Dubai Dig: Alexei Navalny exposed the link between the Putin’s inner circle and the UAE

Dubai Dig: Alexei Navalny exposed the link between the Putin’s inner circle and the UAE

On March 23rd 2022, Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny l was murdered in a Russian penal colony while serving a  politically motivated sentence. For over a decade, Navalny had led the influential Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) in  investigating the questionable wealth and conflicts of interest plaguing Russia’s political elites. Through fact-based exposés, Navalny shone a light on the hidden fortunes and business ties of government officials that contradicted their public servant salaries.

His persistent criticism of President Vladimir Putin and calls for fair elections ultimately led to Navalny’s imprisonment in January 2021 on extremism charges decried as unjust around the world. Even incarcerated, Navalny continued producing corruption investigations from behind bars that rattled Russia’s ruling United Russia party. Tragically, Navalny had narrowly survived an assassination attempt in 2020 when authorities poisoned him with a lethal nerve agent while onboard a domestic flight.

The Anti-Corruption Fund (ACF) led by the late opposition politician Alexei Navalny has uncovered significant real estate holdings in Dubai allegedly belonging to over a dozen members of the Russian State Duma. Their discovery sheds light on lavish foreign assets acquired by the Russian  lawmakers even as “patriotic” legislation restricting foreign ties is passed domestically. It comes at a time of heightened political tensions between Russia and the democratic West over Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and at a time of “renewed brotherly love” between Vladimir Putin the UAE ruler , Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

By combing through Dubai’s land registry records, the ACF linked multiple luxury apartments and villas to United Russia, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), and Communist Party of the Russian Federation members. Notable among them, records show that in 2022 Grigory Anikeev of United Russia acquired a Palm Jumeirah penthouse with over 1200 square meters of space and a 557 square meter terrace, at a cost of more than 2.1 billion rubles (13.3 million US   D) . Another deputy, Pavel Fedyaev from LDPR, uses Dubai apartments totaling 361 million rubles (4.8 million USD) in value located within a skyscraper that includes a private pier. In 2023, LDPR deputy Boris Paikin purchased a 100 square meter apartment in the Dubai Marina area for 88 million rubles(1.2 million USD). Most of these acquisitions correlate with a period of significant ruble depreciation against foreign currencies due to international sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022.

The scale and opulence of such real estate holdings by Russian officials is remarkable, showing total disregard to anything resembling the rule of law. In some cases, properties have been placed in the names of family members like brothers and wives, though the FBK notes this does not preclude the true owners’ access to and enjoyment of the assets. Flight records also allegedly show one deputy continues traveling extensively with an ex-wife despite transferring assets to her name years prior during divorce proceedings questioned as a formality. The timeline and circumstances surrounding many of the Dubai acquisitions warrant closer examination of deputies’ adherence to legal and ethical guidelines regarding public servants’ private affairs.

Looking more closely at some of the individuals involved, Grigory Anikeev has served as a United Russia deputy-Vladimir Putin’s party,  in the Russian state  Duma since 2007. Over that time, he has co-authored legislation restricting the adoption of Russian orphans by American families as well as a bill designating certain civil society organizations as “foreign agents.” Despite promoting policies limiting outside influence, Anikeev’s son obtained citizenship in the European nation of Malta at only 16 years old.

Another named Russian-MP , Pavel Fedyaev of LDPR, saw his father Mikhail purchase Fedyaev’s Dubai apartments in 2022. This occurred after Mikhail faced charges for his role as the owner of a mine where 51 miners died in an explosion the previous year, ultimately resulting in his release under a recognizance agreement not to depart the country. Fedyaev Sr.’s investment in Dubai properties amid an ongoing criminal case in Russia is peculiar and worth further legal review.

Perhaps the most prominent figure, United Russia deputy Vladislav Reznik has held his Duma seat for an extraordinary 23 years while cultivating close ties to President Vladimir Putin. However, in 2016 Spain issued an international arrest warrant for Reznik relating to his alleged involvement in organized crime and money laundering through the notorious Tambov gang. Before that, Reznik had divorced his now ex-wife Diana Gindin, transferring various assets to her name which the FBK argues was done without genuine separation. Dubai records show Gindin acquired over 185 million rubles worth of apartments there in 2022. Combined with evidence Reznik continues accompanying Gindin on flights, serious questions emerge around using foreign real estate and divorce as possible means of laundering or shielding illicit funds. As such, the deputies’ profiles highlight contradictions between their political roles and responsibilities and apparent personal affairs that demand further accountability and transparency.

A recurring theme among several of the implicated deputies is their public promotion of policies emphasizing Russian nationalism and isolationism at odds with their own lucrative overseas interests. For example, LDPR’s Vladimir Koshelev co-authored proposed legislation that would ban Russian officials from owning foreign real estate, yet records show the mother of his children holds a 188 million ruble apartment in Dubai. Similarly, Anatoly Bifov of the Communist Party has urged citizens to vacation exclusively within Russia, yet his close relatives including brother and children reside in Dubai and hold property there.

United Russia deputy Alexander Prokopiev, who funds patriotic causes through his mother’s large party donations, allegedly invested family money in no less than 11 Dubai apartments totaling 700 million rubles in 2022.

Navalny’s organization vows to honor his legacy and continue the urgent work of exposing corruption at the highest levels. To this day, the ACF remains one of the only forces diligently documenting conflicts of interest and illicit wealth accumulation among Russia’s ruling political elite.

Written by Eagle

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