One of the most cautious, guarded and scholarly of all Russia bloggers is Vilhelm Konnander. So if he's accusing Vladimir Putin of being a thief and a liar, you know there's something to the allegations. And he is:
An increasing number of surveys rate Russian president Vladimir Putin the richest man in Europe. Putin is allegedly to have amassed enormous wealth during his presidential reign and all the way back to the Petersburg days. At his annual press conference on 14 February, Putin for the first time commented on these rumours:
It is true. I am the richest man not only in Europe, but in the world: I amass emotions and am rich in the sense that the Russian people twice put the trust in me to rule such a great country as Russia. I count this as my biggest wealth.What concerns various rumours concerning my financial situation, I have seen some documents on this issue. This is simply gossip, which there is no reason to discuss - mere nonsense.
That's the same press conference, and the same question, that provoked Putin to comment on how this information about his thievery came to circulate in the press: "They just picked it out of their nose and smeared it on their little sheets," he said. When the Kremlin's translators published the official English version of the answer, they ignored the nose smear comment and claimed Putin had merely stated: "They just made it up and included it in their papers."
You be the judge, dear reader. Does he talk like a common thief, or like a president?