Listing 58 planes and helicopters and 20 homes with opulent
fittings worthy of the tsars, not to mention 11 watches which
alone are worth several times Putin’s annual salary, a report
published under the ironic title “The Life of a Galley Slave” by
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov denounced a “blatant and cynical
challenge” to millions of Russians barely managing to survive.
The Kremlin, which has long portrayed the 59-year-old
president as a man of simple tastes and a liking for popular
sports and active outdoor pastimes, did not immediately comment.
Putin, who declares a personal income barely a quarter of
that of his U.S. counterpart, has long denied rumours that he
has built up a vast personal fortune. The report did not address
that but it illustrated in 32 pages how the former KGB agent has
expanded the trappings of the office of president since he rose
to power in 2000; it is intended to foster faint stirrings of
opposition to his recent re-election for a further six years.