Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of massive corruption in a report accompanied by a Youtube video he posted on Thursday.
The anti-corruption activist alleged Medvedev controls a property empire including mansions, yachts and vineyards financed by bribes from oligarchs to a network of non-profit organisations.
“Based on the documentation disclosed, we can confirm that at least 70 billion rubles (1.3 billion euros or US$1.19 billion) have been transferred in cash and assets to Medvedev’s foundations,” said Navalny, who heads the Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Medvedev “practically openly created a corrupt network of charitable foundations through which he receives bribes from oligarchs and frantically builds himself palaces and vacation homes across the whole country,” the report alleged.
The report was welcomed by Transparency International Russia, a non-profit organization that targets corruption, though it questioned some of its conclusions.
Findings met with skepticism
Navalny has sworn that he will be a candidate in upcoming elections despite being dogged by legal problems
“There are certain doubts in the story of Ilia Yeliseyev, the deputy chairman of the Gazprombank. It is doubtful that Yeliseyev is just a scarecrow. Despite the fact he was a classmate of Medvedev, he is an important figure. He could have earned that fortune himself,” spokesman Gleb Gawrisch told DW.
Gawrisch also said although it looked suspicious it wasn’t actually illegal for Medvedev to use real estate owned by non-profit organizations
“Corrupt officials often use non-profit organizations to hide financial flows and property,” he conceded in a statement to Deutsche Welle.
“The problem is finding out who the ultimate beneficiary is, and we are delighted that the Anti-Corruption Foundation has succeeded in presenting such an extraordinary investigation.”
Medvedev, a lawyer from Saint Petersburg, was president from 2008 to 2012 while Vladimir Putin served as premier between presidential terms. Medvedev intended to run in the 2018 presidential election.
Navalny, also a lawyer, garnered notoriety for his denunciations against corruption and was sentenced to five years in prison with a suspended sentence for embezzlement, which forbid him from being a candidate in the elections.
His -minute video amassed several hundred thousand views in a few hours on YouTube.
Anti-Corruption Foundation, Don’t Call Him Dimon: Palaces, Yachts, and Vineyards—Dmitry Medvedev’s Secret Empire. YouTube video, with subtitles in English. Posted March 2, 2017, by Alexei Navalny
Navalny said that the foundations receive “donations” from oligarchs and companies, which are then used to purchase lavish properties for Medvedev, who is never registered as the owner.
“The prime minister and his trusted friends have created a criminal scheme, not with companies registered in tax havens as usual, but with non-profit foundations, which makes it virtually impossible to determine the owner of the assets,” he said.
“Medvedev can steal so much and so openly because Putin does the same, only on a bigger scale,” he wrote, presenting his team’s online report.
Navalny said he was able to establish the links to Medvedev by tracing the purchases online.
Medvedev’s spokeswoman dismissed the allegations as promotion for Navalny’s presidential bid.
“Navalny’s material is clearly electioneering in nature,” Natalya Timakova told RIA Novosti state news agency. “It’s pointless to comment on the propagandistic attacks of an oppositional convict,” she added.