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The Power Players Of Russia And Ukraine And Their Penchant For Fancy Watches

  • Anna Shamanska

It was a timeless photo of the newlyweds’ first kiss.

But Russia’s attention focused not on mustachioed presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov's passionate embrace of his new bride, Olympic figure-skating champion Tatiana Navka.

Instead, it was the timepiece on Peskov’s right wrist -- a rare Richard Mille RM 52-01, reported to have cost some $620,000.

Navka said the Swiss watch, which features a golden skull as its centerpiece, was her wedding gift to Peskov. The watchmaker says the skull design symbolizes the “promise of eternity.”

“I can afford to make a good gift,” she told the tabloid Komsomoskaya Pravda, but, “the price everybody is discussing right now is, of course, not true -- and in general it doesn’t actually matter.”

Perhaps the scandal is one Peskov should have predicted. Expensive watches, in fact, seem to be among the few things, Russian and Ukrainian power-players appear to agree on.

Here’s a rundown.

Vladimir Putin

Then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s watch made headlines in 2009 during a visit to a factory in the industrial town of Tula.

Despite instructions not to approach Putin, a metalworker named Viktor Zagayevsky struck up a conversation with the former and future president and asked for something to remember him by. Putin handed the worker, dressed in blue overalls, his $6,000 Blancpain watch.

Lucky for Putin, he was not wearing his Patek Philippe watch, priced at about $60,000.

Patriarch Kirill

First it was the watch -- then came the Photoshop. In 2009, Russian Orthodox church leader Patriarch Kirill was pictured wearing a $30,000 Breguet. But in 2012 the watch disappeared from the photograph published on his official website, leaving only a reflection of the timepiece on the table.

The press-office of the church apologized for modifying the image and reposted it untouched on the website.

Back in 2009, when Kirill visited Kyiv wearing the same watch, however, he claimed it was photoshopped onto his wrist by local journalists. At the same time, he admitted that then-President Medvedev had given him a similar watch, but said he had never worn it and had no idea how expensive it was.

Petro Poroshenko

Petro Poroshenko’s watches seem to have gotten cheaper as he has climbed the political ladder in Ukraine. In May 2015, the Ukrainian president wore an Apple Watch (worth about $600) to a meeting with Slovak President Andrej Kiska.

Back in 2007, around the time Poroshenko was heading the Council of Ukraine’s National Bank, the Ukrainian media reported him having two Breguet watches -- one worth $25,000 and another one worth $30,000.

Viktor Yanukovych

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s well known taste for luxury includes expensive watches, which for six years were monitored by Ukrainian photojournalist Vlad Sodel. He spotted seven different watches on Yanukovych -- first as prime minister, then as president.

The price of the cheapest model -- Porsche Design Dashboard Chronograph -- ranges from $2,300 to $5,900. The most expensive is a Patek Phillipe that could cost as much as $165,000.

Sodel has continued to monitor the expensive tastes of Ukrainian politicians here.

Dmitry Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev,who took a tour of Silicon Valley during his stint as president, likes to talk hi-tech -- and wear it, too, apparently. In May 2015, Medvedev came to a meeting with Putin wearing an Apple Watch. He has also been seen sporting Samsung Galaxy gear ($200-$400), an HD3 Slyde ($7,000-$19,000) and a Chinese-manufactured mobile phone watch ($50-$60).

Mikheil Saakashvili

According pro-Kremlin website LifeNews, Odesa governor Mikheil Saakashvili’s newest watch is an Omega in rose gold, priced at approximately $8,000.

But perhaps Saakashvili’s tastes have changed over the years. In 2009, during his years as president of Georgia, his watch was described by The Independent as a “chunky blue plastic watch that appeared to depict frolicking rabbits.” He later explained that the opposition had implied he was a “scared rabbit,” so the watch was a way to show that “he can take the opposition's insults with good humor.”