Russian Kamikaze Drone Producer’s Son Advocates Disarmament

At a certain age, parents are often considered highly uncool, leading teenagers to choose preferences opposite to their parents’. This is evident in the case of the Zakharovs.

Surprisingly, his son, Lavrentii Zakharov, works at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), according to a report by OCCRP’s partner iStories (Важные истории) based in Latvia.

Alexander Zakharov’s most "famous" creation is the Lancet suicide drone, equipped with a warhead and capable of loitering around the target area until it locates the target for a direct attack. This drone has been deployed in Syria and in the war against Ukraine.

While Lavrentii’s family members, including his mother Svetlana, brother Nikita, and sister Maria, are reportedly all involved in the family drone manufacturing firm CST, from which the Russian Defense Ministry structures purchased drones worth 5.3 billion rubles (US$58.41 million) in 2022-2023, Lavrentii’s interests lie in "strengthening weapons and ammunition management (SWAM), and de-mining and humanitarian access," as stated by his employer UNIDIR.

Lavrentii has been living overseas since at least 2015, when he was 16, and he has pursued his education in the United Kingdom. He graduated from high school in the U.K., earned a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Sociology, and East European Studies from University College London, and then completed a master’s degree in Conflict Studies and Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics.

Interestingly, Lavrentii and his mother own a luxury apartment in a posh London area, despite the U.K. government placing Zakharov’s drone factory on its sanctions list in February.

The 1.5 million pound ($1.92 million) flat is located in the Westminster neighborhood, approximately a kilometer from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. The apartment is described as "tiny," spanning 1,000 square feet, and includes three bedrooms, a living room, a combined kitchen-dining room, and a balcony. The building itself features a gym and offers views of Big Ben from the top.

iStories noted that Putin’s elite often gains money in Russia through patriotism and conflicts with the West, yet they choose to invest and spend their profits in the same "hostile" West. The Zakharov family is seen as no exception to this trend.

The media outlet attempted to reach out to Svetlana and Lavrentii Zakharov for comment but did not receive a response.