the US sanctions lists.
Robert Gndolian, who acts as a figurehead for the Kirienko family, studied with Vladimir at the prestigious Higher School of Economics in Moscow. After graduation, Vladimir was appointed chairman of the board of the Sarovbisness bank. When a scandal broke out when it became known that Rosatom (who was chaired by Kirienko Sr.) had chosen this provincial bank to deposit his assets, Vladimir divested himself of the majority shareholding of the bank. It was to his friend Gndolián that he passed the shares to, explains Sobesednik. When Vladimir was appointed vice president of the Rostelecom telecommunications firm, he put his friend to head one of Rostelecom's subsidiary companies.
The estate on the Costa Brava is in the Cap de Planes Special Plan, between Palamós and Calella de Palafrugell, which was developed at the end of the 70s. The area was divided into ten plots, which were acquired by businessmen, architects and publicists from Barcelona of high economic solvency. Only the first four houses were built, given the neighborhood and environmental pressure to preserve the place. Over time it was declared a Special Pla d'Interés Natural, which definitively prevented any new construction.