Vladimir Putin owns £500m superyacht moored in Italy, Alexei Navalny allies claim

The 140-metre Scheherezade is listen as the 13th largest superyacht in the world

Emily Atkinson
Tuesday 22 March 2022 07:06
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<p>A screenshot of footage allegedly showing the Scheherezade, claimed to belong to Russian president Vladimir Putin</p>

A screenshot of footage allegedly showing the Scheherezade, claimed to belong to Russian president Vladimir Putin

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A $700m (£500m) superyacht moored off the west coast of Italy belongs to Russian president Vladimir Putin, allies of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny claim.

The six-deck Scheherazade reportedly boasts a spa, beauty salon, gym and two helipads. It is also said to house a swimming pool equipped with a retractable cover, which turns into a dance floor.

But missing is a listed owner - which has landed the vessel under the scrutiny of Italian authorities in Marina di Carrara amid a recent round-up of oligarch-owned luxury yachts in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a video shared on Monday from Mr Navalny’s YouTube channel, allies of the imprisoned dissident claimed they had identified almost half of the ship’s crew as belonging to the the Federal Protective Service (FSO), described as “the agency that protects Putin and organises his life”.

Activists detailed more than 20 positions on the yacht, including chief officer, bosun and multiple security guards, who they claimed were all members of the FSO.

The identities of the crew members did not appear to be well concealed. Mr Navalny’s team claimed several of the individuals named on the yacht’s crew list had listed their contact address as an FSO office in Sochi.

“The same people who take care of Putin in his residences and on his trips, who manage his life, fly together to Italy to work on one of the most expensive yachts in the world,” Navalny ally Maria Pevchikh said in the video.

Earlier this month, the ship’s British captain, Guy Bennett-Pearce, had denied that Mr Putin had ever owned or stepped foot on the Scheherezade. “I have never seen him. I have never met him,” he told the The New York Times.

Days later, Mr Bennett-Pearce said he had been left with “no choice” but to reveal the owner’s identity to the Italian police, adding: “I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this will clear the vessel of all negative rumours and speculations.”

Since the European Union has targeted the Russian leader with several personal sanctions, the superyacht - should it be revealed to belong to him - could be seized by authorities.

The Daily Mail quoted a source as saying: “It is possible Navalny’s team has been helped by Western intelligence in uncovering this revelation.

“The yacht has been hidden from [Putin’s] people, and suggests he is indeed the richest man in the world as his critics claim.”

It comes as anti-corruption activist Mr Navalny is set to receive a sentence tomorrow which could see him jailed until he is nearly 60 years old.

The same YouTube video also alleges that Mr Putin’s ex-wife, Lyudmila, is building a luxurious villa in Biarritz, southwest France, while his daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, 35, is claimed to own a castle on the French coast.

“If a person falls under personal sanctions, like Putin, this means that any of his property found in the European Union automatically gets frozen,” Ms Pevchikh said.

“Houses, planes, helicopters, yachts - everything must be immediately seized.”

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