Putin or not Putin? In Tuscany, a mega-yacht with a mysterious owner

Poutine ou pas Poutine? En Toscane, un méga-yacht au mystérieux propriétaire

Many yachts have been confiscated in the hands of Russian oligarchs in Europe since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, but the seizure of “Sherazade” would undoubtedly be the most spectacular if its ownership was attributed to the owner of the Kremlin .

Its slant turned to the Mediterranean Sea, the 140-metre-long ship, worth an estimated $700 million (636 million euros), rests in dry dock at Massa, an upscale seaside town in Tuscany (centre), whose Leads to the interior. The famous marble mines of Carrara.

It will be parked at The Italian Sea Group’s shipyard for several months for maintenance. It is impossible to reach him. There is no clear sign of activity on board, an AFPTV journalist said on Wednesday. The men are busy but at this time of year the marina is still not very lively.

Like all residents here, 83-year-old retired Cesare Kukurnia, is following the matter closely. “We don’t know whose it is, or whose it isn’t. Certainly not a poor man. Maybe Putin,” he says as he walks through the port.

Released from the German Lürssen shipyard in 2020, the yacht offers two helicopter platforms, a swimming pool, a cinema and an anti-drone battery, believe administrators of the SuperYachtFan site, who present themselves as investigative journalists. .

A source close to the investigation told AFP the investigation was under way by Italy’s financial police, which could give its findings in the coming days.

“The investigation is ongoing. We are in an intensive phase and it is generally more complex. It is not always easy to attribute the ownership of the boat”, especially when the legal system in nesting dolls makes it difficult to identify the real owner Or the beneficiary, the source explained.

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crew change

According to press reports, “Scheherazade”, which hoists the flag of the Cayman Islands, is owned by a company registered in the Marshall Islands. Its captain is British, but the rest of the crew was Russian – at least until recently – says the team of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who attributes the sea monster to Vladimir Putin in a video posted on YouTube on Monday. It is based on a list of crew members, including several members of the FSO, in particular, the Russian Federal Service for the Protection of Personalities.

Coincidence or desperate maneuvers to hide the origin of the boat, the entire crew has been replaced in recent times.

“The crew was made up exclusively of Russian personnel. And all of a sudden, all the personnel were changed to crew of British nationality,” Paolo Gozzani, general secretary of the CGIL trade union confederation in Massa, told AFP. The union is concerned about the repercussions of sanctions on the city’s economy and employment, a recourse to many wealthy Russians.

According to the American daily New York Times, Washington has indeed collected clues linking the Russian president to the luxurious ship, which will have made two trips to the Russian seaside resort of Sochi, off the Black Sea coast, in 2020 and 2021. ,

The liar gives a befitting reply to the Italian Sea Group. “Ownership of + Scheherazade+ cannot be attributed to Russian President Vladimir Putin”, the company responded in a press release, which says it is “the result of the documentation in its possession and the checks carried out by the competent authorities”. it depends on.

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The captain of the “Scheherazade”, interviewed by the New York Times, said that he had never seen the Russian president on board, although wanted to identify its owner, explaining that he was bound by his duty of reserve.

Addressing the Italian parliament on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Italy to confiscate all financial and real estate assets of the oligarchs, “from Scheherazade to the smallest” vessel. Without identifying the owner of the mega-yacht.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and sanctions announced by the European Union, Italian authorities have confiscated 848 million euros in assets belonging to Russian oligarchs, including “Sailing Yacht A”, a 530 million euro property owned by Andrei Melnichenko. Includes giant sailboat. , a multi-billionaire coal and fertilizer magnate. Rome also confiscated a yacht “Lady M Yachts” worth 65 million euros belonging to Alexei Mordashov, considered close to Vladimir Putin.


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