Russian Disneyland


The Untold Story of How the Russian Disneyland Failed to Come True

The Grigorov brothers’ second novel, called “Wonderland”, was published in Bulgaria in April 2022. The English translation is due out in the spring of 2024 under the title “Russian Disneyland”.

This fascinating work is a sequel to the brothers’ debut book, a political thriller with criminal elements, vividly recreating the brutality of the post-Soviet period.

The story is large-scale, and the action of the dynamic plot, except in the territory of the Russian Federation, takes place in Switzerland, Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands and the USA.

As much as it sounds like a Cold War fairy tale, “Russian Disneyland” is a breathtaking novel inspired by a true story. Most of the fictional characters are based on real individuals. Two of them are serving long sentences in American prisons. Others were tried in Spain, some served their sentences in a Spanish prison, and others escaped during the trial. Some still hold responsible positions in Spain in the fields of intelligence and forensics. Others continue to practice law in Spain and Switzerland. Some are still wanted by Interpol/red notices and are hiding in Russia to this day.

Visiting the USA in 1959, the extravagant Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev unexpectedly wanted to include in his program a tour of the newly opened Disneyland. Surprised, the State Department denied the visit, citing insufficient time to ensure his safety in the vast park. American officials were puzzled when they learned of Khrushchev’s condition that the amusement complex must close its doors to the public while he was on its grounds. Shocked and offended that he had been refused, the Soviet leader threatened to create his own “Disneyland,” even more imposing and impressive than the American one. Returning to the USSR, Khrushchev ordered the start of work on a project called “Wonderland.” For the purpose of implementing it, a man-made island on the Moscow River named Mnevnikovskaya Poima was chosen. For unclear reasons, the project dried up, and only after thirty years, the mayor of Moscow Yuriy Luzhkov decided to revive it. Shortly after, a decree of President Boris Yeltsin appeared, and subsequently the “Children’s World of Wonders” foundation. Miraculously, a project brought out of the dust to build a huge Russian Disneyland marked the beginning of the gambling industry in post-Soviet Russia. What follows is a series of events that intertwine the fates of the characters in an incredible way, forming a strange symbiosis between criminal groups and leading figures from the special services.

In order to stabilize its economy, in the mid-nineties Spain pursued an open-door policy to foreign capital, attracting all kinds of investors, regardless of the origin of their funds. Banks and financial regulators turned a blind eye to the Money Laundering Prevention Law. This “friendly” attitude did not go unnoticed by various criminal structures from Europe, the USA and other places around the world. As a result, Spain became a haven for money flows of dubious origin. It did not take long for word of this miracle to reach the Russian Federation. At the time, organized crime in Russia urgently needed a solution to money laundering. Taking advantage of opportunities found in the country of Cervantes, the largest channel for laundering blood money on an international scale was soon created, subsequently gaining fame as the “Spanish Laundromat”. Huge amounts of cash have been taken out of Russia in suitcases or transferred to “tax havens” to be further laundered by investing in the global economy. The processes are dynamic and coincide with an idea that arose in the bowels of Russian military intelligence to use the criminal world to supply weapons to various terrorist organizations and dictatorial regimes. This seemingly atypical toxic amalgam is increasingly penetrating the highest circles of power and laying the foundations of governance in future Russia.

In an inimitable way, immersing the reader in the swampy lawless waters of the nineties in post-Soviet Russia, the “Russian Disneyland” manages to build a bridge to the bleak future we are all witnessing in the present.