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Jailed Dissident Exposes $1B 'Putin Palace'

Black Sea complex reportedly features a pole-dancing stage
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2021 6:11 AM CST

(Newser) – A jailed Alexei Navalny is still a thorn in Vladimir Putin's side. Less than 24 hours after the Russian opposition activist flew home and was immediately arrested Sunday, his team published a trove of documents about a secret palace the Russian president has built for himself near the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik. Putin and his circle "will keep on stealing more and more, until they bankrupt the entire country," Navalny says in a lengthy YouTube video which accompanied the release, viewed more than 21 million times, per the New York Times. "Russia sells huge amounts of oil, gas, metals, fertilizer and timber—but people's incomes keep falling and falling, because Putin has his palace." Navalny claims the luxurious compound, said to include several movie theaters, a spa, and a hookah lounge with a pole-dancing stage, cost more than $1 billion.

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Navalny was arrested at passport control as he arrived at an airport in Siberia on Sunday from Germany—along with 70 others who waited for him at another airport, per the CBC—and was ordered to be jailed for 30 days for violating probation. He was held in a Moscow jail on Monday, but urged Russians to "take to the streets" in videos shared by his team. Demonstrations are set for 2pm Saturday in "the central streets of your cities," one video notes. The Kremlin, meanwhile, is denying any link between Putin and a Black Sea complex seen in satellite images, noting Putin's official residence is 150 miles away in Sochi. Still, a whistleblower fled Russia a decade ago after claiming it had been built for Putin with $1 billion in illegally diverted funds. And Navalny claims Russia's domestic intelligence agency controls 30 square miles around the place, which includes restricted airspace. (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)

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