Putin’s favorite dacha Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation investigates the Russian president’s ‘most secret’ official residence
Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK) has released a new investigation into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “most secret” official residence — a luxury lakeside mansion located near the town of Valdai. According to the report, the residence is part of a massive property that’s only partially state-owned. The FBK claims that the mansion itself is located on land that Russia’s Presidential Administrative Directorate leases from “Praym LLC” — a company allegedly belonging to Putin’s “personal banker” Yuri Kovalchuk.
Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK) has released a new investigation into “the most secret official dacha” belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The residence, known as “Dolgiye Borody,” is located on a lake near the town of Valdai in Russia’s Novgorod region.
According to property records, the residence sits on 250 hectares of land (about 618 acres) — 150 hectares (370 acres) of which officially belong to the Russian Federation and are permanently accessible to the Russian Secret Service (the Federal Protective Service or FSO). This land houses a variety of outbuildings, including warehouses, garages, hangars, and small guest houses. The rest of the property is formally registered to a company called Praym LLC, which, according to the FBK, is owned by Yuri Kovalchuk — Rossiya Bank’s main shareholder and one of Putin’s oldest friend.
Praym LLC leases this portion of the property to Russia’s Presidential Administrative Directorate. According to the firm’s financial statements, Praym has earned 2.7 billion rubles ($35.4 billion) from rental services over the past 10 years.
There are about 80 buildings on the land leased from Praym. Among them are a four-story, 3,500-square-meter (nearly 37,675-square-foot) mansion, a Chinese-style pavilion, a Russian-style izba (wooden cabin), baths, saunas, a stable, a golf course, a playground complete with slides, and a VIP-restaurant that includes a cinema, bowling, billiards, and a small casino. The property also has its own Vladimirskaya Church.
What’s more, according to the FBK, located not far from the main residence is a building twice as large — a spa complex with two underground floors and a total area of nearly 7,000 square meters (almost 75,350 square feet). The floor plans for this building show a solarium, a float pool, cryo chambers, massage baths, a dentist’s office, a cosmetology office, separate rooms for mud therapy and compression therapy, a 25-meter (82-foot) swimming pool, and a seperate massage block.
On another floor there’s a bedroom, a 200-square-meter (2,150-square-foot) foyer, a 500-square-meter (5,380-square-foot) living room, a service room, a special food elevator, and a dedicated space for an aquarium that takes up 13 square meters (140 square feet). The basement houses staff rooms and technical rooms, including maintenance rooms for the salt bath and mud therapy, and rooms for special communications.
According to the FBK, the Valdai residence is Putin’s personal favorite. There is very little accessible information about the property — aside from official photographs and public procurement data.
“Someday Putin will leave power and the rest of the residences will remain, as they have been on the balance sheets since Soviet times. But this one...here the state owns only the half of the land without the residence itself on it. The rest is all Kovalchuk’s. Three hundred million rubles [$3.94 billion] down the drain annually. So that Putin has a place to lie down in zero gravity and to invite artists.”
In January 2021, the FBK released a bombshell investigation into “Putin’s palace” — a $1.35-billion residence allegedly built for Vladimir Putin on the Black Sea near the resort town of Gelendzhik. According to the investigation, the mansion’s construction was financed through a corruption scheme linked to members of Putin’s inner circle and their affiliated companies. The video of the investigation has more than 115 million views on YouTube.
Putin has denied that the property has ever belonged to him or any of his family members. Russian businessman Arkady Rotenberg, a longtime friend of Putin, later came forward claiming to be the property’s owner. That said, journalists have linked the “palace” to Yuri Kovalchuk.
Translated by Eilish Hart