As readers of American society pages know, Maria Baibakova has long tried to position herself as the most progressive of Russia's oligarchettes.
Though Baibakova is fond of speaking of her impoverished childhood, her father, Oleg, is a former executive at Norilsk Nickel, a giant metals company that maintains metallurgical plants in northern Siberia built by slave labor from Stalin's Gulag.
Recently, Baibakova became the target of ridicule on the Russian internet after writing a 2,000-word article in the Russian edition of Tatler on how to manage a household of servants.
1. Stock up on 10 different categories of servant.
2. Hire a $200,000 butler to manage all of them.
3. Instil a "code of etiquette" to manage your "army" of servants.
4. Don't hire Filipinas though. Big mistake.
5. Dispose of unwanted servants as quickly as possible.
6. If you do fire them the wrong way, make sure they're not undocumented immigrants.
7. If you wrongfully accuse a servant of theft, apologize insincerely.
8. Don't treat your servants like part of the family.
9. Your servants are unworthy of your anger.
10. Don't let your maids sit with you at the dinner table.
11. Don't let your maidservant wear your expensive designer clothes — she'll forget who's boss.
12. Don't consort with the help — they should know their place.
13. Learn how to do everything yourself so your servants don't "blackmail" you.
Baibakova apologized for the column in a Facebook post Wednesday:
I profusely apologize for my offensive article from October 2014 issue of Russian Tatler. The text is heavily edited and when I translate it to English I can see it is insensitive and crude. I am ashamed of these words and apologize wholeheartedly to all who were offended.
The concept that I was attempting – running a household like a corporation - was lost in translation. My general goal was to share some Western best practices in staff management that I learned at Institut Villa Pierrefeu from Butler John Robertson when I attended the school as a lark after completing business school. There is an unfortunate history in Russia of mistreating household staff, so my underlying hope when I was given this assignment was to incentivize Russians to treat staff fairly by giving employers a financial incentive to behave in a more ethical manner (e.g. dismiss staff professionally without emotional abuse and provide fair severance pay, etc). I was hoping to inspire the Tatler audience to set clear boundaries with employees, as any boss in a professional setting must do.
As a woman who lived a very humble childhood I consider myself a balanced person who places the highest value in hard work and mutual respect. I see this an opportunity for self reflection.
Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71
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