Bloggers expose lavish lifestyles of Putin loyalists

MOSCOW (AFP) - Bloggers who oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin are targeting top lawmakers loyal to the Kremlin with scandalous revelations about their luxury apartments and jet-setting lifestyles which run counter to their patriotic rhetoric.

Recent exposes have focused on the most outspoken lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party who have voted through legislation restricting foreign NGOs and a highly controversial ban on adoption of Russian orphans by US citizens.

Top lawmakers and officials are obliged to declare property and income annually in a corruption-busting initiative proposed by Dmitry Medvedev under his presidency, but bloggers and investigative reporters have highlighted their undeclared wealth and assets.

Vladimir Pekhtin, the head of the ethics committee in the parliament's lower house, declared he was giving up his mandate after opposition protest leader Alexei Navalny published documents on his blog showing he had never declared two beachfront condominiums in Miami worth millions of dollars.

The assault continued this week with an article in opposition weekly The New Times, saying that Irina Yarovaya, a vocal supporter of bills targeting foreign NGOs and anti-corruption measures, lived in a luxury apartment in Moscow worth nearly US$3 million (S$3.7 million) that she had not declared.

Yarovaya dismissed what she called "dirty allegations", saying the apartment was owned by her daughter, who was only 17 years old when it was first purchased.

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