President Vladimir Putin stated that the palace on the outskirts of the city of Gelendzhik on Russia's Black Sea coast, which Alexey Navalny referred to in hist most recent documentary, did not belong either to him or to any of his close relatives.
During a videoconference meeting with students on January 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin answered the question about the "palace," which, as Alexey Navalny claims, is being built especially for the president.
"The documentary about the palace in Gelendzhik that supposedly belongs to you is currently trending on YouTube. Vladimir Vladimirovich, is it true?" one of the participants of the meeting asked, adding that he understands that one can not trust everything that one may find on the Internet.
"Nothing that is stated there as my property belongs either to me or to any of my close relatives, and it never did. Never," Putin replied.
The president noted that he did not watch the film produced by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, recognized by the Russian Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent), as he did not have free time for it. However, according to Putin, he "looked through video compilations" prepared by his assistants. Based on those compilations, Putin expressed his critical attitude about the content of the investigation.
Putin noted that the topic of his "palace" has been discussed for more than ten years, and documents related to the property should be saved somewhere - registration of land plots, financial transactions, etc.
"Instead of all this, they posted my photo, my butterfly style swimming in a pool, where I have never been to, nor do I have any knowledge of what kind of a pool it was. But I did swam like that. In the Yenisei River in 2016. This is just compilation, video editing," the president said.
Putin added that he does not know some of the people mentioned in the documentary at all. At the same time, he added, he is friends with other people, some of whom have been working in business for a long time, while Putin himself, in his own words, "had no interest in business."
"There was one thing in the documentary that raised interest in me, but not as a business - as an activity. This is winemaking," Putin added, explaining that his acquaintances, including business ombudsman Boris Titov, are engaged in this "noble" activity. Moreover, Putin admits that he could work in the wine industry, as a lawyer, for example, after leaving the post of presidency.
"I have an advisor - Boris Titov, who is the owner of Abrau-Dyurso, our large company with a good background. [...] He's my advisor now. When I'm done working, maybe I'll go to work as an advisor to him, but not as a businessman - as a specialist - at least in the field of law," Putin said.
In 2012, Titov became a business ombudsman and, due to his transition to civil service, Titov handed over the management of Abrau-Dyurso wine-making company to his son Pavel. It is worthy of note that Putin's remarks about Abrau-Dyurso caused its shares to rise on the Moscow Exchange by ten percent, to 220 rubles per one share.
Alexey Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) released its documentary about Putin's palace on January 19. As of the evening of January 25, the video has received over 86 million views. The film tells of a complex of buildings in the area of the city of Gelendzhik, on Cape Idokopas, the Black Sea coast. The area of the main building makes up 17,700 square meters, whereas the area of the entire site is 68 hectares. The video shows the plan of the complex, as well as pictures of buildings and videos made from a drone. The АИK evaluated the construction of the facility at 100 billion rubles, while the cost of the construction of the main building of the complex - at $1 billion.
The FBK also linked almost 300 hectares of vineyards, chateaus and wineries in the neighborhood with the complex as well. Part of the land, according to FBK, belongs to or is leased fromLazurnaya Yagoda firm. In 2018, Lazurnaya Yagoda changed its owner to the company that was co-founded by billionaire Gennady Timchenko. Prior to that, the asset was part of the Abrau-Dyurso Group of Companies of the Boris Titov family.