Roman Badanin, an independent Russian journalist who fled Russia after receiving death threats and was in danger of imprisonment, gave an interview to CNN where he discussed his investigation into the secret luxurious lifestyle of Russian President Vladimir Putin and details about his mistress, Alina Kabaeva.
Badanin gave CNN this new and exclusive information about Putin's life of extravagance and details regarding the woman believed to be his mistress and mother of his children, gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva.
According to the information disclosed in this interview, Putin lives in a lavish mansion in Cape Idokpas, also is known as the Cape Idokpas Palace or "Putin's Palace." It's a large complex located on the Black Sea coast near Gelendzhik in southern Russia's Krasnodar Krai. He often arrives there by armored train – his preferred mode of travel.
What we know about Putin's Palace
Now, information about Putin's Palace has circulated for years. Its existence was first disclosed back in 2010 by whistleblower Sergei Kolesnikov.
In 2021, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's nonprofit FBK published a documentary about it called Putin's Palace. History of the World's Largest Bribe, though the Kremlin denied Putin owned it.
A number of Russian oligarchs have claimed ownership, such as Alexander Pomerenko, Alexei Vasilyuk and Arkady Rotenberg.
However, information about what actually went on inside, or what the interior looked like, was hard to come by barring images leaked by FBK. But on CNN, Badanin showed photos from the inside – though CNN didn't independently verify the report and can't confirm the authenticity of these photos.
The photos from inside the mansion show the interior is decorated with gold, from Putin's office to his bedroom.
The exiled Russian journalist showed CNN a number of photos he claimed were taken in the mansion. In thse, one can see, among other things, a gold-framed mirror, gold chandeliers and a dining room with a glass table and gold chairs.
In the aforementioned dining room is a chandelier in the shape of a ball with golden leaves. Another chandelier is shown descending three stories covered in gold and rubies.
Putin's secret life with his mistress
These images were first shared by independent Russian media outlet Prokt in a report titled "Iron Masks." That same report also claimed that Putin lives with his mistress, Kabaeva.
"Putin is absolutely 100% crazy about the secrecy around his personal life, about his relatives and specifically about Kabaeva. Probably, I would say the Kabaeva is the biggest taboo in Russia," Badanin told CNN, adding that Putin's inner circle knows the Russian president and Kabaeva are together but none of them have ever seen them together.
Earlier, Prokt reported that Putin built a separate residence for Kavaeva and their children near a boat dock and a secret railway to the mansion. Construction of Kabaeva's residence began in 2020 and according to the report, the homes are located near where a huge spa complex has also been built, which contains a solarium, cryotherapy chambers, a swimming pool, mudroom, sauna and cosmetic treatments and dentistry areas. The report also found that Kabaeva owns Russia's largest penthouse and around $120 million in real estate.
Later, Badanin spoke with the Spanish news outlet Antena 3, where he repeated these findings. However, he also pointed out that the fact that Putin has this romantic and family relationship and even children is a kind of guarantee for world peace. He concluded that Putin isn't someone who would start a nuclear war – because he loves his life of luxury too much.