It pays to be Putin’s friend.
A new report published on the website Otdel Rassledovaniy asserts that oil money that was supposed to be used on state projects was instead used to build mega mansions for Putin’s friends.
Over the last 15 years under Putin’s reign, Russia raked in over $US3 trillion “petrodollars,” according to Otdel Rassledovaniy. Since many of these oil companies are state-controlled, technically that money is supposed to be state money.
However, the report points out that multiple state projects have been canceled over the last few years due to “lack of money,” while Putin’s friends have built up some incredibly lavish mansions at the same time.
“Yakunin’s Moscow suburb mansion could fund a supply of local trains in several regions,” the report writes — which is intended to be a particularly biting remark since several train projects have been canceled in the last few days.
This isn’t the first time that such accusations have been made. Several reports over the years have speculated that Russian state companies have been funding the extravagant lifestyles of Putin and his cronies. Everything from estates to ski resorts to helicopters.
Otdel Rassledovaniy also uploaded several before (circa 2005-2007) and after (2014) Google earth images of locations where Putin’s cronies live, suggesting that it’s no coincidence that these estates popped up during this time period.
Putin’s close friends, the Rotenberg brothers:
Another friend of Putin’s — Vladimir Yakunin.
These are the residences of: the head of government staff, Sergei Prikhodko, the deputy head of the presidential administration Vyacheslav Volodin, and several others.
Naturally, Putin scored himself a nice pad as well. He reportedly built the so-called Putin Palace for himself on the Black Sea in a similar fashion — and it’s not open to the public.
Several people have “come forward alleging that the construction of Putin’s Palace on the Black Sea, as it’s commonly known, and the construction of summer homes belonging to other Russian luminaries, have involved the illegal use of state funds and the violation of environmental regulations,” the Daily Beast’s Anna Nemtsova reported in 2013.
People have noted as many as 26 of such mansions have been built across the country, according to Nemtsova.
And it’s not just with real estate.
The Obama administration reportedly calls Bank Rossiya the “personal bank” of the Russian president and those close to him.
“Built and run by some of the president’s colleagues from his early days in St. Petersburg, Bank Rossiya is emblematic of the way Mr. Putin’s brand of crony capitalism has turned loyalists into billionaires whose influence over strategic sectors of the economy has in turn helped him maintain his iron-fisted grip on power,” according to the New York Times.
Playing nice with Putin certainly has its perks.