Vladimir Putin bought Russia’s largest apartment, a luxury penthouse in Sochi, the Russian resort city on the Black Sea, for his rumored mistress Alina Kabaeva, an investigation has found.
An investigation by Proekt, a Russian independent investigative media outlet banned by the Kremlin, found that in 2011, the Russian president bought a 2,600 square meter penthouse worth $15 million for his rumored lover that boasts a swimming pool, a cinema, a patio and a private helipad on its roof.
Kabaeva, a 39-year-old former Olympic gymnast, has been romantically linked to the Russian leader for years. The Kremlin has repeatedly shut down those rumors.
Images published by Proekt show the interior and rooftop of the two-story penthouse in the residential complex “Korolevskiy Park.” The apartment has an outdoor pool with “excellent sea views,” an open space with “several recreation areas,” a staircase and dining room almost entirely finished in marble, an office and library, an open fireplace, and a private cinema, which is “finished with precious woods.”
The penthouse is considered “the largest apartment in Russia,” and is registered under the name of Oleg Rudnov, an ally of Putin, the news outlet reported.
Proekt said its correspondent went to Sochi and pretended to be a potential buyer. Realtors selling apartments in the building said they had heard that the penthouse was “owned by Kabaeva.”
The outlet also spoke with 10 former and current high-ranking officials, and none of them “doubted the existence of a connection” between Putin and Kabaeva.
The pair reportedly met in the mid-2000s. In 2008, Putin divorced his wife, Lyudmila Shkrebneva, with whom he has two children, although the divorce was not acknowledged by the Kremlin until 2013.
According to Proekt, Putin also built a wooden mansion deep in the countryside for Kabaeva, located just 800 meters (2,624 feet) from his villa near Lake Valdai, in northern Russia, 250 miles northeast of Moscow.
“It was built specifically for Kabaeva,” the news outlet cited a source as saying.
The wooden mansion is reportedly registered to a company controlled by Yury Kovalchuk, a billionaire linked to the Kremlin who is known as the Russian leader’s banker.
Proekt reported that there is a “huge spa complex with a solarium, a cryo-chamber, a 25-meter swimming pool, a hammam, a sauna, a mud treatment room, massage baths, cosmetology and dentistry areas,” located near both Putin’s villa and Kabaeva’s wooden mansion.
Kabaeva has two Olympic medals, 14 World Championship medals and 21 European Championship medals. She has declined to confirm rumors that she is or has been in a relationship with the Russian leader.
There are also allegations that the pair share children.
Proekt cited a source as saying that there is a constant presence of children in Kabaeva’s residence near Lake Valdai.
Newsweek reached out to Russia’s foreign ministry for comment.
Do you have a tip on a world news story that Newsweek should be covering? Do you have a question about the Russia-Ukraine war? Let us know via [email protected].