Is Putin pleasure yacht in Italy the mystery yacht?

The “Scheherazade,” the most infamous boat in Italy today owing to rumours that may belong to Vladimir Putin, is moored in a dry dock in the Tuscan beach town of Massa. The 140-meter craft, with its bow facing the Mediterranean and a value of $700 million, is the subject of an investigation into its ownership by Italy’s financial police.

Since Moscow invaded Ukraine last month, many boats belonging to Russian oligarchs have been confiscated in Europe. The capture of the “Scheherazade,” on the other hand, would be the most dramatic if its provenance could be linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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It has been docked at The Italian Sea Group’s shipyard in the Marina di Carrara, in the western seaside town of Massa, not far from Tuscany’s famed Carrara marble quarries, for many months for maintenance work.

Although several guys were working close on Wednesday, an AFPTV correspondent saw no evident evidence of movement on board.

According to an AFP source familiar with the current inquiry by Italy’s financial police, the probe might be completed within days.

“We’re in the process of digging further, and it’s getting more difficult,” the person explained. “Attributing ownership isn’t always easy.”

According to the SuperYachtFan website, which investigates boats and their owners, the yacht will include two helipads, a swimming pool, and a movie theatre when it is completed in 2020.

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According to rumours, the “Scheherazade,” which flies the Cayman Islands flag, is owned by a Marshall Islands firm.

According to experts at Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption group, the boat’s skipper is British, but the rest of the crew is Russian. The yacht was attributed to Putin in a video put on YouTube on Monday.

Researchers referred to a crew list they had in their hands, which included numerous members of Russia’s state protection service, which is responsible for Putin’s security.

However, Paolo Gozzani, the leader of the local CGIL union, which represents shipyard employees, indicated on Wednesday that the crew of the “Scheherazade” had just changed.

“The crew was entirely composed of Russians,” Gozzani told AFP.

“Then, all of a sudden, the entire crew was replaced with a British crew, for reasons that are still unknown.”

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According to the New York Times, US officials have gathered evidence tying Putin to the luxury ship, which made two excursions to the Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2020 and 2021.

The boat was “not related to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s property,” according to the Italian Sea Group.

The shipyard’s owner stated that their evaluation was based on “the documents in its possession and the conclusions of the competent authorities’ checks.”

ALL OF THEM ARE TO BE CAPTURED.

The British skipper of the “Scheherazade” told the New York Times earlier this month that Putin was not the ship’s owner and that the Russian president had never set foot on board. The captain refused to disclose the owner, claiming that no one was now facing repercussions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Italy, a favourite Russian vacation destination, to take all oligarchs’ financial and real estate assets, including yachts, “from the Scheherazade to the tiniest,” in a speech to the Italian parliament on Tuesday.

Italian authorities have confiscated almost 800 million euros ($877 million) in assets belonging to Russian billionaires since Moscow’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine and the accompanying European Union sanctions, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said Tuesday.

This includes the 530-million-euro “Sailing Yacht A,” a sailing-assisted motor yacht linked to Russian billionaire Andrei Melnichenko, a coal and fertiliser magnate on the EU’s blacklist.

Alexei Mordashov, a Russian steel magnate rumoured to be linked to Vladimir Putin, also had his 65-million-euro “Lady M Yacht” confiscated by Italy.

The sanctions, according to Draghi, “have had a significant impact on Russia’s economy and financial markets, as well as the personal assets of President Putin’s closest associates.”

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