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Being the president of a country where the minimal monthly salary is below a thousand rubles president Putin lives in unprecedented luxury. According to the press, Vladimir Putin lives in the Moscow region, in the Barvikha-3 residence, on Rublevskoe Road. The official maintenance of the presidential group is 899 915 800 rubles, if we are to believe the budget. The presidential security consists of 700 people; 50 people are on duty daily.

In the Kremlin the president occupies the building of the former Senate – 567 offices of several thousand sq. meters in total. Putin has three offices for himself: a work office, a representative office (a hall to receive visitors) and a reserve office, where the information from the Situation Center of the president is concentrated. The offices are equipped with seven special communication lines. In Moscow there is another presidential residence – ABC, but we do not know anything about it.

The president has also the following residences for himself: Gorki-9 (the biggest one, Yeltsin lives on pension there, it is 15 km west of Moscow); Rus – 150 km north of Moscow in the Tver region and Barvikha, 7 km west of Moscow.

Putin also uses the residencies in Novoogarevo (west of Moscow); the residence Valday (Novgorod region); Volzhski Utes (Samara region); Tantal (Saratovo region); Angarskie Khutora (Irkutsk region); Sosni (Krasnoyarsk region); in Sochi he has the residence Bocharov Ruchey (Krasnodar region); in Karelia – Shuyskaya Chupa (25 km from Petrozavodsk); in Saint Petersburg he has a “sea residence” in the Constantinople Palace in Strelna. In total, except for the Kremlin, mister Putin has 13 residences or estates, as you like. This is truly a tsar’s life!

Putin’s special plane IL-96-300 – his flying residence built in 1997. Later another “Plane Number One” was made – IL-96-300 PU (M), considerably perfected. Besides Putin uses a few helicopters and a special train. For sea travels he has the Russia sea motor ship, also known as “the president’s flagman ship” (length 83,6 meters, width 12,7, can contain 40 passengers). In the Baltic Sea he has a “service yacht”, a 27,4 long, 6,5 wide boat that can contain twenty people, it is called the Storm Petrel. The Moscow shipbuilding factory built for Putin Pallada, a 32 meters-long motorized yacht with two engines. On the Black Sea Putin has a yacht – the governmental ship Caucasus, 45-meters-long. And finally, as if all that wasn’t enough (the British papers solved the mystery in spring 2005), first in the port of Tuapse and then in the port of Sochi, Olympia, a new de luxe yacht guarded by the Federal Security Service, has appeared.

Not let us clarify all this. Let us begin with Plane Number One – the old and new. IL-96-300 was built by Voronezh’s plane-building association. Its salon has two stories. There are two bedrooms, one shower, a hall for meetings, a room for rest and even a reanimation office. The plane was painted in Holland and the salon was trimmed up in Switzerland. The interior was estimated at $35-40 million. The total value of IL-96-300 reaches $300 million.

In 2001 a second plane, IL-96-300 PU (M), was built for Putin on the same factory. According to the site News.ru.com on 02.10.03 the plane was being completed then: “The trimming of the second presidential machine was richer than the first. Every day wagons with wood arrive to the factory. In the first plane there is only one bar, in the new one there are three. The room for rest is also larger and is ornate with two beds for the presidential couple. The sanitary engineering for president Putin has cost a pretty penny, for instance the bathroom pan cost almost 75 thousand dollars. All the interior wooden trimming was produced nationally.

Now the yachts. The president’s official site in the section “the president’s sea transport” mentions only the motor ship Russia built in 1973 and attached to Moscow’s port. But it is not the place we should look in.

The construction of the Storm Petrel cost three million dollars to the Russian taxpayers. It was built specially for Putin on the 300th anniversary of Saint Petersburg. The president’s site does not mention it because this presidential ship lies in Leningrad’s naval base.

The 45 meters-long yacht Caucasus was built in 1980 on Brezhnev’s order. In 2002 its was modernized on the Almaz shipyard (one of the shipbuilding bases of Saint Petersburg). According to Tom Parfitt, journalist of the Scotsman, the renovations cost 1,5 million pounds (sterling), i.e. $2 835 000. “After the reconstruction, Novaya Gazeta writes, the Caucasus was added new Japanese air conditioners, a home theater, ceilings coated with French mirrors, white leather sofas and armchairs, furniture from rare tree species, wall paneling from redwood and suede. The decks were made from tick.” It was not the President’s Administration that ordered the reconstruction like it is supposed to, but the federal Border Service. And this is a manner of the new rich – to register their cars and real estate on the names of their relatives in order to hide their property in case of a prosecution. Putin is a classical new rich. He began as a manager at Sobchak’s.

In 2003, a year after the Caucasus modernization the president acquired two new toys: the Storm Petrel, built, as we already know, specially for Putin on Saint Petersburg’s 300th anniversary and Pallada, also built for this occasion – Saint Petersburg’s 300th anniversary. The new project was built in Holland and assembled in Moscow, on Moscow’s shipbuilding factory. “The Dutch partner of the shipbuilding company, Guido de Groot, cautiously said that the highly ranked owner of the Pallada, being a native of Saint Petersburg, ordered that the yacht be finished for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of his home city, Novaya Gazeta informs. The general director of Moscow’s shipbuilding factory Dmitry Mironenkov mentioned that ships like The Pallada cost about 4 million dollars. The maintenance of such yachts usually cost at least 10% of the yacht’s cost. Per year.

Pallada’s design is based on the theme of Peter the Great. There are wall-sized paintings of him. In the reception-room he is depicted building the city on the Neva River; in the boss’s room, over his bedhead, young Peter is writing something; in the bathroom there is a painting of Amsterdam, as Peter saw it. Like The Caucasus, Pallada has decks made of ticking and furniture made of rare tree species. The sofas and armchairs are made of white leather. All this is in comfortable rooms, salons and halls of a total surface of 390 sq. meters, on three decks, one of which is hidden from view. The salons and reception-rooms of the two superior decks are also protected from curious eyes. The huge windows are covered in a special darkening dust. The yacht is equipped with a stage and home theaters. On the prow of the ship the guests can sit on a soft semi-circular sofa with a disk-shaped table. Putin’s adviser Vladimir Shevchenko acknowledged the fact that the Pallada was built on the order of the president’s administration and said, “This ship is designed for official protocol events”. However he preferred not to mention how much did the Pallada cost to the Russian citizens. Actually it cost from 4 to 7 million dollars.

In summer 2005 the British paper Daily Telegraph published the article “By giving Putin a yacht Abramovich got himself a cheap insurance policy”. I cite the text of the newspaper according to the site News.ru.com on 06.21.05. “It's been a tense few months for Russian oligarchs, what with Mikhail Khodorkovsky's fall from grace. The Yukos tycoon's recent imprisonment on charges of tax fraud left oil billionaires quivering in their boots that they could soon be the government's next target. /…/ All, that is, except Roman Abramovich, who is said to be on good terms with the Kremlin. The Russian government has allegedly received a £30 million yacht from the Chelsea FC owner. The yacht, built in the Netherlands in 2002, was in the past thought to have belonged to Abramovich's business partner, Yevgeny Shvidler. ‘The boat has actually always belonged to Abramovich,’ adds my source. ‘Friends are now joking that at £30 million, the gift represents quite a cheap insurance policy. It's called Olympia and was given with the intention of it being a sort of Royal Yacht Britannia for the Kremlin's official use. It was recently spotted in the Black Sea port of Sochi, patrolled by federal guards, with Putin apparently on board. It's a 180-footer and quite a monster,’ says my mole.

Novaya Gazeta investigated the origin of the yacht. Here is what they wrote on 05.31.05: “The president’s administration refused to give us the official information about the yacht – the ‘object’ was classified. The photo taken by the ITAR-TASS agency in the Sochi seaport shows that this yacht runs under the flag of the Cayman Islands – a British dominion, a tax-free offshore zone, where billionaires from around the world prefer to register their yachts. The yacht was produced by the Dutch company Feadship. Here is what is known about the ship: the snow-white, 57 meters-long five-decks yacht Olympia was built three years ago on the shipyard of the Dutch city of Papendrecht. After it was finished Olympia went in Amsterdam for a redesign, after which it took course on Russia and arrived first to Tunis and then to the Sochi port. At the port in Sochi it was greeted by a special commission from Moscow. One of the functionaries close to the organizers of the reception committee told Novaya Gazeta: ‘It is comfortable and royally splendid. All the rooms there are trimmed with real red wood and rotang, an African palmier. Everything is gilded, of course. The beds are fixed with joints in such a way that even if the ship heels over by thirty degrees the bed will stay straight.’ /…/ The superior open deck of the Olympia is equipped with a large super modern jacuzzi, a bar and a barbecue and on the middle deck there are cutters that can be used for water skiing. In the reception-rooms and apartments on the other decks the furniture and paneling is made of rare white ash; the colonnades are made of rare maple, there is a Linn audio-video system, whose value is measured in hundreds of thousands dollars; a huge bathroom with glossy ceilings entirely tiled with Rosa Porto Gallo marble.

Officially 2 352 000 dollars were spent on the president’s representative expenses for the five years of Putin’s rule. How was the Olympia acquired then? Novaya Gazeta asked Lloyd’s Registry of Shipping and was answered: “Initially the registered owner of the Olympia was Ironstone Investments (address: Langtrey House, La Motte Street, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain); the manager of the ship was Unicom Management Services Ltd (address: Unicom Tower, Maximos Plaza, 2 Paparigopoulou Street, 3309 Limassol, Cyprus)” It is interesting that Ironstone Investments started off on January 17th 2002, right before buying the Olympia and was liquidated on May 6th 2004 and its property (the Olympia) was inherited by a company with a similar name, Ironstone Marine Investments Ltd, registered on the British Islands. Somebody was covering up his tracks. But the manager still remains Unicom Management Services Ltd, registered on the Cyprus and which is a filial of the Russian Sovkomflot Company. All 100% of the Sovkomflot’s shares belong to the State. In other words their balance supposes that the expenses are paid from the taxpayers’ pockets. The company’s board of directors is headed by Igor Shuvalov, adviser of the RF president.

So here is the thing. Roman Abramovich has another mega-yacht. Its name is Blue Abyss. What remained unclear is whether the State paid Putin’s yacht with our money and transferred 50 millions of our money to Abramovich’s offshore accounts, like it just happened with 13 billion dollars the State transferred to Abramovich for Sibneft, or Abramovich gave this yacht to the State as a gift?

The total cost of Russia’s president’s fleet:

– Repair and modernization of the Caucasus – from 1 to 2,8 million dollars.

– Construction of the Storm Petrel – 3 million dollars.

– Construction of the Pallada – from 4 to 7 million dollars.

– Maintenance of the Pallada – from 0,8 to 1,34 million dollars per year.

– Construction of the Olympia – 50 million dollars.

– Interior design of the Olympia – from 3 to 4 million dollars.

– Maintenance of the Olympia – about 1,5 million dollars per year.

And this is not all. Already 1,2 million dollars were spent on the project of a representative ship to replace the Russia motor ship.

The total: only the sea trips of president Putin cost the country from 78 to 84 million dollars.

Why does the president need five yachts? The president himself could give an answer to this question. But he will not tell the truth like he did not tell the truth about the Kursk, about the raid of the center on Dubrovka, about Beslan.

The British singer Beverly Knight visited one of Putin’s yachts in May 2003 and told about it to London’s Sunday Times. After the singer’s performance on the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg in May 2003 president Putin “has invited her to a dinner on his yacht”, where she found herself face to face with Tony Blair, Gerhard Shredder and Putin himself. The singer said: “I didn’t want to refuse the chance to meet the most influential people in the world. Putin impressed me. He was visibly nervous because I was looking straight in his eyes. I liked his manner of appearing a bit sinister, like Darth Vader.

Does the president of a country, where the minimal salary is less than a thousand rubles, have the moral right to have this sea luxury paid by us? Undoubtedly he does not. The National-Bolsheviks wrote in their leaflet, right in the end:

It seems that you imagined you are a tsar, and not a president, elected by the people and responsible before the people. You forgot the words of oath, which you gave at your inauguration: “I swear to respect and to guard human and civil rights and freedoms, to respect and to protect the constitution of the Russian Federation, to protect the sovereignty and independence, safety and integrity of the State, to serve the people loyally.

In reality tsars behave more decently than Putin, the son of a house-cleaner and a metal worker. The Spanish king Juan Carlos has sold his yacht because of economical difficulties in his country and the mere intention of the tourist companies of the Balearic Islands to give him a new one, worth 20 million dollars, caused a big political scandal in Spain.

The RF citizens grew used to president Putin wearing a 60 thousand dollars-worth Patek Philippe watch in a country where over 30% of the population live below the poverty line. This is not even corruption anymore; this is tactlessness, lack of good sense. As is the fact that each Putin’s trip to the Kremlin and back, when the streets are entirely blocked and the traffic is paralyzed for a long time, costs Moscow’s budget 220 thousand dollars and is humiliating for the Muscovites.

As for the Konstantinovsky Palace in Strelna, the president’s “sea residence”, it has cost over 280 million dollars. All the construction works were over by spring 2003, on the threshold of the celebration of Saint Petersburg’s 300th anniversary and the Russia-EU summit, which took place in the restored palace. As we see, moved by vanity, the son of a metal worker and a house cleaner made royal gifts to himself for the 300th anniversary: two yachts – the Storm Petrel and the Pallada and restored a palace for 280 millions. And of course he wanted to impress the foreigners: “I am the king of the Earth’s kings…” Putin… Die from jealousy.

Officially “the works were financed by sponsor donations.” The companies EAS, Slavneft, Transneft, Rosneft, Moscow’s Bank, Eurofinance and Severnaya Verf took part in the palace’s restoration. The payments were made to a fund called Konstantinovsky palace and park ensemble in Strelna, whose chairman was Vladimir Kozhin, the president’s manager. However the real picture is such that it puts in doubt Putin’s declaration that “the restoration was organized 99% on private companies’ money”. According to the Kommersant on 05.12.04. “A scandal grows around Putin’s residency”: A scandal appeared, the Kommersant writes, around the palace in Strelna (Konstantinovsky Palace) restored on the eve of Saint Petersburg’s 300th anniversary. The Northwestern department of the federal agency on special construction filed a suit on one of the structures of the President’s Administration with the demand to pay for the executed works. /…/ This suit may be followed by others – about 30 million dollars were not paid to the companies working in the palace.

Let us return to this department that demands money. The Department on special construction (USTT) is included in the RF defense ministry, these are military constructers. They have built 14 of the 20 cottages of the town where were supposed to live the heads of States who came for the festivities; they have reequipped the former building of Leningrad’s artistic school into the five-stars hotel The Baltic Star and have also restored the Konyushenny building of the palace. The total cost of the works executed by the military constructers amounted to over 2,5 billion dollars. By the middle of April the State’s liabilities made 213, 8 million rubles plus 25,8 million that were the interests for an unjustified use of the money. Notice that the suit was not filed on “the Konstantinovsky ensemble in Strelna” but on the president’s administration. Vladimir Kozhin said through his press secretary Viktor Khrekov that “he is not ready to comment the suit of the constructers but has the intention to deeply clarify all the claims and clarify how was spent the money that entered the fund.”

The site Grani.ru commented the Kommersant’s article in the following way: “The restoration of the palace in Strelna was supposedly financed not by the State (the taxpayers) but by private companies. However one is allowed to doubt the voluntary character of these donations. The mechanism at work here is apparently the same as in the times of Nikolas I when a petty merchant saw that the gendarme has an old sword and had to immediately offer him a new one. So the difference between the fiscal and the private is rather relative here. Other things are more essential. Let’s say that in the first half of the XIX century (in the end of the 1830s the Winter Palace had to be reconstructed after a violent fire) few people were asking themselves why should a poor country spend huge sums on the construction of luxurious royal palaces. In the beginning of the XXI century such a question appears to be actual. However in today’s’ Russia still nobody asks it. History is powerless against the national tradition.

The National-Bolsheviks, the young and therefore brave generation asked this question and gave an answer to it: “You seem to imagine you are a tsar,” president Putin? Otherwise why would you need five yachts and fourteen residences, including the Kremlin?

The fact that V. V. Putin has imagined he is a tsar is eloquently demonstrated, besides by the luxury that surrounds him, by the atmosphere of servility reigning in the country under the regime of total autocracy. It is demonstrated by the president’s two inaugurations. I watched the first in 2000 and the second in 2004, on the TV screen of course. Both inaugurations were vulgar sights. Sights from an operetta. I pitied the poor soldiers and officers of the Kremlin’s garrison, dressed up in outrageous hats with high “hussar” shakos and short boots, like a crowd scene from Kalman’s Mariza. I felt burning shame for my country, humiliated by this outrageous show in the Kremlin, for the amusement of foreign diplomats. I remember my ears and cheeks were burning. The soldiers were visibly ashamed too; many of them drew their shoulders in. Apart from the Austro-Hungarian operettas of Kalman both inaugurations recalled Nikita Mikhalkov’s “The Barber of Siberia” by their kitsch esthetics. In the conclusion of the second 2004 inauguration the president received the parade of Kremlin’s regiment. A bellied colonel marched, shaking his fat; the orchestra blew in plastic trumpets (they were made out of plastic so that it would be easier for the orchestra to move during the ballet). The mounted division dropped horse shit on the paving stones. Oh, exultant triteness! These sights make clear that the president emulates tsarism. What can you expect from a KGB colonel from the reserve? He refused the communist worldview and ideology following the spirit of his time and the conjuncture (it became disadvantageous to be a communist), following the epidemic of desertion that fell upon the functionaries then. What could he rely on then? After all there was only one truly Russian, mass consumed ideology beside the communist one, the ideology common before 1917 – the Russian absolutism. It is the one Russia’s president is persistently imitating. He imitates the tsars in their worst manifestations.

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