With the Russian government described in leaked US cables as a "mafia state" in which bribery constitutes a "parallel tax system," it makes one wonder: What do the plutocrats do with all that cash? For Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, one previously reported answer to that question is "build lavish palaces"—and now details published by Russia's Novaya Gazeta purport to flesh out just how lavish.
Gazeta printed what it says is a contract for Putin to pay almost $1 billion for an Italian-style, 8-million-square foot palace on a Black Sea resort, notes the Telegraph. The seaside palace has its own vineyard, helipad, and casino. Somehow involved in the disclosure is Sergei Kolesnikov, a businessman who says he was involved in the project but pulled out. "Corrupt officials building themselves personal palaces at a time when children are dying due to lack of funds for medicines is Russia's shame," Kolesnikov wrote in a letter to Medvedev.