Putin's private jets and palaces revealed

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The Independent Online

Russian President Vladimir Putin is spending billions of taxpayers' rubles on 20 luxurious residences, 43 jets and four yachts, an opposition leader has claimed.

Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy- prime minister, estimated the maintenance of Mr Putin's residences, jets and cars alone costs £1.6bn a year.

His report – titled The Life of A Galley Slave after an epithet Mr Putin used in 2008 to describe the hardships of his first two presidencies – is based largely on news reports. It includes photographs of Mr Putin's collection of 11 exquisite wristwatches worth about £450,000 – the equivalent of his official salary for six years – and details of a £47,500 toilet on a presidential jet.

"Putin has been mistaking government property for his own for a long time," Mr Nemtsov said. "This is an insolent, cynical and luxurious lifestyle at taxpayers' expense."

Opposition members and a handful of Russia's independent publications have long claimed that Mr Putin had more than a dozen residencies built or renovated for him throughout Russia – from an imperial palace in his native St Petersburg to resorts on the Black Sea to hunting grounds in national parks.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "All of this is government property and Putin uses it all legally as an elected president."

Mr Nemtsov said his report would be distributed free of charge or online because he could not find a Russian publisher. The leader of the People's Freedom Party, he has already written another report on the unprecedented rise of corruption among government officials since Mr Putin was first elected in 2000.