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Report Says Luxury Perks Pile Up For Putin

The report says Vladimir Putin has 43 aircraft, 15 helicopters, four yachts, and a fleet of luxury cars available for his use.
The report says Vladimir Putin has 43 aircraft, 15 helicopters, four yachts, and a fleet of luxury cars available for his use.
A new report by Russian opposition leaders accuses President Vladimir Putin of enjoying a lifestyle that "can be compared to that of a Persian Gulf monarch or a flamboyant oligarch."

The report is sarcastically titled "The Life of a Galley Slave," which is how Putin once described his life as president.

The authors of the report -- opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk, a member of the Solidarity movement -- say that during Putin's 12 years in power, the perks that the president enjoys have significantly increased.

The report says the president has 20 residences and dozens of jets and luxury cars at his disposal.

It asserts that the luxurious lifestyle is the reason Putin "maniacally clings to power."

The report includes pictures of presidential residences, aircraft, yachts, and cars.

Nemtsov, presenting the report at a news conference in Moscow, said putting all that state property at the disposal of one person was "immoral" and "criminal."

"I disagree with the claim that controlling and disposing of this kind of state property for the luxury of one person is normal," Nemtsov said. "I think it is immoral, it is criminal, and it is unacceptable in a poor country."

$1 Billion In Aircraft

It says nine of the 20 residences available were added to the official list of presidential residences during Putin's time in office. It says the restoration of some of them, including a Czarist-era palace near St. Petersburg, cost tens of millions of dollars.

The report also says Putin has 43 aircraft, 15 helicopters, four yachts, and a fleet of luxury cars available for his use. It says the aircraft alone are worth an estimated $1 billion.

It says Putin has a collection of 11 expensive watches with an estimated retail worth of $687,000, "about six times Putin's annual salary," according to the report.

PHOTO GALLERY: Putin's Bling

The report includes enlarged photographs of Putin's wrists during meetings and public appearances, revealing a variety of expensive watches.

Nemtsov saw that as an indication of corruption.

"[Putin's] watch collection, which is worth 22 million rubles [$700,000] and is six times Putin's annual salary, is his private property," he said. "It is not an idle question how someone who declared an annual income of 3.6 million rubles could acquire such a collection. We have some thoughts about it. We think it is corruption. Either he received a 500,000-ruble watch as a gift and never declared it -- so it was a bribe -- or his income doesn't match his declaration."

The report says Putin is enjoying all that luxury in a country where "more than 20 million people hardly make ends meet."

Difficult To Find A Publisher

There has been no official Kremlin reaction yet to the report, which was presented by the authors on August 28 in Moscow.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary, was earlier quoted by Russia's "Kommersant" daily as saying the residences, aircraft, and cars were government property used lawfully by the president.

A spokeswoman for the Solidarity opposition movement, Olga Shorina, was quoted as saying the report had been printed in Russia but that finding a publisher had been "extremely difficult," apparently because of concerns about potential retaliation by the authorities for helping provide exposure to the information.

She said the report has a print run of about 5,000 copies. Organizers say they are hoping for wider distribution through the Internet.

With reporting by "The New York Times" and
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