Extensive changes have been made to the luxurious complex at Cape Idokopas near Gelendzhik, reputed to be Putin’s Black Sea hideaway, according to a May 6 report jointly released by Alexei Navalny’s FBK Anti-Corruption Foundation and independent news outlet Proekt, to coincide with President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

The new look palace

The new décor reflects Putin’s ever-growing obsession with war and religion, as the FBK/Proekt report makes clear:

“The interior of the palace attests to the scope of Putin’s evolution since the property was built in the early 2010s. The renovated version does not feature a casino, a striptease hall, or an arcade room. Instead, it has a chapel housing an icon of Saint Vladimir, Putin’s patron saint - [the prince believed to have baptized Kyivan Rus in 988].


“One of the main halls has been decorated with paintings of battles and corpses. The centerpiece is titled ‘He Who Comes to Us With a Sword Will Die by the Sword!’ The original of this painting is prominently displayed in the Grand Kremlin Palace, and Putin is known to favor the set phrase used in the title.”

He Who Comes to Us With a Sword Will Die by the Sword! (Sergey Prisekin 1983). Photo: Proekt

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The chapel is decorated with religious icons and crosses along with the triptych of Saint Vladimir and contains a wooden throne, Proekt said.

The triptych of Saint Vladimir in the Cape Idokopas chapel. Photo Proekt

The tradition of Russian rulers decorating their palaces and important religious sites with depictions of their namesake saints goes back to the Middle Ages. This and the presence of a throne in Putin’s chapel strongly suggest how he now sees himself. Another icon of Saint Vladimir is hung in the Annunciation Cathedral of the Kremlin – where Putin traditionally visits after his inauguration.


The throne in the Saint Prince Vladimir in the Cape Idokopas chapel. Photo Proekt

Proekt spoke to the professional reconstruction team who said the work had actually been completed in the spring of last year when the contractors left the “South Property,” which was their code name for the palace.

One of the workers produced a video of the renovations which gives an idea of the extensive work that was carried out and shows that no expense was spared.

One example cited in the report is that the “reading room” is adorned with two chandeliers made by the French manufacturer of fine crystal, Baccarat, which in total cost about 100 million rubles (about $1 million).


One of the reading room chandeliers. Photo: Proekt

The history of the Cape Idokopas residence

2021 Overview of the Cape Idokopas residence and grounds. Photo: X/Twitter

The facility has an interesting and somewhat convoluted back story, as highlighted in the FBK/Proekt investigation. In 2005 a company called Lyrus, which was owned by Nikolai Shamalov, a friend of Putin, sought authority from the presidential administration to construct a “boarding house” on the site. This was granted and construction began in 2006.

In 2010 Shamalov’s business partner Sergei Kolesnikov wrote an open letter to then President Dmitry Medvedev which claimed that in fact a “palace” was being built for Prime Minister Putin. He provided documentary evidence, which also revealed that funding for the construction was provided by a medical foundation formed in 2000 to which Moscow’s business elite had been “invited” to donate.


In 2011 investigative journalists from the website RuLeaks.Net and independent news site Sobesednik gained access to the compound but were apprehended and removed from the site by employees of the Federal Protective Service (FSO), who were there to protect Putin. At that point, it became common knowledge that the palace “belonged” to the Prime Minister.

Shortly afterwards it was declared that Alexander Ponomarenko, a business associate of the Rotenberg brothers, who were part of Putin’s inner circle, allegedly bought the compound and land surrounding it, ostensibly to develop tourist facilities there. It soon became clear that nothing had changed – Putin’s yacht Olympia accompanied by patrol ships was seen moored at Cape Idokopas on several occasions and the facility was managed by people associated with the FSO and Shamalov.

In 2021 Navalny’s FBK produced an investigation that showed how extensive the palace grounds were and the hedonistic interior which included a casino, a pole-dancing studio and rooms filled with toy cars and model railways.

Shortly after the FBK exposé it was announced that the oligarch Arkady Rotenberg would convert Cape Idokopas into a hotel and resort with a planned 2023 opening date. He said at the time “I’m very fond of the hotel industry,” and went on to say that he intended to transform it into a tourist destination.


“In fact, this is what I’ve been working on for a few years now. I have a few properties in Crimea, in the [Russian] Far East, and plan to purchase some in Altai. I’m considering this area,” Rotenberg said. The latest investigation shows that he (partially) kept his word – it was renovated but is still not used as hotel and is still intended for use by Putin according to the FBK/Proekt report.

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