London, Feb 16 (IANS) A businessman has accused Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of having a lavish 600 million pounds ($970 million) palace, which he built for himself near a Black Sea resort with the proceeds of “corruption, bribery and theft”, a media report said.
The claim, made in a letter to Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, was boosted Monday after the Novaya Gazeta newspaper obtained, what it said, was an authenticated copy of the original contract for the palace signed in 2005 by Vladimir Kozhin, the Russian presidential property manager, The Telegraph reported.
Putin, who is presently Russian prime minister, was country’s president at the time.
Set in 74 hectares of prime land near the Black Sea coast with its own vineyard, the palace is reported to be almost eight million square feet and has its own helipad.
The palace’s other features include a summer amphitheatre, a casino, an indoor cinema, swimming pools, a gym and a clock tower.
The businessman, Sergei Kolesnikov, who claims the palace belongs to Putin, has likened the structure to a palace built for Russia’s Tsars outside St. Petersburg.
He said that the Russian prime minister had personally approved the design and materials.
Kolesnikov has called on President Medvedev to investigate his controversial claim.
“A palace is being built on the Black Sea coast for the personal use of the Russian prime minister,” Kolesnikov wrote in his original letter.
“As things stand, the cost of the palace is $1 billion. The funds were mostly raised through a combination of corruption, bribery and theft,” he said.
He further stated in his letter to the President that it was in President Medvedev’s powers, to show ordinary Russians that everyone was equal before the law including Putin.
Putin’s spokesman has, however, dismissed the allegation out of hand, as has Kozhin, the Kremlin official whose signature allegedly appeared on the original contract.