A documentary about the vast $1.3 billion palace supposedly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin, made by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, has viral around the globe .
But now Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg says HE is the owner of this over-the-top Black Sea palace, not Putin.
The confession came in an interview posted on the pro-Kremlin Mash Telegram channel.
Rotenberg’s press office quoted him as saying,
“I have managed to strike a deal with creditors a few years ago, and I became a beneficiary of this site a few years ago.”
Rotenberg said the property will be completed “in a couple of years” and is expected to become an apartment/ hotel.
Rotenberg is a significant figure in Russia as the owner of huge construction firms which build infrastructure like bridges and gas pipelines. He is Putin’s childhood friend and judo partner and has been under US sanctions since 2014, when officials described him as a member of the
“Russian leadership’s inner circle” who they claimed provided “support for Putin’s pet projects”.
This crackdown against opposition figures intensifies across Russia. Controversy over the property has been spreading like wildfire following the the documentary by jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny‘s team earlier this month.
Their investigation alleged the property cost $1.37 billion and was paid for
“with the largest bribe in history”.
Earlier this week, the Russian president directly denied that he or his family owned it and described the video about it as
Sounds right out of the Trump playbook.
All allegations about the palace have taken off on Russian social media, including TikTok. The corruption allegations have spurred protests held throughout the country last weekend in support of Navalny – the biggest pushback against Putin seen in years.
More than 4,000 people were arrested as large crowds took to cities across Russia demanding Navalny’s release.
The anti-corruption campaigner was immediately taken into custody after returning to Russia on a flight from Germany, where he had been recovering from an attempt to kill him with a nerve agent last year.
The extreme police response and the continued detention of Nalavany has drawn sharp international criticism.
But the crackdown is intensifying.
Associates of Nalavany have also been detained and others, including his brother and Pussy Riot activist Maria Alyokhina, have been put under house arrest.
Further demonstrations are expected today, despite police warnings about gatherings and officials are limiting public transport routes and pedestrian movement across Moscow to try to stop the protests.
The doc is nearly 2 hours long, in Russian with subtitles, but if you want to see more of its vast opulence skip to 54 minutes in. It’s decorated in “Neo Classical Despot”… Trump is jealous, I’m sure.