A new video from Alexei Navalny’s FBK foundation accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of building a private palace with $1 billion raised through corruption.
The FBK said Putin funded the 17,691-square-meter palace on the Black Sea via a bribes-for-access scheme.
Navalny was arrested when he arrived in Russia on Sunday. He was returning home after an assassination attempt last August.
Alexei Navalny, the archcritic of Vladimir Putin, accused the Russian president of building a secret $1 billion coastal palace funded through a bribes-for-access scheme.
The FBK said its report was based on interviews with contractors, blueprints, and publicly accessible documents. The Kremlin dismissed the report as “pure nonsense.”
Navalny has accused Putin of ordering the hit. An investigation by a consortium of journalists found that the hit had been carried out by agents of Russia’s FSB security agency.
In the video, the FBK said Putin had been secretly building the 17,691-square-meter palace since at least 2014.
Watch the full video here. It’s in Russian but is available with English subtitles.
Russian presidents have an official residence on the Black Sea called Bocharov Ruchey near the city of Sochi.
But the Gelendzhik palace is Putin’s very own, the FBK said.
“This isn’t a country house. It’s not a cottage. It’s not a residence. It’s an entire city, or rather a kingdom,” Navalny said in the video.
Citing blueprints, official documents, and aerial photographs, the FBK said the palace and grounds had impregnable fences, a port, a church, a no-fly zone, a border checkpoint, a wine cave, a theater, a gym, a pool, an “aquadisco,” and an ice-hockey rink.
“It’s like a separate state inside of Russia,” Navalny said. “And in this state there is a single and irreplaceable czar: Putin.”
The FBK said the palace cost 100 billion rubles, or about $1.3 billion, and was funded via a corruption scheme in which Putin’s inner circle paid the president for access and influence.
Work on the palace has been conducted in utmost secrecy, the FBK said.
“Thousands of people working there are forbidden to bring even a simple mobile phone with a camera,” the report said.
It added: “Arriving cars are inspected at several checkpoints with the help of mirrors and video cameras. Trunk racks and glove compartments are searched.”
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A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday dismissed Navalny’s report. “These are all absolutely unfounded statements. This is pure nonsense and a compilation, and there is nothing else there,” Peskov told reporters, according to the state-run Interfax news agency.
He said the palace had “nothing to do with either the president or the Kremlin,” adding, “Therefore, we do not have the slightest desire to get interested in this.”
Navalny and his anticorruption foundation have been a thorn in Putin’s side for years.
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