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Teen who tracked Elon Musk’s jet is now following Russian billionaires

Account created after US announced sanctions on people close to Russian president amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 01 March 2022 16:13 GMT
Missile strikes apartment block in Ukraine

The teenager who tracked Elon Musk’s private jet has now turned his focus on Russian billionaires amid Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Jack Sweeney created a Twitter account called “Russian Oligarch Jets”, which tracks the whereabouts of some of Russia's wealthiest businessmen.

The automated feed has tracked the helicopters, private jets, and commercial aeroplanes of several billionaires, including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, considered the wealthiest in the nation.

The first tweet was posted on Sunday after the United States sanctioned the wealthiest families from Russia and threatened to freeze their assets, including yachts and mansions, in a bid to hurt the Russian president.

“The aircraft these oligarchs have are absolutely crazy. Their planes are huge compared to other jets,” the 19-year-old told Bloomberg, adding that Russian billionaires preferred flying in commercial-sized aircraft such as the Airbus A319 and Boeing 737.

After the announcement, some of Russia’s wealthiest, who are part of Mr Putin’s inner circle, started moving their megayachts to Montenegro and the Maldives, CNBC reported.

The European Union on Monday added 26 more names, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, businessmen active in the oil, banking and finance sectors, as well as government members and high-level military people, to its sanctions list.

The college student also created another account to track planes registered to the Russian president and other prominent Russians, but warned against the accuracy as there isn't much available flight data.

The teenager first grabbed global attention after Mr Musk offered to pay him $5,000 (£3,700) to shut down his account tracking the Tesla CEO’s flights, calling it a “security risk”.

This account, created in 2020, has more than 385,000 followers and relies on bots to scrape publicly available air-traffic information.

However, Mr Sweeney countered the billionaire’s offer and asked for $50,000 instead, which Mr Musk reportedly declined.

Meanwhile, some of the children of the billionaires and senior officials have condemned Russia’s onslaught, which has seen hundreds of Ukrainians killed as thousands seek sanctuary in subways, and even more flee to neighbouring countries.

Elizaveta Peskova, the 24-year-old daughter of Kremlin spokesperson Mr Peskov, posted a black square on her Instagram Stories with the caption “No to war!”

Sofia Abramovich, the daughter of the Chelsea FC owner, shared a social media post saying Mr Putin’s actions were not supported by the majority of Russians.

Maria Yumasheva, the granddaughter of Russia’s first post-Soviet president Boris Yeltsin and the daughter of Mr Putin’s adviser Valentin Yumashev, tweeted: “No to war.”

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