Reuters: The property manager and Putin's friends
A little-known Russian businessman from St Petersburg has provided properties to multiple women who share one common theme: President Vladimir Putin, according to Reuters.
One of the women is Putin's younger daughter; two are close relatives of a woman Russian media have reported to be Putin's girlfriend – though the president has strongly denied any relationship. And a fourth is a student who posed for a calendar celebrating the president's birthday. All of the properties are in upmarket gated complexes in and around Moscow, Stephen Grey and Jack Stubbs wrote in the article titled "The property manager and Putin's friends," published by Reuters on Thursday, March 31.
Public records show Grigory Baevsky, a 47-year-old business associate of an old friend of Putin, sold or transferred the properties to three of the women. In the other case, Putin's younger child, Katerina Tikhonova, used the address of a flat owned by Baevsky as her own when registering a new company.
The connections add to the picture of individuals in Putin's wider circle and the way these people blur the lines between public and private business.
Last year, Reuters reported that Putin's daughter Tikhonova, who holds a senior position at Moscow State University, is personally advised by some of Putin's oldest friends. She is also married to Kirill Shamalov, son of billionaire Nikolai Shamalov, an associate of Putin's.
Baevsky has worked as an aide to another close friend of Putin, his judo partner, Arkady Rotenberg.
Public records show that companies co-owned by Baevsky have benefited from state construction contracts worth at least 6 billion rubles ($89 million) in the past two years.
Baevsky has previously attracted little attention. His connection to Putin was uncovered by investigative journalist Roman Anin who was conducting research for the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an East European media network.
Baevsky is a former property manager for a state company in St Petersburg. In 2006, he founded a dacha cooperative near the city with Arkady Rotenberg and Rotenberg's brother Boris, public records show.
Baevsky went into business with the Rotenbergs in 2011, working until 2014 as a director at Arkady Rotenberg's investment vehicle, the Russian Holding company, according to corporate filings. Public records also show he was declared as an 'affiliated person' of SMP Bank, which is majority-owned by the brothers.
Arkady Rotenberg was among the first Russian businessmen to be put under Western visa bans and asset freezes over Moscow's seizure of Crimea. According to the U.S. Treasury, Rotenberg and his brother Boris have won billions of dollars from projects awarded to them by Putin. The brothers have denied getting help from the Russian leader for their businesses.
Reuters sent questions about the property deals to Baevsky's last known home address, and to businesses owned by him, but received no response.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters: "We know nothing about who this (Baevsky) is. The President is also not acquainted with him."
Separately, Peskov told reporters on a conference call that the Kremlin was facing a series of queries from international media about Putin's relationship with his childhood friends and their receipt of state contracts. He said he would not comment because the Kremlin believes the articles are part of a politically-motivated campaign to discredit Putin.
A spokesman for Rotenberg said the businessman had no information about Baevsky's property deals. Asked if Baevsky was acting on behalf of Rotenberg in his property dealings, or if they were related to Rotenberg's friendship with Putin, Rotenberg's spokesman said: "Of course not. Such declarations are absurd." The spokesman said Baevsky "does not work" for any Arkady Rotenberg company or holding.