Kremlin refuses to name direct owners of Putin’s Palace
The palace in Gelendzhik, which according to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation is "indirectly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin," belongs to entrepreneurs whose names "the Kremlin has no right to disclose," said Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov at a press conference on Tuesday, January 26.
When asked about the palace, he noted that "this large object, it is well known in Gelendzhik, and is owned directly by one or more individuals" but it would not be appropriate to name them.
According to Peskov, the question of why the territory of the palace is guarded by Federal Protective Service (FSO), which provides protection to the Russian president, should be directed to FSB itself, and the question about the no-fly zone over this palace should be sent to the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Peskov said that questions about why the companies Optima Complex Construction and Aerocomplex reported that they were doing work at the Russian President's residence in the village of Praskoveevka, where the palace is located, should be directed to these companies.
Earlier, Putin commented on the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s investigation into the palace, saying that "that what was claimed to be my property, does not belong or ever belonged either to me or my close relatives".
The video investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation founded by the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was published on YouTube on January 19. On January 26, it was viewed more than 91.6 million times. In the two-hour video, named “A Palace for Putin: The Story of the Biggest Bribe" Navalny speaks about the palace, which is being built and maintained at the expense of Russian state-owned oil giants Rosneft and Transneft. These companies are headed by Putin's closest friends, Igor Sechin and Nikolai Tokarev.
According to the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the 17,691-square-metre palace is the largest private residence in the country, with an estimated value of 100 billion rubles ($1.33 billion USD). The surrounding area has a hockey field, a church, a greenhouse, a tea house and a tunnel leading to the sea.
The film begins with a call to come to a rally in support of Navalny who was detained a week earlier and arrested for 30 days. On January 23, mass protests were held across Russia, at which 3,770 people were detained, a record number in the country's modern history. The rallies were also held abroad. Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s partner, announced new protests on January 31.