Vladimir Putin claims to be a symbol of “Otechestvo” — or the Russian Fatherland itself.
Every one of his speeches, photo-ops and press briefings is intended to convey the clear message that the Russian president is a man of the people. He will protect his citizenry from enemies, foreign and domestic, repel Ukrainian “Nazis” from committing genocide against ethnic Russians in Donbass, wrestle a NATO soldier to the judo mat and rescue a Russian child from the claws of a Siberian Tiger.
But underneath this façade of altruism that Putin has been carefully crafting for over 20 years, is a cold-blooded, egotistic dictator, who has led a clandestine life filled with mysterious affairs, czar-worthy palace intrigue, and incalculable wealth handed to him by oligarchs who stole from the Russian common man.
In April 2014, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimea, the Kremlin announced that Putin had finalized his divorce from his wife, a former flight attendant, Lyudmila Shkrebneva, with whom he has two adult daughters, Katerina and Maria. The 30-year marriage likely fell apart because, like many Russian czars, he was having an extramarital affair and didn’t want to be constrained by a traditional family. Putin’s paramour was a dreamy-eyed, high-cheek-boned, gold- medal-winning Russian rhythmic gymnast, Alina Kabayeva, who is 31 years his junior. Although the Kremlin has denied the relationship, there are rumors that Putin and Kabayeva are married and have twin sons together.
In 2001, Putin awarded Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabayeva with an Order of Friendship during an annual award ceremony in the Kremlin. She allegedly became his mistress.SERGEI CHIRIKOV
In April 2014, the Kremlin announced that Putin had finalized his divorce from his wife, former flight attendant Lyudmila Shkrebneva, likely because he was romantically involved with Kabayeva.Dmitry Lovetsky
Putin has previously hinted that he does have a romantic relationship, but he has demanded it off-limits for the Russian public and broadcasters to discuss it. Russian media, most of which is under direct or implicit control by the Russian government, is prohibited from covering Putin’s personal life — and Putin verbally slams anyone who disobeys this order. When a Russian reporter asked Putin in 2008 about a rumored wedding with Kabayeva, he said, “I always disliked those obsessed with erotic fantasies who stick their flu-ridden noses in other people’s lives.”
Putin is rumored to have another love child, Elizaveta Krivonogikh, from an affair that he allegedly had during his first term as Russian president with a mistress, Svetlana Krivonogikh. A cleaner-turned-millionaire, Krivonogikh is virtually unknown to the Russians, but her daughter Elizaveta, also known as Luiza Rozova, is the spitting image of Putin.
Former cleaner Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46, has also been romantically linked with Vladimir Putin. Proekt Media
Krivonogikh’s alleged love child with Putin, known as both Elizaveta Krivonogikh and Luiza Rozova, is the spitting image of the Russian president.Social media
Putin officially draws a salary of between $115,000 and $225,000-a-year as Russia’s head of state. But, in reality, he has amassed incalculable wealth, ranging from $100 to $200 billion, making him one of the world’s richest leaders and possibly wealthier than either Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Bill Brody, an American financier who ran one of the biggest investment firms in Russia in 1996-2005, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2017 that Putin had “accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains.”
The fortune of the Russian spymaster is stashed away, however, in offshore tax havens, invested in luxury properties inside and outside Russia, and spread out among the accounts of his family members and trusted friends who hold millions and billions of dollars for their boss.
In 2018, Vladimir Putin took the oath for his fourth term as Russian president, but his lifestyle resembles that of a czar more than a democratically elected official. Alexander Zemlianichenko
His most massive and lavish property lies on the Black Sea and cost more than $1 billion to build. “Putin’s Palace” includes a spa, a movie theater, a teahouse, a wine cellar, a casino, a hookah lounge, a pole-dancing disco, a helipad, a hockey-rink, a church and even a gold-plated toilet. An enormous swimming pool, gym with the latest exercise equipment, and a judo mat also help keep Putin in top shape.
“Putin’s palace” — an estate on Russia’s Black Sea — is said to have cost $1.3 billion and is protected by an unscalable fence and a border checkpoint. AP
Putin’s Black Sea residence boasts a lavish spa with marble fixtures.palace.navalny.com
The lounge in Putin’s palace echoes the opulence of Versailles. The residence includes a movie theater, a casino, a hookah lounge, a pole-dancing disco, a helipad, a hockey rink — and even a gold-plated toilet.Alexei Navalny YouTube
The residence is protected by Fort Knox-level security, including an unscalable fence and a border checkpoint. It is not accessible by ground, sea or air. The airspace above the palace and approaches by water are highly restricted. In his investigation report of Putin’s wealth, Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny called this property “a state within a state,” “not a residence” but an “entire city” — “more likely a kingdom” within Russia.
Putin’s home outside Moscow is one of his eight official residences.Sovfoto/Universal Images Group/Shutterstock
Putin’s eight official residencies include his main house near Moscow — a 19th-century mansion built by order of the brother of Emperor Alexander III — and his summer residence, Bocharov Ruchey, in Sochi, which sprawls across 40 hectares of woodland and boasts a majestic view of the Black Sea.
His summer residence, Bocharov Ruchey, in Sochi is situated on 40 hectares of woodland.Sasha Mordovets
Putin’s more enigmatic assets include a villa in the South of France and a million-dollar apartment in Monaco, which are linked to his ex-wife Lyudmila and an alleged former mistress respectively. The splendid French villa — with its four bedrooms, lavish dining room with a terrace, and a billiard room — is surrounded by a 5,000-square-meter private park plus an outdoor pool and music pavilion, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Putin’s villa in the South of France is linked to his ex-wife Lyudmila and her new husband, Artur Ocheretny, who is almost 20 years her junior. AFP
One of Putin’s two legitimate daughters by his ex-wife Lyudmila is Katerina Tikhonova, a dancer who has competed in the World Cup Rock ’n’ Roll Acrobatic Competition.JAKUB DABROWSKI
Putin’s other legitimate daughter is Maria Vorontsova, a leading researcher at the National Medical Research Center for Endocrinology of the Russian Health Ministry.Ekaterina Chesnokova
The $4.1 million apartment located beneath the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco belongs to Putin’s alleged former mistress, Krivonogigh, who reportedly grew up, like Putin himself, in a communal apartment in St. Petersburg, sharing a kitchen and bathroom with several other families. Today, her neighbors are the world’s elites, royals, and mafia-types frolicking in their “light and airy” apartments, according to one real estate agency, gambling their incalculable fortunes in casinos, sailing around in their luxurious superyachts.
A $4.1 million apartment located beneath Monaco’s Monte Carlo Casino belongs to Putin’s alleged former mistress, Elizaveta Krivonogikh.LaraBelova
Villa Souzanna, a splendid estate in the South of France with four bedrooms, a lavish dining room with a terrace, and a billiard room, is linked to Putin’s ex-wife Lyudmila.
Putin, who wouldn’t want to miss out on a single delicious trapping of the aristocracy, also owns a tri-deck superyacht, a $100 million vessel called “Graceful.” At 270-feet long, the yacht comes with a gym, a spa, a library, a 49-foot indoor pool that can be converted into a dance floor, and a saloon featuring a white Steinway piano. It accommodates up to 12 guests and 14 crew, according to Boat International.
Putin’s yacht “Graceful” comes with a 49-foot indoor pool that can be converted into a dance floor, and a saloon featuring a white Steinway piano.REUTERS/Steffen Mayer
Putin has accumulated his wealth by running a mafia-like enterprise where he grants protection or “krysha” (literally a roof) to the oligarchs who occupy every major Russian enterprise in key industries, such as oil and gas. He keeps the newly minted capitalists in power, and they give him ransom money in exchange.
While Putin preaches family values and moral traditions as Russia’s alternative to the “decadent” West, he is actually a cold-blooded tyrant and the incarnation of decadence itself. Decadence that was built on billions stolen from the Russian people.
Rebekah Koffler is a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and currently a strategic intelligence analyst with The Lindsey Group. She is the author of “Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America.”