HomeTop StoriesVladimir Putin secretly made millions from a brand of cheap vodka named...

Vladimir Putin secretly made millions from a brand of cheap vodka named after him, the report said

Russian President Vladimir Putin offers a toast at an award ceremony at the Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, December 28, 2017.Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool Photo via AP

  • Putinka vodka has made Vladimir Putin millions of dollars, according to Proekt.

  • The company agreed to give Putin a share of the profits in exchange for using his name, according to the outlet.

  • Later, the brand changed hands and for many years belonged to a company secretly controlled by Putin.

According to a new report, Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently made a fortune with a vodka brand named after him.

Putinka vodka was launched in 2002 by alcohol company Winexim and quickly became the market leader, according to independent Russian outlet Proekt. But to use Putin’s name, Oleg Plakhuta, co-owner of Winexim, had to ask permission from Arkady Rotenberg — an oligarch with strong ties to the president — for Putin’s permission, an anonymous source told Proekt.

There was a price. Plakhuta had to share the company with the two men, who, according to Proekt, were given control over the income.

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In fact, between 2014 and 2020, the company was secretly owned by a subsidiary of a company whose ultimate owner is Putin, Proekt reports.

The vodka brand brought in huge sums of money, and some distributors showed up with pockets full of cash to get permission to sell it. Some of that money was “always meant for Putin,” an anonymous source told Proekt.

“You have no idea how much money this is,” the source added.

Between 2004 and 2019, Putinka earned between $400 and $500 million, the outlet estimated. It is unclear how much of that money went to Putin.

Over the years, the Putinka brand changed hands several times, to companies controlled by or connected to Rotenberg or Putin.

In 2014, it was transferred to a subsidiary of Ermira Consultants – a Cyprus-registered company run by an obscure businessman but whose ultimate owner is Putin, according to Proekt. Putinka then passed into the hands of Baikal-Invest in 2020, a company likely controlled by Rotenberg’s associates, the outlet said.

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Proekt says the source for these revelations is a former manager of a network of companies, including Ermira, who disclosed the information out of disgust at Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The marketing expert who helped launch the brand, Stanislav Kaufman, told the outlet that they were inspired by a cheap, Soviet-era unbranded vodka.

Putinka vodka got a boost in 2015, when Russia slashed the minimum price of vodka by 16%, from the equivalent of $3.10 for a pint to $2.60, The Washington Post reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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