Russians in golden exile in Montenegro: those who do not want to fight are hiding among villas and yachts

TIVAT (MONTENEGRO) “I don’t think about going back to Russia, I don’t want to die at the front.” Igor, 42, is worried: for himself, but above all for relatives and friends who have remained at home. Between the luxurious buildings of the seafront and the yacht moored in Tivat, the summer of Montenegro it never seems to want to end. Certainly those Russians, like him, with almost expiring residence permits would like to extend it indefinitely. The announcement of President Vladimir Putin of a “partial military mobilization”, which then does not seem to be quite partial, also stirs the minds of those who are far from home. And who now lives like an exile. “They are scared and don’t want to go home. There are those who are trying in every way to extend their holiday », says Luka Barovic, a travel agent who operates throughout the country. “Rental prices in coastal cities have skyrocketed, because the Russians rent them out in advance, for months, even if they don’t know how long they’ll be able to stay.”

THE BUEN RETREAT

The link between Russians and Montenegro it is centuries old. More recently, the Balkan tourist resorts have become their very popular tourist and business destination. To enter you do not need the view. The latest laws favor real estate investments and the tycoons also pour money of dubious origin here. Last year there were 108,000 Russian presences in a country that has 620,000 souls. According to the Central Bank of Podgorica, after the invasion of Ukraine the investors of Fly they confirmed themselves as the first buyers of real estate in the country: they have almost 20,000. Among them there is also Igor, the 42 year old who is not really called that but who now does not want to pass as a traitor to his homeland. He is in Montenegro partly for leisure and partly for work. He has just applied for a temporary residence permit: «For now I can stay there until next week. I am waiting for the documents. But this is not the right time to go home ». His villa overlooks the bay of Lustica, 20 minutes by boat from Tivat airport. He watches the mountains plunge into the sea and tries not to think about the Kremlin’s military announcements. Residential complexes flock around him, disfiguring entire segments of the coast. Is Putin serious or bluff? “It’s the war,” he cuts short.

THE LUXURY ESCAPE

In the sparkling marina of Tivat cranes shape new skyscrapers. Among the brand new docks, hundreds of boats are lined up with the flag of a tax haven, Malta. One of these, 32 meters, is on sale for 9.2 million euros. The super yachts of the oligarchs this summer they haven’t seen each other here either. «And yet last year there were at least a dozen», says Dino, 26, who with his father runs a restaurant nearby. “We also know the names and surnames of the owners, they are our customers, but we can’t reveal them.” The super rich this year preferred to moor elsewhere. “They ended up in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, we won’t see them again soon,” he bitter comments while grilling sea bream and squid. On the crowded quay, the windows of haute-couture alternate with those of real estate companies.

“Where dreams become investments”, says the motto of one of these. Only 3,000 euros per square meter are enough to dream and the terrace overlooking the fjords of the Adriatic is guaranteed. Across the bay, in Morinj, Lazar Catovic runs a restaurant with a family history of 200 years, an institution in the area where many VIPs have dined, such as tennis player Novac Djokovic. Over the past thirty years, the entrepreneur has seen the economy of the coast change. “We went from mills to tourism, which exploded after 2000. The Russians were the first to arrive,” he recalls. «With sanctions, they struggle more. They pass through Serbia or Turkey, but they are fewer because the journey has become expensive ». If before it cost an average of 200 euros each, now it is 700. Too much for an average family. And for this reason it is mainly the wealthiest Russians who arrive. Like Igor. Who looks at the sea and puts his hands in his hair: “I don’t want to go to war.”

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Russians in golden exile in Montenegro: those who do not want to fight are hiding among villas and yachts


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