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Crime & Justice

Documentary spotlights Putin's billion-dollar Black Sea 'bribery' palace

By Al-Mashareq and AFP

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A aerial view of Russian President Vladimir Putin's 'palace' on the Black Sea is shown on opposition leader Alexei Navalny's blog. [Navalny.com]

MOSCOW -- An investigation published earlier this week into a Black Sea property owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin is once again putting the spotlight on the Russian leader's ties to rampant corruption.

The investigation, published on opposition leader Alexei Navalny's blog with an accompanying two-hour YouTube video recorded before his return to Russia, claims the property cost $1.35 billion and was paid for "with the largest bribe ever".

The report alleges that the property, situated along Russia's Black Sea, is 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino inside a 17,691-square-metre mansion, along with an ice rink and vineyards.

The video investigation can be seen here on YouTube, and as of Monday (January 25) has been viewed over 86 million times since it was released last Tuesday.

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Another view of Putin's palace. [Navalny.com]

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) owns about 7,000 hectares of land surrounding the property and the complex was financed by Putin's close allies, including Igor Sechin, chief of Russian oil giant Rosneft, and billionaire tycoon Gennady Timchenko, according to the investigation.

A mini-state for a tsar

"It is a truly separate state within Russia. And in this state there is a single and irreplaceable tsar. Putin," Navalny said.

The investigation was published a day after a court sentenced Navalny, whom police detained after returning from Germany for the first time since he was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in Siberia in August, to 30 days in jail.

More than 3,700 protestors were detained in over 120 cities across Russia this weekend after Navalny called his supporters to take to the streets.

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