Russian President Vladimir Putin purportedly owns a $1.4-billion palace on a cliff above the Black Sea, an investigative report by a non-profit organization claims. It says the property resembles the one owned by the villain of a ‘James Bond’ movie.
The Anti-Corruption Foundation, also known by its Russian acronym FBK, released an investigative report on the Residence at Cape Idokopas or Putin’s Palace. The report, which is currently available only in the Russian language, is based on financial records and other documents obtained by the organization from various sources.
The high-security property is spread over a 168-acre plot near the resort town of Gelendzhik. Reports suggest the luxurious mansion is owned by Putin through a web of associates and shell companies.
FBK looks into corruption among government officials. The agency has been very critical of the Russian President in recent times.
Last year, FBK’s founder Alexei Navalny had survived an alleged assassination bid through his exposure to a nerve toxin. He was later medically evacuated to Germany where he was said to have recovered.
Two weeks ago, on his return to Russia, Navalny was arrested on highly questionable grounds linked to a suspended prison sentence from 2014 and charges of libel against a World War II veteran.
Following the incident, his team released an investigative report along with a two-hour video accusing Putin of owning the billion-dollar Black Sea coast property.
FBK says it was able to fly a small drone equipped with a video camera over the property which is now dubbed ‘Putin’s Kingdom’.
The drone footage, along with 3D visuals of the interior based on leaked architectural blueprints, provides a detailed insight into the palace for the first time.
The visuals of the billion-dollar estate suggest that the property includes an Italian-style palace, ice rink, amphitheater, a church, and an underground hockey arena.
According to FBK, the property resembles the one owned by a James Bond movie villain and even has an escape tunnel.
In addition, there is a huge pool, a theater, a casino, and a lounge with a pole-dancing stage inside the property. The details were made available with the help of a whistleblower.
According to the investigation, the construction of the complex was financed by companies linked to Putin’s inner circle, with Navalny referring to the financing scheme as the “biggest bribe in the world”.
This is not the first time that a report of Putin owning a palace has emerged. In 2010, a businessman named Sergei Kolesnikov also leveled a similar allegation.
Kolesnikov claimed he was asked by close associates of the Russian President to transfer his company donations made by oligarchs into a fund that was intended for renovating hospitals.
He says the funds were instead used to finance the construction of “Putin’s Palace”. Soon after publishing a heap of documents on the palace along with an open letter for the incident to be investigated, Kolesnikov chose to flee Russia.
However, despite the accusations, Putin’s personal spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the investigative report as “pure nonsense”, stressing the Russian government’s long-standing position on there being no links between Putin and the property.
As per media reports and whistleblower allegations, Putin has been tied to the lavish property for the last 21 years.
For years, journalists and activists have tried getting close to the property site, however, despite the Russian government’s denial of Putin’s ownership, no one has been allowed access to the site.
According to reports, members of Russia’s Federal Protective Service and the Federal Security Service, have not allowed anyone to be close to the site whether by sea or land.
Boats are prohibited from approaching the property along the coast and there is a no-fly zone above it either.