The Main Propagandist of the Kremlin: from the Garden Gnomes to Rare Coins…

One of non-consoling realities in the strained world and Lithuania for minimum coming months we will have manipulation in information because Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has ensured himself an absolute and unlimited …

One of non-consoling realities in the strained world and Lithuania for minimum coming months we will have manipulation in information because Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, has ensured himself an absolute and unlimited power. In the interview to on the topic of varying prices of oil (www.svoboda.org/a/30499520.html) the partner of the company and a analyst Mikhail Krutikhin indicated that we should not ignore the current stability of the regimen of Russia – any political leaders can be replaced, because no personalities are working but the communication system that is established in the political elite.
Probably this is true, however this algorithm is not without exceptions, especially when we are talking about makers of the information field, one of them is Alexei Gromov, First Deputy Chief of the President Staff of Russia, a rather mysterious player of the Kremlin. In Lithuania we know about him just that in 2014 he was included in the ‘black list ‘of the European Union (EU) of individuals and companies sanctions are imposed against as a result of the position in Ukraine.     
It is worth getting deeper into the person of V. Putin‘s environment, responsible for formation of the public space when it is most probable that filling of it under the conditions of disinformation about the forming ‘cold war‘, will also be intense in the Baltic States. Moreover, according to authors of the publication published on 23 January ‘Doll‘s king. Portrait of Alexei Gromov, Head of the Russian state propaganda‘(www.proekt.media/portrait/alexey-gromov/), he is a person Russians cannot object to. This public official of the Kremlin personifies general control of information; his family and friends gather enterprises around the market of the public space under its control.
Son of Alexei Grobov, an engineer of the defence industry of Russia, who has education of a historian and experience of the diplomat in the former Czechoslovakia (according to one version his son even changed his surname, because his father‘s surname did not sound too strong) was the Press Secretary of the Russian President in 2000- 2008, then Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration in 2008-2012 and since then – First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration.    
He started his career as a modest Head of the Press Service of the first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, whose hobby is collecting of the garden gnomes. This person in 2000 turned to be suitable for the position of the Press Representative of the now ‚timeless‘President of Russia, a former intelligence officer and anti-West person. Like his master, A.Gromov stayed in the Kremlin (has been working in the Presidential Administration for 23 years, longer than anybody else from his authorities) and it is hard to believe that in the nearest future something will change even if the expert, to tell the truth, of oil, M.Krutikhin confirms contrary.  
The first serious challenge to the Kremlin‘s noviciate at the beginning of this century was a fight over the control to the business oligarch of the opposition Vladimir Gusinsky, who owned actually an independent TV channel NTV that was frustrating the new Kremlin (a satirical program ‘Kukly‘presented V.Putin as a character from Ernst Amadeaus Hoffman grotesque story ‘Little Zaches called Cinnabar‘, who liked to assign other people merits of others to himself). A. Gromov played a significant role in closing the TV channel.       
At that time Mikhail Lesin, Minister of Press, was more important. Although the latter lost his power after some time and even got into the disgrace (his death at the hotel Dupont Circle in Washington has not been investigated even now), when A. Gromov , on the contrary, was making his career, their tandem was useful for both of them for a long time. When the former Minister established a company , it used to sell 80 percent of advertisements to the Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration of Russia in the market of the subordinate television since 2008.
The algorithm of A.Gromov‘s work has been so well worked out that managers of Russian TV channels even without calls from ‘above‘ know what to tell and what to avoid. For that reason Thursday meetings were organized in a mandatory manner in the office of the manager, where managers of not only public but also private TV channels have to participate. He is managing press institutions of the highest authorities (President’s office, the Government and Parliament), with whom he discusses agenda of the President V. Putin and tells what and how things should be broadcasted. Once every quarter Press Secretaries of the power structures meet in his office and the public official ‘controls’ the biggest Russian newspapers.   
The main ‘activity’ of A. Gromov is almost a free access to the President, thus even billionaires who own the media, are avoiding his anger. The wealthy try to find access to the President via him and ‘thank’ him for that. He established the practice that reporters actually have no possibility to participate and they have to watch V.Putin’s speeches in video broadcasts. Same as his boss, A. Gromov does not like new technologies, for instance, he still uses a button mobile phone. By the way, the division of this public official is also responsible for presentation of notes on paper to the President of Russia, where he gets information about the reality. When V. Putin started appointing his former adjutants, they entrusted A. Gromov to present ‘useful’ information about the controlled regions.
A.Gromov and his family are in close relations with business oligarchs Oleg Deripaska (sanctions are applied by the USA) and Roman Abramovich (a major player in the media market. In 2017 he controlled 24 percent of the Russian TV channel First channel). When at the beginning of 2018 a scandal arose in regards to ‘adventures’ of Anastasia Rybka in O. Deripaska’s yacht, a call from the Kremlin was made to one of the biggest managers of the Russian media with a ‘request’ to tell the story in ‘a nice way’ without criticising the business oligarch too much.   
The older son of the public officer, also Alexei together with O. Deripaska own the factory LMZ Skad that manufactures aluminium disks for vehicles as partners in Krasnoyarsk region for the vehicles – the only supplier in Russia with 2 billion annual incomes. This young man is actually a very successful businessman. Let’s say in February 2017 he got 33.3 percent of shares in the company in the field of garbage disposal business responsible for disposal of garbage from two districts of Moscow, where Gromov’s senior friend Aleksandr Gorbenko is the Vice Minister. Gromov, Junior left this business in the same way he started it – after half a year he sold his share in to the old-time R. Abramovich business partner’s Alexander Chigirinsky son Mikhail. According to the article ‘Doll’s king..’, value is from 2.1 to 2.3 billion roubles, thus Gromov, Junior could have made over 700 million roubles from this deal.     
The Kremlin’s public officer is not the collector of gnomes but rate coins (in the special website we can see coins dating back to the times of the Peter I owned by him that are worth hundreds of thousands of US dollars). He is the owner of the house of 961 square meters in the suburbs since 2002 (this lot was owned by the state before) and almost 3 thousand square meters land lot in a prestigious Rubliovka district in the vicinities of Moscow. According to the spreading legends about this building, he replaced the Italian marble of the columns several times trying to get the right shade… 
In Moscow the area of about 500 square meters of his flat takes all floor (3 adjacent flats) in Bolshoi Tishinsky alley. The house was built in 2009 at the order of the Russian Presidential Affairs Council. A similar flat in this area in 2018 was for sale at150 million roubles. An interesting fact is that A. Gromov, who has been working all his life in the public office in 2009, when he declared his flat in 2009 first, in his assets declaration he indicated that he owns about 4 million roubles.    
Finally, A.Gromov loves his ‘adoptee’ – a propagandistic TV channel oriented to the auditorium in the West (, that is its ‘grandchild’ is broadcasting in the Baltic States, too), which he ‘created’ together with M.Lesin in 2005. He achieved this when the former journalist of the Kremlin’s ‘pool’ Margarita Simonyan was appointed as the Senior Editor of . As we say, they make friends in families – M.Simonyan and her younger sister Alisa have had and still have a business of the public relations and participate in the state projects such as Sochi Olympic Games, World Football Championship in Russia and construction of the bridge in Crimea. All of them are of a particular importance, thus it is not excluded that they are related to the public officer of Russia who manages propaganda.
These are the habits in the Russian empire where Lithuania and the whole eastern Baltic region will have to live in the neighbourhood and communicate somehow.   
 Arūnas Spraunius

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