среда, 4 февраля 2009 г.

Medvedev warns top Russian officials off luxury vacations-paper

MOSCOW, February 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president has warned senior officials against visiting luxury resorts abroad amid concerns over the country's image and public discontent, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

Dmitry Medvedev has issued a document instructing his administration members and key ministers to inform him about where and for how long they plan to go on vacation, Kommersant said citing its sources.

The paper said the instructions came after society columns highlighted high-profile Russian holidaymakers in the French ski resort of Courchevel - the Olympic Committee head, a senior administration official and the head of the Kremlin security service.

An unidentified Kremlin official told the paper such trips damaged the country's image and could trigger discontent in crisis-hit Russia, where people have lost their jobs or part of their salaries en masse as firms have struggled since the fall.

Kommersant said presidential press secretary Natalya Timakova had declined to comment on the report, while other senior Kremlin officials neither denied nor confirmed the move.

The Kremlin tried to impose control over its officials' foreign trips under Vladimir Putin after the then-president failed to contact two governors, who were vacationing abroad with their cell phones switched off, during emergency situations in their regions, the paper said.

"Such things have not happened since 2006. We can suggest that the requirement for senior officials to report their vacation plans is not about control, but image," Kommersant said.

Luxury resorts, including in the French and Swiss Alps, have in recent years seen an influx of wealthy Russians, who have become notorious for rude behavior and for throwing extravagant parties. One of Russia's richest men, metals tycoon Alexander Prokhorov, was briefly arrested in Courchevel in 2007 amid a prostitution scandal.

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