Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has spent too much time this summer occupying headlines instead of shaping them.
In early August, anti-Putin politician Alexei Navalny caught the spokesman wearing a hideously tacky watch priced at $600,000, some four times his official government salary. When pressed, Peskov claimed the watch was a wedding gift from his new wife, a former Olympic ice dancer. (RELATED: What Russians Say About Life After Putin)
Now, Navalny is accusing Peskov of an even grosser impropriety — taking a Mediterranean honeymoon aboard one of the world’s biggest luxury yachts. The $426,000-a-week vessel is called the Maltese Falcon. According to its website, it features a full gymnasium, the capacity to set up an open-air movie theater and of course, a hot tub.
Citing a confidential source, Navalny then backed up his claim with social media as well as data from web sites that track large boats’ movements. Navalny, one of the most internet-savvy figures in Russian politics, then encouraged his followers and supporters to further investigate the rumor. (RELATED: Putin’s Biggest Surviving Critic Thinks Arming Ukraine Is A Bad Idea)
Navalny’s crowdsourced investigation did not disappoint. As documented by the website Bellingcat, they found not only geotagged photographs on Twitter and Instagram from people close to Peskov, but also a live webcam in Sardinia, showing that the yacht in question was exactly where Peskov’s relatives revealed themselves to be.
Both revelations come at a time when Russians are cutting back their grocery bills in order to cope with a sinking currency, as well as the economic effects of Russia banning imports from dozens of Western countries. (RELATED: US Pressure Leads 6 In 10 Russians To Buy Cheaper Groceries)
It is unlikely that Peskov will face retribution for his indiscretion. Figures close to Putin have flaunted their unaccountable wealth for years. But Navalny’s quick investigative stunt proves Russians’ increasing willingness to question their country’s most powerful people.
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