Lanfranco Cirillo is sitting in front of his computer in shorts and a polo shirt. It’s hot in Dubai and he’s about to drive out to the seaside. The architect, who has spent decades providing Moscow’s super rich with villas and Italian-inspired designs, left cold Russia long ago. He has even closed his architecture firm there.
But people in Russia haven’t forgotten Cirillo’s work. That’s in part thanks to opposition politician Alexei Navalny and his YouTube film “A Palace for Putin.” The subject of the film is a luxurious mansion on the Black Sea coast that was built, Navalny claims, by members of Putin’s circle of friends specifically for the Russian president. The film has been viewed a spectacular 113 million times, and a quarter of all Russians have seen it, according to surveys. The architect of the palace? Lanfranco Cirillo.