Ruleaks.net, a website that publishes Russian translations of Wikileaks cables, ran its first original leak on 18th January, 2011 and became an online hit this week with the publication of the first photographs of a luxury mansion linked to Russian Prime Minister Vladmir Putin. No proof exists that the mansion in the pictures is really Putin’s, a residence that RuLeaks.net says was built on the Black Sea at a cost of $1 billion for the prime minister’s personal use. However, in a few hours, a heavy DdoS attack was launched against the site and is still raging.
The existence of the ‘Putin Palace’ was discussed last year by Washington Post. According to a Russian whistleblower, Sergey Kolesnikov, the palace was predominantly paid for with money donated by Russian businessmen for the use of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The funds have come “mainly through a combination of corruption, bribery and theft,” charges Kolesnikov, a businessman who until November 2009 worked for one of the companies he alleges was investing money for Putin.
In a remarkable open letter to Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, Kolesnikov lays out the story of the Prime Minister. “The corruption is pervasive, and it is disgraceful and crippling for our great country,” writes Kolesnikov, citing a Transparency International study claiming that corruption, overall, totals $250 billion to $300 billion annually. He calls on Medvedev to “show to our entire nation that everyone is equal before the law, even prime-ministers.”
Despite of all these allegations, a spokesman for Putin declined to comment. Kolesnikov is one of those brave souls who raises his voice against corruption which is a main cause for the crisis in Russia. After researching a little on the wealthy businessman it can be revealed that through the open letter, he has nothing to gain personally and much to lose.
The financing of Putin’s hideaway, as Kolesnikov explains it, is a complicated story that centers on a man named Nikolai Shamalov. Kolesnikov says he began working with Shamalov in 2000 after Putin became president. The palace project began in 2005 with the acquisition of state land near Praskoveevka. Shamalov eventually owned this “Project South,” as it was known, through several front companies, the letter alleges. Kolesnikov says that he regularly reviewed invoices and other financial records and that by October 2009 projected spending had reached $1 billion.
Kolesnikov says Putin was briefed regularly on his hidden wealth. “Two or three times a year, during 8 years, at Shamalov’s direction, I prepared financial summaries for him to personally update President Putin on his investments,” he alleges in his letter. “Immediately following each of these meetings, Shamalov would provide me with Putin’s comments and instructions for the use of funds.”
It’s a fact of life that in many nations, political leaders divert a share of private business deals for their own account, and Russians have gossiped about such corruption for the past two decades.
He further goes on to reveal, ‘the palace’s construction was carried out by ‘Spetsstroy of Russia’, Russia’s largest state construction company.
The pictures easily show the amount of money that has been splurged on the interiors, which include an amphitheater and three helipads.
The entire English translated letter written by Dr. Sergey Kolesnikov can be viewed here.