Mystery of $700 million yacht: does it belong to President Putin?


Yacht Scheherazade in Marina di Carrara

The ship is said to have been in the sights of the US authorities since the beginning of March.

(Photo: ddp/IPA)

Rome The mega yacht is six stories high. She has two helipads, a pool, spa area and 22 cabins. Even a drone intercept system is said to have been installed. List price of the 140 meter long colossus: 700 million dollars.

The “Scheherazade” is one of the largest yachts in the world – and possibly belongs to the man who is currently plunging the world into the greatest crisis in decades: Wladimir Putin.

For days, Italy’s media have been speculating about the owner of the white mega yacht, which has been undergoing a general overhaul for months in a shipyard in Marina di Carrara, a small town in northern Tuscany.

Now the evidence is increasing that leads directly to the Russian president. Supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is in custody, said that the list of 23 crew members included at least a dozen bodyguards and Federal Security Service (FSO) employees.

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“Putin has lost touch with reality so much that he doesn’t just buy a yacht that has three times the budget of the Kaluga region,” Maria Pevchikh and Georgiy Alburov explained in a video. “He’s also sending military protection to this crazy yacht.” The FSO is primarily responsible for protecting the Russian President.

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In the middle of the week, a trade unionist in Carrara said he saw the crew being replaced. The team had previously been completely Russian, but now it is “made up only of Englishmen,” the man explained.

Italy has so far cracked down on many oligarchs on the EU sanctions list and confiscated several properties and yachts. The government in Rome stated that the total value should already amount to around 800 million dollars.

The Italian customs authorities are investigating

So far, the “Scheherazade” has only been temporarily blocked in the port. The maintenance work at the Italian Sea Group, as the shipyard is called, should continue as normal, according to local media. The company is said to be cooperative and has so far given the investigators full insight into the papers.

Officially, Putin is not registered there as a ship owner. The local unit of the Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s powerful customs agency, who also takes care of the fight against the mafiahas started the investigation and is now checking whether the registered owner is just a straw man for Putin.

The yacht sails under the flag of the Cayman Islands, known as a tax haven. It is registered to a company based in the Marshall Islands, a microstate northeast of Australia. The yacht was built just two years ago in the German Lürssen shipyard. According to the online portal “Superjachttimes”, which lists all luxury ships worldwide, the “Scheherazade” is ranked 17th in terms of size.

The American judiciary has been keeping an eye on the yacht in Italy since the beginning of March, the New York Times reported. Italian media wrote that according to the official documents, the ship should belong to Eduard Yuryevich Khudainatov – he is considered a close companion of Putin, who managed his election campaign in 2000.

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