Russian investigative journalists find a $36-million mansion outside Moscow that’s guarded by Putin’s secret service and owned by firms tied to his rich friends
Companies tied to two close friends of Vladimir Putin — Mikhail Kovalchuk and Gennady Timchenko — own a large plot of land in a prestigious residential area in Moscow’s western suburbs that’s guarded by the Federal Protective Service (FSO), according to a new investigative report by the website Proekt.
Covering six hectares (almost 15 acres) in the village of Gorki-10, the real estate includes three houses hidden by tall pine trees, several manmade ponds, newly planted fir trees, and a helipad. The largest of the houses is 2,200 square meters (23,680 square feet), and the second biggest home is 1,200 square meters (12,916 square feet). (The size of the third house is unknown.) In 2012, according to Proekt, the property was valued at 2.3 billion rubles ($35.8 million). Since 2013, the owners have spent 733.5 million rubles ($11.4 million) on beautification improvements.
The real estate belonged to the state until 2001, when Mikhail Kovalchuk acquired it. Ten years later, he transferred the property to a noncommercial partnership called “Tradition and Country Retreat Culture Revival.” The partnership is owned by the companies “Apex” and “Tartex,” which in turn belong to Girard Finance Limited, an offshore firm registered in the British Virgin Islands. Proekt says it’s confirmed that Apex and Tartex are tied to Mikhail Kovalchuk and Gennady Timchenko.
According to records Proekt obtained from Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency, the land is under FSO protection. Both an employee at a construction company that specializes in presidential residences and a former worker at the property confirmed this information to Proekt. There is also a secure communications line from the main mansion to a known state residence that has an ice rink. The property is even dotted with several jamming stations to prevent radio-controlled drones from flying overhead.
Proekt believes the retreat in Gorki-10 is one of several properties in different regions across the country that are available to Vladimir Putin as residences. Journalists say the president has many options, both official and unofficial, including villas whose owners are tied to Yuri Kovalchuk and other shareholders at Rossiya Bank.
A local resident in Gorki-10 also told Proekt about rumors circulating in town that the property is a presidential residence, though the source said he’d never seen Vladimir Putin’s motorcade in the area, and a helicopter had only landed in the compound once.
Russia’s Federal Protective Service did not respond to journalists’ questions about the mansion in Gorki-10, and the Presidential Affairs Department advised Proekt to consult the list of organizations under its supervision.
Translation by Kevin Rothrock