Home Sweet Gold-Plated Home for Vladimir Putin
Last week Vladimir Putin announced he intended to spend more than $20 billion over the the next five years on housing for Russia’s impoverished, homeless masses. We wonder if he includes himself in that group, and if so how much of that $20 billion will go into Putin’s personal pocket.
Cynics on Russia though we may be, we were absolutely appalled by juxtaposition of these two recent revelations about Russia. That Russia’s dictator — no different in any way from international pariahs like Hosni Mubarek of Egypt or Saddam Hussein of Iraq — can dare to mumble lies about helping the poor while he goes merrily on lining his own pockets and building truly breathtaking palaces for his personal use is a testament to the fetid corruption that now totally engulfs neo-Soviet Russia. Not even the Soviet Politburo was this brazen and bold in displaying its corruption!
The Moscow Times reports:
New documents confirm that the Kremlin property chief approved construction of a posh seaside palace rumored to be a residence for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, despite his explicit denial of any link to the project, a newspaper said.
Vladimir Kozhin, chief of the Office for Presidential Affairs, said last week that his agency is not involved with the construction of a mansion in the Krasnodar region that whistleblowers linked to Putin.
But Kozhin had his deputy authorize the construction, and even personally signed relevant papers, copies of which were made public by Novaya Gazeta on Friday.
The first reports about “Putin’s Palace,” allegedly worth $1 billion, appeared in December, when St. Petersburg-based businessman Sergei Kolesnikov complained about the project in an open letter to President Dmitry Medvedev.
An investment contract released by the newspaper lists the Office for Presidential Affairs and a company called Lirus as parties involved in the construction of a resort complex occupying some 740,000 square meters in the Krasnodar region city of Gelendzhik.
Lirus was to invest 400 million rubles ($13 million) in the project, scheduled for completion in 2008, and was to own 70 percent of the developed area, with the rest going to the Office for Presidential Affairs.
The document is dated 2005 — when Putin was the president — and was signed by Kozhin’s deputy, Sergei Kovalyov. A supplement to the contract, also available on the newspaper’s web site, lists the Federal Guard Service as developer and is signed by Kozhin.
Kolesnikov told Novaya Gazeta that Lirus, a subsidiary of Rosinvest, was established in 2005 “on the order of Putin” by Nikolai Shamalov, a long-time friend of the prime minister.
Another company mentioned in the leaked documents, Indokopas, belongs to a firm called Rirus and is co-owned by Shamalov, according to Spark Interfax business database. Rirus and Lirus have the same St. Petersburg address in the database.
Not only is Putin’s palace a flagrant example of shameless personal corruption and dishonesty in the face of an impoverished population (Russian men on average don’t live to see age 60 and work for less than $3 per hour), it’s also a looming ecological disaster. Activist groups are appalled by the reckless manner in which the palace has been constructed, and believe that by the time it is finished it’s entire neighborhood will have been hopelessly damaged.
In any normal country, revelations of this kind would result in an immediate investigation by parliament. In any normal country, the president would have sacked the prime minister long ago, and he would be facing criminal charges, as Putin’s close friend is now doing in Italy.
But Vladimir Putin is above the law, and the citizens of Russia are craven cowards who will not stand up to defend their national honor or their children’s future.