PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lyudmila Putina attend a service at Blagoveshchen
One of the most powerful men in the world, Russia’s leader guards his private life and secrets closely, including his wealth and assets.
While the Kremlin maintains that President Vladimir Putin earns about $147,000 a year (8.6 million roubles), some experts believe this doesn’t scrape the sides of the true vastness of his wealth.
US hedge fund manager Bill Browder told The Washington Post the former KGB agent’s riches sung more to the tune of a bewildering $277.5 billion (US$200bn).
In 2017, Browder also described Mr Putin to the US Senate Judiciary Committee as “one of the richest men in the world”.
Not much is known about his property portfolio, but recently, Mr Putin’s political rivals have leaked images of what are claimed to be palaces and mansions owned by the Russian leader.
Here is a look at some of the homes and property, rumoured to be worth $1.87 billion.
A secret palace in a billionaire’s village outside Moscow
The most recent home – if you can call it that – allegedly linked to Mr Putin is a gargantuan residence said to be nearly twice the size of Buckingham Palace and worth an eye-watering $380 million.
Designed in a classical style and built in an upmarket “billionaire’s village” on the outskirts of Moscow, the imposing palace was owned by a company called Property-V during its construction, with Russian news site Sobesednik suggesting the ‘V’ stands for Vladimir.
The sprawling compound’s ownership is shrouded in secrecy. Currently listed as belonging to the Russian Federation, Sobesednik claims this is a “cover” used by “owners of palaces and penthouses associated with the country’s leadership”.
The report suggests the property is either Mr Putin’s or belongs to someone exceptionally close to him, that is, an individual with only the highest Kremlin connections.
The palace, located within exceptionally private and secure Greenfield village, is surrounded by a security wall, has multiple helicopter landing pads, stables, a football field, a forest and a pond.
‘Putin’s Palace’ – controversial Black Sea secret pad
The most controversial of Mr Putin’s alleged properties is Gelendzhik Palace, located on a peninsula on the Black Sea coast.
Worth a whopping $1.5 billion, the Italianate estate made headlines recently after Russian anti-corruption activists leaked photos of its interior.
Nearly 500 photographs and a video of “Putin’s palace” were published by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), showing the home they’ve dubbed “Putin’s Palace” includes a huge marble swimming pool decorated with busts of Greek gods, a hookah lounge with a pole for dancing, a casino, wine cellar, theatre and other gaudily-designed amenities likened to the style of Louis XIV.
Navalny is a Russian politician and vocal Putin critic, currently in a Moscow jail for fraud charges he claims were politically motivated. He alleges the Russian President had the Black Sea residence secretly built using illicit funds from his billionaire friends.
Photos also show the 11-bedroom mansion has been decorated with hundreds of gilded double-headed eagles, the symbol of the Russian state. Outside, you’ll find multiple helicopter landing pads, an unfinished amphitheatre, formal gardens and arboretum, accommodation for security, a vineyard, an underground hockey rink, a church and a sculpture garden.
The activists allege that the compound – which sits underneath a no-fly zone – was built for Mr Putin’s personal use, a claim that he has denied.
Leaked plans show that the mansion is the largest private residential building in Russia, with more than 190,000 square feet of living space, according to FBK.
A holiday home in Vyborg Bay
Villa Sellgren is located 19km from the Russian border with Finland, on an island in the Vyborg Bay area. The Dacha (or country house) is officially owned by close friends of the Kremlin, however locals – and once again Alexei Navalny – allege it’s Mr Putin’s prestige holiday home.
The original Tsarist mansion was designed by Finnish architect Uno Ullberg and completed in 1913. It is well known for scenes in a 1987 Soviet film about Sherlock Holmes, but after 2010 underwent an extensive renovation.
It is said that the opulent residence features gold-plated tiles in the swimming pool and an underground spa.
Lodochny island (Ostrov Lodochnyy) and the sea surrounding it are reported to be heavily guarded by Russian Federal Protection Service officers, preventing locals getting close.
Lake house near St Petersburg
President Putin is said to own a dacha in woodland close to St Petersburg, in a gated community by Lake Komsomolsk. The original holiday home burnt down in 1996, with Mr Putin – freshly out of the sauna and buck naked – escaping by using sheets to scale down the building.
“I ran out to the balcony, flames were shooting upward, I clambered over the railing, grabbing the sheets, and began to lower myself down,” Mr Putin recalled in an interview included in a book about his life.
“And here’s an interesting detail: I was stark naked from the banya [sauna]. I had only just managed to wrap a sheet around myself. So you can imagine the scene: the house is burning, there’s a naked man wrapped in a sheet, crawling down from the balcony, and the wind is blowing the sheet out like a sail.”
He later rebuilt the home.
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