We’re all learning a lot about Russian President Vladimir Putin — probably more than we really want to know.
But as the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on, understanding Putin’s finances might offer insights into the man’s character and why he behaves the way he does.
Following are some key facts about Putin and his money.
1. He might be among the world’s richest people
Like so many things about Putin, this is a mystery.
In 2017, William Browder, founder of Hermitage Capital Management — which once was among the largest investment advisers in Russia — testified before Congress that Putin had a net worth of around $200 billion. Browder contended that Putin piled up much of that wealth through questionable means.
But in truth, no one knows how much money Putin has. And as Bloomberg Opinion columnist Leonid Bershidsky once wrote, it might not matter: “He has the whole country at his beck and call.”
2. He makes a modest salary … at least on paper
For such an allegedly rich man, Putin collects a relatively small paycheck.
Russia’s president earns about $119,000 per year, according to disclosure documents released by the Kremlin.
By comparison, Putin’s U.S. counterpart — President Joe Biden — is living in the lap of luxury. The U.S. president earns $400,000 per year.
3. He supposedly owns a small home
This is another example of where things may not be exactly what they seem when it comes to Putin.
Kremlin disclosures claim that Putin owns an 830-square-foot apartment and a 193-square-foot garage. That would make him the very definition of Joe Average.
But King Farouk might be closer to the truth. Critics say Putin owns many properties, including the infamous “Putin’s Palace,” a complex located on the Black Sea coast near Gelendzhik, a town in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar Krai.
The cost of the build? A mere $1.3 billion.
4. He loves luxury watches
In an age where cellphones have made wristwatches a relic of the past, Putin stubbornly clings to a love of timepieces.
In 2012, it was reported that Putin had a collection of luxury wristwatches valued at nearly $700,000.
5. He’s been personally sanctioned
The world community has responded to the invasion of Ukraine by hitting Russia with widespread sanctions that are expected to devastate the Russian economy. Those sanctions also have targeted Putin’s own personal wealth.
At least on the surface, that means world governments are preventing banks and other businesses from transacting with Putin in any way. But reports say Putin hides his assets, and few are kept in traditional institutions such as banks.
That reality could limit the potential effectiveness of such sanctions.
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