Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has accused a top government official of hiding his ownership of a London apartment valued at $18 million dollars, dwarfing the civil servant's declared income.
Navalny, an anticorruption crusader, posted a British land registry document on his website on July 23 showing that First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov last year transferred ownership of the apartment to a company he controls with his wife.
Navalny wrote that the apartment was listed at 11.44 million pounds ($18 million), far exceeding the $900,000 in income declared last year by Shuvalov and his wife.
In his 2014 declaration of income and assets, Shuvalov declared the rental of a house in Austria as well as a 483-square-meter apartment in London.
Navalny said, however, that the documentation he published on his website confirmed his suspicion that Shuvalov's claim that he "rents" the London apartment was "fictitious."
"Shuvalov is renting to himself," Navalny wrote.
Shuvalov's spokesman, Aleksandr Machevsky, said in an interview with the radio station Govorit Moskva that the revelation is "nothing new." He said Shuvalov had previously outlined the structure of his property holdings to Russian media.
Shuvalov said in a January 2014 interview with the Russian magazine The New Times that he owned a house in Austria and other property indirectly through holding companies.
Navalny rose to prominence by publishing details of what he alleges are corrupt dealings by Russian officials and executives at state-owned companies.
Two Russian lawmakers have resigned in recent years following disclosures he published involving the officials' foreign property holdings.
In 2013, the head of the State Duma's ethics Committee, Vladimir Pekhtin, stepped down after Navalny and his allies revealed that he owned real estate worth an estimated $2 million in the United States.
Also that year, Russian Senator Vitaly Malkin stepped down after coming under scrutiny over revelations that Navalny published about his Israeli citizenship and property abroad that did not appear on the official's financial disclosure forms.
A driving force behind antigovernment street protests in Moscow in 2011-12, Navalny garnered some 27 percent of the vote in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election. He lost to the Kremlin-backed incumbent, Sergei Sobyanin, in a ballot he called rife with fraud.
Navalny is currently serving two suspended sentences following convictions on theft and embezzlement charges. He and supporters say the prosecutions were groundless and are part of a Kremlin campaign of retribution for his opposition activities.