Marble floors, showers, waterfalls, and $46,000 baths. Thousands of leaked emails reveal the lavish and extravagant “state sanctuary” of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Europe’s largest lake.
In the depths of the forests of the Karelia region of northern Russia, on the banks of Lake Ladoga, stands a “fisherman’s hut”. Six years ago, Russian TV channel Dozhd reported that it was probably a luxury country house for Russian President Putin. They discovered that the building and the land around it were owned by several companies owned by billionaire Yuri Kovalchuk. It is often associated with Putin.
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But there is also another link between all the companies involved. They all use the same mail domain name: LLCInvest.ru. This was recently discovered by the international research group OCCRP. They received thousands of leaked emails about “Fisherman’s Hut” in the hands of two construction companies. This email traffic shows how companies work together and it’s not just a ‘Qatari retreat’.
The original Fisherman’s Hut Building was completed in August 2012 and has won numerous awards for its design. But it did not stop at a single “hut”. In 2013, a new structure was added to the domain. In 2018, it was described in the Russian Land Registry as a “barn”. According to the leaked emails, it is actually a huge space that can be used for entertainment purposes. For example, there will be a dining room of about 200 square meters. There is also a fully professional brewery on the premises worth 345,000 euros, where 47 liters of beer can be brewed per day. Next to the building there are also two small swimming pools.
OCCRP explains that it is difficult to estimate the cost of the building, but one document from 2015 indicated that general construction work alone, without furniture, finishing or lighting, would have cost about 187 million rubles. Turning out that was 3.5 million dollars.
A separate building was laid in 2021. It is a two-storey building with a huge professional kitchen. On the second floor there are four smaller bedrooms that are supposed to be for the staff.
A few months later, another building was added. Plans, diagrams and interior drawings called “Garden House” show that the six-bedroom home is dotted with semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, a deep blue gem said to have healing properties, and labradorite, a luminous crystal that some department can relieve anxiety and stress. There are also six bathrooms, each costing about $46,000. The faucets are priced at over $10,000 and the shower head alone is said to cost $4,600. In the middle of the building there is also an indoor pool with a waterfall.
Three architects interviewed by OCCRP described the Garden House’s interior design as “excellent” and “luxury.” It seemed that “you can only build such a project with an unlimited budget.” “For me, it’s the same class as having a golden toilet.”
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