Russian President Vladimir Putin says an opulent palace featured in a video by his arch-critic Alexei Navalny “doesn’t belong to me”.
The video called “Putin’s palace” went viral on Russian social media last week – more than 86m people have watched it.
The palace, by the Black Sea, was allegedly financed by billionaires close to Mr Putin. It is said to have a casino, skating rink and vineyard.
Thousands of people rallied for Mr Navalny across Russia on Saturday.
The 44-year-old, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, was jailed a week ago for 30 days, accused of parole violations. The survivor of a near-fatal nerve agent attack last August, he was arrested upon his return to Moscow from Berlin on 17 January.
Mr Putin called the palace video a “compilation and montage” and said he found it “boring”.
“Nothing that is listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and never did,” Mr Putin told students in a video conference.
He had watched bits of it – he had no time to watch all of it, he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Putin said no underage children should take part in pro-Navalny street protests, and added that the police should also act within the law, according to quotes carried by Reuters news agency.
No one should seek to advance “their ambitious objectives and goals, particularly in politics”, through protests, President Putin said, in an apparent reference to Mr Navalny.
Alexei Navalny’s team released the video after he was jailed on his return to Moscow.
The investigation alleges the property cost £1bn ($1.37bn) and was paid for “with the largest bribe in history”.
“[They] built a palace for their boss with this money,” Mr Navalny says in the video.
Last week the Kremlin denied the property belonged to the president.
The video alleges that Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) owns some 27sq miles (70sq km) of land around the palace.
Alexei Navalny – The basics
- Mr Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin
- He attempted to stand in the 2018 presidential race, but was barred because of an embezzlement conviction that he says was politically motivated
- An outspoken blogger, he has millions of Russian followers on social media and managed to get some supporters elected to local councils in Siberia in 2020