Vladimir Putin's expensive taste is one of his "most serious reasons for holding on to power," the Solidarity opposition group said in pamphlet released on Tuesday in Moscow.
In a just-released pamphlet co-authored with Solidarity activist Leonid Martynyuk, Mr. Nemtsov claims that President Putin has at his disposal 20 lavish state villas and palaces, four yachts, a fleet of more than 40 aircraft, 15 helicopters, phalanxes of cars, a collection of luxury wristwatches worth about $700,000, and an alleged personal fortune that may amount to billions of dollars.
Though Putin's official salary is just over $100,000 per year, "with a lifestyle like that, it could be compared to that of a Persian Gulf monarch," say the authors of "Life of a Galley Slave" – the title is a riff on a famous Putin quote, in which he declared that he has "toiled like a galley slave, from morning to night" in his public life.
Most of the assets enumerated in the pamphlet are actually state possessions. Like Soviet commissars of the past, Putin has extensive personal access to a vast empire of property and perks that he does not literally own. Putin has repeatedly denied holding a private fortune.Nine of Putin's state domiciles, including the lavish Konstaninov palace in St. Petersburg, have been constructed recently on his orders. By contrast with Putin's total of 20 official residences, the president of the United States has just two; even the entire British royal family has only eight state-owned residences at its disposal.
Nemtsov and Martynyuk are actually rather polite in their description of Putin´s reason for holding on to power. The real reason is that the criminal dictator, has made himself a lifetime "president" in order to escape prosecution by a future democratic government.