Home News Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg says ‘Putin Palace’ is his – KBC

Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg says ‘Putin Palace’ is his – KBC


Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg says he is the owner of an opulent Black Sea mansion, not President Vladimir Putin, as the leaders’ critics had alleged.

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A video report about the vast palace, by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, went viral across Russia and has now been watched more than 100m times.

The Russian president rubbished reports he owned the resort earlier this week.

Mr Rotenberg, a billionaire with close links to Mr Putin, went public claiming to be the owner on Saturday.

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The revelation came in an interview posted on the pro-Kremlin Mash Telegram channel, before being confirmed to the Interfax news agency.

“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,” Mr Rotenberg’s press office quoted him as saying.

Mr Rotenberg said the property will be completed “in a couple of years” and is expected to become an apartment hotel.

The claim comes as a crackdown against opposition figures intensifies across Russia.

Controversy over the property has been rife following the publication of the documentary by jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s team earlier this month.

Their investigation alleged the property cost £1bn ($1.37bn) and was paid for “with the largest bribe in history”.

The BBC’s Tim Whewell previously reported on the mysterious palace back in 2012, quoting a former business associate of Mr Putin who alleged that the mansion was built to his specifications for his personal use – but a spokesman dismissed the allegations at the time.

Earlier this week, the Russian president directly denied that he or his family owned it and described the video about it as “boring”.

The allegations about the palace have taken off on Russian social media, including video platform TikTok. The corruption allegations helped spur on protests held throughout the country last weekend in support of Mr Navalny – the biggest seen against President Putin in years.

More than 4,000 people were arrested as large crowds took to cities across Russia demanding Mr 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.

Both the heavy-handed police response and the continued detention of Mr Nalavany has drawn sharp international criticism.

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