Vladimir Putin has spent his presidency crushing dissent, jailing journalists and opposition leaders, and waging a relentless war against Ukraine.
Throughout the increasingly dark years of his rule, some of his most loyal enablers have been Russian oligarchs — above all, his childhood friends Boris and Arkady Rotenberg.
The two brothers became key allies of the Russian state as their vast enterprises executed megaprojects including the Sochi Olympics and the bridge to annexed Crimea. In return, Putin’s government helped make them billionaires.
Though they were sanctioned by the West in 2014, little seemed to change in the Rotenbergs’ world-spanning, ultra-wealthy lifestyle. They managed to hang onto yachts, mansions, and other luxury assets — and even today, they’re still worth billions.
How is this possible?
The Rotenberg Files, an investigative series based on a new leak of over 50,000 emails and documents from a Russian management firm that worked for the brothers, provides unique insight.
Dozens of journalists from 17 outlets spent months analyzing and reporting on the archive, obtained by IStories and OCCRP from a source who cannot be identified for their safety.
This unprecedented access reveals the complex strategies the Rotenbergs used to preserve their holdings — and pulls back the curtain on the Western lawyers, bankers, and corporate service providers without whom they would have been helpless.
The rare glimpse provided by this project serves as a warning: All the sanctions in the world will accomplish little when there are willing enablers in every Western capital.
Journalists: Cecilia Anesi (IrpiMedia), Raffaele Angius (IrpiMedia), Roman Anin (IStories), Daniel Balint-Kurti (OCCRP), Lorenzo Bagnoli (IrpiMedia), Antonio Baquero (OCCRP), Christian Brönnimann (Tamedia), Luc Caregari (Reporter.Lu), Šarūnas Černiauskas (Siena), Ben Cowdock (Transparency International, UK), Jan Daalder (Follow The Money), Robert Denis (OCCRP), Lara Dihmis (OCCRP), Irina Dolinina (IStories), Alex Dziadosz (OCCRP), Abdelhak El Idrissi (Le Monde), Jared Ferrie (OCCRP), Brian Fitzpatrick (OCCRP), Misha Gagarin (OCCRP), Kevin G. Hall (OCCRP), George Greenwood (The Times), Jyri Hänninen (YLE), Caroline Henshaw (OCCRP), Nacho Herrero (Infolibre), Carina Huppertz (Paper Trail Media), Sanita Jemberga (Re:Baltica), Peter Jones (OCCRP), Will Jordan (OCCRP), Minna Knus-Galan (YLE), Ilya Lozovsky (OCCRP), Alesya Marokhovskaya (IStories), Frederik Obermaier (Paper Trail Media), Bastian Obermayer (Paper Trail Media), Miranda Patrucic (OCCRP), Hugo Rasch (Follow The Money), Maria Retter (Der Standard), Manuel Rico (Infolibre), Roman Romanovskiy (IStories), Holger Roonemaa (Delfi Meedia), Sana Sbouai (OCCRP), Fabian Schmid (Der Standard), Timo Schober (Paper Trail Media), Ekaterina Selivanova (OCCRP), Karina Shedrofsky (OCCRP), Maxim Solius (IStories), Inga Springe (Re:Baltica), Graham Stack (OCCRP), Tom Stocks (OCCRP), Drew Sullivan (OCCRP), Ludovico Tallarita (IrpiMedia), Tatiana Tkachenko (OCCRP), Giacomo Tognini (Forbes), Elizaveta Tsybulina (Transparency International, Russia), Dmitry Velikovsky (IStories), Julia Wallace (OCCRP), Maria Zholobova (IStories), and Oliver Zihlmann (Tamedia)
Data: Oksana Stavniichuk, Jan Strozyk and Eric Barrett
Fact-Checking: Birgit Brauer, Sergiu Ipatii, Olena LaFoy, and Dima Stoianov
Promotion: Charlie Turner
Project Coordination: OCCRP and IStories
Media and Research Partners:
- Delfi Meedia (Estonia)
- Der Standard (Austria)
- Finnish Broadcasting Company, Yle (Finland)
- Follow the Money (Netherlands)
- Forbes (US)
- Infolibre (Spain)
- IrpiMedia (Italy)
- IStories (Russia)
- Le Monde (France)
- Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
- Paper Trail Media and Der Spiegel / Der Spiegel (Germany)
- Re:Baltica (Latvia)
- Reporter.lu (Luxembourg)
- Siena (Lithuania)
- Tamedia (Switzerland)
- The Times (UK)
- Transparency International UK (UK)
Translation: Alyona Korolyova
Art Direction and Design: James O’Brien
Graphics and Visuals: Edin Pašović and Katie McCraw
Interactive and Web: Mark Nightingale
Illustrations: David Istvan