Navalny launches new attack on Putin's inner circle
Aug. 09, 2017
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has launched a new YouTube attack against President Vladimir Putin's close associates.
By Wednesday, the video describing assets of billionaire brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg and their sons had already accumulated over 900,000 clicks since its release a day earlier. It's the latest in a series of YouTube videos by Navalny intended to expose alleged ill-gotten wealth of top government officials and Kremlin-linked tycoons.
The Rotenberg brothers' ties to Putin date to the 1960s when they practiced judo at the same sports club. Arkady Rotenberg and his younger brother Boris shot to prominence after Putin's election, becoming some of the country's most influential businessmen. Both have been placed under Western sanctions since 2014, following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Arkady Rotenberg is worth $2.5 billion, and his brother's wealth is estimated at just over $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Navalny's video charged that the Rotenbergs won lucrative government orders unfairly, including a new Siberian gas pipeline contract and another deal to build a bridge to Crimea.
It also mentioned the Platon electronic highway toll collection system, operated by a company controlled by Arkady Rotenberg's son. The toll, established in 2015 to offset damage to highways caused by heavy trucks, has triggered protests by truck drivers across Russia.
The video included aerial footage of the Rotenbergs' palatial mansions outside Moscow and in Italy, and featured angry truckers expressing outrage over the show of wealth.
Navalny rose to prominence with his investigations of official corruption. His recent documentary about alleged assets of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been viewed more than 24 million times, helping fuel a series of anti-corruption protests across Russia.
Navalny has declared his intention to run for president in the March 2018 presidential election even though a conviction he calls politically motivated bars him from running.