The “Black Sea Palace” was claimed by Putin’s “young man”! Opponents of the Russian government have long attacked Russian President Vladimir Putin with a set of ultra-luxurious palace-style buildings on the Black Sea coast as “evidence of corruption.
However, the battle for public opinion changed dramatically this past weekend: Putin’s former “judo partner”, Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, came out to dispel the rumors and publicly “claimed” the luxury villa in front of the media.
Reuters reported on January 31 that Russia’s controversial opposition leader Navalny and his “Anti-Corruption Foundation” recently produced an investigative video titled “Putin’s Palace: The Biggest Bribe in History,” which spends two hours talking about the villa’s The villa is worth $1.5 billion and occupies 17,600 square meters of land on the Black Sea coast of Russia, with theaters, casinos, ballrooms, hookah rooms and other entertainment facilities, and even an underground hockey rink.
The video was uploaded on YouTube and has been viewed more than 100 million times, and has sparked protests in many parts of Russia.
RIA Novosti reported that Putin had said on the 25th that none of the property in the “investigation” belonged to him or his relatives. Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has also previously said that the owner of the Gelendzhik “palace” is one or several entrepreneurs and that the Kremlin has no right to, and will not, reveal the name of the building’s owner.
Finally, the Russian entrepreneur Rotenberg himself came out on January 30 to dispel the rumors, saying that he bought the luxury property two years ago. He told the media, “Now I’m showing my cards, the villa is mine.”
He explained that the property had a complex composition of ownership and had many creditors before, but he became the final winner.
However, he did not disclose the financial details involved in the deal. Rotenberg said that he does not intend to use the luxury villa as a private residence, but wants to transform it into an apartment hotel.
Russian TV One revealed that the station’s reporter went inside the building to see it, and video footage showed that construction was underway there and there was concrete everywhere. According to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Rotenberg believes the construction site is in unsatisfactory condition. The work is expected to be completed in a year and a half to two years. He said, “Considering these rumors, we will try to finish the construction faster.”
The Russian president’s “young man” personally “saved the day” sparked the attention of public opinion in many countries. According to the media, the 69-year-old Rotenberg, who is of Jewish origin, was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1951 and graduated from the St. Petersburg State Physical Education University in 1978, and did judo coaching in his early years.
Rotenberg met Putin as a teenager when they both studied “samba” at a club. According to the New Yorker magazine, the two men developed a strong friendship while training and competing together. Another of their classmates, retired KGB agent Vaskilin, recalled that the two were known as “troublemakers” and loved to play pranks, once throwing stones at a balloon during a Labor Day parade just to “hear the sound.
to hear the sound”. Another friend from the old days also recalled that the two used to go to the bathroom together to scare people and steal candy from other children.
In 1990, when Putin was working in the mayor’s office in Leningrad, he had to meet Rotenberg from time to time, both for physical fitness and to share his skills. In the view of the media, Putin, who had received rigorous training from the KGB, cherished the friendship he had developed as a child.
Rotenberg has also shown considerable loyalty to Putin: the U.S. government sanctioned Putin’s circle of cronies over Ukraine in 2014, but the move has brought these friends closer to him. Rotenberg has said publicly, “I have great respect for Putin, and I think he is the Chosen One sent by God to Russia.”
Rotenberg’s businesses span a wide range of sectors, including energy, construction and banking, and he co-owns with his brother Boris the Stroygazmontazh Group, Russia’s largest construction company for gas pipelines and power supply lines. He has been listed by Forbes magazine as a global billionaire since 2011. As of January 2021, his net worth is approximately $2.7 billion.