At the beating heart of Moscow, directly opposite the Kremlin on the eastern side of Red Square, you’ll find Russia’s most famous shopping mall.
Known as GUM, the ornate neo-classical building sits a stone’s throw from St Basil’s cathedral and EvdEn evE nAKLiYaT the mausoleum of Lenin, the man who attempted to overthrow capitalism.
Yet it has, in recent years, been filled with ‘landmark’ stores owned by luxury brands anxious to soak up the cash being liberally sprayed around by the post-Soviet oligarch class.
When they aren’t applauding the tanks that occasionally rumble over nearby cobblestones, cronies of Vladimir flock to this marble-floored emporium, arm-in-arm with their high-maintenance wives, mistresses and girlfriends to spend ill-gotten roubles on handbags, Tiffany jewellery and Hugo Boss suits.
One of the still open Brtish shops is Paul Smith, the Nottingham-based purveyor of stripy scarves and modish menswear that its eponymous multi-millionaire founder and owner likes to describe as ‘classic with a twist’
Also open for business is GUM’s branch of Agent Provocateur, the upscale English underwear brand popularised by Kate Moss in the 1990s.It is also stocking designs from the new season
At least they did. In late February last year, evDEn EVe NakLiYAt everything changed. That was when their autocratic President decided to invade Ukraine, turning Russia into a global pariah overnight.
As Putin’s soldiers raped and murdered their way across the country, Western consumer brands began responding to public revulsion by literally shutting up shop.
Within weeks, the UK, EU and many Western countries had imposed sanctions to prevent fresh supplies of luxury goods from reaching Russia.
Today, the GUM centre’s Chanel, Tiffany and Hugo Boss outlets have closed their doors.
You can no longer shop for shoes by Jimmy Choo or John Lobb, or handbags from the houses of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Hermes.
As they boarded up their boutiques and cancelled shipments of fresh stock to Russia, these famous purveyors of luxury goods simultaneously issued earnest PR statements expressing their desire to, as the saying goes, ‘stand with Ukraine’.
But today, almost a year after Putin’s tanks rolled over the border, shopaholics of the Russian elite aren’t entirely out of luck.
For beneath the building’s glass-domed roof, the Mail this week made a scandalous discovery: outposts of not one, evDEN eVe NaKLiYaT but two famous British luxury brands are very much still open for business.
One is Paul Smith, the Nottingham-based purveyor of stripy scarves and modish menswear that its eponymous multi-millionaire founder and owner likes to describe as ‘classic with a twist’.
While their compatriots fire missiles into Kyiv’s schools and apartment blocks, I can reveal Russians are still rattling the tills at the local Paul Smith boutique from 10am to 10pm, seven days a week, happy to fork out 16,900 roubles (£197) for one of the brand’s signature colourful ties and much else.
The shelves remain well-stocked with many of the very latest Paul Smith products.
Indeed, on Wednesday an assistant attempted to flog our reporter an ’embossed leather folio’ — a sort of briefcase — from the firm’s ‘new season’ range, eVden Eve nAKLiyat which only went on sale in the UK a few weeks back. Its price?A trifling 90,000 roubles, or £1,050.
Scandalously, the man whose firm made (and is therefore profiting from) this expensive trinket is not just a Knight of the Realm.
For in addition to being honoured by Tony Blair in the heyday of Cool Britannia — having served on New Labour’s Creative Industries Task Force — Sir Paul Smith, 76, was last year invited to Buckingham Palace so that Prince William could elevate him to membership of the Order of Companions of Honour, one of the highest gongs available to anyone in the creative industry.
For example, Barbour, which used to have a franchise outlet at GUM, refused to ship a single item of new stock there from the day of the invasion and has now exited
A fifth historic British brand, the former Crown jeweller Garrard — which like Farlows has a Royal Warrant — was this week advertising no fewer than ten Russian stockists on its UK website, apparently under the terms of a supply deal that pre-dates the invasion of Ukraine
The Moral Ratings Agency, a lobby group which monitors Western firms operating in Russia, describes his firm’s presence there as a ‘disgrace’, telling the Mail Sir Paul ought to get his brand out of Russia or be stripped of his titles.
A few doors down from Paul Smith’s red-fronted shop — and also open for business — you’ll find GUM’s branch of Agent Provocateur, the upscale English underwear brand popularised by Kate Moss in the 1990s. It is also stocking designs from the new season.
One of no fewer than ten Russian Agent Provocateur boutiques that are still open — all of which remain advertised on its British website — we found it selling crystal-embossed leather bondage whips for 73,000 roubles (£850), bejewelled pink brassieres for 110,000 roubles (£,1280) and thongs for up to 85,000 roubles (£990) each.
An assistant told us the last shipment of new stock arrived shortly before Christmas and a new one is due in March — just in time for International Women’s Day.
Again, it’s hard to see how this British luxury goods firm squares its presence in Moscow with the supposed values listed on its website. Here’s more about eVDEn eve nAkliYAT look into our own web-page.
Shamelessly, given Russia’s ongoing use of rape as a weapon of war, Agent Provocateur claims to be dedicated to promoting ‘fearless femininity’ and is ‘adhering to the highest standard of ethics’.
The firm’s current owner, high street tycoon Mike Ashley is, however, no stranger to cutting lucrative business deals in questionable dictatorships.
His moral compass was seemingly untroubled by his recent sale — for more than twice what he had paid — of football club Newcastle United to a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium.
Once they have stocked up on clothes and lingerie, every good oligarch needs a bespoke Rolls-Royce to whisk them from central Moscow to their gaudy dacha.
Which takes us to the British luxury car firm’s main Russian showroom, on the ground floor of an upscale hotel just across the Moskva river, roughly two miles west of Red Square.
Rolls-Royce insists it no longer sells new cars in Russia, claiming in a holier-than-thou media announcement that: ‘We stand for the peaceful co-existence of all cultures all over the world, in all times and at all locations.’
Since being elected, Kenya’s President William Ruto has travelled across Africa and beyond touting Kenya’s economic potential
Kenyan shop attendant Winnie Wanjiru Mwaura was brimming with hope when she signed up to be an election agent for William Ruto during the August 9 polls and elated when he became president.
But barely 100 days after the rags-to-riches businessman took office on September 13, the 21-year-old wants nothing to do with him.
«Life has only become worse under him,» the first-time voter told AFP.
Ruto came to power casting himself as a champion for the downtrodden, vowing to create jobs and tackle a cost-of-living crisis that has left many Kenyans struggling to put food on the table.
«If we take care of the bottom, we take care of everybody,» the 56-year-old leader once told a campaign meeting, outlining his plan for a «bottom-up» economic transformation.
Since then, the notoriously ambitious politician has been on a publicity overdrive, travelling across the East African nation and beyond, while touting Kenya’s economic potential in speeches.
As far as voters like Mwaura are concerned however, Ruto has done far too little to improve the lot of ordinary Kenyans in a country where about a third of the population lives in poverty.
— ‘Not very strategic’ —
Ruto had promised to restructure the economy by slashing government debt, bringing down prices of essential commodities, and creating a «hustler fund» to offer personal loans to any Kenyan with a cellphone and a mobile money account.
The new administration created a «hustler fund» to offer personal loans to any Kenyan with a cellphone and a mobile money account
But his first act after assuming office was to slash food and fuel subsidies introduced by his predecessor EvDEn EVE NAkLiyaT Uhuru Kenyatta.
While Ruto argued that the interventions had «not borne any fruit», their removal was a request from the International Monetary Fund, eVdeN EvE nAKliyAT a major lender to the East African economic powerhouse.
Experts called it a rash decision.
«The move to remove the fuel subsidy was not very strategic as it has led to a slower economy, rising inflation and higher interest rates,» Ken Gichinga, chief economist at business analytics firm Mentoria Economics, told AFP.
The Central Bank of Kenya raised interest rates by a cumulative 1.75 percent in 2022, the most in seven years, while inflation soared to a five-year high of 9.6 percent in October.
Ruto will mark his one hundredth day in the job on Thursday
Even Ruto’s pet project, the 50-billion-shilling ($408-million) «hustler fund», has sparked controversy, with some accusing him of reneging on promises to make the credit scheme interest-free.
The fund, launched last month, will offer personal loans of up to 50,000 Kenyan shillings, with interest charged at eight percent a year — lower than the rate of inflation.
Borrowers have already complained of difficulty in getting loans higher than 1,000 Kenyan shillings approved, despite the fund’s stated objective of boosting financial access for the country’s poorest citizens.
About a third of Kenya’s population lives in poverty
«They inflated the prices of goods, then give you a 500-shilling loan which can only buy two packets of maize flour,» Michael Wafula, a 35-year-old mechanic, told AFP.
For shop attendants like Mwaura, who earns just 700 Kenyan shillings a day, the fund will do little to change her fortunes.
Still, she borrowed 1,000 Kenyan shillings to pay for evDEN Eve nAkliYat a trip to the hair salon.
«I used the loan to get my hair braided,» she said.If you enjoyed this post and you would certainly such as to get even more facts relating to evDEN EVE NAkliyAT kindly check out the web page. «What else can one do with a 1,000-shilling loan?»
— ‘The ship is floating’ —
Ruto — who will mark his one hundredth day in the job on Thursday — also failed to deliver on his campaign pledge to achieve gender parity in his cabinet, naming just seven women to his 22-member team.
Meanwhile critics have accused his administration of engaging in political vendettas.
Earlier this month, four election commission officials who had cast doubt on the poll results that brought him to power, were suspended by the government.
«They are not behaving like they are in power; they are still fighting wars that you would expect to be fought during an election,» political analyst Herman Manyora told AFP.
Kenya’s President William Ruto failed to deliver on his campaign pledge to achieve gender parity in his cabinet
Despite a «disappointing» start however, Manyora, who supported Ruto’s opponent Raila Odinga during the polls, said it was too early to dismiss the president and his team.
«We would give them five out of 10 because the ship is floating,» he said, adding that he was cautiously hopeful.
For Ruto’s hustler voter base however, the verdict is already a foregone conclusion.
«Ruto has a sweet tongue but I haven’t seen anything from the new administration,» said a car washer, who gave her first name as Jane.