An oyster farm reportedly linked to
President Vladimir Putin has been bought by one of the Russian
leader's closest allies.
Alexander Ponomarenko bought full control of seafood company Yuzhnaya
Tsitadel from its former CEO Alexei Vasilyuk, the Kommersant
newspaper reported Friday.
The farm controls 1000 hectares of sea
and coastline close to an infamous mega-mansion dubbed “Putin's
Palace” by the Russian press.
The 17,700-square-meter hotel complex
in the Black Sea resort of Gelendzhik was bought by Ponomarenko in
2011, but had previously been linked to the Russian leader.
Writing in an open letter to
then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010, entrepreneur Sergei
Kolesnikov alleged that he had helped build the complex for Putin and
The Reuters news agency later reported
that the mansion had been built using public money earmarked for a
billion-dollar hospital project.
The oyster farm adjoining the property
was uncovered by Russia's RBC news outlet in May 2016.
A company source told Reuters
that the investigation was the “final straw” for the Kremlin,
leading to the departure of three top editors from the publication.
RBC Group Editor-in-chief Elizaveta
Osetinskaya, RBC newspaper Maxim Solyus, and web editor Roman Badanin
had ran numerous investigations into how Putin’s friends and
family members had accumulated their vast fortunes.
The Kremlin denies all claims.