"Secret Palace" documentary: Putin in peril?

"Putin's palace" is still very much a hot topic. Last week, Navalny's team released a documentary about a bombastic luxury residence on the Black Sea. After nationwide protests, Putin commented on the palace in a live broadcast with selected students. But journalists are unconvinced and make their own snide comments about his statements.

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NV (UA) /

Denial was a tactical error

Only Putin could own a palace like this, NV jokes:

“Obviously, the mother-in-law, a nephew or one of 'those women' [the term Putin uses when denying he is the father] are out of the question. The same goes for any large company. ... And it can't be just some ordinary person either, because in that case this would pose the question of where they got the hundred billion roubles from, and why they're being guarded by the FSO [the Federal Protective Service for the president and government]. ... So the owner has to be an extremely rich person whose wealth is common knowledge and whom Putin trusts implicitly. But that poses a problem. None of the super-rich want to be drawn into a potentially super-toxic affair. ... Putin shouldn't have denied ownership of this property. He hasn't been able to convince anyone anyway, and now his legitimacy is already being questioned.”

Snob (RU) /

Putin unintentionally reveals tech illiteracy

We can safely assume that Putin has neither seen the film nor knows anything about the Internet, writes Snob columnist Konstantin Eggert:

“Putin insists that the palace does not belong either to him or to any of his relatives. Exactly. That's exactly what Navalny spends two hours proving: officially, the estate belongs to men who are just fronting for the president. So his response was not a real response. ... Particularly telling was the beginning of Putin's answer to the question about the film: he didn't have the time to watch the whole film so he had 'leafed through a selection of videos brought by his aides'. The president accompanied this explanation with a gesture as if he were turning the pages of a book. I have no idea how you can 'leaf through' a video, much less in the form of a mysterious 'selection'.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Putin as icon has been desecrated

For Anton Orech of Echo of Moscow this latest development points to a showdown between Navalny and Putin - although the image of him as a moral crusader is also being chipped away at by other investigative journalists:

“Putin has featured thousands of times in his videos and texts, but Navalny has never before attacked him personally. He knew very well that he only had one shot at this and it was going to be winner takes all. ... And obviously this is not just a battle between robber barons and Robin Hoods - to put it in black-and-white terms, but a very specific battle between Navalny and Putin. In recent months something unprecedented has been happening: journalists have been scrutinising Putin and the most intimate parts of his life. They are not only trying to tell the truth, but to destroy the image of him as a saint.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

An unprecedented frontal attack

Navalny is paying a high price for maintaining his political capital, writes the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“After the release of the film he is in more danger than ever of disappearing in prison for years - with the risk of major side-effects for his health. ... But Navalny is not surging ahead in an irrational show of bravado. ... He had to go on the offensive if the political capital that he has worked so hard to achieve in recent years was not to melt away in his absence. This has now been achieved. This frontal attack on Putin, which will be unprecedentedly far-reaching in its impact, will forever be written into Russian history, with Navalny's name attached to it.”

newsru.com (RU) /

Really not the time for revenge

Political scientist Kirill Rogov describes the drama of the situation in a Facebook post published by newsru.com:

“Navalny currently ranks fifth in the Twitter trends - in the US. ... He's a bona fide hero. Like Trump, but for all the right reasons. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing around the inmate of Detention Centre No. 1. The stakes are high. On the one hand, this mafia would have to kill him now if they want to deter potential imitators from challenging them so openly and fearlessly. Because otherwise what will become of their power? On the other hand, if they kill Navalny no one will remember that Putin 'won back Crimea' for them anymore, but only that Putin killed Navalny for telling people about his palace and his golden toilet brush.”