Fisherman’s hut: inside the luxurious Russian dacha attached to Vladimir Putin | Russia

Written by Javed Iqbal

It is a level of extravagance that would put the Tsars to shame.

There are the bidets that cost $ 10,800 (£ 8,800) each and $ 4,600 per. piece shower heads. Then there is a floor consisting of $ 110,000 Fior di Bosco marble and the indoor pool with a decorative waterfall flowing from the first floor. There is no saving on costs. And according to leaked emails, it’s just “The Garden House”.

Six years ago, the Russian TV channel Dozhd reported that a building, humbly described by architects as the “fisherman’s hut” deep in the forests of the northern Russian region of Karelia, was widely referred to by locals as “Putin’s dacha” or vacation home.

While British government analyzes suggest that the Russian president has officially registered only a few assets in his name, including a small apartment in St. Petersburg. Petersburg, two Soviet cars from the 1950s, a trailer and a small garage, plus a presidential salary of approx. 110,000 a year, the channel reported that it was here Vladimir Putin chose to slip for a break from the stress of the Kremlin’s life.

There were actually two houses. One with a roof covered with grass and a helicopter pad. But otherwise the complex appeared relatively modest, with the futuristic Fisherman’s hut in wood and glass decorated with Ikea-style cream sofas and green bucket chairs. The grass roof of the accompanying building is said to be a nod to the need to stay out of sight of Western spies in the sky.

Pictures of fishing hut
An illustration in an architecture brochure of a proposed living area in Havehuset next to Fiskerhytten in Karelia. Photo: Full House Design

Today, however, courtesy of a leak of thousands of emails sent by two construction companies, obtained by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Russian-language news site Meduzaa somewhat more spectacular picture has emerged of the complex of luxury properties being developed around Fiskerhytten.

Floor plans, drawings and interior design schemes reveal that construction of an adjoining six-bedroom garden house began in 2021, and that it is throughout clad in semi-precious stones, such as lapis lazuli, a deep blue gemstone said to provide healing properties, and labradorite, a luminous crystal, which some swear by to relieve anxiety and stress.

An advanced Russian interior design agency, FullHouseDesign, has been leading the project, according to documents contained in the leaked emails. The business owner told OCCRP that she did not recall any involvement but took issue with the idea that marble floors were extravagant.

“If you look at our website, there are many projects where we use marble flooring, just like any other respectable architectural firm would,” she said. The woman declined to comment on the construction costs.

Pictures of fishing hut
Architect’s drawings of the outside of the Garden House next to the Fisherman’s Hut in Karelia. Photo: Full House Design

There is another new building on the surrounding lands, which in the Russian cadastral register in 2018 is described as a “barn”. In fact, according to the leak, it is a modern two-storey building with what appears to be a large space for entertainment, with an open dining area of ​​more than 200 square meters.

A glass section separates the large dining room from a professional kitchen equipped with a grill, a tandoor oven, a Japanese-style carpet grill and a smokehouse.

There is a private brewery equipped with Austrian brewery equipment worth € 345,000 (£ 296,000) that can produce 47 liters of beer a day and a tea room overlooking Lake Ladoga on the second floor.

Construction was also started last year by a separate two-storey building with additional kitchen facilities and storage space for fish, meat and vegetables. It has four modest bedrooms with folding beds that can be used to accommodate staff. There is also a nearby cattle farm, land records show, where steers are bred to produce Kobe beef, a local source said.

The “barn” has the advantage of two small swimming pools, but for those who are a little more adventurous in their bathing habits, a path leads down to a natural waterfall into Lake Ladoga, where there is a cozy gazebo under which you can shelter for the sun. .

The waterfall used to be a popular tourist attraction, but today it is strictly forbidden to the public. The general construction work is estimated in one document at 187 million rubles (2.8 million pounds).

Putin denies that he is the true recipient of the complex. The security guards patrolling its fence have been known to sell trout from the lake to locals when the bosses are gone, but offered no comment when asked who they work for. There is nothing on paper to suggest a direct connection to the president.

But for nearly two decades, Putin has faced accusations of secretly accumulating enormous wealth and luxury assets through proxies, driven by a series of leaks in leaks such as the Pandora newspapers about the fortunes of his loved ones.

And there are sufficient clues that questions can be asked about this expansive property. “The locals only serve there as guards when the place is empty,” said a local fisherman. “When high-level guests come to visit, the locals are usually replaced by FSO [federal protection service]. “

An architectural rendering of Fiskerhytten.
An architectural rendering of Fiskerhytten. Photo: E.Yu.Merkuriev’s architectural workshop

Fisherman’s Hut itself is registered in a company called Prime, which is owned by the Support of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, a not-for-profit partnership founded by Yury Kovalchuk and his son Boris.

Kovalchuk senior, who is under Western sanctions, is a close Putin ally and the main shareholder of Bank Rossiya, nicknamed “Putin’s Bank” because of its reputation for carrying out the Kremlin’s bid. Bank Rossiya is also under sanctions from the US, the EU and the UK.

The surrounding lands are further owned by companies affiliated with Kovalchuk and a second-hand businessman who has been under U.S. sanctions since 2016.

Representatives of the companies owned by Kovalchuk and the other man also appear to use a common e-mail domain name, LLCInvest.ru, which is hosted by a web provider with close links to Bank Rossiya. The actual construction of the complex was led by employees of a non-profit organization, Revival of Marine Traditions, where at least one affiliate also appears to be using the LLCInvest.ru domain name.

The Guardian, OCCRP and Meduza revealed this week The LLCInvest email address has been linked to a host of other luxury properties, yachts and vineyards that have reportedly been put up for Putin’s use. None of the owners or founders of the affiliates and non-profit organizations have responded to requests for comment. It is unclear what the purpose of the joint e-mail service is, or the motivation for the apparent collaboration on personnel and logistical issues.

A spokesman for the Kremlin said: “The President of the Russian Federation is in no way affiliated with or affiliated with the objects and organizations you have mentioned.”

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Javed Iqbal

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