Oligarch TV gives lessons in bling
Planning a party in Courchevel? Need the lowdown on dyeing your poodle? A new Russian chatshow is drawing millions of viewers with the inside track on how to live like an oligarch drowning in cash.
For You is hosted by Oksana Robski, author of a bestselling book that lifted the lid on the gilded lives of the super-rich with a tale of a tycoon’s bored wife and her cocaine-sniffing friends. The daily lunchtime show has pulled in a host of celebrities to instruct a boggling audience on how to acquire an ‘elitniy’ existence.
Polls indicate 58 per cent of Russians aspires to having ‘as much money as possible’, despite widespread contempt for the business tycoons who snatched fortunes in the Nineties. Oil magnates like Roman Abramovich are simultaneously despised and envied for their luxury yachts and armour-plated limos.
Last week the socialite Kseniya Sobchak, 23, was a star guest on For You, dispensing wisdom on the importance of acquiring a rich husband.
‘We have that saying, “If you love him, even life in a shack seems like paradise”,’ she told viewers. ‘Well, only until the first frost.’
Friday’s show gave masterclasses on making alcohol-laced desserts and choosing the right corset to go with your jewel-studded jeans. ‘What about that one?’ asked Robski. ‘I seduced three men in that,’ replied the designer.
Robski co-hosts the show with Yulia Bordovskikh, a glamorous former newsreader, and Igor Vernik, a presenter who adopts the manners of a louche playboy. Plasma screens and a glass floor set the tone of the set, which is saturated in red light.
Critics say ‘aspirational viewing’ is a growing trend on television, as the gap between rich and poor grows wider. Millions of pensioners live on the breadline, with barely enough money to buy food.
Irina Petrovskaya, a columnist at the Izvestia newspaper, rubbished the show’s lessons in high living. ‘I can’t make tuna tartar or sturgeon soup because I’ve not once seen the ingredients in my local shop,’ she said.
Robski has defended her obsession with the wealthy, saying, ‘The rich also cry.’
The appearance of programmes like For You comes as sociologists speak of a growing shift in the upper echelons of Russian society. Where the brash Noviye Ruski of a decade ago made their fortunes exploiting the chaos of the fall of communism, today’s rich are often state officials.
‘About 50 per cent of them are bureaucrats who have turned state service into a kind of business,’ says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, an expert on elites. ‘They belong to “veto groups” who grant permits or contracts [in exchange for bribes].’ Autor: Tom Parfitt