In the early 2010s, Metro Style, a now-defunct Russian contractor, posted diagrams of Putin’s Secret Black Sea Bunker on their website to showcase their work.
You would think that the architects who designed Vladimir Putin’s palace thought of everything.
After all, the 190,000-square-foot, billion-dollar complex, perched on a rugged bluff overlooking the Black Sea, has every luxury that an autocrat could possibly desire. As revealed by Alexei Navalny’s investigation, the palace has its own church, wine cellar, and casino. It has a hookah lounge complete with a stripper pole, an arboretum, and an ice rink for the hockey games Putin likes to play with cronies. But good luck ordering takeout — security is tight. Putin’s imperial dacha is sealed off from the country he rules by 17,000 acres of woodland and a special no-fly zone.
The precautions are more than paranoia on Putin’s part. Earlier this month, Russian authorities claimed that two drones had attempted to assassinate Putin in a failed strike that ended in an explosion above the Kremlin.
But, despite all these princely luxuries and castle-like defenses, the palace’s builders appear to have neglected one crucial detail. They failed to hide plans showing two elaborate tunnels running beneath the palace complex — plans that any competent state-security apparatus would fight tooth-and-nail to keep secret.
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In fact, they were posted publicly to the Russian internet. Metro Style, a now-defunct Russian contractor, posted the diagrams to their website to showcase their work in the early 2010’s. They were viewable online as late as 2016.
Today, Insider is publishing annotated versions of the diagrams with English-language translations, which can be viewed below.
The underground complex beneath Putin’s palace consists of two separate tunnels connected by an elevator that descends roughly 50 meters below the surface. The architectural plans show the tunnels encased in thick concrete are supplied with enough fresh water, ventilation and extensive cables to support VIP occupants for days or weeks at a time. An expert who reviewed the tunnel plans saw signs of Putin’s obsession with survival at a time other strongmen were falling.
“Putin has a lot of anxiety about being the not-entirely-legitimate leader of Russia,” said Michael C. Kimmage, a former State Department official who worked on Russia and Ukraine policy. “So 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.”
The exits from those tunnels are visible just below the palace complex, on the bare cliff rising up from the beach:
The lower tunnel includes a moving walkway leading to the exit. “This tunnel set-up has all kinds of safety and security,” said Thaddeus Gabryszewski, a structural engineer familiar with defensive structures who reviewed the diagrams for Insider. “There’s a fire system. There’s water, there’s sewer. This is intended for someone to survive or escape.”
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Germany’s RBB radio broadcaster that the European security order “is no more” due to the Ukraine war.