In Soviet Russia, bear rides you.

In Soviet Russia, bear rides you.

I am 99% sure that picture is photoshopped, but I just can’t be 100% sure because Vladimir Putin is such a badass. Admit it, you wouldn’t be entirely surprised if you discovered Putin regularly rode bears for fun.

It’s Russia day here at Financial Uproar! Look for another post later on today on the country, with only a minimal mention of their lovely ladies or vodka. I’ve already got the “in Soviet Russia” joke out of the way, which actually has its own Wikipedia page. In Soviet Russia, Wikipedia page reads y- you know what, never mind.

One of the reactions the west had to Russia’s aggression in Crimea was freezing the overseas accounts of a handful of rich Russians close to the top of the regime, including Vladislav Surkov. Surkov was unimpressed with the move, statingĀ “I don’t have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsburg and Jackson Pollock.” And then he rode a bear.

As far as sanctions go, this one is pretty weak. Sure, certain Western banks will be less likely to do business with Russians on the list, and that’ll make any transaction with dollars as the currency tougher, but it’s not like these rich Russians are about to get any less richer. Russia responded by doing the same thing to many prominent American politicians, because I’m sure John McCain has a lot of his assets stuck in Russian banks.

Anyway, that got me wondering just how much Putin has benefited from Russia’s crony capitalism system. How rich is Vladimir Putin anyway? Has he used his power to seize all sorts of fun assets? Is he regularly rubbing $100 bills on his shirtless body? Does he sleep on top of a pile of money, surrounded by many beautiful ladies, like McBain?

Here’s hoping, especially that last one.

Of course, anybody claiming to have an accurate picture of Putin’s net worth is either setting themselves up to be killed or a liar, so we can basically only guess. The guesses out there are pretty high though, with most of them in the $70-$80 billion range during 2013. That would make Putin the richest man in the world.

According to a 2012 piece written by Russian opposition leader Boris Nemptsov, Putin has 20 different houses, 4 yachts, a fleet of more than 50 different helicopters and airplanes at his disposal, a collection of watches worth a cool $700k, and a toilet worth $75k on his presidential plane, because with Putin pinches one, he does it in style. There are also rumors of a palace down by the Black Sea so extravagant that it makes anything Louis XIV had look like a pile of puke.

This is quite the contrast from his official story, where he takes a salary of just over $100k, is often spotted at public sporting events, and calls himself “Russia’s humble servant.”

One doesn’t have to look any further than the Sochi Olympics to see ample opportunity for the Russian President to get in on some nice kickbacks. He rewards huge contracts to companies building the venues (using public money), he gets a bit of that back personally as a thank you, and the company goes ahead and does a shoddy job building the facility. Everybody wins, except the Russian people, who get very, very, screwed. No wonder Russians are so bummed out all the time. I always assumed it was the cold.

Putin isn’t going anywhere, so I think Russians are either going to have to start stirring up some major crap or just get used to it. As for Russia’s saber rattling foreign policy, is it really a surprise that a guy who has all the money is taking that path. What more does he have to prove? He’s made himself rich beyond his wildest dreams. Now it’s all about some perverted sense of bringing all Russians home to live under the motherland’s umbrella. We know he’s nuts, but there are plenty of rich nuts out there.

Tell everyone, yo!