The Insider and New Lines found out that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled to Japan with an official visit in March 2018 in the company of his mistress Svetlana Polyakova and the oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who traveled with his escort Ekaterina Lobanova. Previous investigations into Lavrov's corrupt ties to Polyakova and Deripaska confirm this.
The Insider and New Lines obtained a photo of Sergey Lavrov, his mistress Svetlana Polyakova (left), Oleg Deripaska, escort Ekaterina Lobanova (next to Deripaska), Gennady Rovner (wears an orange jacket), former owner of a strip-joint chain and now chairman of the board of trustees of the Advanced Programs Foundation, and Angelo Koo, chairman of the China Development Foundation of Taiwan (top row, second left) posing in front of a Japanese restaurant.
The photo was taken during Lavrov's official visit to Japan in late March 2018, during which the minister met with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono and, among other things, asked his Japanese colleagues to locate Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who had been poisoned with Novichok in Salisbury earlier that month (The Insider and Bellingcat found that the Skriplas had been poisoned by GRU officers Alexander Mishkin, Anatoly Chepiga and Denis Sergeyev).
The presence of Lavrov's interpreter (top row, left), who attends many official and not just official events, is an additional proof the photo was made during an official visit.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova and Lavrov's interpreter (right)
Standing between Lavrov and Deripaska is model Yekaterina Lobanova, who, judging by a multitude of her nude photos, moonlights as an escort.
Microsoft Azure facial recognition software and other similar programs confirm that Lobanova and the person in the photo with Lavrov and Deripaska are one and the same person:
Lavrov's mistress Svetlana Polyakova was previously the subject of an investigation by the publication Vazhniye Istorii, which revealed that Polyakova's family had acquired assets worth over one billion rubles and her relatives had been employed in key positions at the Foreign Ministry. In addition, Vazhniye Istorii was able to find her phone number and used special apps to check how she was listed in other people's phones: on some contact lists Polyakova was listed as «Svetlana Lavrova» or « Lavrova, Svetlana». It should be noted that the minister has an official spouse, Maria, who, unlike Polyakova, has been subjected to foreign sanctions. However, Polyakova's daughter, Polina Kovaleva, who owns an apartment in London worth 4.4 million pounds, has been sanctioned by Britain.
Lavrov's mistress has no official sources of income that could explain her wealth, and neither does Lavrov, who owns over half a billion rubles' worth of real estate.
The photo of Lavrov and Deripaska confirms the Navalny team's investigation, which found that the Russian Foreign Minister and his mistress Svetlana Polyakova, along with her mother and daughter, have been flying on Deripaska's planes, sailing on his yachts and living in his homes since at least 2014. In particular, Lavrov's relatives have used the oligarch's planes to fly to Montenegro, Austria, Germany, Norway, and other countries. Polina, the foreign minister's stepdaughter, has repeatedly posted photos from homes owned by Deripaska. For example, she vacationed at the oligarch's villa in Montenegro and celebrated her 22nd birthday at his villa in Sardinia. At the same time, Polina calls Deripaska's real estate her «second home».
Lavrov's stepdaughter Polina Kovaleva at Deripaska's villa
Deripaska himself came under U.S. sanctions back in 2018 as an oligarch acting on behalf of Russian officials. Among other things, Deripaska had a close relationship with Paul Manafort, chairman of Donald Trump's campaign staff and lobbyist for the pro-Russian Ukrainian government headed by former President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort owed Deripaska $10 million on a loan for a failed joint venture and he likely repaid it by establishing contacts with Trump's headquarters. Manafort was convicted in 2018 by a U.S. federal court on charges of tax evasion, bank fraud, failure to disclose a hidden account at a foreign bank and conspiracy with foreign authorities. Sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, he was pardoned by Trump in December 2020.