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Russian WikiLeaks comes under attack over photos allegedly showing Putin’s ‘palace’

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 13:50 EDT
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It was just over a month ago when a high-ranking, unnamed Russian official told a state-controlled media outlet that Julian Assange, founder of secrets outlet WikiLeaks, deserved a Nobel Prize for his work exposing the US empire’s secrets.

Perhaps they spoke too soon.

A Russian-language version of WikiLeaks came under cyber attack and was inaccessible to Russian visitors Wednesday after the site published leaked photographs allegedly depicting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s lavish, sprawling estate.

The images appeared to have been taken by one or more individuals connected to workers building the still-under-construction mansion, and showed what appeared to be two different people whose identifying features were blacked out posing on and around expensive pieces of furniture.

Russian media had in recent days been discussing the alleged value of Puntin’s so-called “pleasure complex,” with one estimate suggesting the cost exceeded $1 billion.

Much of the funding came in the form of gifts from Russia’s business elite, according to Russian whistleblower Sergey Kolesnikov, whose tale was told by The Washington Post in late December.

The Post called Putin’s estate a “palace” on the Black Sea, under construction since 2005.

The leader of Russia’s Pirate Party, Pavel Rassudov, who spoke to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, said the outage was likely “due to a [Distributed Denial of Service] attack.”

“We are looking into the causes of these problems,” he said.

RuLeaks.net, which was not actually operated by Assange or his team, opened earlier this month and asked Russians to begin sending information on public corruption.

In US diplomatic cables published by Assange’s WikiLeaks, Russia was branded a “mafia state,” and media estimates put annual profits by government officials from bribery alone at nearly $300 billion.

In one leaked cable, a Spanish prosecutor was quoted saying that in Russia, “one cannot differentiate between the activities of the Government and OC [organised crime] groups.”

WikiLeaks has promised further revelations that detail not just US activities, but Russian corruption as well.

“Russian readers will learn a lot about their country” from upcoming document releases, a WikiLeaks spokesman told Russian daily newspaper Kommersant in late Oct. “We want to tell people the truth about the actions of their governments.”

A number of the photos appear below. More were available on RuLeaks.net.

Raw Story was unable to confirm that the images actually depicted Putin’s mansion.

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Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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