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Authorities seek to legalize non-permitted villa of Russian couple in central Vietnam
By Thanh Nien News -

 

Zhigulev Eduard (right) and his wife Kyrstya Ekaterina (standing) are questioned by an official in Binh Thuan Province after their villa was found operating as a tourist site without licenses. Photos credit: Tuoi Tre

 

 

 

 
Authorities in Binh Thuan Province said they will help a Russian couple complete legal procedures to turn their villa into a legitimate tourist site, after finding that they built and operated it without licenses.
Ngo Minh Chinh, director of the province’s tourism department, was quoted as saying in Tuoi Tre newspaper on Friday that authorities have discovered violations at the villa near the resort town of Phan Thiet, but they will not force the owners to end the services they have been providing to Russian tourists. 
Instead, Zhigulev Eduard, 45, and his wife Kyrstya Ekaterina, 36, will be assisted to turn the villa into a tourist destination, he said.
The official, however, did not mention how local authorities will deal with the fact that the couple’s temporary residence cards have reportedly expired. 
Eduard said he and his wife came to Vietnam 15 years ago and rented the land from a Vietnamese to build the villa. 
He said they opened a gallery, displaying old bank notes, war pictures, traditional costumes and old weapons of Vietnam that they had collected over the years.
The couple organized several tours a week, and each 45-minute tour included a lion dance performance, Chinh said in the newspaper.
The official said they also sold several medicinal products to interested tourists.
Among the products were herbs, ginseng, and snake wine, but all of them were taken off shelves on Friday, Tuoi Tre reported.
On Thursday local authorities came to inspect the villa, which has long caused suspicion among locals who believed that something wrong was going on inside the secluded and well-guarded building.
Many people also said that it was often visited by buses that carried Russian tourists but locals were not allowed to enter. 
Questions remain over why it took years before local authorities decided to take action against the illegally built villa and whether legalizing it now could set a bad precedent.