Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lifestyle, “can be compared to that of a Persian Gulf monarch or a flamboyant oligarch,” according to the authors of a new report.
“In the report, sarcastically titled “The Life of a Galley Slave,” after the president’s own description of his tenure in office, Russian opposition leaders describe what they call an extraordinary expansion of presidential perks during the 12 years since the start of Mr. Putin’s first term as president — palaces, a fleet of jets and droves of luxury cars,” the New York Times reports:
Among the 20 residences available to the Russian president are Constantine Palace, a Czarist-era estate on the Gulf of Finland restored at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, a ski lodge in the Caucasus Mountains and a Gothic revival palace in the Moscow region. The president also has at his disposal 15 helicopters, 4 spacious yachts and 43 aircraft, including the main presidential jet, an Ilyushin whose interior is furnished with gold inlay by artisans from the city of Sergiyev Posad, an Airbus and a Dassault Falcon. The 43 aircraft alone are worth an estimated $1 billion, the report says.
The authors, Boris Nemtsov (right), a former deputy prime minister who has been jailed a number of times on various pretexts, and Leonid Martynyuk, a member of the Solidarity movement, present enlarged photographs of the Russian leader’s wrist during meetings and public appearances, revealing a variety of expensive watches, 11 in all, worth $687,000 at retail — about six times Mr. Putin’s annual salary.
“I hope that after this report the numbers of people believing that Putin and his allies are swindlers and thieves will approach 70 percent,” Nemtsov said, the labels for the ruling elite which have become a slogan for the opposition.
“After that, I think we will be able to free the country of them.”
The Levada Center receives support from the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.