* Putin earns $140,000 per year, income declaration shows
* PM Putin owns small flat, two Volgas, a Lada and trailer
* Putin has dismissed speculation on vast wealth
By Gleb Bryanski
MOSCOW, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earns only $140,000 a year and owns just one home, a small apartment in his home town, an official income statement showed on Thursday.
Putin’s wealth has long been the focus of speculation by opponents who portray Russia’s paramount leader as one of the richest men in the world, allegations he has dismissed.
His official income statement published in the government newspaper, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, put his income over the past four years at 17.73 million roubles ($559,100) from salary, a KGB pension and interest from bank deposits.
Kremlin critics ridicule the income declarations of Russia’s top officials, saying real earnings are much higher in Russia, which is ranked by Transparency International as the most corrupt country in the Group of Eight or Group of 20.
Putin is almost certain to win a March 4 presidential election, although the former KGB spy is facing more public opposition than ever before in his 12-year rule after a parliamentary election which many Russians say was rigged.
Businessmen say Putin’s approval is needed for major deals with Russian companies, especially in the oil, gas and metals sectors which make up the lion’s share of Russian exports.
Putin’s income statement was published on the same day that President Dmitry Medvedev called for Russia to enact Article 20 of the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption which requires officials to report their expenses.
Putin, who usually travels in a heavily armoured state Mercedes, owns several cars, including two vintage Volgas - a 1960 GAZ M21 and a 1965 GAZ M-21P - as well as a 2009 Lada. He also has a car trailer made in 1987.
Putin’s property includes an apartment in his home town of St Petersburg of just 78 square metres (807 square feet) and a plot of land outside Moscow.
Putin holds a stake in mid-sized Bank of St Petersburg worth $510 at current prices. Putin’s wife Lyudmila had no income in the last four years but holds 8.4 million roubles ($264,800) in bank deposits.
Putin’s spokesman has dismissed as “stupid” speculation by U.S. diplomats about Putin’s personal wealth, including his alleged links to the lucrative oil export trade and Swiss based trader Gunvor in particular.
Gunvor said at the time that the U.S. diplomatic documents, published on WikiLeaks, repeated old rumours and that its ownership was a matter of public record.
U.S. President Barack Obama declared pre-tax family income of $1.73 million in 2010, according to the White House, most of it from the sale of Obama’s books. Obama and his wife paid $453,770 in federal tax. ($1 = 31.7230 Russian roubles) (Writing by Gleb Bryanski and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Jon Boyle)