Vladimir Putin created a “tsar’s village” of properties for his daughters and ex-wife around his official residence in an elite district west of Moscow, investigative reporters have claimed.
The luxury houses were financed via companies linked to Putin associates and Kremlin-friendly oligarchs, the Proekt reporting collective said. The four mansions and Putin’s residence, the Novo-Ogaryovo estate, are situated along the Rublevka highway, a wealthy neighborhood that is home to government officials, celebrities and tycoons.
Details of the residences come from a leak of emails between Katerina Tikhonova, 36, the younger of Putin’s two daughters, and Kirill Shamalov, 41, her ex-husband, who is the son of one of Putin’s friends. In the correspondence, the couple discuss refurbishments totaling an estimated $9 million, including a $120,000 bar with a marble surround and a $72,000 gold-plated chandelier.
The Kremlin has not commented on the Proekt investigation.
Shamalov and Tikhonova were married from 2013 to about 2016, although their church marriage was not officially registered. Proekt said this appeared to be part of a strategy to muddy ties between Tikhonova and the property acquired for her use near Putin’s residence.
Two houses to the east of Novo-Ogaryovo were allegedly bought in 2006 by a Cypriot company named Ermira. The firm is officially owned by a Russian lawyer, but sources told Proekt that in reality it belonged to Putin.
The couple discuss refurbishments totaling an estimated $9 million, including a $120,000 bar with a marble surround.
The property in the Usovo-Plyus settlement, worth an estimated 350 million rubles ($4.5 million), was for the use of Maria Vorontsova, 38, Putin’s elder daughter, after her marriage to a Dutch businessman, Proekt said.
Just to the south, in Usovo-3, two more properties were reportedly purchased by Panamanian offshore companies and then passed to the ownership of Shamalov after his marriage to Tikhonova.
The couple’s correspondence shows that the main residence transferred to Shamalov was a 19,000 sq ft four-story mansion, on a 65,000 sq ft plot with gardens and a residence for staff, including cleaners and a driver.
It had a spa, a library and an “acrobatics room”, apparently for use by Tikhonova, who has competed in the boogie-woogie class of acrobatic rock and roll dancing. A manager for the property was tasked with arranging singing lessons for the couple, and Tikhonova was also learning to play the harp.
In 2015 a contractor complained in an email to Shamalov that a $1.1 million payment for some of the refurbishments was outstanding.
Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, 65, Putin’s ex-wife and the mother of Tikhonova and Vorontsova, was also found a place in the “tsar’s village”.
She and Putin announced their divorce in June 2013 but the president promised publicly to help his ex-wife find a new husband and she duly became the partner of Artur Ocheretny, a businessman two decades her junior.
It had a spa, a library and an “acrobatics room”, apparently for use by Tikhonova, who has competed in the boogie-woogie class of acrobatic rock and roll dancing.
In December 2013, Shamalov sent Ocheretny a document handing him legal control over the second four-story villa in Usovo-3 — thus making the property available to Shamalov’s mother-in-law, Putin’s ex-wife. Shamalov had to transfer the properties back to Kremlin-linked associates after his divorce from Tikhonova and it is not known how they have been used since.
Putin, 70, has always been secretive about his family and does not admit publicly that his two daughters are Tikhonova and Vorontsova.
“My daughters live in Russia and studied only in Russia, I am proud of them,” he told reporters in 2015. “They speak three foreign languages fluently. I never discuss my family with anyone.”
Just last month, residents in settlements along the Rublevka highway were rattled when five alleged Ukrainian drones came down in the area. One of them crashed in Ilinskoye and another in Razdory, about two and a half and four miles respectively from Novo-Ogaryovo.
It is unclear whether the drones were targeting Putin’s residence or other government-linked buildings.
Tom Parfitt is a Moscow-based journalist covering Russia for The Times of London. He is also the author of the forthcoming memoir High Caucasus: A Mountain Quest in Russia’s Haunted Hinterland