Italian Palace For Corrupt Czar

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You can see the sprawling, Italian-style palace on the Black Sea in satellite photos. There is a fitness spa, a hideaway tea house, a concert amphitheater and a pad for three helicopters. It is still under construction, but already the cost is said to total more than USD 1 billion.

And most amazing of all, according to a Russian whistleblower named Sergey Kolesnikov, it was predominantly paid for with money donated by Russian businessmen for the use of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The funds have come “mainly through a combination of corruption, bribery and theft,” charges Kolesnikov, a businessman who until November 2009 worked for one of the companies he alleges was investing money for Putin.

Kolesnikov lays out the story of this 21st-century czar’s palace — and the secret funding network that is paying for it — in a remarkable open letter to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. This letter was delivered Tuesday to the Russian UN mission in New York, and a full English translation is available online at CorruptionFreeRussia.com. It is one of the most detailed allegations of the links between Putin and Russia’s “crony capitalism.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/22/AR2010122203770.html

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