Vladimir Putin’s official net worth is comically modest

Something doesn’t add up here.
Something doesn’t add up here.
Image: AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service
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Vladimir Putin’s latest financial disclosure has been posted on the Kremlin website, showing the Russian president earned roughly $135,000 in 2018 from his official salary, a military pension, interest on savings, and investment gains.

Putin reports owning an 830 square-foot apartment in Saint Petersburg, along with a 193 square-foot garage, as well as use of a 1,600 square-foot flat in Moscow. He claims to have two vintage Volga GAZ M21 sedans (in the $14,000$16,000 range on eBay) as well as a Lada Niva SUV (which starts at about $6,800, new) and a retro-fabulous Skif tent trailer, which goes for about $900.

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Putin’s alleged true wealth vastly exceeds these numbers. Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder, a Putin critic who was expelled from Russia in 2005, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 that Putin is “one of the richest men in the world.”

“I estimate that he has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power,” Browder said.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project have reported that much of Putin’s wealth—including large stakes in the state-controlled gas giant Gazprom and other firms—is held, on paper, by his close associates and family members.

“He takes what he wants,” American political scientist Karen Dawisha told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “When you are the president of Russia you don’t need a written contract. You are the law.”

The Russian president is also known for an impressive luxury watch collection. ”Putin, it seems, did not eat or drink for six years to acquire this collection,” former prime minister and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov wrote in a 2012 blog post.

Putin has been seen wearing a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar ($60,000); a Blancpain Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date ($10,500), and a platinum A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph ($500,000).

Russia’s per capita income was just under $25,000 in 2017, the most recent data available, according to the World Bank.

Read the full text of Putin’s financial disclosure here (in Russian):

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