The President’s Luxurious Vacations
During the last 15 years, Moldova’s President Igor Dodon officially earned money only from public service. Dodon has nevertheless had in this period vacations in exotic areas.
The Dodon family spent its vacations in places like the Maldives, Seychelles, Dubai, but also in an exclusive villa on the territory of one of the most luxurious hotels on the Aegean coast, resort managed by the family of Yuri Chaika, (former) Russia’s Prosecutor General.
ZdG has got hold of information and photos about a series of luxurious vacations that the Dodon family has enjoyed over the last decade.
In November 2009, shortly after the Communist Party is removed from the government, Igor Dodon created his Facebook account. Since then, Dodon has uploaded photos to his account, including those featuring some of the vacations his family has enjoyed over the last decade.
Initially, Igor Dodon uploaded to Facebook various photos, commented and responded to the internauts, organized off-lines and even wrote on his blog. However, the politician’s transparency vanished when he went on exotic vacations with his family or in the company of important people close to him.
ZdG analyzes all President’s vacations, one at a time.
The vacation in the Maldives
In January 2010, Igor Dodon then a deputy of the Communist Party published a photo from a ski resort, mentioning for his friends on Facebook that he was in a resort in Austria, one of the favorite destinations for ski lovers.
ZdG found that shortly after the vacation in the mountains, Igor Dodon and his family set off on a new vacation, but for a more exotic destination, the dream of many ordinary people- the Maldives – a favorite place of the Europeans who want to go to the beach in wintertime. But on his Facebook page, the politician did not publish any photos of that vacation.
Located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives is an archipelago of over 1,000 islands, forming 26 atolls with coral reefs.
The destination is considered more suitable for honeymoons, but it is also seen as an ideal refuge for rich people. The cost of a seven-day vacation for two people starts from 4,000 – 5,000 euros, depending on the hotel.
The hotel close to the Indian Ocean
Photos with Igor and Galina Dodon from the Maldives were made in March 2010, on the eve of International Women’s Day.
In the photos, Igor Dodon is accompanied by his wife, Galina, as well as by Igor Grigoriev, his former university and dorm colleague from the Agrarian University, and his wife. Grigoriev was a party colleague with Dodon in the Communist Party and director of the Public Property Agency during the communist government.
In the photos, Dodon is smiling while drinking beer, diving or resting in the entourage of the family and friends.
The hotel where they chose to stay is close to the Indian Ocean, has direct access to the water, while access inside is facilitated by the employees with the help of a special ATV.
ZdG found that the resort that hosted the Dodon and Grigoriev families is called Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi, Ocean Villa.
In 2020, accommodation in it for a family amounts to more than 510 euros (10,000 lei) per night, without additional taxes and transport fees.
The hotel’s facilities include an outdoor pool and a tennis court.
Vacation in Bulgaria
For Igor Dodon and his family, the 2010 vacations did not end with the Maldives. In summer, Igor and Galina Dodon, together with three other families, had a vacation in Bulgaria, both at the seaside and in the mountains.
This time, the Dodon spouses were accompanied by children, but also by the Grigoriev family, who went with the Dodon family to the Maldives a few months earlier, Alexandru and Ecaterina Dodon, that is his brother’s family, and Oleg and Larisa Teterea, the family of the current Socialist deputy.
Initially, the politician did not post photos of that vacation on Facebook. He did it later, however, posting only pictures in which he is alone or with one of the children, without his brother and two friends.
ZdG got hold of photos that caught Igor Dodon, Igor Grigoriev, Alexandru Dodon and Oleg Teterea while relaxing on the beach, fishing, having barbecues or while driving ATVs.
In other pictures, they are dressed in special costumes reminding of Robocop action movies.
ZdG found that, during their vacation in the Rhodope Mountains, the four families stayed at the Rich Spa Hotel in Velingrad, where accommodation now costs over 100 euros (2,000 lei) per night. They stopped at the Via Pontica hotel in the Burgas region while at the seaside.
The photos were taken in July 2010, and during the vacation, the Dodon family also celebrated the birthday anniversary of Bogdan, their second child, who was then three years old.
Vacation in Seychelles
In January 2011, the public servant Igor Dodon fiercely criticized on Facebook the Alliance for European Integration under government, getting ready for the local elections that were to take place that summer.
Amidst political turmoil and aspirations, the Dodon family enjoyed a vacation on the Seychelles, another paradise in the Indian Ocean. Travel agencies write that the destination is “the paradise of celebrities, of those who come on honeymoon and who have exceptional financial possibilities.”
As in the March 2010 vacation in the Maldives, the Grigoriev family accompanied the Dodon family in Seychelles. However, there are fewer photos of this vacation. In one of them, in the distance, you can see Igor Dodon lying in a boat. In another photo, he is next to his wife, in a white T-shirt, on which we also can read the name of the accommodation resort “Constance Ephelia Resort of Seychelles.”
In January 2020, the cost of a double room in this hotel was about 408 euros (8,000 lei) for one night, while the whole trip, with the flight from Chișinău, exceeded 5,000 euros.
In 2011, such a vacation could reach as much as 10,000 euros [at the exchange rate of that year] depending on the services included and the room selected.
“Located between the white sandy beaches and the hills of Mahé, Ephelia offers luxury suites and villas overlooking the Indian Ocean. It has five restaurants, six bars, five swimming pools and boutiques. All the accommodation units at the Constance Ephelia Resort have a private garden area,” announces the travel agencies that propose this hotel to the clients. The hotel was opened in February 2010, just a year before the Dodon family visited it.
The outing in Dubai
Upon their return from Seychelles, the Dodon and Grigoriev families arranged an outing to Dubai, another exclusive destination. They stayed for about two days in the United Arab Emirates, accommodated in the heart of Dubai, at the Address Hotel (today it is Address Dubai Mall).
The hotel announces that “it offers elegant accommodation units located in Dubai Mall, near Burj Khalifa. This 5-star hotel offers an infinite outdoor pool, overlooking Burj Khalifa.” In January 2020, accommodation at the hotel costs about 255 euros (5,000 lei) per night.
The President’s friend commenting on the luxurious vacations
After several attempts, we found Igor Grigoriev, the one who was caught in photos with Igor Dodon on holidays in the Maldives, Seychelles, Dubai and Bulgaria. We found him in Seville, Spain, where he settled in the meantime.
Asked by ZdG, Grigoriev acknowledged the authenticity of the photos and confirmed that, in 2010-2011, he was on several exotic vacations with Igor Dodon. Asked how much the holidays in the Maldives and Seychelles cost, Grigoriev avoided offering an exact sum, but said that such vacations are not cheap, exceeding the one-year income of a public servant of that period.
“In 2011, there was a dispute between us during our outing in Dubai, after which I told Dodon that I would never do politics with him again.
Subsequently, our relations cooled. We last communicated immediately after the election of the Bashkan of Gagauzia, when I told Dodon to stop selling the country, as he was promoting the federalization then,” Grigoriev says.
In recent years, Grigoriev has often publicly criticized his former friend, university and party colleague.
In 2018, Grigoriev asked for political asylum in Spain, and recently, as he states, he has decided to settle permanently in this country.
Twenty vacations announced publicly by politician Igor Dodon in the last 10 years
ZdG found that, in 2011-2020, Igor Dodon, accompanied by his family members, benefited and publicly announced about around 20 vacations, some of them in luxurious resorts or hotels.
ZdG has also found that, in 2018, the president’s family stayed in one of the most luxurious hotels in the Greek peninsula Khalkidhiki “Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel.”
The hotel belongs to the family of the (former) Prosecutor General of Russia, as noted in a 2015 investigation by Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny.
In fact, it is assumed that the president stayed in a luxury villa located on the territory of the hotel, where accommodation for only one night can reach up to 20,000 euros.
But let’s take the president’s public holidays one at a time.
In August 2011, Igor Dodon was on vacation in Rome, the capital of Italy. He published several photos from there, including the Colosseum, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
In August 2012, Igor Dodon and his family had a vacation at the seaside in Croatia, announcing his Facebook friends.
Sometime earlier, the same year, Dodon went on a vacation to Greece, to the Crete island.
Vacations in the mountains, in Karlovy Vary and in Russia
Igor Dodon and his family started the year 2012 in the mountains, just as they did in the following years, 2013 and 2014, only that he no longer announced his Facebook friends about the location, but only posted pictures.
ZdG, however, found that in 2014, the Dodon family skied in Austria, at Kappl ski resort, as well as in Samnauntal, Switzerland, together with his brother’s family.
In August 2015, the Dodon family was in Czech Republic, at Karlovy Vary, the best-known spa center in Central Europe.
In March 2016, Igor Dodon, accompanied by his wife and his brother’s family, enjoyed a vacation in Cyprus.
Several months later, in August 2016, the Dodon family published photos from a fishing party in Russia, accompanied by Oleg Paholkov’s family, Russian deputy.
The two families stayed for several days in the city of Astrakhan on the Volga river, as well as at the Caspian Sea.
The pilgrimage to Mount Athos, the vacation in Sochi and in the mountains of Italy
Shortly after the outing to Russia, Igor Dodon, along with several close friends, including his brother Alexandru Dodon, Lilian Filipov, his wedding godson, and Corneliu Furculiță, his villager, left for a few days for Greece, for a pilgrimage to Mount Athos. The trip was to be repeated in the following years.
Before then, in January 2017, the Dodon family took a vacation in Russia, in Sochi.
Later, on March 3-7, 2017, Igor Dodon announced that he was leaving for a private visit to Italy.
Before meeting with the diaspora, ZdG found that the head of state stopped at Breuil-Cervinia, a luxury resort at an altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level. It is located in an alpine gorge between Italy and Switzerland.
In May 2017, the president and his wife announced that they were leaving for a one day trip to Venice, Italy.
In June 2017, the Dodon family visited the Russian city of Saint-Petersburg, and a few days later, they spent the weekend in Karelia, a region in northwestern Russia, with Russian deputy Oleg Nilov.
The vacation with unanswered questions in Turkey
On June 8, 2017, Igor Dodon announced on Facebook that he was taking his family for a vacation to Turkey.
Later, ZdG found that the president’s family stayed in a luxurious hotel in Antalya. Returning home, Dodon told the press that the information about the hotel was not true and that the vacation was arranged by Moldova’s consul in Antalya, who gave them the possibility and made them an offer in this regard.
“The cost is much lower than it is speculated. I will not provide more details about when, where and how…” the head of state declared.
A day later, on June 14, contacted by ZdG, Diyar Ickale Gultekin, honorary consul of Moldova in Antalya, said she knew nothing about President Dodon’s vacation.
Later, the president thanked his counterpart in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for the vacation and published a photo with the consul of Moldova in Turkey, who had previously stated that she had not talked with Igor Dodon in the last month.
“I want to thank President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the excellent organization of the vacation and for the warm welcome of my family. In particular, I want to thank Diar Ichkale Gultekin, the honorary consul of Moldova in Antalya, for her hospitality,” Igor Dodon wrote on his Facebook page on June 16, 2017.
Twice at Mount Athos and in the Altai mountains, next to a helicopter
After the vacation in Turkey, the President was on a pilgrimage in the Mount Athos, that took longer than the previous one, with President Dodon posting photos with his family from the shores of the Mediterranean. Dodon will visit again the Mount Athos in 2018, accompanied by Bishop Marchel.
Also in 2018, Igor Dodon was on a vacation in the Altai mountains in Russia, being caught in the pictures near a helicopter. And in July, he and his family attended the final of the World Football Championship, hosted by Russia.
The luxurious villa that belongs to the (former) Russia’s Prosecutor General
ZdG found, with reference to people close to the presidential family that aside from the pilgrimage to Athos, the presidential family spent a vacation at the luxury hotel “Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel”, located on the Khalkidhiki peninsula.
Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition politician, declared in 2015 that the hotel belonged to the family of Yuri Chaika, (former) Russia’s Prosecutor General.
ZdG previously wrote that Igor Chaika, the son of (former) Russia’s Prosecutor General, is a business partner of Alexandru Dodon, the president’s brother.
The presidential family and other persons close to the president stayed at the hotel when the president and his men went on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos.
The same people close to the presidential couple said that the Dodon family didn’t stay at the hotel, but in an exclusively luxurious villa, on the territory of the accommodation unit Royal Suite.
At the same time, Dodon agreed to be served by only one waitress, originally from Moldova, established in Greece for over 15 years and employed in the hotel. The villa where the head of state was accommodated has a swimming pool with private access, direct view to the sea and in July 2020, for only five days of accommodation, it costs no less than 86,800 euros (1.7 million lei).
In August 2020, the simplest room in the hotel “Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel” costs at least 355 euros (7,000) lei for one night.
The January 2020 vacation
Traditionally, Igor Dodon and his family started the 2020 year with a ski vacation. Although the head of the state did not announce the destination, the pictures show that he was with his family at a resort in Austria.
When asked by the journalists where he spent his vacation and how much did it cost, Dodon avoided giving a clear answer.
On January 14, ZdG tried to discuss with Igor Dodon about the luxurious vacations he has enjoyed in the last 10 years during a public event, but his guard restricted our access. So, we sent our questions to the Head of the State through the Press Service.
Although ZdG called the presidency and left several messages, the representatives of the presidency returned with an answer only after ZdG announced the publication of the article related to the President’s vacations. The Presidency offered us a written response. We reproduce the message of the Press Office in full.
1. If you open the Facebook or Instagram pages of many Moldovan families, including Moldovan politicians, you will easily find many so-called proofs, as you call them, that they go on holidays with families every year, to destinations closer or farther away. Even if you refer to a high public servant, their right to privacy cannot be violated by manipulative insinuations and the use of false information, such as the presentation of tariffs from different sites, which they did not pay in reality.
2. The family of the president of the Republic of Moldova has had vacations not only in the last 10 years, but in the last 20 years. Some of these vacations have been paid out of the legal incomes obtained by the presidential family, and others have not incurred costs because they have been taken at the invitation of relatives or close friends who have undertaken all logistical issues.
3. The President’s family did not pay the accommodation for the vacation in 2018. The costs were borne by one of the close relatives of the President. So, your insinuation leads to misleading public opinion.
4. Absolutely all the vacations that involved the cost of accommodation were paid from the legal income obtained by the presidential family.
5. Mr. President’s expenses and incomes have been monitored all these years, since he is involved in politics, by the responsible bodies and no violations of the legislation have been detected.
President Igor Dodon’s public servant CV
Igor Dodon, a politician who loves vacations in exotic areas has worked only in state institutions. Dodon started his career as a public servant in 2005, when he was appointed Deputy Minister of Economy.
Before he got to the Ministry of Economy, Dodon held the position of president of the National Depository of Securities of Moldova Joint Stock Company and president of the Universal Commodity Exchange of Moldova.
One of the founders of Universal Commodity firm was a company managed by Sergiu Catană, Dodon’s family’s wedding godfather, and by the deputy Oleg Teterea, one of his most devoted friends.
Igor Dodon became Minister of Economy in 2006, and in 2008-2009 he also held the position of Deputy Prime Minister. From 2009 to 2016, Igor Dodon was a member in Moldova’s Parliament, initially on the Communist Party lists, and later on the lists of the Socialist Party, a party he took over in December 2011. Dodon became Moldova’s president following the November 2016 presidential elections.
Although for the last 10 years the Dodon family has enjoyed vacationing in the most luxurious areas of the world, they, at least officially, have declared modest incomes.
The official income between 2009 and 2012 was between 740 and 1,110 euros (10,000 and 15,000 lei).
In 2009, Igor Dodon indicated in his declaration of assets that his family had official incomes of around 10,500 euros (154,700 lei) of which 1,200 euros (18,000 lei) came from the allowance for child-rearing.
That year, deputy Dodon owned a 57 square meters apartment on Calea Orheiului Street in Chișinău and a Toyota Land Cruiser, made in 2003.
In 2010, the year in which Igor Dodon went on a vacation to the Maldives, as deputy of the Communist Party, he reported official incomes of around 8,600 euros (152,000 lei).
In 2011, when he went on vacation to Seychelles, the Dodon family declared annual incomes of around 8,300 euros (135,200 lei) and the same apartment and car.
In 2012, Igor Dodon and his wife, Galina, declared an official income of around 12,000 euros (184,400 lei). The same year, the Dodon family announced that they sold the car indicated earlier in the declarations of assets for around 5,200 euros (79,800 lei).
In 2013, Dodon’s family declaration of assets increased sharply. Igor Dodon and his wife indicated official incomes, from salaries and allowances amounting to around 17,400 euros (279,600 lei). Part of the income, around 5,100 euros (82,000 lei) came from the company Exclusiv Media, where Galina Dodon was employed.
Exclusive Media developed in the following years the media empire of the Socialist Party, taken over by Igor Dodon in 2011.
Subsequently, in 2013, the Dodon family reported official incomes of around 72,400 euros (1.16 million lei), most of the money being from the sale of the 57 square meters apartment from Calea Orheiului Street, downtown Chișinău, around 45,900 euros (735 000 lei).
The apartment was bought by the family Corneliu and Ludmila Furculiță, the president’s village fellow and the owner on paper of the Exclusiv Media company, where Galina Dodon worked.
In the same year the Dodon family took a 91,800 euros (1.47 million lei) loan from Victoriabank, at eight percent interest rate, buying the extravagant house in which the Dodon family lives. The Reconscivil company built the house.
In 2011, ZdG wrote that the house belonged to the current president, but Igor Dodon denied then that the real estate was the property of his family.
Besides the house, in 2013, the Dodon family said they also bought a new car, a Toyota RAV 4 manufactured in 2008.
In 2014, the Dodon family reported official incomes of around 21,500 euros (384,500 lei), including around 560 euros (10,000 lei) from the sale of the car they had bought a year earlier.
In 2015, the official income of the Dodon family was around 16,100 euros (309,100 lei), partly from Exclusiv Media company, as well as from Igor Dodon’s salary as deputy.
In 2016, the Dodon family declared incomes of around 20,500 euros (456,400 lei) the same real estate, as well as the credit due in 2028.
In 2017, Igor and Galina Dodon declared incomes in the amount of around 23,400 euros (506,000 lei), and in 2018, the officially declared income of the presidential couple constituted around 28,000 euros (580,000 lei). The president has not yet made public the declaration of assets and interests for 2019.