“Penthouse”, go-kart track… The “bling-bling” lifestyle of Putin’s first circle

Penthouse go kart track The bling bling lifestyle of Putins first circle

The story begins with an offshore company based in Cyprus and the profits of an eponymous vodka brand: “Putinka”… In a detailed investigation, published in two parts on February 28, the Russian investigative media Proekt reveals many aspects of the personal fortune of Vladimir Putin and his relatives, including that of his hidden companion, Alina Kabaïeva, with whom he would have had at least three children. The first part of the investigation focuses on an offshore company based in Cyprus called Ermira Consultants. While in the second part, the journalists reveal the immense fortune of Alina Kabaïeva, having a palace in Moscow and the largest apartment in Russia in Sochi, on the shores of the Black Sea.

As the investigation goes on, the relatives, friends and acquaintances, who serve as the nominal owners of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vast alleged wealth, are widely singled out. This is Putin’s “inner circle”, including many of his KGB (former FSB) colleagues.

400 million dollars in profits generated by vodka

Thanks to an anonymous source, presented as a former manager of the business empire of one of the president’s closest friends, Proïekt’s investigative journalists got their hands on numerous documents proving the financial arrangements made by Putin’s entourage. “He agreed to a meeting with our journalists in connection with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine”, indicates the Russian media. “They (the Russian leadership) have completely lost their minds, they must be stopped”, justifies their source.

Until now there have been doubts about the ownership of Cyprus-based Ermira Consultants, but Proïekt says the Cypriot company’s list of owners and countless investments say otherwise. From 2003 to 2015, the owner was a lawyer named Vladislav Kopylov who “apparently owes his candidacy to the fact that he is friends with St. Petersburg businessmen Andrey Fursenko and Yuri Kovalchuk, close friends of the Russian president”, reports the investigation. Then, in 2015, the company was bought by the oligarch Arkadi Rotenberg, Vladimir Putin’s “judo buddy”. At that time, Ermira Consultants received numerous loans from others close to the Russian president, such as Gennady Timchenko, former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Ilia Eliseev from Gazprom and Igor Antoshin from PhosAgro.

Proïekt also pays particular attention to the alcohol distributor Vinexim, which created the famous brand of vodka “Putinka”, whose president himself authorized the use of his surname. From 2004, the rights of Putinka were bought by a company… which was none other than Ermira Consultants. Between 2004 and 2019, “Putinka” would have generated between 400 and 500 million dollars in profits (between 375 and 470 million euros).

Luxurious properties for friends and family

The second part of the investigation focuses more specifically on the life of the palace led by the secret companion of Vladimir Putin, Alina Kabaïeva. The Russian investigative site estimates that the latter owns real estate with an estimated value of 120 million US dollars. According to journalists, one of them is “the largest apartment in Russia”. This is a penthouse on the top floor of a luxury residence in Sochi, on the shores of the Black Sea. According to information and photos obtained by Proïekt, the apartment is spread over almost 2,600 square meters with a swimming pool, a cinema, a patio and a private helipad on the roof. In total, the real estate fortune of Alina Kabaïeva would reach 15 million dollars. She would own about twenty properties, including one in France. So many acquisitions made under the name of his grandmother, described as “the richest grandmother in Russia”. A grandmother who does not really look like a multimillionaire, according to journalists, since she lived in an isolated log cabin until last year.

According to various sources, Vladimir Putin and Alina Kabaïeva have three children, including infant twins. Still according to Proïekt, it is because of the presence of these young children that Alina Kabaïeva would snub most of her properties, including the famous penthouse in Sochi, in favor of a large wooden chalet, near one of Vladimir Putin’s official residences, in Valdai, near Moscow. A private bridge connects the two residences, served by helicopter but also, recently, by special armored train. The couple’s children have access to a gigantic playground, complete with a lake and a private go-kart track.

Proïekt’s investigation also highlights many examples where Vladimir Putin would have delegated housing to relatives. In most cases, the president’s luxurious tastes are displayed. Journalists tell, for example, how from 2010 to 2013, Putin provided his wife with apartments in Moscow when they no longer lived together but were not yet divorced. An apartment suddenly transferred to one of Ermira Consultants’ offshore companies after the president’s single status was revealed. Ermira Consultants also benefited Jorrit Faassen when he married Vladimir Putin’s eldest daughter, Maria Vorontsova. At the time, the offshore company transferred several luxury properties in Moscow to Berocci Investments, another offshore company set up for the couple. But, the president’s largesse ended with the marriage and the Cypriot offshore company eventually got the properties back upon divorce.