In an interview with the TV channel Mash, Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg said he is an owner of the Palace which is believed to be indirectly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a three-minute interview with Mash's editor-in-chief Maxim Ixanov, Rotenberg explained that he decided to speak about it because of the scandal.
"There was quite a complex object. There were a lot of lenders. I was able to become an owner. It's a godsend," Rotenberg said, adding that he purchased the building several years ago. He explained that he decided to speak about the deal only now, as a scandal broke out around the mansion. "I've had enough... I have sanctions on me and so on," the billionaire added.
Rotenberg said that he intends to build an apartment hotel on The Cape Idokopas because he "very much likes" the hotel business. The billionaire added that he has similar facilities in the territory of the Russian-annexed Ukrainian peninsula Crimea, as well as in the Far East and Altai.
The video investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation founded by the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was published on YouTube on January 19. 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