Have you ever pondered where a paranoid Russian President would go if he has to flee the Kremlin quickly?
If Vladimir Putin ever goes missing, he is likely to be locked up in his top-secret hideout in southern Russia.
Leaked documents have revealed his reinforced Black Sea bunker beneath his £1 billion Gelendzhik Palace.
The vast home, which is larger than Buckingham Palace, has been labeled “the most guarded place in Russia and Putin’s biggest secret” by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
It has a swimming pool, spa, saunas, a bar, a theatre, a cinema, a wine cellar, a casino, a guest house, and even its own gas station.
Putin is reportedly claimed to have set up a sleazy “striptease” area for himself and his entourage, replete with a stage and pole.
However, it appears that there are even more levels to the massive and magnificent castle hiding 50 metres beneath the surface.
According to the blueprints of the lavishly furnished residence, Putin has constructed an underground hideout appropriate for a James Bond villain.
Documents previously published online by Metro Style, a now-defunct Russian building business, have shown the despot’s hideaway.
The blueprints depicted an elaborate network of blast-proof tunnels hidden beneath the luxurious castle, sealed in thick concrete and moisture-proofing materials.
An elevator connects two distinct tubes that drop around 50 meters beneath, with escape routes extending out onto the cliff that the luxurious pad stands on top of.
The tunnels have enough fresh water, air, and cables to maintain VIP guests for weeks at a time.
They offer “all kinds of safety and security,” according to structural engineer Thaddeus Gabryszewski, and are “intended for someone to survive or escape.”
It would be the ideal place for the paranoid Russian strongman and his minions to seek sanctuary in the case of a calamity.
“Putin has a lot of anxiety about being the not-entirely-legitimate leader of Russia,” Michael C. Kimmage, a former US State Department official and Cold War scholar, told Insider.
“Ao knowing that his legitimacy is not entirely secured by elections, he is going to seek to maximize his personal safety through a complex of well-defended personal residences.”
One tunnel has been dubbed the “tasting room” by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation which first uncovered the blueprints.
A report claimed it is decked out as a proper living quarters, where Putin and his pals could enjoy the views while still remaining safe.
“Here you can enjoy a glass of wine… this is not some kind of balcony where you are constantly in danger, but a very safe underground place where nothing threatens you.”
The second tunnel, regarded the ideal escape route, goes to a hatch immediately on the shore, as shown in the organization’s drone footage.
The footage appears to fit the composition of the property as revealed by the leaked plans.
The tunnels, which may be up to 60 meters long, feature around 6,500 square feet of living space and might serve as a command center.
Although having an emergency bunker is not uncommon for international leaders, the elements of Putin’s privately funded and privately held Black Sea hideaway imply it was constructed to ensure his survival.
The palace is surrounded by 17,000 acres of property controlled by Russia’s FSB security organization and is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The no-fly and no-boat zones indicate that the intricacies of its design have been kept hidden from the rest of the world.
However, there are marinas and helicopter pads for Putin’s own use, ensuring an easy entrance into his hideaway, and a railway provides him with another covert form of transportation.
An engineer-turned-whistleblower who apparently worked on the building referred to the palace as a “national treasure,” implying that the underground tunnels concealed in the rock were more creative than Dr No’s bunker.
In addition, he described an eighth underground floor, possibly tunnel one, as “a balcony – literally a loggia hanging over the sea.”
The massive palace was erected in secret near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast on the Praskoveevka Estate – reputed to be the largest in the world.
Navalny claimed to have been given exclusive access to secret plans for the mansion with the help of contractors paid to refurbish it.
He said: “This is not a country house, not a cottage, not a residence. It’s a whole city, or rather a kingdom.”
The interior of the Versaille-style apartment, considered to be the largest private property, has subsequently been destroyed while it undergoes repair.
According to Navalny’s aide Maria Pevchikh, this was owing to a mould outbreak caused by insufficient ventilation, as reported by the Moscow Times.