It seems Russia’s President Putin might be a little more worried about his recent partial mobilization than he is indicating publically: Russian President Vladimir Putin escaped to his secret palatial complex near Lake Valdai, halfway between Moscow and St Petersburg, amid anti-draft protests in Russia, MailOnline was first to report.
According to independent journalist Farida Rusamova, who cited three sources familiar with Putin’s schedule, the Russian president traveled to his vacation home on Wednesday.
He has been resting his “body and soul” at the luxury complex, which is situated within a forest, Rusamova said in a Telegram post.
MailOnline reports that it boasts a three-story spa building, complete with a float pool and mud bath, and a personal beauty parlor.
There is little publicly accessible information about the secret property but according to the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was founded by the imprisoned Russian activist Alexei Navalny, the residence is Putin’s personal favorite.
Navalny’s organization claims that the property is partially owned by Yuri Kovalchuk — the billionaire who is described as Putin’s personal banker.
Rusamova claimed that Putin intends to stay at the complex until at least next Thursday. The journalist also claimed that the president had pre-recorded several videos of meetings, which Russian state media intends to release sporadically throughout the week, to try and mask his absence from the public.
Rusamova said that Putin left for his palace the day a video was released, showing him announcing partial military mobilization on Wednesday.
Widespread protests broke out across Russia after Putin announced that 300,000 reservists would be ordered to fight in the country’s war on Ukraine.
Hundreds of Russians, including girls as young as 14 years old, have been arrested while participating in the unsanctioned rallies, banned under Russian law, according to reports. OVD-Info said 724 people were detained across 32 different cities on Saturday, per BBC News.
The protests have taken place in cities including Moscow, St Petersburg, Tomsk, and Omsk, Sky News reported.
Joshua Zitser is a Senior News Reporter at Insider’s London office (this first appeared at Insider). His writing has also appeared in The Times, The Telegraph, The Spectator, Independent, WIRED, and more. Joshua’s podcast documentary, “Handed Down: A Look Into Transgenerational Trauma,” was nominated for a Mind Media Award and an IRN Award.