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Russian Judge Under Fire for Extravagant $2M Wedding Party

Yelena Khakhaleva, a deputy chairperson in the Krasnodar regional court.

A judge in southern Russia who allegedly splurged $2 million on her daughter’s wedding party has come under fire for extravagant spending.

Yelena Khakhaleva, a deputy chairperson in the Krasnodar regional court, hosted the party, which was attended by several Russian celebrities, on June 10 in the city’s most expensive restaurant.

Sergei Zhorin, a prominent celebrity lawyer based in Moscow, blasted the judge’s spending, saying her colleagues earned so little they were forced to eat dust.

“If you who work for a monthly wage of 20,000 rubles ($340), eight hours per day, then you eat dust,” Zhorin wrote on Instagram on Sunday, alongside video footage from the wedding. “Your colleagues who attempt to fight for justice in the Krasnodar regional court eat dust.”

“This is not just a feast at a time of plague. This is a spit in the face. In all our faces!” he wrote in a post that has since received more than 60,000 views.

In a video leaked to REN TV, pop singers Valery Meladze and Nikolai Baskov, among others, appear on stage hosting the wedding. Iconic crooner Josef Kobzon and pop diva Vera Brezhneva were also invited to the party.

The marriage celebrations took place in Krasnodar’s most expensive restaurant, the Galich Hall. The celebrities are believed to have been paid about 400,000 euros to attend. 

According to Khakhaleva’s income declaration, she earned 2,641,000 rubles ($43,300) in 2016. Khakhaleva responded to growing public outrage with the explanation that her ex-husband, whom she called “a big entrepreneur,” organized the wedding. 

The ex-husband is of Georgian heritage and the celebrities who attended the wedding, many of them also with Georgian roots, attended as his friends, Khakhaleva told the state-funded news outlet Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

The judge also refuted claims that the wedding cost $2 million and that the newlyweds received a Bentley as a gift. Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the Kremlin has taken note of the situation, but added that it is not its “prerogative” to react to it, the RBC news outlet reported. 

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