Translated into English by Vladimir Kanevski, Alla Kadysh and Marcus Kolga
Edited by Marcus Kolga
As for my personal perception, I’m not ashamed to say to the citizens who voted for me, that throughout these eight years, I have worked like a galley slave. I am pleased with the results of my work
Press Conference February 14, 2008 in the Kremlin
During a press conference in February 2008, Vladimir Putin equated his work during his first term as President of Russia to that of a “galley slave”. For those who are unfamiliar with this peculiar choice of analogy: a galley slave refers usually to prisoner (in the French case) or a slave, who is forced to row a ship in squalid conditions, deep below the decks, in the galley.
Whether he succeeded in generating any sympathy among his fellow Russians is anyone’s guess. What is certain, is that many Russian were deeply offended by Putin’s analogy. During his first eight years as President, Vladimir Putin had already amassed a mountain of wealth by any means available, including expropriation, extortion, theft and corruption.
Unfortunately, most Russians -whose living standards lie well below most western poverty benchmarks- are completely unaware of the enormous riches their leaders and President have collected at the expense of their people and country.
In 2012, Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk published their investigative piece, “The Life of a Galley Slave (palaces, yachts, cars, airplanes, and other accessories)”, which exposed the extend to Vladimir Putin’s wealth and assets in detail. The western media reported on aspects of the report, but an English language translation has not been available until now.
Nemtsov’s and Martynyuk’s work serves as a critical reminder of the character of Russia’s President: a self-styled pseudo-emperor who rules over his people with a neo-Stalinist iron fist. His only interest is in protecting the wealth and power that he and his friends and administration have stolen.
This work is an important example of Boris Nemtsov’s passionate advocacy on behalf his countrymen. He was viciously murdered on the streets of Moscow in February 2015, because he believed in a fair, democratic, transparent and prosperous Russia. Sadly, Russia has become even less so since his death.
My heartfelt thanks go to Vladimir Kanevski and Alla Kadysh, who worked on translating the original text and who passionately support democracy and rights in Russia.
Toronto, August 2015
Putin's Life of Luxury20 palaces and villas: with opulent fittings worthy of an emperor
43 aircraft including an airliner that features an $11 million cabin fitted out by jewelers -and that toilet which, the report says, cost close to $100,000
53.7-metre yacht: with designer interior, a spa pool, waterfall and wine cellar
11 luxury watches
Five-decked yacht: with a jacuzzi, barbecue, a maple wood colonnade and a huge bathroom faced in marble
Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for more than 15 years, which is substantially longer than the reign of either Boris Yeltsin or Mikhail Gorbachev. In 2012 he got back into the Kremlin with the objective of remaining at the helm of Russian power for at least six years, but more probably – twelve years. Which means that he intends to keep ruling for as long as former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev (Brezhnev was head of the Soviet state for 18 years) but it’s more likely, that Ptuin’s term will be closer in length to the absolute dictatorship of Josef Stalin.Putin’s greatest fear is that he will lose power. It’s abundantly clear why he is using all the power and resources available to him to desperately cling to power.First – he fears that he could loose his own freedom, his assets and the property he has amassed during his term in office. Secondly – he has come under pressure from friends and the new nobility who have become fabulously wealthy: they are deeply invested in the continuation of his rule.
One of the most important reasons that he continues to tighten his hold on power is the general atmosphere of wealth and luxury he has grown accustomed to, and obviously, refuses to lose.He feels no remorse about the fact that his shameless overabundance of wealth is an extreme burden on Russian taxpayers, i.e. – you and me. The non-existent independent Parliament, the constant intimidation of the media, and the pressure and control that Putin exerts on the courts all continue to work together to mask his outrageously lavish lifestyle. Out-of-sight, it’s also outside normal discussion for the majority of Russian citizens.
Public debates on the matter? Virtually – none!Putin’s opulent lifestyle is a screaming contradiction of Russia’s real problems: Russia is still dying. After ruling the state for 12 years, the death rate remains much higher than the birth rate. The country has lost more than 5 million people. Endemic corruption – seen only in some African countries- has paralyzed business and even normal everyday life. And Russia’s dependence on natural resources and its addiction to the petrol dollar is only deepneing year-after-year under Putin’s “lead”.At the same time, Russia’s educational and health systems have been in steep decline and have deteriorated significantly. Look at these charts:
But this doesn’t seem to bother Mr. Putin. He continues to shamelessly underreport his income and declares to his own people and to the world that his official income is just a little more than $100,000. Yet the lifestyle he leads can be only be compared to those of princes of The Persian Gulf and controversial oligarchs.Well, we can compare his lifestyle probably only to that of the richest monarchs of the Persian Gulf or so much controversial oligarchs.
The Head of The German Government has two.
The Italian Prime Minister has three.
The Canadian Prime Minister has two.
Note that nine new palaces appeared during Putin’s presidency. Thus the obscenely large number of residences under Putin, have almost doubled.
Located in a forest on Roublevo-Uspensky highway near Moscow, this residence is surrounded by a six-meter high fence. There is a greenhouse, a henhouse, a swimming pool, several residential buildings, a helipad, and stables for horses.
2. Bocharov Stream
The President’s summer villa in Sochi. The two-story building styled in “Stalinist Classicism”. It features a helipad, two swimming pools (fresh water and sea water) and a gym. The property has a small pier at the beach – for mooring the President’s yacht.
3. Long Beard
A house in the Novgorod region on the Lake Valdai peninsula. The total area of the estate is 930 hectares. It includes a presidential church, bathing pool, two restaurants, a cinema, a bowling alley, a concrete helipad. It also includes a small army of 100 hospitality and maintenance staff.
4. Constantine Palace
Monument of XVIII century in Strelna outside St. Petersburg, from 2003 – National Complex “Palace of Congresses”. This is a sprawling complex of more than 40 buildings on over 140 hectares of land. It was recently renovated for the 300th anniversary of St.-Petersburg in 2003.
5. Volga Cliff
This is a healt center in the village of Volga Cliff – in the Samara region on the Kuibyshev reservoir. This Presidential getaway was completely renovated in 2007 for the “Russia-EU” summit at a cost of 3.8 billion rubles. The attached hotel includes 192 guest rooms, cottages, a massive movie theatre, swimming pools, spas, greenhouses, stables, a helipad, it’s own ski resort, and staff totalling 3,000.
This three-storey house is located about 40 km outside of the city of Saratov. There is a grand fireplace room, a billiard room, a winter garden and a pool. The German style interior is complimented by luxurious chandeliers and Italian furniture. A winter garden is just few steps away as well as a Scandinavian style sauna. The helipad and hunting lodge are obviously in the same yard.
7. Small Source
XVIII century manor in the picturesque forest near Yekaterinburg and is on a beach at Little Istokskogo pond.
8. Sevastyanov House
Built in the first quarter of the XIX century the house is located on the banks of the city lake formed by a dam on the Iset River. About 1.35 billion rubles were spent for the renovation in 2008 which included a completely new set of furniture bought at the St. Petersburg Company “MTC”.
9. Mayendorf Castle (Barvikha)
A castle in the village of Barvikha Odintsovo district near Moscow, on the Podushkinskoe highway. This was formerly the estate of Baron Meyendorff. Capital restoration was carried out in 2003-2004. The property now belongs to the Office of the President. At least $100 million ($80,000 per square meter – not rubles) were spent for the renovation of the house’s 1300 square meters space.
10. Angara Village
President of Russia residenc in the Irkutsk region – on the banks of the Angara River. It is a complex of cottages, tennis courts, a river pier, swimming pool, sauna, gym and massage facilities.
Residence in the territory of the hunting region “Zavidovo” in the Tver region. A hotel complex, hunting base, swimming pools, saunas, boat station.
Villas located on the picturesque banks of the Yenisei River are 30 minutes drive time from Krasnoyarsk. Renovation has seen new marble covering the exterior walls. The stone was delivered from Khakassia region. A helipad was also built at the time of renovation.
13. Government guest residence (K-4)
Residence of the President of Russia in St. Petersburg is on Stone Island in the delta of the Neva River. The residence consists of several objects: a Meltzer mansion (Field alley, house number 8, architect RF Meltzer, 1904, 1906) and four separate buildings (the Chesnais mansion, bath house at Meltzer, Meltzer service aide and former mansion banker Soloveitchik).
This is the state complex for The Russian President in Pioneer, Kaliningrad. The building price was about 6 billion rubles. The compound consists of a five-star hotel and an office building. Two buildings with a total area of five thousand square meters.
This is the Presidential residence outside Moscow. The total land area is 86 hectares. In 2011, 162 million rubles were spent on furniture and repairs. The residence includes its own spa-salon and “massage salon with warm herbal bags.” New furniture was recently bought for 30.8 million rubles. The number of people employed at this presidential compound: 337.
This estate is a mile from the town of Milkova on the right bank of the Reach of the Volga. The official historical, architecture and landscape dates from late XVIII – early XX centuries.
17. Palace in Gelendzhik (Project South)
In late 2010, Russian businessman Sergei Kolesnikov (who has now left the country), first close to Putin’s friends, wrote an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev requiring to build a palace on the Black Sea for Putin’s personal use.
Value: more than 30 billion rubles. ($1 billion USD). A real luxury town Praskoveevka near Gelendzhik. The estate features a massive main building (Italian style). The palace gates are decorated with double-headed eagle. The compound has a wellness center and features a helipad for three helicopters. The ”Tea House” has convenient elevators that take guests down to the beach. According to Mr. Kolesnikov, Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the construction process. The money at the disposal of an old friend of Putin, a member of the cooperative “Lake” Nikolai Shamalov came from “a combination of sources, such as corruption, theft and bribes”.
18. The Guest House
A palace near Paris, France. The President spent 30 million euros on the construction of this complex. The French people who had been inside this castle have compared it to Versailles.
This residence for “close” guests is located in an area south of Moscow (Teplostanskoy travel, 1a). The residence had previously been a secret property belonging to the FSB.
A VIP-resort on Mount Fisht in the Republic of Adygea.
According to unofficial sources, this is another on of “Putin’s cottages.” Interestingly, construction in the same area of the “Western Caucasuses” is outlawed and has been announced as a World Natural Heritage region.
The ski lodge was built under the guise of a so called scientific “Biosphere” cetner, which will apparently maintain the nature reserve. This opulent Presidential getaway includes four impressive chalets, 3 (three!) helipads, communications antennas, a hangar, four “snowcats” (to level the ski slopes) as well as both small and large cable cars.
Five IL-96-300PU: $ 40 million – cost per plane, $ 18 million – for accessories
On board one aircradt, RA-96016, the interior was created by Chrysostom jewelers and Russian interior architects from Sergiev Posad. A golden toilet cost nearly $75,000.
RA-96012 $ 40 million – cost of plane, $ 35 million – accessories
This aircraft features a two-storey cabin with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a hall for meetings, a recreation room and an office. The aircraft was painted in Holland and its interior trimmed in Switzerland.
Airbus ACJ319 RA-73025 – $ 105 million
This aircraft was designed by the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre and are intended to carry 19 passengers each. The passenger cabin is divided into three. The plane has a meeting room for 6 people with a large LCD display. There are separate “club” and private zones with two armchairs and a sofa, as well as a double bed with an independent shower and bath. The interior elements used are leather, marble, wool carpets.
Dassault Falcon 7X: $ 50 million x 2
(Two aircraft – RA-09007 and RA-09009)
Made in France. Capacity – 19 passengers and 3 crew members. The interior space is divided into work and rest areas. The aircraft is equipped with the climate system and soundproofing. The Falcon 7X is equipped with all modern the equipment necessary for comfort during a flight: satellite communications, Internet, DVD- and CD-players, LCD-monitors and Airshow.
Tu-214 (three aircraft): $ 25 million x 3
Tu-214PU: $ 50 million x 2
(Two aircraft RA-64517 and RA-64520)
Built in 2010 for the Summer Special Detachment “Russia”.
Tu-214SR: $ 25 million x 2
(Two aircraft basic and spare RA-64515 and RA-64516)
These aircraft are equipped with additional fuel tanks, which increase flight range to 10,000 km, additional power supply systems and a communications array.
Tu-214SUS: $ 60 million x 2
(Two aircraft RA-64522 and RA-64524)
Modified for the President’s office.
Tu 204-300A $ 62 million x2
(Two aircraft – RA-64057 and RA-64058)
Built in 2011, these planes have been operational from 2012. According to information from “Tupolev”, the presidential Tu-204-300A squadron is “equipped with high comfort cabins, which are noise proofed, and is equipped with modern telephone and internet systems.” Operated from 2012.
Tu-154: $7.5-$12 Million each
Medium-haul passenger aircraft. Evaluated at 7.5 million dollars to $20 million (new).
Tu-134: $ 7.5-20 million each
Built in the 80s of the last century.
The two “veteran” of IL-18
The total cost of the Mi-8 fleet is about 1 billion dollars.
President Putin has at his disposal a fleet of vessels at a total cost of about $100 million. Maintaining the four luxury vessels costs Russians hundreds of millions of rubles annually.
Cirius (superyacht): $ 37 million
This executive class yacht was purchased for the President in early 2011. Built in Turkey, it is designed to accommodate 11 guests and 12 crew members. The ship’s length is 53.7 meters and it can reach speeds of 18 knots (33 km/h). The interiors are decorated with teak and the interior decoration is designed by renowned designer Jean Guy Vergès.
The yacht has 6 VIP-cabins, a wine cellar, saloon with panoramic views of the sea including a spa-pool with a waterfall. The usual rate for the maintenance for such yachts is 10% of its value per year: which is 124 million rubles
(NOTE: this is equivalent to the average annual pension of 1200 Russian seniors).
Olympia: $ 50 million
The original jewel of the Kremlin flotilla. This 57-meter yacht is among the hundred largest mega-yachts in the world. Annual operating costs of the “Olympia” are about 150 million rubles.
The yacht was built by royal standards: mahogany trim, rattan palm, gold gilding, a jacuzzi, bar and a barbecue. It also features a colonnade of fine maple, a sprawling bathroom, and marble floors.
“Olympia” is managed by Unicom Management Services a Cypriot subsidiary of the Russian state “Sovcomflot”, whose Board of Directors was headed by President Putin’s advisor Igor Shuvalov.
Among its guests have been Putin’s friend and Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich.
For sailing along Russia’s rivers and lakes the President has the ship “Russia” at his disposal. In 2005, it received $1.2 million in upgrades. The ship meets all the requirements of a modern cruise ship: three luxury cabins, nine – two seat rooms with bathrooms and nine – 2 seat roomes with bunk beds, a conference -hall, living room lounge, restaurant, cafe, terrace, and a sauna.
The Petrel is a VIP motor yacht. The Peterek is 27.4 meters long, and has a width of 6.5 meters and a displacement of 87.80 tons. The boat can carry 6 resident passengers and 30 guests. two engines push the boat to speeds of up to 22 knots. The interior is trimmed with a special kind of “Honduran mahogany.” The deck is finished with teak. The boat was made at the St. Petersburg “Severnaya Verf” shipyards and launched in 2003.
Putin has a collection of watches that are worth a total of 22 million rubles, or six times his annual salary.
A. Lange & Sohne Tourbograph «Pour le Mérite»: $ 500,000
Putin has one of the world’s most expensive watches – A.Lange & Sohne Tourbograph, The Russian media has reported on the watches.
Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar 3974: $ 60 thousand
A. Lange & Sohne 1815: $ 25 thousand
We deliberately did not publish data on the cost of clothes and other things that Putin uses every day: suits, shoes, ties, worth tens of thousands of dollars – mere trifles compared to the villas, airplanes, watches and cars.
Putin’s official income declaration for 2012 states that his total income was 3,661,765 rubles. That means, that with the cost of his 22 million ruble watch collection, Putin could not eat or drink for six years with his stated income (the watch collection is not declared either). Otherwise such gifts are nothing more than a bribe by a senior official.
In a country where more than 20 million people are barely able to make ends meet, the outrageously luxurious life of the Russian President is a brazen and cynical moral offence.
The budget of the Office of Presidential Affairs was 84.6 billion rubles in 2011 which was primarily spent on providing luxuries for the head of state. This amount is comparable with the total operating budget of such a large region as Nizhny Novgorod, home to 3.3 million people.
The Russian people should not have to tolerate such outrageous behaviour. We believe that the income and expenses of those in power should be the subject of public discussion: all expenses and all of their incomes should be made public. Surplus property should be disposed of in an open and transparent manner, and the proceeds (we are talking about hundreds of billions of rubles) should be used for supporting and helping reduce problems in education, health and social support.
All this will be possible, when democracy is restored in Russia and the principle of peaceful transition of power is implemented.
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