Investigation finds Putin ‘lives in golden mansion with gymnast lover’
Istanbul: Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly living with his gymnast girlfriend at a vast, heavily guarded country estate featuring several palatial mansions, a room coated in gold leaf, and a playground for their young children.
Alina Kabaeva, 39, an Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion who has long been linked with the 70-year-old Russian leader, lives in a villa on Putin’s estate on Lake Valdai, about 400 kilometres north-west of Moscow, according to The Project, a Russian investigative news site.
The Lake Valdai property that Vladimir Putin has built and lives in with his girlfriend and their young children.Credit:proekt.media
The Russian president has reportedly bought his lover a property empire worth $US120 million ($178 million) through a slush fund in Cyprus, the site reported. Construction on Kabaeva’s mansion began in 2020 and was completed two years later, it claimed.
At nearly 1200 square metres, the mansion was built entirely of wood in the style of a Russian dacha. Construction was carried out by a company owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, the Russian businessman also known as “Putin’s banker”.
Unnamed officials told The Project they had seen children on the premises, and satellite images taken between 2016 and 2020 showed a playground in the woods believed to have been built for the family.
The area has been frequented by Kabaeva’s distant female relatives, described as her chaperones in leaked train manifests. The chaperones also reportedly own properties in the area.
Former gymnast Alina Kabaeva and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Credit:AP
The house where Kabaeva is said to live is located just 800 metres from Valdai, Putin’s best-guarded and most private residence, where he rarely holds public meetings.
Photographs of that mansion, leaked by a construction executive who worked around the house until 2005, showed opulent interiors reportedly inspired by Putin’s love for his hometown of St Petersburg and its 18th-century Hermitage Museum.
One image purportedly shows the president’s study bedecked with ornate mahogany furniture and featuring the secure landline phones used by top Kremlin officials.
In another room, gilded chairs can be seen arranged around a glass table and a spherical chandelier, with golden leaves hanging from the ceiling.
The stairs and floor plan for Vladimir Putin’s Lake Valdai property.Credit:proekt.media
Guests to the house were encouraged to reach out and take one, the contractor claimed. Another photo appears to show a massive chandelier decorated with rubies. The existence of the villa was first reported in 2021 by the team of Russian jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny who claimed that budget funds were used to lease the property from Kovalchuk.
Vladimir Putin’s alleged lavish mansion on the Black Sea coast.Credit:Twitter
Both Putin and Kabaeva have repeatedly denied that they are in a relationship.
Unnamed officials who attended Putin’s private parties said they had never seen the two together, but they have no doubt that they have a relationship, saying that only top-ranking officers in the president’s security detail were aware of the details of their arrangement. In another sign of her proximity to Putin, Kabaeva was in 2014 appointed to lead Russia’s National Media Group, a sprawling holding owned by Kovalchuk, despite having no relevant experience. The position provides her with an annual income of about £8.6million ($15.3 million).
The music room inside the house Vladimir Putin has built on Lake Valdai. Credit:proekt.media
The investigation drew on documents provided by an unnamed whistleblower described as an executive in the “business empire of one of the president’s closest friends” who was directly involved in managing a Cyprus-based company used as a slush fund.
The whistle-blower contacted the journalists as he was outraged by the invasion of Ukraine and said the Russian regime “must be stopped”.
Documents revealed how Putin’s close friends and their companies were pumping money into Ermira, the Cypriot company, which was later used to buy luxury estate and provide for the needs of Putin and his family.
The Russian leader was also accused of racking profits from the sale of a popular vodka brand named after him that appeared on the market in the early 2000s. Property rights to the vodka were repeatedly transferred between his childhood friend Arkady Rotenberg and the Cyprus-based company. The vodka sales would have earned Putin at least half a million dollars between 2004 and 2019, according to estimates.
Known for her secretive lifestyle, Kabaeva was revealed as the owner of a number of other luxury properties across Russia, worth a total of $US120 million, including a penthouse in Sochi on the Black Sea which is believed to be the biggest apartment in Russia.
While the apartment was briefly on sale, 3D visualisations available online showed its over-the-top luxurious interiors such as a dining room with marble floors and walls and gilded banister rails on the stairs between the floors.
The investigation came as Putin urged Russia’s FSB intelligence agency to be more vigilant to counter Western spies and prevent sabotage.
The warning came as Russian officials reported a flurry of drone attacks along the border and deep inside Russia, with one drone crashing just 96 kilometres from Moscow.
The Telegraph, London
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