Welcome to Putingrad

By Franz J. Sedelmayer with John Weisman

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The Incredible Story of the Only Man to Collect Money from Vladimir Putin

German entrepreneur Franz Sedelmayer is the ONLY individual ever to collect money from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Franz’s unique story provides a portrait of Putin that only someone who spent time with him face-to-face and after-hours could write. Franz’s fly-on-the-wall perspective also details how Putin‘s Russia became the authoritarian, corrupt kleptocracy it is today.

Franz built a successful police supply and training company. One of his biggest supporters was St. Petersburg’s young deputy mayor, a former KGB lieutenant colonel named Vladimir Putin. The two bonded. For Putin, Franz created and trained the KGB’s first Western-style SWAT team. In 1996 Franz’s Russian company was expropriated by President Boris Yeltsin. Putin, ambitious, political, and ruthless, let it happen. And because he did, he landed his first Moscow post. Franz sought arbitration and won—but Russia refused to pay damages. Undeterred, Franz waged a 20-year campaign against the Kremlin and its current president, his former friend. He foreclosed on Russian state property in Western Europe.




“Brilliant. An amazing and fast-moving insider account.”

Luke Harding

The Guardian

“Many people have been wronged by the Kremlin. Few dared to fight back. Franz Sedelmayer did — and won!”

Marina Litvinenko

Author and human rights activist

“A remarkable chronicle of one man’s fight against an all-powerful state and a welcome reminder that might is not always right.”

Alex Goldfarb

Human-rights activist; co-author, “Death of a Dissident”

“The expose of Putin in “Welcome to Putingrad” was brilliant. He is a bad dude without a moral compass and a determined enemy of what WE stand for.”

Admiral Robert J. Kelly

USN (Ret.), former CINCPACFLT

“Welcome to Putingrad is great. I wish everyone in this country would read it because they’d learn what Russia and Putin are all about and what a cold-blooded killer Putin really is.”

Bob Corbin

Three term attorney general of Arizona

“A masterpiece of practical experience with a deep insight into the Russian system and a call for caution in foreign investments outside the Western-style rule-of-law systems.”

Dr. Achim-Rüdiger Börner

International investment law attorney

“Franz J. Sedelmayer is the very definition of pugnacious. You can't help but root for him page after page as he wages his decades-long battle to obtain payment for assets stolen
by the Russian government. His intelligence, work ethic and a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong are repeatedly pitted against Russian deceitfulness, corruption, kleptocracy, and blatant disregard for law and fairness. It’s thrilling when he wins– and deflating to realize that not one other person in his situation has managed to do the same. If you are among the new fans of Putin and his Russia, read this book. Is this really what you admire and want for America?”

Karen Tayor

Writer and editor

“I was with Franz in St Petersburg. This is a book for those interested in discovering how phenomenal corruption has seriously stalled what should have been Russia’s flowering as a real economy and democracy and also to anyone – and almost all of us face this problem sometime in our lives – who collides with an intractable, “impossible” challenge or seeming total blockage. Franz’s lesson: persevere– -BEAT them! Franz has pushed full-court- press against a system headed by someone who thinks himself Superman. Superman lost.”

Jack L Gosnell, Ph.D.

U.S. Consul General, St Petersburg, 1991-94

“Indeed, your story as a whole and multiple anecdotes weaved into the narrative, all told in a lively language of an energetic and free-spirited man, makes for an enthralling read. I am happy that during your time in Russia you had a lot of good experience and have met a lot of good people. I tend to agree with those who say that ours is a country of contrasts, where what is good is really good, and what is bad is really bad:)”

Sergey Ripinsky

Independent consultant on international economic law

“Welcome to Putingrad should be required reading for all the uneducated TV talking heads and, probably, most of Congress– who really don’t seem to know much about Russia.”

Donald Darst

Litigation attorney, CA, USA

“I loved it. Having written about Cuba, I was astonished at the parallels between St. Petersburg and Havana, including the parallels in corruption. We had all hoped Russia would evolve into some semblance of a democracy. Instead, it has become this ghastly kleptocracy writ large. The marvel of the book is that it takes this dismal evolutionary process down to the level of Franz’s personal story, so that the reader gets what it means to real people who have to deal with it. And that ain’t easy to do.”

Kay Diehl


“Welcome to Putingrad it is compelling. It is a brave book to write and challenging to find the right balance, the right tone, the right style to reflect the facts but also provide an entertaining narrative, whilst being objective to both sides.  I enjoyed the mix of the quoted local jokes giving an insight into how things worked in Russia, as well as your personal observations, the facts of your case, and later, the broader opinions you formed.”

Mark Dean


“Phenomenal! A unique glimpse into Vladimir Putin’s Russia and a compelling story replete with Realpolitik, international intrigue, victory, and ultimate vindication.”

Gary Bloesl

LtCol, USMC (Ret.)

“A fascinating depiction of the Russian psyche!”

Vice Admiral Jerry Unruh

USN (Ret.), former Commander, Third Fleet