- by theguardian
- 25 Jun 2022
It is a level of extravagance that would put the tsars to shame.
There are the bidets that cost $10,800 (£8,800) each and the $4,600 a piece shower heads. Then there is floor made up of $110,000 worth of Fior di Bosco marble and the indoor pool with a decorative waterfall flowing from the first floor. No expense has been spared. And that, according to leaked emails, is merely the "Garden House".
Six years ago, the Russian television channel Dozhd reported that a building, humbly described by architects as the "Fisherman's Hut", deep in the forests of the northern Russian region of Karelia, was being widely spoken of by locals as "Putin's dacha" or holiday home.
While UK government analysis suggests the Russian president has officially registered just a few assets to his name, including a small flat in St Petersburg, two Soviet-era cars from the 1950s, a trailer and a small garage, plus a presidential salary of about £110,000 a year, the channel reported that this was where Vladimir Putin chose to slip away for a break from the stresses of Kremlin life.
There were two houses, in fact. One with a roof covered in grass and a helipad. But otherwise the complex appeared relatively modest, with the futuristic wood and glass Fisherman's Hut furnished inside with Ikea-style cream sofas and green bucket chairs. The grass roof of the accompanying building was said to be a nod to the need to keep out of sight of western spies in sky.
Today, however, courtesy of a leak of thousands of emails sent by two construction companies, obtained by the the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Russian-language news site Meduza, a rather more spectacular picture has emerged of the complex of luxury real estate being developed around the Fisherman's Hut.
Floor plans, blueprints and interior design schemes reveal that construction of a neighbouring six-bedroom Garden House began in 2021 and that it is laced throughout with semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, a deep blue gemstone that is said to provide healing properties, and labradorite, a luminous crystal that some swear by for relieving anxiety and stress.
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