Inside the Lavish London Lifestyle of Sergey Lavrov’s Stepdaughter

Polina Kovaleva bought a £4.4 million apartment with cash when she was just 21, according to campaigners. She happens to be the stepdaughter of Putin’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.
Max Daly
London, GB
polina kovaleva sergey lavrov russian sanctions
Sergey Lavrov and his stepdaughter Polina Kovaleva. Photo: Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images and David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Walkabout Foundation)

Western sanctions against Russian oligarchs over the war in Ukraine have raised new scrutiny on the lavish European lifestyles of the “unofficial” family members of Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

On the day the UK government sanctioned Roman Abramovich and six other oligarchs, attention turned to a video investigation into Polina Kovaleva, the stepdaughter of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, carried out by Russian opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation in September last year. 


A thread from the foundation’s head of investigations Maria Pevchikh about Kovaleva’s jet-set lifestyle went viral on Twitter on Thursday. It said that in “a textbook example of unexplained wealth”, the Imperial College London graduate, now 26, bought a flat in London’s elite district of Kensington for £4.4 million with cash when she was 21. It said her Instagram feed was a “non-stop holiday” between luxury villas, from Austria to Sardinia.

Despite his stepdaughter’s island-hopping, infinity pool lifestyle and private schooling in the UK, Lavrov has been a fervent critic of Western liberal values as well as being a key figure in spreading disinformation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also accused the UK of staging the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, south west England in 2018.

Set up by the jailed opposition figurehead and anti-corruption activist Navalny, the Anti-Corruption Foundation said that like many of Putin’s closest collaborators, including Putin himself, Lavrov has two families: an official one and an unofficial one. 

Lavrov started a relationship with his mistress, Svetlana Polyakova, Kovaleva’s mother, in the early 2000s, the foundation said. Polyakova, who it said accompanies Lavrov on private jet trips around the world, has since become very wealthy, owning an apartment in Moscow worth £5 million and some high-end cars. 


“Lavrov gave numerous speeches about the evil anglo-saxon world and the awful liberal western countries who want to destroy Russia and Ukraine. So why on Earth does his step-daughter live in the centre of London? Why not in Crimea or Donbass, why doesn’t she move there?” Pevchikh said on Twitter.

“Polina and her mom must get sanctioned. Polina has to pack her Louis Vuitton suitcases, say goodbye to her British life and leave the UK. Should she not be able to explain where she got the £4.4m from, her property must be arrested under the Unexplained Wealth Order procedure.”

Oliver Bullough, author of the upcoming book Butler to the World: How Britain became the servant of tycoons, tax dodgers, kleptocrats and criminals, told VICE World News: “Kleptocrats and oligarchs get rich because they like spending money or, often, because their kids, wives and mistresses like spending money. You can't live like a Kardashian in Moscow so they tend to come and do that in London. Or, more accurately, in London, Mykonos, St Barts, Miami, LA, Ibiza, and all the usual haunts of the nomadic rich. 

“This is why we need to add the children or stepchildren of sanctioned oligarchs to the sanctions lists: if they're unable to hang out with their Eurotrash friends, they're going to be really annoyed, and we can add their pester power to the other tools the West is employing to make the Russian elite end their aggression against Ukraine.”