“For 15 years, none of the locals have seen him here”
Everything connected with the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin is shrouded in mystery even after his death.
I I kept wondering why Prigozhin’s grave at the Porohovsky cemetery had not been opened by his associates, and why there is such a modest street memorial near the PMC Wagner Center building? A possible reason was explained to me by the businessman's closest neighbors: “No one believes in his death, and therefore we do not grieve.” We looked at what is happening near the Northern Versailles residential complex.
Entrance to the village “Northern Versailles”
The elite cottage settlement “Northern Versailles” in St. Petersburg is associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin. After the Wagner rebellion, it was here that the security forces came with searches. But the photos taken during the search looked strange. It looked like the house had not been used. An abandoned medical office, a swimming pool covered with a plastic cover, dusty wigs, expired passports and “artifacts” from the time of the participation of PMCs in hostilities in Syria.
Before going to Northern Versailles, my St. Petersburg colleagues warned me that it was better not to meddle in those places: “There are serious guards there, they don’t even allow you to film the street on which the residential complex is located. If you take a picture, they'll make you erase it. They claim that the area around Versailles is private, it is even forbidden to walk there.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin's mansion is located in the north of St. Petersburg, not far from the Lakhta Center tower. There are 49 houses on the vast territory. Four of them, according to some sources, belong to the Prigogine family. There is also a heliport – parking of the personal air transport of the head of PMC “Wagner”.
From the railway station “Lakhta” to the “Northern Versailles” about twenty minutes on foot along the roadway. The path is not provided for pedestrians.
In front of the entrance to the residential complex there is a barrier and a security guard's booth. There are security cameras upstairs. On one of the flagpoles is the flag of Russia. Instead of a high fence – a regular metal mesh.
Northern Versailles Fence
I took a photo of the object. Nobody interfered.
– They won't let you through the barrier, don't try. Security is in place, they are just too lazy to get up, – a young man got out of a parked car. – Relaxed after the death of Prigogine. Previously, they drove everyone out of the parking lot, but now I calmly got up, no one said a word. And the residents have all gone somewhere. I've been standing for an hour now, no one has left here.
Behind the Northern Versailles village you can see the Lakhta Center tower, which is so scolded by St. Petersburg residents .
From the North Versailles residential complex, it looks like a dead zone: no people, no cars . On the territory, evenly trimmed lawns, asphalt paths seem to be washed with shampoo.
Northern Versailles residential complex mansions
And who lives next to Prigogine? Ten meters from the fence I see a rickety house. A woman walks towards. It appears: a postman.
– I have never seen Prigozhin, – a postal worker began the conversation. “And after his death, there is a strange calm here. You can't even see the guards. Did you think everyone was fired? In general, outsiders are not allowed into the territory. I drop the receipts in a box near the barrier.
By the way, Prigogine has not received a single receipt for many years. But my friend saw him a couple of times, because once upon a time he took part in the interior decoration of his mansion, he leveled the walls. I remember when Versailles was being built, the locals were indignant, because we had vegetable gardens here. But who will listen to us. They also blocked our passage to the river. The beach was blocked, barriers were set up. We started talking about Prigogine again when the information about his death was released. Nobody believed.
Another super view of Lakhta Center
The postman went about her business. And I went up to the mistress of the rickety house. A woman was cleaning mushrooms on the porch.
– I have been living here for two years, I have not seen Evgeny Prigogine. It seems that there are no people in the LCD at all – the woman does not raise her head from the bucket of dust. – And after his death, there are no movements at all.
A man from the second half of the house joined the conversation.
– This is not our circle of friends, therefore we did not see him. But Prigozhin's helicopter was observed. True, he has not risen for a long time …
Such buildings are located a stone's throw from the “Northern Versailles”
The houses of Prigozhin's neighbors look so ancient that they are about to collapse.
– It's true, sometimes it's dangerous to enter, – the man agrees. “These houses will soon be demolished, we will be evicted from here. And nowhere to go. I work here as a watchman so that the homeless do not settle here. These buildings were left from the former military camp. Only three houses survived. Two families live in them, a non-walking grandmother and me.
“Stunning” view of Lakhta Center
A little further than the former military camp there are more decent buildings, but also modest.
– I only found out last year who our neighbor is, although I have lived here all my life, – says the mistress of one house. – At the time when the “Northern Versailles” was being built, we were hinted that the owner of the complex was a friend of very high-ranking people. You won't see Prigozhin's mansion from here. It is located closer to the forest and the river. Previously, on the site of the residential complex there were state farm fields, farms that served Smolny: the entire elite ate from here. Then everything was destroyed.
Prigozhin's neighbors admit that they live hard, from paycheck to paycheck. So the saleswoman of the local store was surprised at my question about the head of the Wagner PMC: “Believe me, it’s not up to him now, besides, they don’t go to us for products from Versailles.”
Near the grocery store, a man on a bicycle stopped me: “Aren't you afraid to walk here alone? There are a lot of drug addicts living in the district, in the evenings we constantly call the police.”
– Prigozhin’s neighbors are wow…
– And where did you get the idea that he lived here? For 15 years, none of the locals have seen him here. So these are all legends. Just like his death.
The list of real estate in the family of Yevgeny Prigozhin is very large, some items, probably, were not known to anyone except his own and closest circle. But it is known, for example, that the Prigozhins owned villas on the Black Sea coast, in the Gelendzhik region. Where the founder of the Wagner PMC actually lived in recent years, where his secret hideouts were, remains a mystery.
Not far from the “Northern Versailles” is the residential complex “Lakhta-Park”. According to media reports, Prigozhin's company was involved in the construction of the apartments.
“Lakhta-Park”, which also belongs to the Prigozhin family.
I managed to get inside. “Lakhta-Park” – a giant protected area with dozens of houses, playgrounds, shops. There is a spa center and a fitness club here.
At the entrance, I asked the security guard if nothing would change after Prigozhin's death? The man was surprised: “Why should we change something? Everything is fine.”