Boris Releases His Eighth (?) Dud

I can’t be bothered deconstructing it as I did with the demographic section of Boris Nemtsov’s last (seventh) white paper. But there are some things to be said about its claims as regards Putin’s lifestyle and its coverage in the Western media.

(1) The definitions of what constitutes one of Putin’s “residences” is very loose. For instance, take this from Fred Weir at the CSM:

Nine of Putin’s state domiciles, including the lavish Konstaninov palace in St. Petersburg, have been constructed recently on his orders

The problem is that I have been to Konstantinovo Palace in 2003… as part of a tourist group. $250 million was indeed spent on it, but this was a Tsarist era palace that had been damaged in WW2 and otherwise fallen into neglect during the Soviet years. What happened is that it was repaired and reconstructed in the early 2000’s. It was used for official functions and conferences – it was the centerpiece of the G8 Summit in Saint-Petersburg in 2006 – but when it isn’t, you could book an excursion for a small fee. (The guide made a joke about how the bridges on the moat surrounding the palace could be drawn up to imprison visiting VIP’s who drew Putin’s displeasure).

Here is a picture of me (awfully dressed) inside a room, outfitted to look like a ship’s cabin, where Putin and Bush discussed stuff on several occasions.

So yes, Putin does have “access” to 20 odd residences. It’s not however like they are his personally and nobody else can go there. Speaking of Konstantinovo (again, as I was actually there) it has many tourists, and an art museum is also being built there.

(2) An additional point is that this is all paid out of the Budget for Presidential Affairs, which is set at about $2.5bn per year. Is that excessive? It is from this account that all the suits, watches, yachts, residence construction and maintenance, etc, etc are funded. Is it excessive compared to other, similarly-sized countries? I do not know. As Mark Chapman pointed out, it’s not as if some other leaders of pretty respectable European countries don’t have expensive tastes in watches.

What about that sawed-off elf-eared president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy? Sticking with the swanky-watch theme, Sarkozy has adazzling collection, ranging from his el cheapo $5, 245.00 Breitling Navtimer through the lovely $32,500.00 Girard-Perregaux that even-lovelier wife Carla Bruni gave him for his 55th birthday (the model pictured in his collection is not the same as the full-calendar automatic  he was given), all the way up to his $118,199.99 Breguet Classique Tourbillon. Sweet, Mr. President – you have impeccable taste, both in women and in watches.

This is not to say that this is a good thing. I don’t particularly care, but I can see why some more left leaning folks might have a problem with it. It’s pretty clear that in the general scheme of things the Russian Presidential Administration is definitely on the more profligate side of the spectrum. However, the key difference from the “playboy oligarchs” and “Persian Gulf sheikhs” with whom Nemtsov compares Putin with is that all these objects do not belong to him personally – as he himself begrudgingly admits:

The report does not dwell on the question of Mr. Putin’s personal wealth, but suggests that it may not be as enormous as many have suggested. The reason he “maniacally clings to power,” the report says, is the “atmosphere of wealth and luxury he has become accustomed to, and categorically does not want to part with.”

(3) As in additional note, it is noteworthy that all of Nemtsov’s arguments in “Life of a Galley Slave” were reprinted and discussed in the Russian media. At this point it need hardly be said but this would never happen in anything resembling a real dictatorship.

Addendum 8/30: Commentator apc27 wrote:

K.F., it is not all that difficult to go to the site of Presidential Affairs Department:http://www.udprf.ru/ and find that it employs 50000 people and looks after the residences and enables the activities of ALL branches of the government of the Russian Federation, including the judiciary and the legislature.

So essentially, these $2.5 billion are spent on maintenance and activities of the top representatives of all 3 branches of government. In that context the amount of money seems much more reasonable, is it not? Now, next time, would it not be better to spend 5 extra minutes on research, rather than look REALLY silly, spluttering with outrage over nothing?

50,000 top bureaucrats? 20 residences? A fleet of airplanes? Everything becomes pretty standard and reasonable now.

Comments

  1. The French President lives in the Elysee Palace. He has use of the Trianon in the gardens of Versailles and the chateau of Rambouillet. For big events he can also use Versailles itself. The US President has the White House and Camp David. He also has use of Airforce One, which is far and away the most luxurious aircraft in the world. The British Prime Minister has 10, Downing Street and a magnificent Tudor country house at Chequers. I am not even going to bother to list the palaces the Queen has though as a hereditary monarch presumably she is in a different category. However as head of her government the British Prime Minister can use any of her palaces if he wants to and is a regular visitor to all of them. Elsewhere the Italian President occupies in Rome what is said to be the biggest palace in Europe whilst the Chinese leaders occupy as their walled compound what was formerly an Imperial Park at Zhongnanhai.

    There is nothing unusual or out of the way about the residencies at Putin’s disposal and frankly they are more modest than most.

    Soviet leaders lived more austerely and were regularly ridiculed for it. I can remember watching a BBC news broadcaster ridiculing Gromyko for his ill cut suit and insinuating that Russia could not afford to get its foreign minister a decent tailor. On another occasion the British press had a field day laughing at Gorbachev’s shoes, which looked like they were made of plastic. Going back earlier still, when Khrushchev met the leaders of the western powers in Geneva in the 1950s he was laughed at because of his baggy pants. When Brezhnev took Nixon on holiday with him to Oreander in the Crimea in the 1970s the western media jeered that it looked like a third class hotel. Needless to say all this ridicule went hand in hand with all sorts of farfetched and exaggerated claims about the supposedly opulent lifestyles Soviet leaders corruptly lived in private with nobody seemingly noticing the contradiction.

    Speaking personally I would prefer that leaders followed a more modest lifestyle. Russia is however a great power and it is hardly surprising that it makes an effort to present its leader accordingly.

  2. Wasn’t Nemtsov one of “the many who have suggested” – three, most probably – Putin’s enormous personal wealth? Is he climbing down now?

  3. Your attempt at whataboutism is extremely poor. Before last prez elections in France René Dosière (Socialist MP) wrote a Sarkozy-bashing book ‘L’argent de l’État’ where he claimed that Sarkozy’s annual budget is $150 million. That is about 1/20 of Putin’s. 1/20!

    But what is the biggest difference? In France, Sarkozy’s use of public accounts for private purposes caused a scandal and later he lost in fair elections and now he is facing legal probes into corruption. But in Russia people think this is all normal and ok, Putin elects himself a president and odds for seeing him in court are zero. So insted of about whatboutism, which invariably fails, you should argue that if Russians like their leaders to spend absolutely ridiculous amounts of taxpayers’ money for their palaces and botox injections so be it.

    • Without knowing further details (just Sarkozy? Or also maintenance of the 20 residencies, which alone account for $1bn? Thousands of senior bureaucrats? – because all of these are included in the accounts of the Russian Presidential Admin) about the specifics of how it works in France fruitful comparisons with Russia are not possible.

      The mere cost of operating Air Force One for a year is about equivalent to $150m, and luxurious as it is, I doubt it comes anywhere near the sum total of what France spends yearly on Versailles, the Elysee Palace, the top few thousand bureaucrats, etc, etc.

      • If fruitful comparisions are not possible without knowing the specifics then why did you start whatabouting about watch collections in the first place? That is just a tiny part of all the costs and, you know, before fruitfully comparing only just Putin’s and Sarkozy’s collections we should know the exact details and background. How many? What makes? Which models? What price? Who paid? Who owns?

        Anyway, as I tried to point about, the main issue here is not really what is included for costs of maintaining a president but what is considered acceptable and legal. In France, Sarkozy got screwed by the people because of his taste for bling and glitz, but in Russia Putin is screwing the people and nobody cares. Or even worse, they accept and celebrate it.

        And btw, according to your logic, Versailles and the Élysée Palace cannot be included because they can be visited by tourists.

        • Not to be a pain, having never commented here before but Sarkozy lost for a lot more than just ‘he had expensive tastes’. Additionally the idea that having access to great wealth (not that I necessarily believe what you say is true) and people celebrating it cannot be considered inherently wrong. If, and I do not think you are right when you assert it, but even if you are right in saying that Putin is celebrated for his enormous wealth then that is the choice of the people of Russia and should be respected. The core feature of a democracy is that the populace must make its voice heard. Perhaps you should exercise a bit more understanding that in a Democracy if the majority of people are okay with something then it is not really a problem. The will of that many citizens of the Russian Federation is just as important as yours sir/madam. (As I said already though I have yet to see any strong evidence which suggests that Putin lives particularly well-off when compared to leaders of countries like the USA, France, Italy, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, My own home country, Monte Carloa and such. My opinion on the matter would largely be that Putin as the head of a major world economic and military power lives at round about the same level as other world leaders of great importance and I find them all, not just Putin, reprehensible for spending so much money on trivial goods.)

          • If Putin is ever going to leave Kremlin some other way than Brezhnev did, which I doubt is likely, he is also going to have do it for tons of other reasons than just his watch collection.

            Believe me, if the will of the Russian people is that their president must have an exlusive watch collection with matching helicopters and complementing yachts, I’m very much okay with that. I could even say that I am celebrating if Russians are celebrating when Putin is celebrating (with their tax money).

            Saying that “in a Democracy if the majority of people are okay with something then it is not really a problem” is absolutely wrong. Plurality of opinions is not a proof of democracy and especially it does not imply moral or legal correctness.

            • Why doubt that the majority of Russians support Putin? That is just a statistical fact evident from even cursory observation? If they really wanted him out they could have achieved it long ago. As for your final point, true I do not believe that Democracy equals morality but then again I do not believe a Democracy is by its own merit a moral system if you want to argue over what is moral then what is immoral about Putin’s wealth as opposed to the wealth of George W Bush or Mitt Romney would be a good starting point. Of course if we do that then we must also except already to shed the farcial nature of claiming Democracy=right or that Russia is some kind of Nightmare run by evil people. From my view it is quite obvious that the current Russian regime is just as detestable for its muffling of opposition through legal means as the West is for its wide-scale military and economic coercion tactics. Personally I would prefer all of them to change (although I do also think that a regime like Russia’s current regime is a net good for its people; crime rates down, murder rates down, salaries up, economy up, national pride up even though that does not mean there is room for improvement) As for your anwser down below I can tell you that I did prefer staying in Russia as compared to the Baltics alot. I was surprised when I visited the country, which the internet had for years told me was a medieval wasteland populated by peasants only to find it…normal with problems like every other but nowhere near as severe as you are trying to estabilish them as being.

        • France has a longer tradition of democratic accountability than Russia.

          • France has also fewer time zones than Russia (no need for so many watches), but how much longer do we have to wait before Russia starts to build the beginnings of the tradition of democratic accountability? I’m afraid that is many many presidental shirt removals into the future.

            • Uhm… so what do you propose to do? Building democratic accountability takes long years (used to take centuries).. I suppose Russia will eventually end up similar to Italy (which still has strong mafia-politicians links/suffered Berlusconi for a very long time etc). Otherwise you could only speed things up by
              – Foreign direct involvement (colonial power bringing democracy ) which would mean war/probably end badly anyway like in the 1990ties
              – EU throwing Russia some carrots – like accession in exchange for democratic reforms – then democracy could be “anchored” in EU institutions like happened in Spain – but EU are c***s who prefer to play “eastern neighbourhood” without the main eastern neighbour, they turned Turkey down, and some countries within the Union are pretty corrupt and roll back on democracy anyway… I suppose because the Union has lost its appeal

              • Well, most eastern European states were able to build democratic accountability practically overnight. Russia could ask help from f. ex. the Baltic states, which used to be the same country for centuries except for the very short period during interwar years. There are differences between Russia and others, of course, but they are not in the DNA.

                What Russia, as a state, needs to do is very simple:
                1) Face the full truth about the crimes of the Soviet and Putin regimes, like Germany did after WW II
                2) Decentralize power. Give true autonomy/indepence to the regions who want it

                What Russians, as individuals, can do to help this is also very simple:
                1) Find out what your fathers and grandfathers really did during the war in Germany
                2) Stop paying/taking bribes

                I know, I’m being naive. Not gonna happen.

              • Russia could ask help from f. ex. the Baltic states, which used to be the same country for centuries except for the very short period during interwar years. There are differences between Russia and others, of course, but they are not in the DNA.

                Don’t think you’d like Russia asking the Balts for advice as the logical outcome would be SS parades down Moscow’s streets and the disenfranchisement of minorities.

                On the plus side your whining about Russia would finally be grounded in fact so I can see why you’d be willing to make the trade-off.

              • “Don’t think you’d like Russia asking the Balts for advice as the logical outcome would be SS parades down Moscow’s streets and the disenfranchisement of minorities”

                Well, all sorts of neo-nazis and commies already parade all over Moscow and xenophobia is rampant is Russia, so also in this sense what ever Russia can learn from the Balts would be a huge improvement. Now ask yourself: would you rather be a Russian in Estonia or a North Caucasian in Russia?

            • Replying here for lack of space below… I don’t get how mea culpa over WW2 will lead to democracy in Russia (!) – Oligarchs can apologise to you and they will still be worth 20% of GDP, monolopies will stay monopolies, barriers to entry will stay in place. And how do you expect pople to stop taking bribes overnight(!)… I reapeat myslef but even countries in the EU like Romnia, Bulgaria are corrupt and some flirt with authoritarianism (Hungary). You’re not only naive but extremely ignorant.
              Comparing Russia with Baltic states is laughable.

              • David Satter made a convincing point about Russia’s need to take an honest look at her history in “It was a long time ago and never happened anyway”. I highly recommend.

                How do I expect people to stop taking pribes overnight? Well, it is not something like breathing or shitting, is it? Just say no.

                Ok, if Hungary is “flirting with authoritarianism”, how would you describe the situation in Russia?

            • Russians will take look at their history in their own time and an own their own terms, people who want to drag them there by the hair will get with an opposite result. What do I think Russia is? – She’s a hybrid regime, between soft authoritarianism/weak democracy. I expect she will stay like this for a while, the country’s barely 21 years old, for goddness sake…

              • I half agree with you. Russia is soft and weak.

                Btw, Czech Republic and Slovakia are two years younger than Russia.

            • Fedia Kriukov says:

              “1) Find out what your fathers and grandfathers really did during the war in Germany” — Hmm, I did just that. Apparently, they kicked the Nazis ass so bad that those Nazis’ descendants are still demonstrably butthurt all over the internet.

            • “Btw, Czech Republic and Slovakia are two years younger than Russia”

              .. because Russia is similar to Czech Republic/Slovakia… good luck with this!

              • So the age of the country has nothing to do with the state of democracy? My point exactly.

                Or then you are saying that Russia needs more time than others. Why would that be?

        • If fruitful comparisions are not possible without knowing the specifics then why did you start whatabouting about watch collections in the first place?

          For context.

          And btw, according to your logic, Versailles and the Élysée Palace cannot be included because they can be visited by tourists.

          Of course they can be, as the likes of Konstantinovo are. The whole point is to make the criteria consistent before comparing your $150mn with $2.5bn.

          Anyway, as I tried to point about, the main issue here is not really what is included for costs of maintaining a president but what is considered acceptable and legal. In France, Sarkozy got screwed by the people because of his taste for bling and glitz, but in Russia Putin is screwing the people and nobody cares.

          Sarkozy got screwed by a whole lot of factors other than bling.

          • “That is just a tiny part of all the costs and, you know, before fruitfully comparing only just Putin’s and Sarkozy’s collections we should know the exact details and background. How many? What makes? Which models? What price? Who paid? Who owns? ”

            In Sarkozy’s case, you would know – if you read the actual post instead of just that short excerpt – that Sarkozy gave himself a 140% pay raise during the years his country’s unemployment leaped by 20.4%. Fellow Eurpean leader Sylvio Berlusconi used to swagger around with a custom Constantin Vacheron on his wrist that cost $540,000.00. I imagine he paid for it out of his personal fortune, but you were intersted in background. While Mr. Berlusconi was flaunting his wealth, his country had no established minimum wage, and was in the bottom 16% of wage-earners in the developed world. During the rule of the Vacheron poster-boy, Italy experienced the largest increase in income inequality of all 30 OECD countries.

            You can twist and shout all you like, but the inescapable fact is that both those gentlemen lived high off the fat of their land and their people as personal incomes shrunk like raisins, while Vladimir Putin markedly increased the standard of living for his people. His tastes and spending habits are markedly more conservative than either leader discussed, and use of official residences while in office is nothing new for national leaders. Putin doesn’t own any of them, and if Boris Nemtsov were president – as he wants the world to know he should be – he would be living in and using them. I doubt he would relish suggestions they were not only his personal property, but exemplary of his dissipated playboy lifestyle. Fortunately, we will never have to concern ourselves with that possibility.

            The odious blowhard Stanislav Belkovsky had to apologize in print for his deliberate mischaracterizations of Putin’s personal wealth. I look forward to the day when Boris Nemtsov is similarly humbled.

            • Oops! I made a small error there. What I meant to say was that The Economist, sourcing the odious blowhard Stanislav Belkovsky’s figures, had to apologize in print for mischaracterizing Putin’s personal wealth.

              The Economist Group, as corporate entities go, has a fair amount of clout, influential friends and plenty of money. It also hates Putin. If the magazine thought there was the slightest hope it could prove its allegations, it would never have backed down.

              For his part, the odious blowhard Stanislav Belkovsy has not ever apologized for his mooncalf crystal-ball-gazing twaddle. In fact, he is fond of topping off his blather that Putin is easily the richest man in Europe with “there may be more that I don’t know about. There may be much more”, thereby implying that the foregoing blather is accurate and he DOES know.

              The Economist begs to differ.

            • Yes, I know, both French and Italians are so bad off comapred to Russians. At least to those Russians who contribute to the massive capital flight by buying, just in case, if Russia hits the fan, palaces and manor houses from French St. Raphael and Italian Forte dei Marmi.

              Putin’s “tastes and spending habits are markedly more conservative” than B Berlusconi’s and Sarkozy’s? Right. Dunno about Sarkozy but Putin and Mr. Bunga Bunga have a close relationship, are regualrily partying together and allegedly share also beauty tips. I think taste-wise they find themselves on the same wavelenght although I admit in their relationship Berlusconi is the alpha male and Putin is still an apprentice.

              Once again, what is the difference between Berlusconi, Sarkozy and Putin? Two of them were booted out of office and are facing criminal charges. One of them is still making his country the laughing stock of the world.

              • “Or then you are saying that Russia needs more time than others. Why would that be?”

                Read through my comments again.

              • Both were booted from office by their own constituents, although they were enthusiastically supported right up to the end by other western leaders who love to criticize Russia, and they were thrown out because they were useless at looking after their own people, not because of their love for expensive watches.

                Perhaps in your mind Russia is the laughing stock of the world, and it’s certainly true you do your personal best to foster that impression. But come on, Cats; you are glad that you don’t live in Russia. Russians are glad that you don’t live in Russia. Can’t we all just get along?

  4. Where did my comment go?

    AK: It’s not in the spam folder. Dunno, dude. Try submitting it again?

    • What about the other things like the alleged £48,000 toilet on his private jet that would be hard to write of as refurbishment of historic Russian landmarks or gifts from Russian businessmen or foreign dignitaries like the watches?

      “At least 20 opulent homes, 58 official aircraft and four yachts may number among the reasons Vladimir Putin refuses to quit as Russia’s president, opposition activists have suggested.

      In a report published under the ironic title Life Of A Galley Slave, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov detailed how Mr Putin has allegedly expanded the trappings of office since he rose to power in 2000.

      Among the extravagancies highlighted are a £48,000 toilet on a presidential jet, 11 luxury watches with a total value of about £440,000 and one yacht that is fitted with a “jacuzzi, barbecue, a maple wood colonnade and a huge bathroom faced in marble”.

      A huge house on Lake Valdai in northwestern Russia has a cinema, a bowling alley and a “presidential church”, the report said. Nine new official residences have been made available to the president since 2000.

      Mr Nemtsov, a deputy prime minister in the 1990s, and co-author Leonid Martynyuk wrote: “In a country where more than 20 million people barely make ends meet, the luxurious life of the president is a blatant and cynical challenge to society.

      “We absolutely cannot put up with this.”

      The Kremlin has long portrayed the 59-year-old president, who returned to the post in May after four years as prime minister, as a man of simple tastes and a liking for popular sports and active outdoor pastimes.

      But he has repeatedly been forced to deny rumours that he has built up a vast personal fortune, despite declaring a salary that is just a quarter of that of his US counterpart.

      Mr Nemtsov is among the leaders of the opposition that have staged a series of protests since parliamentary elections won by Mr Putin’s United Russia party were marred by fraud allegations.

      Anger at the president has brought the disparate elements of the opposition together, pushing down Mr Putin’s popularity.

      The report was released as the wife of another prominent opposition activist was reportedly jailed for eight years on drugs charges – twice as long as was recommended by the prosecutors.

      Taisiya Osipova and her supporters have maintained that police planted 4g of heroin in her home in 2010 after she refused to testify against her husband, Sergei Fomchenkov of The Other Russia movement.

      Eduard Limonov, the leader of The Other Russia party, told Interfax that “this verdict is not only a political one, it’s also a terrifying revenge”.

      Mrs Osipova was one of the most prominent names on a list of people activists described as political prisoners that was submitted to then-president Dmitry Medvedev in February.

      Meanwhile, a group of Russian Orthodox Church activists burst into a theatre during a play about the Pussy Riot punk band, three members of which were recently jailed after performing an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

      The show – named Khamovnichesky Court: The Sequel after the venue of the trial – by a Moscow theatre with a history of criticising the authorities was interrupted by people shouting “repent and “why do you hate Russians”.

      “We want to know why you are supporting this protest. Why are you so negative to the Orthodox faith?” one heckler, who gave his name as Andrei Kaplin, demanded to boos and shouts from the audience.”

      http://uk.news.yahoo.com/putins-luxurious-life-set-activists-131516554.html

      • How the hell does Boris Nemtsov know all that? How would he know how much the toilet cost, or how many watches Putin has? Is he often a guest on Putin’s supposed yacht? Has he ever been right about anything? This is the guy who said in February 2011, “Everyone is unhappy with Putin, save for his closest friends…” He must have quite a lot of close friends, considering he was elected on the first ballot almost exactly a year later.

        Boris Nemtsov simply makes things up, and because they fit well into a narrative that a certain group of people love to believe, he is rarely questioned.

  5. It would first be better to know if the $2.5 billion claim is TRUE or NOT before drawing conclusions – arguments will be superfluous on both sides without any proof. I’m “guessing” It’s probably more bunk just like Putin’s “rumored” $40 billion fortune that Forbes has somehow been unable to locate, but let’s find out if Nemtsov’s claim holds water first.

    • There’s no question about that figure. It’s official.

      Бюджет Управления делами президента в размере 84,6 млрд рублей (данные 2011 г.) в основном расходуется на обеспечение шикарной жизни главы государства.

  6. Interesting thing is how Solidarity reached the conclusion that Putin’s expensive taste is one of his “most serious reasons for holding on to power”. Are they actually saying that Putin, in fact, doesn’t have billions stashed somwhere in Switzerland?

    • Putin took a lesson from what happened to Gaddafi – access to foreign accounts could get difficult if the going gets rough.

      • K.F. wanting to have it both ways as usual.

        There were $40bn in the overseas fund. Did he just give it all away?

  7. K.F., it is not all that difficult to go to the site of Presidential Affairs Department: http://www.udprf.ru/ and find that it employs 50000 people and looks after the residences and enables the activities of ALL branches of the government of the Russian Federation, including the judiciary and the legislature.

    So essentially, these $2.5 billion are spent on maintenance and activities of the top representatives of all 3 branches of government. In that context the amount of money seems much more reasonable, is it not? Now, next time, would it not be better to spend 5 extra minutes on research, rather than look REALLY silly, spluttering with outrage over nothing?

    • As I pointed out repeatedly, I’m not in outrage over how much is spent on keeping Putin’s cheeks rosy and chest hair-free or on maintaing his entourage of 50.000 people. For what I care they can spend as much as they need, and more, to feel confy and confident. I’m just wondering why Russians are not in outrage.

      • I just wrote that members of the Russian Parliament, top judges, ministers and other top civilian and military officials, not to mention all major government buildings, are all beneficiaries of Presidential Affairs Department budget and personnel… and yet its still about Putin. Look, I do not doubt that his office is the biggest beneficiary of these funds, but it is patently obvious that most of them actually go elsewhere.

        As for the lack of pubic outcry I think most people are capable of making a distinction between the money spent on Putin — the man and the money spent on Putin — the head of state. The former amount is really not that big, his taste in watches is pretty much his only apparent expensive habit and even that is mitigated by his willingness to give them away as gifts. As for the latter, yes, he does spend outrages amount of money to show off. However, not looking like a backward country hick, while making other leaders look and feel like it, is pretty much most of what being a head of state is about. That is just how business is done at that level and everyone understands that, the outrage in France being nothing more that spin and political opportunism, since, I for one, would be REALLY surprised if Hollande’s lifestyle and expenses will turn out to be much different from Sarkozy’s.

        • I suspect that watches are presents from oligarchs/investors…

          • They probably are. Do you think though that watches, even very expensive ones, could “buy” Putin?

        • Putin the Man and Putin the Head of State. Which one of them goes public without a shirt?

          • As long as he makes it look good, and by good I mean better than other leaders, who cares? There is nothing wrong with showing off, as long as he manages to pull it off. So far more often than not he managed to do that.

            What is this obsession with his chest anyway? You already mentioned it several times on a thread that has nothing to do with Putin’s personal appearance.

      • Imo Russians are not outraged because they don’t know… I didn’t know that Putin has 43 planes and 700 cars as per report (tho I’m finding it hard to believe that this is really all just for one person)

        • Because its not, that’s the point. The name of the Department of the Presidential Affairs is misleading, as it oversees the maintenance and activities of the ENTIRE Russian political system, not just the President.

          • Now that I read the whole post carefully I must admit that I have been wrong all along. You see, none of the luxury items actually belong to Putin. So there is no problem here what so ever with golden showers etc. As Karlin put it:

            “However, the key difference from the “playboy oligarchs” and “Persian Gulf sheikhs” with whom Nemtsov compares Putin with is that all these objects do not belong to him personally ”

            Only now I got it – all these objects belong to the Soviet people! I mean Russian.

          • This makes much more sense, thanks. Even 700 cars doesn’t seem excessive for an entire political system.

          • So are you trying to say that the budget for the Presidental Administration covers also the expenditure of f. ex. M.o.F.A of Russia? Or is that not included in the ENTIRE political system?

            • Had he actually managed to get elected or appointed to a position of national significance, it would. As it is, he is a member of self-described NON-SYSTEMIC opposition, so yeah he is not included, not because anyone is holding him back, but because the Russian people already had enough of this clown and his ilk.

  8. People & Power : In search of Putin’s money

  9. Dear Anatoly
    Please delete this.rubbish written by this guy
    As you have said it is impossible to waste energy on refuting the lies.
    Lt him post this rubbish somewhere else.
    We are the Russophiles, are we not?