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The Fisherman’s Hut: Inside the Luxurious Russian Dacha Linked to Vladimir Putin | Russia

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It’s a level of extravagance that would put the Czars to shame.

There are the bidets costing $10,800 (£8,800) each and the shower heads costing $4,600 a piece. Then there’s the $110,000 Fior di Bosco marble floor and indoor pool with a decorative waterfall flowing from the first floor. No expense has been spared. And that, according to leaked emails, is simply the “Garden House.”

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

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While UK government analysis suggests the Russian president has officially registered only a few assets in his name, including a small apartment in St Petersburg, two 1950s Soviet-era cars, a trailer and a small garage In addition to a presidential salary of around £110,000 a year, the channel reported that this was where Vladimir Putin chose to slip away to rest from the stresses of life in the Kremlin.

There were two houses, in fact. One with a grassy roof and helipad. But otherwise, the resort seemed relatively unassuming, with the futuristic wood-and-glass fisherman’s shack furnished inside with cream Ikea-style sofas and green bucket chairs. The accompanying building’s grass roof was said to be a nod to the need to stay out of sight of Western spies in the sky.

An illustration in an architecture brochure of a proposed seating area at Garden House, neighboring the Fisherman’s Hut in Karelia. Photography: Complete House Design

Today, however, thanks to a leak of thousands of emails sent by two construction companies, obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Russian-language news site Meduza, a far more spectacular picture has emerged. of the complex. of luxury real estate being developed around the Fisherman’s Hut.

Floor plans, blueprints and interior design schematics reveal that construction on a neighboring six-bedroom Garden House began in 2021 and is adorned with semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, a deep blue gemstone said to be It provides healing properties. and labradorite, a luminous crystal that some swear relieves anxiety and stress.

A high-profile Russian interior design agency, FullHouseDesign, has been leading the project, according to documents contained in the leaked emails. The owner of the business told OCCRP that she did not recall being involved, but she did not agree with the idea that the marble floors were extravagant.

“If you look at our website, there are a lot of projects where we use marble flooring just like any other reputable architecture agency would,” he said. The woman declined to comment on construction costs.

fisherman's hut images
Architectural drawings of the exterior of the Garden House neighboring the Fisherman’s Hut in Karelia. Photography: Complete House Design

There is a second new building on the surrounding land described in the Russian land registry in 2018 as a “barn”. It is, in fact, according to the leaks, a modern two-story building that features what appears to be a large space for entertaining, with an open-plan dining room measuring over 200 square meters.

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

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

Construction also began last year on a separate two-story building containing more kitchen facilities and storage space for fish, meat and vegetables. It has four modest rooms with rollaway beds that could be used to accommodate staff. There is also a cattle farm nearby, land records show, where steers are raised to produce Kobe beef, a local source said.

The ‘barn’ has the benefit of two small pools, but for those who are a bit more adventurous in their bathing habits, a path leads to a natural waterfall in Lake Lagoda, where there is a cozy gazebo under which to shade from the sun. . .

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

Putin denies being the real beneficiary of the complex. Security guards patrolling their perimeter fence have been known to sell lake trout to locals when the bosses are away, but offer no comment when asked who they work for. There is nothing on the paper to suggest a direct connection to the president.

But for nearly two decades, Putin has faced accusations of secretly amassing vast wealth and lavish assets through proxies, fueled by a series of revelations in leaks like the Pandora Papers about the fortunes of those closest to him.

And there are enough clues to ask questions about this sprawling property. “The locals serve there as guards only when the site is empty,” said a local fisherman. “When high-end guests visit, locals are usually replaced by FSO [federal protection service].”

An architectural rendering of the fisherman's hut.
An architectural rendering of the fisherman’s hut. Photography: Architecture workshop of E.Yu.Merkuriev

Fisherman’s Hut is registered to a company called Prime, which is owned by Support of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, a non-profit association founded by Yury Kovalchuk and his son Boris.

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

Surrounding land is also owned by companies linked to Kovalchuk and a second businessman who has been under US sanctions since 2016.

Representatives of the companies owned by Kovalchuk and Dedov also appear to use a common email domain name, LLCInvest.ru, hosted by a web provider with close ties 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 person linked also appears to use the LLCInvest.ru domain name.

The Guardian, OCCRP and Meduza revealed this week that the LLCInvest email address has been linked to a number of other luxury properties, yachts and vineyards that have reportedly been put to Putin’s use. None of the owners or founders of the associated companies and nonprofits have responded to requests for comment. The purpose of the common email service, or the motivation for the apparent cooperation on logistics and personnel issues, is unclear.

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

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