MOSCOW — A Russian newspaper is reporting that President Vladimir Putin's bodyguards and their relatives obtained prized land plots and built opulent houses near Putin's residence outside Moscow.

The independent Novaya Gazeta published an investigation that showed scores of officers of the Federal Protective Service (FSO) and their family members settling on land around Putin's residence, an area considered Russia's most expensive.

The newspaper described how employees of a state farm in the area were lured into selling the land for nominal sums during the 1990s. It said the land was later sold cheaply or even given freely to FSO officers and their families.

Asked about the report, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that officers it mentioned have submitted annual income declarations that were thoroughly checked by authorities.