Viktor Sadovnichy will be the rector of Moscow State University until the end of his life

How and why he became an indispensable rector of the country's main university.
“Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov once told me: you and I are the same hardened - business executives. That is, I also understand the economy in Moscow, as you understand it at the university, ”said Viktor Sadovnichy, Rector of Moscow State University,“ Echo of Moscow ”. True, Sadovnichy manages to "manage" at least one and a half times longer than Luzhkov - 27 years. In order to continue to manage the university, the country's leadership changes the laws over and over again. Vladimir Putin signed the law on the extension of the powers of the rectors of Moscow State University and St. Petersburg State University. There is a special order for these two universities: the president appoints their rectors by his decree, and after reaching the age of 65 he could twice renew his powers for a new five-year term. Now they can be reapproved as much as necessary. The powers of the 80-year-old Sadovnichy have been extended twice already - in December 2009 and December 2014. On Thursday December 5, the president signed a decree extending the powers of the Sadovnichy for another 5 years.

Vedomosti tried to figure out how and why it became indispensable.

The story of the Gardener is about how a simple person in Soviet times could reach the very heights. He was born in the village of Krasnopavlovka near Kharkov: his father worked as a cabinetmaker, stove-maker, blacksmith, his mother worked all her life on the collective farm. Having received a certificate, Sadovnichy went to work as a miner in the Donbass and at the same time studied at an evening working school. After that, a dream came true: I was able to enter Moscow State University and graduate with honors from the mechmath. At 34, he became the youngest professor at the university. A few years later he will receive the USSR State Prize for his contribution to the creation of a simulator simulating weightlessness in terrestrial conditions. Russian and foreign cosmonauts are still training on it. Later, Sadovnichy will receive four more state awards. Since 1982, he has always been the head of the Department of Mathematical Analysis at the Department of Mechanics and Mathematics, and since 1992, the entire university.

Elected rector

“Passion in the assembly hall of Moscow State University, where the elections were held, was so heated that the Minister of Science and Education who was present at the meeting was not allowed to speak when, in violation of the regulations, he began campaigning for one of the candidates,” as Sadovnichy’s autobiography, published by Moscow State University in 2019, describes his election as head of the university in 1992.

As vice-rector, he developed the new democratic charter of Moscow State University. Thanks to his efforts, in 1990 the government secured the status of Moscow State University as a self-governing university, and in 1992 the president approved autonomy. Sadovnichy won the sympathy of the scientific community, and 70% of more than 1000 "voters" voted for him. Competitors then were Dean of the Chemical Faculty Valery Lunin, Agricultural Economist Igor Emelyanov and Biochemist Vladimir Skulachev. In the future, the elections were already uncontested. Sadovnichy himself says that simply no one has put forward his candidacy. Nobody disputed his leadership, says Dmitry Badovsky, head of the ISEPI fund.

“Under Yeltsin, the authorities decided to reduce the number of educational institutions and disciplines, students themselves, not only at Moscow State University, but throughout the country,” former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov told Vedomosti. “Viktor Antonovich protested against the plans of the authorities, in the presence of members of the government stating that such a decision was unacceptable.” According to the rector of ITMO University, Vladimir Vasiliev, it was Sadovnichy who saved the Russian universities: they traditionally occupied vast areas and the authorities were tempted to sell them.

In 1994, he headed the Union of Rectors. Sadovnichy managed to rally the university community of Russia, which was initially not inclined to unite, said Rector of the RANEPA Vladimir Mau.

How has MSU changed

The economic crisis and chronic underfunding seriously hit the education system. Russia has gone down to the 35th line from 50 countries in the Universitas21 comprehensive education systems ranking and is already losing to China. Most of all, the country sags just in terms of state funding. Russia now invests significantly less in its universities than the USA (where they spend 2.6% of GDP) and European countries (1.5%) - only 1.1% of GDP, taking into account private sector spending. The salary in education is $ 1,400 at the parity rate, and this is several times less than in developed countries, and less than in China.

In 2003, Russia joined the Bologna system, the purpose of which was to make education standard and paid. Sadovnichy was against and considered Russia's refusal from its own system of fundamental education to be a mistake: “Each university is original, unification is impossible. We have always been strong in teaching the student not to remember and not to some competencies, but to reflect, think, prove, doubt, overcome. Then he becomes a scientist or specialist. ”

By 2011, Russian universities generally moved to a new system. Education has turned into a market where a diploma is the subject of a transaction, and a student - a client who is provided with a service, describes the new order by the head of the department of REU named after G.V. Plekhanova Ruslan Dzarasov. “In each student you should see 250,000 rubles,” he remembered the phrase of one of the professors. Today, only about 20% of Russians positively assess the education system, 63% are convinced that it is less accessible than in the Soviet years, say polls by VTsIOM and Levada.

Moscow State University is one of the few universities where there is still a degree in some faculties, the university has the right to conduct its own exam, and recently it issues its own diplomas.

Sadovnichy, as a native of the old academic school, represented the exact sciences, therefore, they were always better with the humanities than with the humanities, a source close to the presidential administration said. Today, only Moscow State University is in the global QS ranking of Russian universities (84th place). In a number of subjects, the university’s position is higher: natural sciences (21st place), physics and astronomy (26th), mathematics (34th), computer sciences (48th).

True, fundamental knowledge is not always in demand by employers, said Andrei Alyasov, general director of the National League of Case Changellenge, which compiles university rankings. Some think that such a candidate is a good theorist, but a bad practitioner, and choose graduates from other universities, where students are given more applied skills and knowledge, explains Alyasov.

How does a university grow

Against the backdrop of general degradation in the formation of Moscow State University, I felt good and was constantly growing. Now 55,000 people study in it, including 35,000 students - 40% more than in the early 90's. There were more faculties — an increase from 16 to 42. Among the new ones — faculties of bioengineering and bioinformatics, biotechnology, physical and chemical engineering, state auditing, world politics, global processes, etc., the university is trying to meet new challenges of science, says Sadovnichy. The great attractiveness of the university increased the competition - from three to seven people per place.

MSU assets also grew. At the beginning of the year, they amounted to 248 billion rubles, of which 164 billion were land, and 75 billion were buildings and movable property, the MSU press service told Vedomosti. Over the past 20 years, university facilities have almost doubled, Sadovnichy says.

This was helped by the cooperation of the university’s head with the Moscow government and Inteko CJSC (it was founded by Luzhkov’s wife Elena Baturina, now owned by the Central Bank). It was Baturina who turned to Sadovnichy at the beginning of the 2000s and proposed building a number of university facilities on the territory of Moscow State University on Lomonosov Avenue in exchange for housing rights, Sadovnichy told Vedomosti. As a result, Inteko erected two residential complexes on 22 hectares: Shuvalovsky and Dominion. And the university got its share - 30% of the living space and 15% of parking lots. The proceeds from the sale of 25-30 billion rubles, according to the rector, made it possible to build a fundamental library, two educational buildings - Lomonosovsky and Shuvalovsky, a gymnasium for gifted children and a new university dormitory.

There are other investors. In 2013, the University Board of Trustees was established, whose task is to raise funds for the development of Moscow State University. The Council is chaired by Vladimir Putin, and among its 30 members are heads of large state corporations and Forbes lists: VEB President Igor Shuvalov, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, Alfa Bank’s board chairman Petr Aven, co-owner of UC Rusal Oleg Deripaska and others. On one from meetings of the council, Sadovnichy thanked the billionaires Mikhail Gutseriev and Grigory Berezkin, who financed the restoration of the Athletics Arena of Moscow State University.


The main brainchild of Sadovnichy is the scientific and technological valley of Moscow State University. He says that he has been burning this idea since the moment he saw similar science-parks in the UK, Finland, and Japan. On the basis of Moscow State University, they formed the Vorobyovy Gory Innovation Scientific and Technological Center (ITC) and a special management company (the head is Vice-Rector Viktor Vaypan). Fundraising for the project will be raised by a special Development Fund of Moscow University (headed by Sadovnichy himself). This year, the government transferred an additional 17.6 hectares to the university under the valley, and the total developed area will exceed 224 hectares, a source close to Moscow State University said, citing a development plan. 1.3 million square meters to be built in the valley m of real estate, including 360,000 square meters. m - the buildings of the scientific center, as well as housing, a sports complex, etc. The first stone of the large-scale development of the wasteland behind the library of Moscow State University was laid in November.

Sadovnichy estimated RIA Novosti investment of 110 billion rubles., Including 20 billion rubles. at the initial stage. 10 billion has already been contributed by the Moscow government, having bought a 30% stake in ITC, the valley operator. Another 10 billion rubles. MSU expects from the federal budget. The Vorobevy Gory center itself will cost about 56 billion rubles, a Vedomosti source said. They plan to build it by the end of 2023, and bring it back to payback - not earlier than 2034.

Now a list of potential project participants is being formed: more than 110 large companies, including Sibur, Rosneft, Rostec, expressed willingness, Sadovnichy said in an interview with Vedomosti. He proposed three main models of participation: as investors in innovative enterprises; project participants who will conduct their scientific and technological activities in the center; persons who want to implement their project in the center. For them, tax and customs benefits are provided. The main activities of the center will be biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, information technology, robotics, as well as space research.

Rostec intends to engage in training, research and development of new solutions in the center to diversify its production, his representative said. Sibur is considering the option of creating joint laboratories, a spokesman said.

Katerina Tikhonova

One of the authors of the concept of creating the valley is the National Intellectual Development Fund, which formally belongs to Moscow State University and operates under the Innopraktika brand, RBC wrote. Innopraktika developed the concept of the valley in 2013 as part of a working group of 80 participants, ”the company confirmed. It is headed by Katerina Tikhonova, who, according to sources from Reuters and Bloomberg, is the youngest daughter of Vladimir Putin. In parallel, she is the vice-rector of the Moscow State University for the search for talented youth.

In the summer, Tikhonova defended her thesis “Mathematical Problems of Correction of the Activity of Vestibular Mechanoreceptors”, the scientific adviser was Sadovnichy. The rector himself says that he did not know about her until that moment: just after one of his seminars, she went up to him and asked to do math. The rector recalls that his rebuke - "you are a humanist, can you imagine which way to go" - she replied: "I am hardworking." According to Sadovnichy, Tikhonova on a general basis studied at the magistracy of mehmat, her path from magistracy to the defense of the candidate took 10 years. However, skeptics indicate that the scientific work of Tikhonova, which formed the basis of the dissertation, was written in collaboration.

The Innopractics project will participate in the valley on a common basis - if approved at the competition, assures Sadovnichy. “The company is ready to join the implementation of the essential part of the center’s concept,” that is, to accompany projects, attract residents, negotiate with participants, the Innopractics press service said. Over the past five years, the Tikhonova Fund has already agreed to attract 1.7 billion rubles. from state corporations, including Rosneft, Transneft, Rosatom, Vedomosti calculated and the press service confirmed. In 2019, the fund’s revenue will be about 500 million rubles, they added there. This is the same as a year earlier, and 70% higher than in 2017.


“The rector and the university are under great pressure from various groups. They can hack a project, refuse to supply equipment for an important project, and reduce subsidies, ”says Alexander Buzgalin, professor at Moscow State University. The financial dependence of the university on the state remains high.

According to the results of 2018, the income of Moscow State University amounted to 29.7 billion rubles, it follows from the report of Moscow State University. Their main source is the budget, from which 16.5 billion rubles came, or 55% of the funds. Subsidies and other government funding of 17.5 billion rubles are planned this year, and a decrease to 16.4 billion next year. Another significant source of income is education fees (5.8 billion rubles), grants (2.5 billion rubles) and scientific research (1.9 billion rubles).

If inflation is not taken into account, then compared with 2015, the real income of the university from the budget increased by 9%, from paid education - by a third, but income from grants fell by 27%, and from scientific research - by 37%, calculations show " Vedomosti. "

“Moscow State University is not a testing ground for market experiments,” Sadovnichy told Vedomosti. Nevertheless, commercial interests are increasingly penetrating his life. In 2019, 3,772 students (66%) were enrolled in budget places at Moscow State University, and 1959 were enrolled in paid places. Last year, the average cost of studying at Moscow State University was about 372,000 rubles. Now, payers transfer an average of 429,000 rubles for tuition, the University’s press service told Vedomosti. In total, 62% of state employees (22,000) study at Moscow State University, five years ago there were 68% of them.

MSU expenses - 32 billion rubles. Most of them are payments to employees: in 2018, they spent about 68% of the budget (17.2 billion for salaries, another 4.9 billion for contributions to the Pension Fund and other funds). Another 7.2 billion rubles. (or 22%) goes for purchases (construction and purchase of scientific equipment, utility costs, security, communications, cleaning, maintenance and repair of educational buildings and dormitories), as well as scholarships (1.2 billion rubles) and taxes (1 billion rubles .).

How much do teachers get

Critics usually refer to ludicrous basic salaries: he has about 42,000 rubles for the head of the department, and 15,000–20,000 rubles for ordinary teachers. In April 2019, the associate professor of the Department of Moscow State University was offered a salary of 18,000, and the laboratory assistant - from 11,000 rubles, follows from SPARK data. The base salary is multiplied by a raising coefficient, which depends on the length of service, academic degree, position and so on. To this are added bonuses, compensations, co-payments from grants and for publications. “One month I can get 50,000, and another - 200,000 [rubles]. On average, it turns out roughly what the May decrees require, ”says Andrey Kolganov, MSU zavlab.
The average salary at Moscow State University is about 74,000 rubles. It follows from the assessment of Vedomosti according to the Main Information and Computing Center (GIVC) of the Ministry of Education and Science and university reporting. At the same time, vice-rectors have an income of 337,000 rubles, teachers - 137,000 rubles, scientists - 97,000 rubles, and the rest of the staff - an average of 38,000 rubles.

Compared to 2012, MSU salaries increased in real terms by about 46%. Formally, they really exceeded the average salary in Moscow by half, as demanded by the May decrees, but only six years ago.

In the hierarchy and by faculty, the income stratification is strong. To make ends meet, some are forced to increase their workload: work part-time, take extra bets, somehow get grants, says Ruslan Dzarasov, a former part-time worker at Moscow State University. This affects the quality of the generated knowledge - the “tortured” teacher does not have enough time to fully prepare for lectures.

MSU freelancers suffer the most. In September, the historian Askold Ivanchik, the faculty leadership “kindly offered” to work for free, citing the fact that “the history faculty has completely become impoverished," he complained on his Facebook. True, the leadership of Moscow State University responded to this, that at that time Ivanchik did not offer work.

Gardener's income

Over the past five years, Sadovnichy’s income has more than doubled, to 18.5 million rubles. for 2018, of which payments to Sadovnichy at the university were 2.3 million rubles, and 13.4 million became steel - an increase of almost 6 times. Half is salary, and the rest is bonuses. “I was against the [salary] that they are now paying me. But [in the government] they told me: if we pay you a little, it is not clear why we should pay a lot to others, ”he told Vedomosti. “The Gardener is a world famous scientist, and he can be published in the most prestigious journals with a high impact factor. If you publish an article, for example, in the journal Nature, it will give such a number of points that it will block the base salary for the year, ”said Buzgalin.

The rector of Moscow State University, however, is not the richest in Russia. According to Vedomosti, among the leaders of 100 top universities (according to Expert RA), Sadovnichy is in 17th place. 1st place - at the rector of St. Petersburg State University Vladimir Litvinenko (237 million rubles), who was the scientific adviser to Putin on his dissertation, and now is a major shareholder of Fosagro.

The Sadovnichy family has five plots of land for 194 hundred parts and five houses with a total area of ​​869 square meters. m, one of which appeared in 2018. Two land tenure of 26 acres - in the cooperative "Marina" on the ruble, discovered the "Project". Their market value, taking into account the house - about 130 million rubles. One of the plots came to the rector from the full namesake of United Russia party Alexander Belyakov in 2003. Another plot was bought by the rector in the elite summer house partnership Snegiri in Istra district - 75 acres worth about 185 million rubles.
When the Moscow State University library was being built, one could observe the following picture: high-ranking officials arrive at new expensive foreign cars with protection, and the rector drives an old foreign car, says a friend of his. He says that Sadovnichy is a fan of the university; he is not interested in material wealth. The rector himself says that he lives in a small house in the Aprelevka area and he does not even own an apartment. In free use only an apartment of 110 square meters. m in the main building of Moscow State University.


During the year, only 75% of Moscow State University graduates find work, according to the GIWC. A graduate, according to monitoring by the Ministry of Education and Science, can count on hardly 60,000 rubles. per month. Often students complain about the devastation in dormitories and ridiculous scholarships (3,000 rubles for excellent students). Graduate students of state-priority professions receive a little more - 7000 rubles, the rest - 3300 rubles, the future scientist Ivan told Vedomosti (he did not disclose his name).

Moscow State University has always been famous for its inherent spirit of studentship and democracy, but under Sadovnich he began to lose himself, one of the businessmen complains. Nevertheless, MSU students periodically organize riots. At the end of 2007, a group of students and teachers raised the question of the quality of education, administrative rigidity and domestic disorder at the social faculty of Moscow State University. Students were unhappy with Dean Vladimir Dobrenkov, held mass events and sought a meeting with Sadovnichy. As a result, 30 students submitted for expulsion, and orders were signed for four in March 2008. Activists were accused of "immoral behavior", and then expelled for "academic failure." “At the exam they put a deuce to me, not even explaining that I didn’t answer that way. Before that, I passed all the sessions perfectly, ”Svetlana Erpyleva complained to Novaya Gazeta.

The scandals associated with the journalism faculty of Moscow State University, where President Dmitry Medvedev visited in October 2011, were also loud. He arrived at the faculty, accompanied by Sadovnichy and the presidential administration, the building was surrounded by riot police. Students and graduates of the journalism department were left behind the doors of the audience where the meeting took place. Several students who objected to holding such an event at the faculty during the State Duma election campaign were detained. They stood with posters “Why are you sitting on Twitter and Khodorkovsky is in prison?”, “You don’t mind budget money for such“ elections? ” The leadership of the faculty then had to conduct explanatory work with students.

In the fall of 2019, students and graduates of the journalism faculty began collecting signatures on a petition against the expulsion from the journalism faculty of students who collected guarantees in support of the arrested postgraduate student of the Moscow State University, Azat Miftakhov (accused of assaulting the United Russia office in Khovrin). Students considered this a punishment for their political position. Sadovnichy later gave them the right to close their debts and said that while the investigation was ongoing, Miftakhov would not be expelled.

In March this year, the rector of Moscow State University proposed that the Ministry of Education and Science amend the charter of the Moscow State University to expel students in case of criminal prosecution. But this initiative caused such irritation in society that Sadovnichy was forced to withdraw the amendment. For another university, St. Petersburg State University, the government approved this norm.

Doubtful contractors

Purchasing at the university is not easy. Vedomosti studied all available information on contracts larger than 1 million rubles concluded by Moscow State University since 2010 - there were about 10,000 of them totaling more than 52 billion rubles. 57% of them were from a single supplier, i.e., without a tender. This happens when “objectively there is no competition, for example, subjects of a natural monopoly, state institutions, copyright holders,” the university’s press service said.

The largest scientific project of the university is associated with the company "T-platform" Vsevolod Opanasenko. She installed at the university supercomputers “Lomonosov” and “Lomonosov-2”, included in the top 100 most powerful in the world (totaling 3.4 billion rubles). In March 2019, Opanasenko was arrested and sent to a pre-trial detention center - allegedly in collusion with the head of the department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, he wanted to deceive the ministry by 300 million rubles. in the supply of computer technology. He himself does not admit guilt. The courts have satisfied claims against T-platforms by more than 370 million rubles. There are claims to the company on the part of Moscow State University, the press service said.

The company "Transhydrostroy" received a contract of 1.9 billion rubles. for the construction of block "B" of the humanitarian building of Moscow State University. The company is owned by the Cypriot Semithania Enterprises Ltd. Until December 2014, it was controlled by the billionaire Boris Mintz through the British Virgin Islands O1 Group. In the 90s, Mints was the head of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of State Property and worked in the administration of President Yeltsin, then went in for real estate. In September 2018, Mints had to part with key assets, now he lives outside of Russia. Earlier, his company could not even cope with the construction of an underground passage near Moscow State University, as a result of which the contract was broken off. The company has almost no construction capacities on its balance sheet; now it is in the liquidation phase.

Almost 1 billion rubles. mastered the private security companies "Alliance", "Metropol", "Megur". Combines their single address and website design. The former general director of Alliance is Sergei Stoly, whose alleged brother Leonid Stoly is a former employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and ex-deputy head of the rear service of the Central Customs Administration. Now the Alliance is being liquidated. Comments in these companies could not be obtained.

Such exotic things as trainings for Islamic confessors come across. Moscow State University allocated about 110 million rubles for them, and the Moscow Islamic Institute, a private educational institution that established the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Russian Federation, became the winner of the tenders. Rector - Damir Mukhetdinov, member of the Public Chamber, as well as deputy director of the Center for Arabic Studies and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University.

A total of 52 contractors with a total volume of contracts of more than 100 million rubles. accounted for 32 billion rubles. MSU orders. At least 14 of these counterparties with a total order volume of 4.7 billion rubles. they have several signs of dubious activity (non-transparent ownership and affiliation, short-term orientation and execution of orders mainly for Moscow State University, bankruptcy, lack of capacity, claims of official bodies), the Vedomosti assessment shows according to the data of the public procurement website.


Recently, an initiative group at Moscow State University published a petition demanding free rector elections (it collected more than 1,100 signatures). In a statement, the head of Moscow State University is accused of “initiating the abolition of the autonomy and election of the rector in exchange for an extension of powers for another two terms.” Sadovnichy himself is confident that if the elections were held, he would have won them anyway.

The rector of Moscow State University heads the main university of the country for more than 27 years, and this is an absolute record in the history of the university. The previous record holder, the Soviet academician Ivan Petrovsky, ruled the university for 22 years (from 1951 to 1973), but on average, rectors changed every five years.

According to Vedomosti estimates, on average, the rectors of the top 100 Russian universities have been leading them for 9.5 years. Nevertheless, Sadovnichy is not a leader among the current heads of universities. The rector of the Volgograd Medical University, Vladimir Petrov, held his post from 1990 to 2019, and the rector of RosNOU, Vladimir Zernov, has been leading him since 1991. Among the five leaders are also the rector of the Higher School of Economics, Yaroslav Kuzminov and the rector of MGIMO, Anatoly Torkunov (both from 1992).

The fashion trend among the rectors was the expression of loyalty to the ruling elite: the heads of at least 58 of the 100 top Russian universities are members or supporters of United Russia and the president’s support groups. About 70% of the rectors are somehow affiliated with the authorities.

Sadovnichy has been a member of the party in power for more than 17 years. In the last two presidential elections, he acted as Putin's confidant. He himself says that he is familiar with the president for 30 years and has long been imbued with sympathy for him.

“[The influence of United Russia at Moscow State University] is felt,” complained a representative of the Vedomosti University initiative group. - For example, opposition politicians are not called to speak and it is secretly forbidden. Nobody agrees with Navalny, but State Duma deputies often speak. ” “I do not observe discrimination on political grounds at Moscow State University,” Kolganov disagrees. - Campaigning within the walls of the university is not welcome, but this is everywhere. If a teacher or scientist openly criticizes power, then there will be no obstacles to a career to a certain extent. True, only to a certain limit. Of course, they cannot get into the leadership of the university. ”

Sadovnichy is a good hardware player, a former federal official believes: he uses political tools to strengthen his position. There is a bargain: criticizes the reforms a little, aggregates sympathies, but in the end, albeit with concessions, reforms are underway, he explains. “One of the great resources of Moscow State University is land. This is used for bargaining. The same with the theme of the scientific valley of Moscow State University. It was on this story that he managed to build relations with Igor Shuvalov (he was the curator of the project from the government and was developing the federal law on the innovation valley) and Katerina Tikhonova, ”said the ex-official. He also helped Putin’s alleged daughter with a dissertation — all such things are then taken into account, the Vedomosti interlocutor said.

Sadovnichy managed to maintain a special position, closeness and a certain level of privilege of the university, said political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov. Mau notes that the rector of Moscow State University solves many problems through negotiations and is looking for solutions that suit everyone.

The university and the country as a whole have a single problem of the irremovability of power, and this leads to the degradation of science and education, says HSE professor Elena Lukyanova. The weakness of the university and other Russian universities remains insufficient funding, says Dmitry Grishankov, a member of the Board of Directors of Expert RA. In every era, it is necessary to meet the expectations of the authorities and be able to use it, commented political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky: “The gardener is an ideal person in the Putin era, because he is always in a place that meets the criteria of the current moment. His views never differed from those of the corresponding time in the Kremlin. And Vladimir Putin does not like to touch that which does not interfere and lies calmly. ”