As Vladimir Putin’s official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov is no stranger to fielding allegations of wrong doing and corruption from the Russian opposition.
But this weekend the Kremlin’s public face found himself facing down media outrage aimed not at the Russian head of state, but himself.
Mr Peskov married his partner of five years, Olympic champion figure skater Tatiana Navka, in Sochi on Saturday, in a sumptuous event attended by Russia’s high society at the Black Sea resort’s most prestigious hotel.
Ms Navka was spotted with a $3,000 Serge Brienne handbag, while it was Mr Peskov’s choice of timepiece that caught the Russian media’s attention.
The watch – a chunky, rectangular item featuring a stylised skull – is visible on Mr Peskov’s right wrist in a photograph from Saturday’s wedding.
His wife’s teal Serge Brienne handbag is visible on photographs taken at the event.
Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption crusader and opposition leader, identified it as a Richard Mille RM 52-01. Only 30 have been made and – according to a boutique Mr Navalny contacted for a quote – they retail at just under £400,000.
“There were so many photos of it prior to the ‘wedding of the year’ that we decided to ask the question publicly,” wrote Mr Navalny on his blog. “Where could the head of state’s press secretary get a watch worth four times his annual income?”
Mr Peskov declared an annual income of 9,184,358 rubles (about £93,000 at current exchange rates) in 2014. All state officials are obliged to declare their income and assets under Russian transparency laws.
Mr Peskov insisted the watch was a present from his new wife. “This is a gift from Tanya. The watch is indeed very expensive. But they are significantly cheaper than some comrades suggest,” he told local media.
Mr Peskov said Ms Navka paid for the watch out of her own money, but how much she spent “is no one else’s business”.
The Russian elite’s fondness for luxury time-pieces has long been a bug-bear of anti-corruption crusaders and opposition figures.
In 2012, Russian opposition group Solidarnost accused Mr Putin of owning a series of luxury watches including a $500,000 Lange & Söhne.
In the same year, the Russian Orthodox Church was caught using photoshop to conceal a luxury watch worn by Patriarch Kirill, its most senior cleric.
Sharp eyed bloggers spotted the reflection of a gold Breguet watch, estimated to be worth more than £19,000, on the table top beneath Patriarch Kirill’s bare left wrist in an official photograph of a meeting from 2009.
Following a heated scandal in the Russian blogosphere, the Moscow Patriarchate said the photo edit breached its ethical code and removed the doctored image from its archive.
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