Putin Tops Medvedev in Pay

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made more money than President Dmitry Medvedev last year, but both leaders were far out-earned by Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin, according to official records released Monday.

The income declarations, released by all top officials for a second year running, are part of an effort by Medvedev to crack down on government corruption by requiring officials and their families to disclose their annual earnings and some assets.

Officials, however, are not required to declare where the money came from, and the lavish spending patterns of some officials in contrast to their stated incomes has raised questions about the reliability of the declarations.

Putin made 3.9 million rubles ($134,000) last year, while his wife, Lyudmila Putina, earned a meager 582 rubles ($20) and has no assets, according to their income declarations published on the government's web site.

Putin's earnings dropped 15 percent against 2008, when he declared 4.6 million rubles ($158,500).

But the prime minister added a Russian-made off-road vehicle to his garage, which already included two vintage Volga cars and a Soviet Skif trailer. Putin, who usually travels in dark Mercedes limousines, bought the Lada Niva last year to show support for the country's crisis-hit auto industry — only to later reveal that it had been equipped with a German engine.

Putin's other assets consist of a 1,500-square-meter plot of land, an apartment of unidentified size, leases for a 153.7-square-meter apartment with an 18-square-meter garage, and a space in a parking lot.

Echoing his perceived political superiority, Putin's income was significantly higher than that of Medvedev, who made 3.3 million rubles ($113,774) in 2009, down from 4.1 million rubles a year earlier, according to a statement on the Kremlin's web site.

Medvedev's wife, Svetlana, had no income but co-owns a 367.8-square-meter apartment with him. She also declared bank savings of 7,504 rubles ($256) and an 11-year old Volkswagen Golf.

Medvedev's assets included 3.6 million rubles ($123,300) in 12 bank accounts and a lease on a 4,700-square-meter plot of land.

In a sign that the president shares a passion for vintage cars with his mentor Putin, he bought a 1948 GAZ Pobeda last year, his spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told Vedomosti.

In contrast, ordinary Russians had an average monthly income of 15,896 rubles ($550) in the first nine months of 2009, according to the State Statistics Service's web site. The figure for Moscow was 47,000 rubles ($1,620).

The official declarations rank Putin and Medvedev among the more modestly paid world leaders. The U.S. president earns $400,000 per year.

But other Russian government officials display much more conspicuous wealth.

The Cabinet's top earner was once again Natural Resources Minister Trutnev, who had an income of 155 million rubles ($5.34 million), less than half of the nearly 370 million rubles that he declared last year. Among his cars, Trutnev listed a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, a Maserati and a snowmobile.

Another top earner was newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin, a former Norilsk CEO, who declared earnings of 795 million rubles ($27 million), plus 137 million rubles ($4.7 million) from his wife.

The couple boasts 32 properties, including three houses. The Khloponins' impressive car collection includes two Mercedes Benz S-class limousines, a Bentley Arnage and a Jaguar Daimler.

Khloponin, who was Krasnoyarsk's governor before he was appointed to the federal government post in January, appears on the lists for both Kremlin and government officials because he is also the presidential envoy to the new North Caucasus Federal District.

Incidentally, governors earn up to 352,000 rubles ($11,900) per month, a figure that surpasses Medvedev’s salary of 244,000 rubles and Putin’s 204,000 rubles per month, according to the Finance Ministry.

Among the top earners on the Kremlin list is presidential adviser and former Telecommunications Minister Leonid Reiman, who together with his wife declared an income of 96 million rubles ($3.3 million) and several impressive vehicles, including three Mercedes Benz cars, a hovercraft, a snowmobile and a personal watercraft.

Reiman's tenure as minister, which lasted from 1999 to 2008, was dogged by allegations that he secretly held stakes in telecoms companies. Reiman has denied the allegations.

Medvedev's former university classmate and Kremlin audit department head Konstantin Chuichenko declared an income of 21.7 million rubles ($750,000), numerous properties, two SUVs and a Grandezza 26 speedboat. Chuichenko's wife and two daughters are listed as owners of 28 real estate holdings, including two houses with 900 square meters each.

Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko and his wife, Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova, both declared apartments of 218 square meters and 142 square meters. Earlier this year it became known that the couple owns a luxury condominium in Moscow's Fantasy Island residential complex, which City Hall has threatened with destruction.

Among the highest earning spouses is Natalya Dubovitskaya, wife of Kremlin administration first deputy chief Vladislav Surkov, who reported 56.4 million rubles ($1.95 million), more than eight times the 6.3 million rubles claimed by her husband.

Zumrud Rustamova, wife of Medvedev's economic adviser Arkady Dvorkovich, reported earnings of 27 million rubles ($951,000), dwarfing her husband's 3.9 million rubles.

Unlike last year, Monday's declarations did not identify spouses by name.

Medvedev's and Putin's modest salaries seem to be inconsistent with the luxury brands that the two men wear. Russian journalists have spotted Medvedev wearing a Breguet watch and Putin wearing Breguet and Patek Philippe watches. The watches sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

Both Kremlin spokespeople and Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov were unavailable for comment Monday.

Opposition politicians and experts said the figures for Medvedev and Putin were hard to believe.

"The only effect of such figures is that nobody believes in them and the public loses interest," said Stanislav Belkovsky, a former Kremlin insider and independent political analyst.

Viktor Ilyukhin, a Communist State Duma deputy, said the income declarations were a "sham" and a purely populist measure. "It is no accident that Putin has been mentioned in the past as being among the world's most wealthy statesmen," he told The Moscow Times.

Since 2004, media reports have circulated that billionaires Gennady Timchenko of the Gunvor oil trading company and Yury Kovalchuk of Bank Rossia are intermediaries for Putin's personal business interests.

Yelena Panfilova, head of Transparency International in Russia, said the declarations were formally correct. "Tax inspectors will most probably not find any mistakes," she said.

The main problem, she said, was that the declarations are only required to include income, real estate and cars. "Not shown are profits from business ownership and income or assets outside Russia," she said.

Monday's declarations did contain some property abroad, including a house and plot of land owned by Khloponin's wife in Italy, and an apartment in Monaco owned by the wife of Pavel Astakhov, the presidential children's rights ombudsman.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who together with his wife declared a 1.3 billion ruble ($44.5 million) income, rents a 1,480-square-meter house in Austria and a 424-square-meter apartment in Britain.

See also:

Co-Owner of Russia’s Vneshprombank Released From Custody in Monaco

Board Chairman at Prokhorov Firm Quadra Detained in Moscow

Russian Real Incomes Drop 11.5% in May

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