When he’s not invading foreign countries for his own benefit, Russian President Vladimir Putin may have retreated to his own palace on the Black Sea. However, the property, complete with a casino, erotic nightclub and other amenities, might become a hotel in the future.
Very close to the Russian resort town of Gelendzhik, the imposing palace “officially” belongs to a senior official of Gazprom, the Russian state oil company. However, Kremlin critics actually link it to Putin.
The mystery surrounding the so-called “Putin Palace” has been growing over the past few years. It’s not lost under a canopy of trees or cloaking technology, either, as Google Maps clearly displays the property through its eyes in the sky.
Putin’s Peculiar Palace
In January 2021, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published an extensive investigation titled Putin’s Palace. It was, in his estimation, a story of the greatest bribe. He added that the mansion housed all kinds of luxuries as a gift to Putin from his wealthy friends.
Among other eccentricities, the property has a casino, a swim bar and an erotic hall (or possibly an amphitheater). In addition to the main building, the property has a church and a guest house with 11 rooms. As Navalny indicated in his documentary, the palace reportedly has a value of €1.2 billion (US$1.21 billion).
Prior to Arkady Rotenberg, Putin’s former judo partner, allegedly owning the property, Russian oligarch Aleksandr Ponomarenko acquired the property. He reportedly helped establish and build the house for his friend.
Rotenberg is one of several people in the Russian president’s circle, and the West sanctioned him even before the war broke out in Ukraine. His son, Igor, is a majority shareholder in a Gazprom drilling company.
Rotenberg, with an estimated fortune of €2.12 billion (US$2.13 billion), said in a statement last year that he owns the property. He added that workers will complete a renovation in a few years and that it will then become a hotel.
The global political stage has often accused top Russian government officials and oligarchs of hoarding state assets like oil after the breakup of the Soviet Union. They then used these assets for personal wealth, power and influence. Furthermore, the relationship between Putin and those individuals is well-known as a result.
Unexpected Enemy Overtakes Palace
The Kremlin has always denied all the claims made about this palace, which previously succumbed to an unexpected enemy. However, the statements of several construction workers renovating the mansion between 2005 and 2020 seem to confirm the opulence it holds.
As explained in statements to the BBC last year, the palace had many hints of the luxurious set that Navalny showed in his documentary, but most of the furniture had disappeared. “Much of the palace was dismantled,” the worker told the British broadcaster.
In addition to the renovation work, the palace needed a thorough scrubbing more than once. Per one of the workers’ accounts, “the walls and ceilings were covered with green mold, in some places, even black. It affected the entire building. We were shocked.”
The Kremlin also confirmed this information. It told the BBC that the palace was steadily used for several years before the mold and mildew began creeping in.
There is no official confirmation that Putin owns – or ever owned – the mansion. However, there are reportedly enough links to make the connection. Whether or not he’ll see it come back to life as a hotel is questionable.
Investigative journalist John Sweeney thinks he’s extremely ill, saying he “looks like a “hamster.” However, most military analysts believe he’s not that bad off.
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