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Investigation by Alexei Navalny’s ACF reveals Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister’s wife vacationing in Europe

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Maria Kitayeva, a former advisor to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and current advisor to Tretyakov Gallery director Yelena Pronicheva, may have married Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, who earns tens of millions of roubles from construction contracts in occupied Mariupol, and has been traveling in Europe, according to a recent investigation by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF).

According to the ACF, the investigation was based on “a complete archive of Major General Maria Kitayeva’s correspondence over the past 17 years,” as well as publications on social media.

The ACF’s findings indicate that it is likely that Kitayeva is dating Ivanov, who divorced socialite Svetlana Maniovich less than a year ago. The conclusion was reached from numerous joint photos and gifts — including a ring on Kitaeva's finger resembling an engagement ring. As a New Year’s gift, Kitayeva was found to have ordered pajamas with initials on the collar — MK (Maria Kitayeva) and TI (Timur Ivanov). In early November 2022, Kitayeva also ordered joint business cards with Ivanov.

In March 2023, Kitayeva successfully obtained Hungarian Schengen visas for her entire family. In April 2023, she, along with her family — including three children from Sergei Shoigu's adviser, Colonel-General Yuri Sadovenko (they had lived together for eight years, according to the ACF investigation) — visited Budapest and possibly Italy. The trip was allegedly sponsored by Kitayeva's mother, an official from the Moscow mayor's office.

Kitayeva spent around 1.7 million roubles (close to €17,000 or $18,800) during her time in Italy. For the vacation, she purchased tickets worth almost half a million roubles (close to €5,000 or $5,530) and booked two two-bedroom rooms in a hotel in the center of Budapest for a week, costing about 650,000 roubles (approximately €6,500 or $7,200).

Kitayeva is a former television presenter, having worked at state-run channels Zvezda and VGTRK for lengthy periods of time. In 2010, while at VGTRK, Kitayeva conducted a famous interview with Vladimir Putin in a yellow Lada Kalina. Putin’s 2,000-kilometer drive across Siberia was aimed at bolstering Russia's struggling car industry and enhancing his popularity ahead of a presidential return. In December of the same year, Maria Kitayeva was one of the presenters during Putin's annual “direct line” press conference, where Russian citizens called in to ask him questions.

Maria Kitayeva is included in Canada’s Consolidated Autonomous Sanctions List.

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