VLADIMIR Putin’s favourite commander “General Armageddon” lives a lavish life paid for with “blood-soaked” millions, investigators told The Sun Online.
But behind his image as a hard-nosed general is a “crook and a hustler” who has lined his bulging pockets with “blood-soaked” money – living life large along with his glamorous wife Anna.
And as well as killing civilians with gas, barrel bombs and other horror weapons – it is here where he made his fortune, investigators from Russia’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) told The Sun Online.
General Armageddon took over the faltering war in Ukraine in October amid fears he would bring the tactics he employed in Syria to pound the country.
And the new investigation has lifted the lid on the brutal general’s murky business deals and how they have allegedly funded a lifestyle way beyond his means.
The war in Syria was an opportunity for Putin and his friends to make money, according to ACF, which was founded by leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
Surovikin lined his pockets to the extent that he and his wife bought a £2.7 million mansion on a gaudy fake “English estate” in Russia.
The cash he made also allegedly helped pay for a giant palace built for Putin, complete with a lap dancing den, casino and tunnel leading to a private beach.
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Maria Pevchikh, an ACF investigator who’s been looking at Surovikin’s money-making activities in Syria, said that far from being a patriotic warrior he is simply a “crook and hustler”.
“I don’t know what other terms to use for a person who is making money off destroying cities and killing civilians,” she told The Sun Online.
“He is corrupt and interested in his business rather than service to the country and his motivation is personal enrichment and enrichment of his family.
“We wanted to destroy the image that he’s this honourable officer who’s fighting for his beliefs and we wanted to show people that this is a lie.”
When he got to Syria, Surovikin went into business with Gennady Timchenko, one of Putin’s closest friends, who paid for the construction of the tyrant’s enormous palace on the Black Sea coast.
The pair cashed in when the regime of brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad gave Timchenko’s company exclusive rights to extract and export phosphates from two deposits near Palmyra.
His money is very much soaked in blood
Though not glamorous, phosphates are a highly lucrative business and there is a huge global demand for their use in fertilisers for growing crops.
At the time, Palmyra was a stronghold of the Islamic State but Surovikin used his troops to clear them out.
He then used mercenaries from the bloodthirsty Wagner Group, who were acting as Russia’s group troops in Syria, to act as security to get the goods out of the country, it’s claimed.
Timchenko’s firm paid Surovikin’s wife Anna £1.15 million via a sawmill company she controlled, documents unearthed by the ACF reveal.
During his time in Syria, Surovikin oversaw a relentless targeting of clinics, hospitals and civilian infrastructure in rebel-held Idlib in 2019.
The 11-month campaign “showed callous disregard for the lives of the roughly 3 million civilians in the area,” noted Human Rights Watch.
“His money is very much soaked in blood,” said Pevchikh.
Who is General Armageddon?
Sergey Surovikin first made a name for himself during a 1991 attempted military coup.
Troops under his command killed three pro-democracy protesters – seeing him spend several months in custody.
The charges against him were ultimately dropped but his reputation swelled during his time behind bars.
Surovikin was suspended in 1995 after being accused of illegally selling a weapon to a colleague but that charged was also dropped.
He went on to command troops during the brutal war in Chechnya, where he threatened to kill three insurgents for each of his soldiers they killed.
In 2004 he allegedly beat up one of his soldiers because of his political views, says the Institute for the Study of War, though the soldier later withdrew this complaint.
The same year a colonel reportedly shot himself dead after being summoned for a dressing down by Surovikin.
In 2015, was sent to Syria as commander of Russian air forces in the country despite having no experience in that field.
He lived up to his reputation for ruthlessness when he oversaw the obliteration from the air of much of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The general was rewarded by Putin with a Hero of Russia medal – the country’s highest honour – for his service in Syria.
He was promoted to General of the Army in 2021 – one of only a handful of Russian officers to reach such a rank – and over this summer was placed in charge of troops in southern Ukraine.
British intelligence officials said his career “has been dogged with allegations of corruption and brutality”.
The general and his wife then used the cash to fund a lifestyle that was way beyond what he could expect on a military salary.
They bought a £2.7 million mansion in the ‘ParkVille’ development near Moscow, records show.
Eyebrows were raised as their combined incomes amounted to an average of about £100,000 a year for the five years previous.
The huge property includes a swimming pool, a gym, a 430sq ft master bedroom, two car garage as well as a separate area for servants.
Pevchikh believes the cash the general and his wife have received could be far greater than records show.
“I’m pretty sure, on my estimate of how this works, that this is the tip of the iceberg and it looks like there’s some sort of framework agreement that Surovikin will be receiving these sorts of payments regularly,” she said.
“We see them two years in a row and they could now choose through a different channel to process those payments but it looks like Surovikin is on Timchenko’s payroll.”
The couple attended a 2022 New Year circus-themed party with some of Putin’s closest spin doctors and propagandists.
They include the warmonger’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov and the head of RT state-funded news outlet Margarita Simonyan.
The house was sold last year and all records about their property ownership have now been deleted from official records.
But not only did the war make Surovikin rich but his business dealings also helped line the pockets of Vladimir Putin himself.
Wherever Timchenko makes money, Putin gets a cut and he has helped to pay for the Russian tyrant’s vast palace on the Black Sea, says Pevchikh.
Leaked pictures of its opulent interior show a red velvet pole dancing boudoir said to be for the exclusive use of the Kremlin strongman and his cronies.
The enormous palace has been built in secret near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea coast on the Praskoveevka Estate – said to be 39 times the size of Monaco.
It includes a 260ft long bridge leading to a tea house which is itself 26,000 sq ft.
Summing up the career of General Armageddon, the ACF says: “Some fight to the last ditch, while others get rich. Surovikin is the embodiment of this saying.”
Surovikin’s lifestyle may be shocking to the outsider but Pevchikh says it’s common for Russian generals to line their own pockets.
“The Russian military elite are insanely corrupt – you just need to look at their assets, their cars, the palaces they build for themselves and their mistresses,” she said.
“These people disclose their official salary but we know that their salary won’t be enough to buy one-tenth of what they actually own.
“They live like kings and sheikhs compared to most government officials. In the case of Surovikin, I’m just adding him to the bunch of other corrupt generals.
“Whoever works to support Putin’s team, they are all doing it for money.”