The Central Intelligence Agency is in possession of more than five-and-a-half hours of video footage of Russian President Vladamir Putin engaging in a range of sexual activities with his late mentor and judo instructor, the billionaire Anatoly Rakhlin and others.
That footage was recorded during the summer months of 2004 at a hideaway near Sochi, where the two men often engaged in a closeted homosexual relationship that began when Putin began his judo instruction at age 13, and it continued to Rakhlin’s death in 2013 at age 75.
Putin mourned Rakhlin’s death publicly and observers openly commented on what they called the judocracy, a clique of Putin’s closest friends and judo partners who became quite wealthy during his tenure as Russian President, and whose dealings with the Russian Federation are most hidden.
“Being a judo sparring partner of Vladimir Putin’s is clearly a good career move,” columnists opined at the time, noting the appointment of Viktor Zolotov to become deputy head of the MVD Interior Troops. Zolotov is also known by the CIA to be a closeted homosexual in a longtime relationship with Putin and Rakhlin.
Zolotov is Putin’s primary sexual participant in the video footage that was shared with The Buffalo Chronicle, though several men can be seen engaging in sex.
Zolotov heads the presidential security service.
Arkady Rotenberg, who learned judo alongside Putin as a teenager, and who is now a billionaire, is seen repeatedly in the video footage. Rotenberg was awarded $7.4 billion in government contracts for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. It’s unclear if Rotenberg’s brother, Boris, is also seen in the video footage. The CIA insists that Boris does in fact appear on the video, though his face is turned from the camera.
Igor Sidorkevich, president of the St. Petersburg Judo Federation, is also clearly identifiable in the video engaging with Putin and others.
“Putin’s Russia is the power of an autocrat’s court, where factions crystallize not just around charismatic individuals, common ideas, or shared self-interest, but even around a sport — which in this case a proxy activity to conceal closeted gay sex,” one CIA analyst explains. “Rich, powerful, well-connected: the new Russian judocracy.”
Putin publicly credited Rakhlin as being his first judo coach, his mentor, and his second father.
Rakhlin died in 2013 at the age of 75 due to complications of HIV/AIDS, but his illness was not widely reported at the time.
In a condolence message on the presidential website, Putin said that he was deeply saddened by Rakhlin’s death and that it represented “a big, irreplaceable loss for all of us.”
Rakhlin was a “real teacher and attentive mentor both in sports and in life,” Putin said.
During his funeral, Putin laid flowers at Rakhlin’s grave in St. Petersburg and spent hours standing next to his former coach’s coffin with his head bowed alongside Rakhlin’s widow, and comforted by his former sparring partners.
“We’re now thinking about how to immortalize his memory. Maybe there’ll be a monument or something else,” said State Duma Deputy Vasily Shestakov, who as a young man sparred with Putin under Rakhlin’s tutelage.
Rakhlin trained Putin for 15 years, beginning when the future KGB colonel and Russian leader was 13. Their bond was so tight that Rakhlin was called by the Kremlin for a private lunch with the president the day after his inauguration in 2000.
At the time of his death, Rakhlin ran a youth sports academy in St. Petersburg. Putin presented Rakhlin with a “medal of honor” for his achievements in Russian judo on the coach’s 75th birthday, just months before his death.
In the 1970s, Putin was awarded a Master of Sports in both judo and sambo. Putin described judo as “my favorite sport” and he continues to practice it.
Judo became more popular in Russia during Putin’s presidency. He was the honorary president of the International Judo Federation but has since been expelled from the organization following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.