A yacht worth an estimated $ 700 million, currently docked in Italy, may belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the organization of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
That Scheherazadeone of the world’s largest superyachts, whose owner has not been publicly named, is currently stationed in the port of Marina di Carrara on the west coast of Italy in Tuscany.
According to a video released on Monday by journalist Maria Pevchikh and activist Georgy Alburov – both from the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) set up by Navalny – the 459-foot ship is owned by Putin and its crew includes members of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSO). which is tasked with protecting the Russian president.
The 15-minute video describing the allegations was posted online a day before Navalny, one of Putin’s most prominent and outspoken critics, was found guilty of large-scale fraud and contempt by a Russian court and risks another 13 years in prison.
Navalny, who claimed he was poisoned by the Kremlin in 2020, is already serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for allegations that he violated the terms of his suspended sentence following a 2014 money laundering ruling.
The video, which has already been viewed nearly 2.5 million times on YouTube, discussed how Putin would be affected by EU sanctions against Russia in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine if he owns property in the EU.
The clips then claim that Scheherazadecomplete with two helicopter decks, a cinema and a swimming pool, may actually belong to Putin after receiving a crew list describing who works on the luxury craft.
Alburov noted that many of these crew members allegedly work for the FSO, the agency that “protects Putin and organizes his life.” Some crew members are either listed directly as working for FSO, or their addresses are identical to the headquarters of FSO’s Caucasus branch, Alburov said.
The fund also said it had spoken to one of the crew members, who confirmed that the superyacht is owned by Putin.
New York Times previously reported that Putin may own the vessel. The ship’s captain, British citizen Guy Bennett-Pearce, denied the allegation, saying the Russian president had never been on the yacht himself.
“I have never seen him. I have never met him,” he said New York Times. Bennett-Pearce added that the owner of the yacht is not on any sanctions list, but did not rule out that whoever it is could be Russian.
Italian police and US officials have already launched investigations into who owns Scheherazade, but has so far failed to come to any concrete conclusions.
As noted by Pevchikh, the yacht has not been seized yet because the authorities have not been able to find its owner.
“With a very simple open source search, we were able to identify at least ten FSO officers listed as staff members in Scheherezade“Pevchikh tweeted on Monday.” They are Russian government employees, military personnel, and they travel regularly to Italy as a group to work on the mysterious yacht.
“To sum up, a dozen of Vladimir Putin’s personal guards and servants are constantly maintaining one of the world’s largest yachts moored in an Italian port. We believe this is solid enough evidence that Scheherazade belongs to Putin himself and must be seized immediately. “
On Tuesday, Navalny was found guilty of charges of fraud and contempt, which he and his supporters say were fabricated to end his political ambitions, Reuters reported.
He was jailed last year after surviving a poison attack from a nerve agent he said was ordered by Moscow. The Kremlin has often denied attempts to assassinate one of Russia’s most vocal critics of Putin.
Navalny is expected to be sentenced on Tuesday, March 22nd.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has been contacted for comment.