Near the Finnish border, Russian President Vladimir Putin has covertly constructed an opulent estate that includes two $10,000 bidets, a “stolen” waterfall, and possibly even its air defense system.
The vast 1,000-acre facility is tucked away in the northern Karelian forests, barely 20 miles from Finland, according to a Russian investigative group called the Dossier Centre.
According to the outlet, the lair, which is situated on the shores of Lake Ladoga, also has a beef and trout farm, two helicopter pads, yacht piers, and three contemporary-style houses.
Video footage reveals that it is guarded by drone defense systems, barbed-wire fencing, and a round-the-clock security detail. The only way to get to the compound is by air or boat.
Since Finland joined NATO in April, ties between Russia and its neighbors have deteriorated, with the Kremlin threatening “countermeasures” and relocating nuclear-capable missiles closer to the border in retaliation.
Finland closed its border crossings in November after accusing Russia of smuggling hundreds of migrants from the Middle East and Africa across its borders.
The report states that The Barn, The Fisherman’s Hut, and The Garden House are the names of the three residences situated on the estate. According to reports, the lavish bidets, shower heads that can cost up to $4,400 apiece, and $108,000 Italian Fior di Bosco marble floors are all featured in the properties.
On the picturesque grounds is also a brewery equipped with approximately $380,000 worth of Austrian brewing machinery, which can produce 82 pints of beer daily.
Putin reportedly only comes to the estate once a year, presumably to let off steam, according to locals.
In a video report, a Dossier Center reporter stated, “There is no doubt the president relaxes here.” “Entrances are blocked off, neighboring islands are sealed off, and FSO [Federal Guard Service] employees replace the local security during his visits.”
The outlet was able to obtain drone footage that showed off a waterfall that was purportedly taken from Skerries National Park, where the property was constructed.
The video shows a raised embankment near the back of the main property that could be used to station a surface-to-air defense system, a feature present on some of Putin’s other properties.
The report claims that the estate was funded by businesses connected to Putin’s oligarch friends with ties to the Kremlin. The estate was registered in the name of Yury Kovalchuk, the chairman of Bank Rossiya and one of Putin’s “cashiers” and “personal banker,” according to the US Treasury.
The Russian president’s real estate is allegedly overseen by Kovalchuk, who has been under US and EU sanctions since 2014.
Kovalchuk owns a hotel in the region, and Roman Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea Football Club in the UK, owns a nearby estate. Abramovich was forced to sell the team due to Western sanctions stemming from his ties to Putin.
The Dossier Center states that work on the site started more than ten years ago and was first mentioned in 2016.
Even though Putin has accumulated one of the biggest fortunes globally since taking office as prime minister of Russia in 1999, there are reportedly very few assets registered in his name. Since 2012, he has served as president.
According to testimony given in July 2017 to the Senate Judiciary Committee by American financier Bill Brody, who oversaw one of the largest investment firms in Russia from 1996 to 2005, Putin had “accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains.”
The majority of the Russian president’s wealth is dispersed among his family’s and friends’ accounts, invested in opulent homes both inside and outside of Russia, and hidden away in offshore tax havens.