Billionaire Russian gas pipe oligarch who was Putin’s judo partner ‘helped fund £2.2m pool complex at Prince George’s school’

  • Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg used to own 30 percent of Russia’s vodka market
  • Ex-wife Natalia says they donated to the complex when their children attended
  • Prince William and Kate’s children started at Lambrook School in Spetember 

A Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin helped fund a £2.2million pool complex at Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis’ Berkshire school, it was revealed on Sunday. 

Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, 71, who was previously chief of the largest gas pipeline constructor in Russia alongside his brother, is understood to have donated a significant sum to enable Lambrook school to build a brand-new pool complex.

The Prince and Princess of Wales moved to Windsor’s Adelaide Cottage with their three children in 2022, with all three beginning at the prestigious £21,000-a-year independent school in September. 

Rotenberg, worth a reported $3.5billion, is a close friend of Putin and used to be his judo sparring partner. 

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Lambrook school in accepting the donation. 

A spokesperson for the school told the Sun: ‘Lambrook has, and will always, fully comply with all appropriate legislation and undertakes strict due diligence for any charitable donation.’

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, accompanied by their parents Prince William and Catherine. were pictured arriving to a settling-in afternoon at Lambrook on September 7

Putin’s friend and judo partner Arkady Rotenberg is said to have helped fund a pool complex at the Berkshire school with his ex-wife Natalia

First making money in vodka where he at one time monopolised 30 percent of the market in Russia, he and ex-wife Natalia, 41, are said to have previously sent their children to Lambrook.

His ex told the Sun on Sunday: ‘We were happy to support this school and give children the new opportunity for swimming.’

It is thought the couple donated tens of thousands of pounds to the school while their two children were in attendance. 

In December 2020 Arkady was hit with a package of personal financial sanctions by the UK, due to him having ‘financially benefited from Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.’

During the current invasion, other members of his family were also hit with sanctions, including his brother Boris and son Igor.

The world marked the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Friday. 

One of the world’s richest men, Arkady and his UK-based former wife Natalia married in 2005 and divorced in Russia in 2013, before beginning a six-year fight in British courts.

Natalia trained in rhythmic gymnastics and graduated from Gromov School of Music Arts, later becoming a ballet teacher and opening her own children’s school of arts and Russian ballet, before launching a clothing label after moving to the UK.

Arkady, reportedly a childhood friend of Vladimir Putin, was a judo teacher who trained with Putin several times a week, before progressing to become one of Russia’s richest businessmen.

It is thought the couple donated tens of thousands of pounds to the school to assist in the complex’s construction

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis all began attending Lambrook School in September

All three children – George, Charlotte and Louis – attend the prestigious £21,000-a-year school

Putin, who is a fan of martial arts and especially Judo, had all his titles removed by the International Judo Federation upon his invasion of Ukraine a year ago. 

He is said to have met Arkady aged around 11, and before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the pair reportedly still played ice hockey together. 

He was one of the first Russians to be hit with major sanctions after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. 

He has publicly claimed to be the owner of the $1 billion so-called ‘Putin’s Palace,’ a huge Italianate complex on the Black Sea coast rumoured to be linked to the Russian president. 

The Prince and Princess of Wales announced their planned move to Adelaide Cottage in August of last year.

The then-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were said to be seeking a life away from the ‘fishbowl’ of their previous official residence of Kensington Palace in London, in a bid to put their children first and give the ‘most normal’ life possible. 

A source said: ‘This is very much a decision that two parents have made to give their children the ‘most normal’ start possible. KP can be a little bit of a fishbowl. 

‘They wanted to be able to give George, Charlotte and Louis a bit more freedom than they have living in central London. It’s very much a decision that’s been led by the kids.’ 

The princes and princess enjoy first class facilities at Lambrook including a swimming pool, sports pitches and new £6 million academic and ICT building.

The day and boarding school offers both weekly boarding and flexi boarding for the older two – where they can opt for a night’s stay as and when they choose, but George and Charlotte will be day pupils for now.

The Good Schools Guide describes how youngsters get to ‘run and run’ in vast grounds with ‘total freedom to explore, provided you’ve got your wellies on’, with Lambrook’s pastoral care described as excellent.

Lambrook boasts of ‘first-class teaching and superb facilities’ which include a 25-metre swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, an astroturf, hard courts, a squash court, cricket and other sports pitches. 

It has a Diamond Jubilee performing arts studio, dance studio and sports hall.

The prospectus quoted one parent as saying: ‘It’s the most magical place for our children to spend time, and they can often be seen rosy-cheeked and perfecting handstands, throwing balls or racing to the tree stumps.’

There is school on Saturday mornings followed by an afternoon of sports fixtures for pupils in Year 5 and above which includes George.

Lambrook School has been contacted for comment. 

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