Italy Seize Superyacht That Alexei Navalny's Organisation Claimed Was Owned By Vladimir Putin

A huge superyacht that was said to be owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin has been seized by Italian authorities as part of European sanctions against Russia.

Italian police have seized The Scheherazade superyacht
Italian police have seized The Scheherazade superyacht

On Friday the Italian government ordered police to seize a luxury yacht worth around $700 million that the media have recently linked to Vladimir Putin.

The yacht which had been in the Italian port of Marina di Carrara since September while undergoing repairs had recently been witnessed preparing to be put back to sea.

An organisation that was established by the imprisoned Alexei Navalny, a fierce critic of the Russian President, released a report in March which stated that it had evidence that the superyacht belong to Vladimir Putin.

The report claimed that many of the crew were from Russia's Federal Protective Service (FSO), which is a specialist task force that's role is to protect the Russian President.

The Kremlin never responded at the time to requests for comment on whether members of the FSO were crew members or whether the yacht was owned by Putin.

The Cayman Island registered yacht has been under investigation by the Italian financial police since the end of March.

Italian police seized the superyacht Scheherazade on Friday
Italian police seized the superyacht Scheherazade on Friday

Around the time that the investigation started its all Russian crew left in the middle of the night and was quickly replaced by an all-British crew.

The Italian government said that authorities boarded the vessel last night to execute their order.

Guy Bennett-Pearce, the British captain of The Scheherazade has denied that Putin is the owner but has refused to say who it is.

It was been reported that police involved in the investigation into the vessel believe that the owner is the former chief of Russian energy giant Rosneft, Eduard Khudainatov, who is not currently under any EU sanctions.

Superyacht allegedly linked to Putin docked in Italy
Superyacht allegedly linked to Putin docked in Italy - © Reuters

A statement given by the Italian Financial Police said: "After verification by the fiscal authorities it has come to light that there is a significant economic connection between the owner of The Scheherazade and senior elements of the Russian government.

"On the basis of these elements, it has been recommended that the yacht be placed on the current European Union sanctions list and the Minister of Finance in Rome has agreed."

The yacht which can host up to 18 guests, 40 crew members, and has two helicopter landing pads was delivered to its mystery owner in 2020.

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