Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wealthy Putin?

Rumors have floated around political and journalistic circles inside of and outside of Russia about President Putin's fabulous wealth. Given the wealth of many of the insider oligarchs and politicians surrounding him, none of those rumors seem unbelievable.

However, evidence is slim to invisible. It's too bad that Business Insider couldn't come up with more evidence than what appears to be very expensive watches on Putin's wrist. Does that offer "plenty of reason to doubt Putin's official claims"?

Why You Should Take Vladimir Putin's Official Income Of $187,000 With A Pinch Of Salt
Russian President Vladimir Putin has released documents that appear to show he had an income of almost 5.8 million rubles (about $187,000) in 2012.

That figure was included in tax reports uploaded to the Kremlin's website earlier this week — part of a transparency obligation for Russian officials that began last year.

However, there's plenty of reason to doubt Putin's official claims.

According to the documents, Putin lives a relatively spartan life. The Russian president owns a plot of land, an apartment and a garage. He is in possession of three cars — two Soviet-made Gaz cars and a Niva SUV. His rarely-seen-in-public wife, Lyudmila, is said to own no property and have an income of less than $4,000.

To put that in context, the salary for the job of U.S. president is $400,000. Barack Obama's net worth was estimated to be between $2.8 million and $11.8 million in 2010.

Putin's own wealth has long been a subject of speculation. Some reports of his net worth are incredibly high, with one suggesting it may be an enormous $40 billion…

Putin and wristwatch
His lifestyle certainly seems more akin to that of a richer man. He is said to have access to a fleet of vehicles worth $1 billion, has been spotted wearing watches worth at least $687,000 at retail, and he is rumored to have been building a private palace on the Black Sea worth $1 billion since 2006…

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the government's spokesperson on the economy, revealed he had a huge income of 448.4 million rubles ($14.4 million), AFP reports. He has been forced to issue a statement explaining that none of his wealth breaks the law.

Nice work
GUESSING at the supposed—and secret—personal wealth of President Vladimir Putin is a favourite pastime for Russia-watchers, with much talk (and few facts) about opaque beneficiary companies, Swiss bank accounts, and intermediary oligarchs...

But a new report... has taken a simpler approach. Boris Nemtsov... and Leonid Martynuk... have scrutinised the palaces, jets, yachts, and watches that Mr Putin uses in the course of his duties. Mr Putin clings to power, they write, in part because he is loath to part with the “atmosphere of wealth and luxury” to which he has become accustomed. Why bother with private bank accounts when you have public funds at your disposal, they ask.

Putin's plane?
The president has 20 residences, from the Constantine Palace outside St Petersburg, a Tsarist-era estate restored in 2003 for tens of million of dollars, to the Dolgiye Borodi residence on Lake Valdai in northwest Russia... His fleet of planes includes a Russian-made Ilyushin with a $75,000 toilet and ornamentation crafted by artisans from the monastery town of Sergiyev Posad. Systematic surveys of the presidential wrist reveal a watch collection worth more than $680,000, the authors reckon. Of the four yachts in Mr Putin’s collection, the authors allege, one was a gift from Russian businessmen. All of this adds up, the report’s authors say, to a lifestyle worthy of a “Persian Gulf monarch or a flamboyant oligarch.”...
See Putin's Plane for more photos reportedly from the Russian president's primary airplane.

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