Vladimir Putin: Russian palace in Navalny video not mine – BBC News

to russia now where on monday president vladimir putin denied allegations linking him to a luxurious property on the black sea coast they were his first comments since mass protests erupted across the country over the weekend the mansion was featured in a video investigation released by jailed kremlin critic alexa navalny the film called putin's palace went viral on russian social media last week and has already been watched more than 90 million times on saturday thousands of russians took to the streets braving police violence in what was a symbolic victory for mr novelmany he has been imprisoned since mid-january after returning to russia from germany where he spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning something which she blames on the russian president well i'm joined now by maria pefchick from the anti-corruption investigative unit the team behind the investigation maria thank you so much for joining us i'll get to the investigation in a moment but first of all over the weekend we saw mass protests across russia and we really have seen uh protests in the past but can you tell me what makes these different um well i mean the scale of it was definitely different we haven't seen anything like that really ever probably uh because we are talking about the so-called unauthorized unsanctioned process so they state has not authorized those people to go in the streets and um so those people are risking well they were risking everything you know being arrested being beaten up and um they still went and we're talking about um 150 200 000 people of street um in the streets of 120 different cities across russia so i think the scale of it is very different uh you lead mr navalny's investigative team in fact you're one of the authors behind putin's palace tell me why you decided to put out this particular investigation the timing of it um well we decided to do that i think a day or two after alexa regained conscious countries after he was poisoned with a novichok i think he was still in the emergency room in the hospital awards when he said okay that's that's what we're going to do next uh we knew for sure we were hundred percent confident um who is about who is behind the poison name we knew that an operation of such scale is impossible um really and it could only be done um well i guess by direct order from vladimir putin so we didn't really have any doubt um about who's behind it and we decided to do what we do best an investigation about him personally about his personal wealth about his palace that he had secretly built in russia and um the luxurious lifestyle that he's living for years yesterday we heard mr putin uh respond and and say that actually this palace is not mine it doesn't belong to me were you surprised to hear that um not really because this is um how he always responds he says exactly the same thing about his daughters um he denies the fact that two women who live in russia and who are also very very wealthy but he denies the fact that they are his daughters he denies most obvious things that that everybody in the world understand are true he just says no that's not true like remember what happened with scribbles and with uh two gre offices who um came to britain to poison scribbles vladimir putin denied that saying that these two were just tourists and um they were coming to salisbury to see this fire uh i watched uh the two hour almost two hour documentary that that you did it was incredibly uh detailed you used drone footage you were able to uh put out the actual floor plan of of the the palace just uh tell us a little bit about uh pulling together all that information because it was incredibly detailed um it took us some time but um to be honest not as much time as everybody thinks the drone footage was a little bit more complex than than it is normally because they do have quite a high security they have some anti-drone equipment but again it didn't really save them and it took us four attempts to film it but anyway in any case you see the footage just there and in terms of the floor plans and the interiors that you have mentioned um we've been kind of getting information about this for a very long time for years they have started a very large scale reconstruction um project there maybe three years ago four years ago and thousands of people are working on it you know interior designers um just regularly the people who are very late tiles so i don't know and or work on frasks on the wall so buy furniture um and there are so many people that i think at some point it became impossible to contain the information about this palace so we have been getting quite a lot of images of it and those floor plans and other documentation uh with regards to that palace for for a number of years and what we've done this autumn is that we've just put it all together and made a coherent story i mean millions tens of millions of people have viewed this uh now is that something that you found surprising to see the kind of response to this um to be honest yes i probably should say that we expected it but we definitely didn't i don't think we are now at about 90 to 93 million views on youtube um i i couldn't have seen it in my wildest dreams and i'm so happy and i'm so pleased that people like it people watch it people share it it's it's it's it's very rewarding and um i just wish we've done it earlier really you earlier spoke about uh mr navalny and and the nerve agent uh attack on him you actually uh sounded the alarm uh on that you were you were the first person to say this could be the nerve agent novichok just tell me what happened um well it happens in um during our trip this summer to siberia we were filming a couple of investigations there in tomsk and visibility and um while alexei felt sick on the airplane we well the rest of the team stayed in tomsk and to be honest we just figured out that a man of his age in a relatively good um state of health um he exercises he he runs he um he has no complaints with regards to his health cannot just fall into a coma randomly so um pretty much within minutes we stormed into his room and tried to get uh all kinds of evidence that we can get from the hotel room from where he checked out earlier assuming that can be some sort of poisoning and then couple of weeks weeks later the um german army uh lab in dispeller uh found um a trace of novichok nerve agent on one of the water bottles that we have taken from his room uh maria i mean as i said you lead his investigative team you also live with the threat of harassment and arrest i mean what is the end game here ah well the end game here is to remove vladimir putin from power and what do you expect the international community to do the europeans the united states um with regards to what exactly it's i suppose mr navalny has now been arrested uh this documentary has come out you're going to continue to do your investigations do you expect just condemnations do you expect sanctions uh we expect all sorts of support we're not being very hopeful we are fully aware that we need to solve our internal russian problems ourselves ourselves and there is not going to be a someone some sort of magical person from outside who is going to come and uh solve our problems that's that's the battle that we are fighting in russia of course we appreciate all sorts of support um that has been coming and many world leaders have been making their statements many institutions and have been expressing their concerns uh there have been some sanctions um imposed and i guess there will be more because we're talking not only about alexey navalny himself an opposition leader but we're also talking about russia running an underground chemical weapon program which really shouldn't exist in 2021 you know the program that they're using to target and to kill um people who vladimir putin is unpleased with maria pefcec really fascinating talking to you thank you so much for joining us here on the program you

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