Being the president of Russia sounds awesome: Not only do you get to blow off boring state meetings to go for drinks with your biker buddies, but the perks include four yachts and 43 planes, one with a $75,000 toilet. At least that's what a report from a Russian opposition group claims in its outline of presidential perks instituted since Vladimir Putin first took office 12 years ago. The Associated Press puts the cost of Putin's lifestyle at $2.5 billion a year.
Intended to paint Putin as an out-of-touch playboy who doesn't understand the plight of average struggling Russians, the report, called "The Life of a Galley Slave" (because Putin said in 2008 the work of ruling Russia was like being a galley slave), reads like a spread in Town & Country. Or at least it looks like one. The PDF of the original is in Russian, but the photos are easy enough to understand, and its details have fortunately made their way into the English-language press. "As well as 15 helicopters, the 43 other aircraft available to Putin include an Airbus, two Dassault Falcon executive jets and an Ilyushin Il-96 airliner that features an $18-million cabin fitted out by jewelers— and that toilet which, the report says, cost close to $75,000," Reuters' Steve Gutterman reports. "One 53.7-metre yacht with a designer interior, a spa pool, waterfall and wine cellar is relegated to second best." There are three others to choose from, including a five-decker "with a Jacuzzi, barbecue, a maple wood colonnade and a huge bathroom faced in marble." Putin reportedly gets the use of 20 presidencial residences including "Constantine Palace, a Czarist-era estate on the Gulf of Finland restored at the cost of tens of millions of dollars, a ski lodge in the Caucasus Mountains and a Gothic revival palace in the Moscow region," according to The New York Times' Andrew E. Kramer. The report "said a little-known three-storey residence near Saratov, on the Volga river southeast of Moscow, has German chandeliers and Italian furniture, and features a billiard room, a winter garden, a pool and sauna," Reuters' Gutterman wrote.
Then there's the presidential watch collection, per The Times' Kramer:
The authors, Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who has been jailed a number of times on various pretexts, and Leonid Martynyuk, a member of the Solidarity movement, present enlarged photographs of the Russian leader’s wrist during meetings and public appearances, revealing a variety of expensive watches, 11 in all, worth $687,000 at retail — about six times Mr. Putin’s annual salary.
Putin denies he's individually wealthy -- he's been rumored to possess billions in oil money, which he says is a lie -- but with all these state-bought toys to play with, he doesn't need his own fortune.