Vladimir Putin has denied he owned a palace on the Black Sea after arch rival Alexei Navalny accused him of owning it in an anti-corruption investigation.
“Nothing listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives and has never been,” Putin said during a video call with students on Monday.
The Russian President spoke out after a weekend that saw thousands take to the streets to protest against Navalny, who is currently serving a 30-day prison sentence. One of his allies called for further demonstrations on Monday.
Meanwhile, Russia angrily accused Facebook and other US tech giants of failing to remove so-called fake information about the weekend’s demonstrations.
Vladimir Putin was forced to refuse to own a mega-palace on Russia’s Black Sea coast after Alexei Navalny accused him of building it with money embezzled by the Russian state
Navalny published a lengthy investigation upon his return to Russia, which was filled with details about the palace (pictured) including floor plans and details of the interior
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would investigate the matter further and spit early between the country and the new Biden government.
Speaking of Navalny’s investigation into the palace, which was released along with an hour-long video showing evidence of Putin as the owner, the Russian leader said he had not “seen it in full”.
This was due to a “lack of time,” he said before adding that he was “leafing through the video selection my aides brought me”.
He also denounced weekend protests as “illegal and dangerous”.
As he spoke, Leonid Volkov, head of the opposition politician’s regional network, tweeted a call for Russians across the country to take to the streets on January 31, “for Navalny’s freedom, for freedom for all and for justice”.
Putin had come under pressure in recent months as high-profile information about his health and personal life emerged, which has now been reinforced with the return of arch-rival Navalny to Russia.
The charismatic 44-year-old anti-corruption activist had been to Germany to recover from what Western governments called an attempted assassination attempt with Novichok, a nerve agent from the Soviet era.
Putin also denounced protests that took place over the weekend in Russia as “illegal and dangerous” even as Navalny’s allies called for them to continue
Police officers clash with participants during a rally in Moscow in support of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Navalny accuses Putin of ordering his death through an FSB cadre. Russian denies the allegations.
On his return to Russia, Navalny was immediately arrested by the Russian prison service and embroiled in a trial in which a judge ordered him to be detained for 30 days on suspicion of violating early suspended sentences.
Navalny will then face a second trial on these charges, in which he could be imprisoned for another three and a half years.
When he was jailed, Navalny used social media to encourage mass protests across the country that took place over the weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters took part in demonstrations in 70 cities on Saturday in a bid to defy Putin.
His wife, Yulia Navalnaya, 44, was among around 3,400 people arrested by officers. After her arrest, she posted a selfie entitled, “Sorry for the poor quality. Very bad light in the police car. ‘
Protesters were dragged to police buses and detention vehicles by riot officers, while some activists were beaten with police clubs.
The 44-year-old politician was recently poisoned with the chemical nerve agent Novichok and imprisoned in Russia
Authorities eventually pushed protesters from Moscow’s Pushkin Square, but thousands then clustered along a wide boulevard about half a mile away. Many of them threw snowballs at the police before they dispersed.
The police’s violent scenes have been condemned by both the United States and the European Union, whose foreign affairs chief said he regretted the “widespread arrests” and the “disproportionate use of force”.
Similarly, the United States urged the Russian authorities to release detained protesters and journalists and condemned what they termed “tough tactics” against them.
Throughout the day and into the early hours of Sunday morning people were seen holding signs saying “Russia will be free” and chanting “Putin is a thief”.
Some then marched towards the Kremlin, while others blocked Tverskaya Street, the capital’s main thoroughfare.
Reuters reporters estimated that at least 40,000 people had gathered in central Moscow for one of the largest unauthorized rallies in years, but authorities claimed only 4,000 people showed up.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of tough tactics against protesters and journalists this weekend in cities across Russia,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
People march during a protest against the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia
European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said in a post on Twitter that he regretted the “disproportionate use of force” by the authorities, while British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the “use of force against peaceful demonstrators and journalists”.
Navalny’s detention and the arrest of his supporters are “worrying signs of further restrictions on civil society and fundamental freedoms,” he added.
“We call on the Russian authorities to release all detainees for exercising their universal rights and the immediate and unconditional release of Aleksey Navalny,” Price said using an alternative spelling.
“We urge Russia to cooperate fully with the international community’s investigation into the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny and to credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil.”
Other revelations Putin has faced include a revelation from a former mistress and the revelation that he has a 17-year-old love child with him – a daughter named Elizaveta.
Allegations – denied by the Kremlin – also emerged that Putin had Parkinson’s disease and was being treated for cancer.
Putin’s ‘Liebeskind’, 17, follows ALEXEI NAVALNY on Instagram
Vladimir Putin’s alleged love child follows Alexei Navalny on Instagram, where she regularly trolls over her father.
Elizaveta, known as Luiza, is the daughter of cleaning lady Svetlana Krivonogikh, 45, who reportedly had an affair with the Kremlin leader in the late 1990s.