Vladimir Putin ‘has secretly moved to Sochi during Covid pandemic and had replica office built so Russians still believe he is in Moscow’, anti-Kremlin media claim
- Proekt media reported on Monday that the Russian President had secretly moved to his summer residence in the Black Sea city of Sochi
- It claimed that a replica of Putin’s office has been built at the Sochi property
- The alleged move is one of many rumours swirling around Putin, including speculation on his health and private life
- Spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied claims Putin was suffering health issues and reiterated that the president believes his private life should remain private
Vladimir Putin has secretly moved to Sochi during the pandemic, going so far as to have a replica office built to convince Russians he’s still in Moscow, anti-Kremlin media reported.
Proekt media said on Monday that the Russian president is now based almost permanently in Sochi, a city on the Black Sea around 1,000 miles (1,609km) from the capital.
The reported move is just the latest rumour swirling around Putin and came as his spokesman strongly denied claims that he was suffering from potentially serious health problems.
Dmitry Peskov hinted that an unspecified enemy is behind the rumours which have surfaced in recent weeks.
Vladimir Putin has secretly moved to Sochi during the pandemic, going so far as to have a replica office built to convince Russians he’s still in Moscow, anti-Kremlin media reported. Pictured: Putin in his office at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow
Speculation around the president’s health has included suggestions that the 68-year-old is in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease or that he recently had surgery for abdominal cancer.
Peskov rubbished the speculation as ‘complete nonsense’ and ‘a compilation of various rumours.’
He added, without elaborating, that the government knows who is behind the rumours and knows ‘that this will keep going on’ but Putin was ‘not worried’ about questions over his health.
Peskov did not comment on Monday’s Proekt report regarding the alleged move to Sochi.
The report alleged that Putin has been staying at Bocharov Ruchey, his official summer residence in Sochi, contradicting information on the Kremlin website which says he is in the Moscow region.
The report from Proekt media claimed that Putin had a replica office built, intended to give the impression in TV broadcasts that the president has remained in Moscow during the coronavirus crisis. As evidence, the outlet pointed to an image of a meeting between Putin and VTB Bank chief Andrei Kostin on October 29 this year (left) which it alleges took place in Sochi and a 2017 meeting between the two men at Putin’s Moscow residence (right)
It claimed that the replica office is intended to give the impression in TV broadcasts that the president has remained in Moscow during the coronavirus crisis.
The outlet pointed to a photographed meeting between Putin and VTB Bank head Andrei Kostin on October 29 this year at Novo-Ogaryovo – Putin’s state residence outside Moscow – but claimed that the encounter actually took place in Sochi.
It compared the image to an almost identical shot of an earlier meeting between the two men at Novo-Ogaryovo in August 2017.
According to the Kremlin’s website, the October meeting took place at Novo-Ogaryovo.
Proekt said several sources had confirmed the ‘spot the difference’ office’s construction at the Sochi residence.
Among the rumours spokesman Peskov addressed were those surrounding Putin’s private life, namely that he has a secret child.
Sochi is a city on Russia’s Black Sea coast, made famous as the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics [File photo]
Another long-standing rumour is that Putin is in a long-term relationship with Olympic gold medal gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who is believed to live in Sochi, and that the pair may have children together.
Putin has repeatedly said that his private life should remain private and that he has no interest in making his family part of his public image as other world leaders do.
‘That’s his choice clearly reiterated on multiple occasions,’ Peskov said, adding that Russians had voted for him time and time again on the basis of his actions.
‘They have voted many times and have expressed support for the president and his deeds, rather than [his] family,’ he said.
Peskov’s comments came as a report claimed that Putin’s former son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov bought a $380million stake in a Russian petrochemical firm for just $100 after marrying the president’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.
The claim surrounding the Sibur shares was published in an investigation by iStories this week.
Another long-standing rumour is that Putin is in a long-term relationship with Olympic gold medal gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who is believed to live in Sochi, and that the pair may have children together. Pictured: Putin and Kabaeva in 2004 [File photo]