What’s new in Putin’s palace after repairs: a throne, chapel, cryo-sauna and anus massage tub

An infiltrated worker filmed the palace inside with a hidden camera – the luxury at the Gelendzhik complex is unprecedented and shocking.

In 2021, Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, a close friend of Vladimir Putin and a favorite beneficiary of public contracts, claimed that the luxury palace the team of late Alexey Navalny had found in Gelendzhik was actually his own. He did not bother to show any documents at that time.

The Corruption Fight Foundation (FBK) by then had published hundreds of pictures and room plans from the 17,700-square-meter complex, which Putin was secretly building in late French imperial style, with kickbacks from state-run corporations and bribes from private business people. It also revealed how the project destroyed a unique ecosystem near Gelendzhik on hundreds of hectares and deprived locals of camping places. 

Around 2017, building managers noticed that the walls were covered with mildew – a consequence of the poorly functioning ventilation system – and all furniture and equipment worth hundreds of millions of US dollars (!!!) were thrown out.

Gold obsession and madness

Rotenberg also claimed that the complex in a protected Black Sea forest area was actually an apart-hotel and would reopen in maximum two years. In early May 2024, the repairs were almost complete and a source infiltrated as a worker there has succeeded to film on a hidden camera the gold obsession and madness of the Kremlin leader.

So, what has changed since FBK published the first documentary about the Gelendzhik palace?

First, all the walls have been cleared of mildew, re-plastered and re-painted; some rooms have been redesigned.

Many walls have been covered with expensive wood, marble or mural.

New furniture was moved in – mostly from Italian manufacturers and custom design, along with new electronics and electric appliances – mostly made in the USA. Now almost all living rooms have a TV set, not to mention that the complex has a small cinema and a mini theater.

The person infiltrated by FBK also discovered new spa facilities, including a cryo-sauna and an anus massaging tub. The striptease room has been renamed into “lounge” on papers but the casino gaming room has been transformed into an Orthodox chapel. In the chapel, there’s a copy of a Russian tsarist throne.

Putin also seems to have developed a passion for sculpture – many rooms have busts or statues flanking the doors and standing on tables. And tons of gold-plated items.

Another new facility is a 200+-meter long firing ranging near the hockey bunker. It is designed to withstand shots from powerful sniper rifles and to prevent the ricochet of bullets.

De facto, the palace and the surrounding area is a dwarf state for one single person, who needs to be served daily by almost 300 people, not to count bodyguards and security, on taxpayers’ money.

But the most striking moment was when the FBK spy found the toilet for workers – an outdoor chamber for two or three persons, dirty and unmaintained – a true representation of modern Russia: luxury for a small elite and slops for commoners.

Someone wrote on the door of a toilet room “Liokha, you were right!” – meaning Alexey Navalny, the man who revealed the existence of the Putin palace to the world and was killed in prison in February 2024, at the age of 47.

The 41-minute video is available on YouTube, with English subtitles. 

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