The website that exposed President Vladimir Putin's cleaner-turned-millionaire mistress and her $100 million business empire has been blocked in Russia.
The investigative website Proekt was shut down after it alleged that Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46, had been in a relationship with the then-married Vladimir Putin before and after he first became president in 1999.
It further claimed that Vladimir Putin is the father of Elizaveta, Krivonogikh's daughter. Elizaveta, or Luiza, is Putin's third daughter from his marriage, following Maria and Katerina.
Russia's prosecutor-general requests to ban a site
The investigative group, dubbed Project in English, has previously been labeled a "foreign agent" and an "undesirable organization" by the Kremlin, the same titles accorded to opposition leader Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Roman Badanin, the founder of Proekt, was also labeled a "foreign agent" over the site's suspected US sponsorship. He has suspended his activity in Russia, where he risks incarceration on allegedly unrelated accusations.
Roskomnadzor reportedly banned the site at the request of the country's prosecutor-general. The Ministry of Justice said the firm behind Proekt is a "threat to the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation," Daily Mail reported.
Krivonogikh has a corporate empire worth more than $100 million, including a yacht that has been sighted in St Petersburg under Navy protection, according to the outlet's investigative journalists.
The latest release of the Pandora Papers also linked her to a £3.1 $4.28 million luxurious fourth-floor house in Monaco's Monte Carlo Star apartment building, which is located directly below the famed casino. Her overall net worth, according to the documents, is roughly $100 million. A sequence of Instagram photos, including one of a fireworks display, another of a rainbow over the water, and a third of yachts in the distance.
Vladimir Putin's alleged mistress, colleagues' wealth revealed
A succession of Instagram images allegedly linked Krivonogikh and her daughter to the apartment, including one of a fireworks show, another of a rainbow over the sea, and a third of boats in the harbor. Krivonogikh and her daughter were also connected to the apartment via the harbor.
A yacht and stakes in some of Russia's most valuable state-owned companies are among her other holdings, many of which are also controlled via offshore companies. Neither Krivonogikh nor her daughter has responded to the revelations that expose international leaders' and their colleagues' clandestine financial practices.
Earlier this month, NY Post reported that Gennady Timchenko, a former Soviet official who has been acquainted with Putin since the 1990s, is one of the wealthiest members of the Russian-Monaco group. Timchenko, a former oil dealer, was granted an oil export license by Putin in 1991 and later co-founded Gunvor, a Swiss-based oil export corporation, with Putin, thought to be a silent partner in the enterprise.
Peter Kolbin, an old family acquaintance who took over as director of Leningrad-based International Petroleum Products in 2003 despite having minimal qualifications for the job, is another member of Putin's inner circle. Putin has denied having any links to the profitable enterprises included in the Pandora Papers.
According to The Washington Examiner via Yahoo, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists processed about 12 million leaked papers into the Pandora Papers, which disclose the secret financial holdings of over 100 billionaires from around the world, including politicians, business moguls, and even singers Shakira and Elton John.
According to the Pandora Papers, the wealthy use offshore businesses and shell companies to avoid paying taxes and fees on real estate and luxury products like private boats. The records also exposed other known members of Putin's inner circle, albeit Putin was not specifically addressed.