On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Italy to confiscate a $700 million mystery yacht tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a presentation to the Italian parliament, Zelensky stated that Putin and his affluent allies frequently visited Italy on vacation and that all of their assets should be blocked to put pressure on them to cease the invasion of Ukraine.
The sleek, six-deck vessel can accommodate 18 guests and 40 crew members and has two helicopter landing pads. Its owner has never been revealed publicly, but there have been persistent media rumours that it belongs to Putin or a member of his inner circle.
On Monday, an organisation founded by imprisoned Alexei Navalny, a staunch Putin critic, issued a report claiming to have evidence that the yacht belonged to the Russian leader.
It claimed that several of its crew members were selected from Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO), which is entrusted with protecting the Russian president, and that it travelled to Italy on a regular basis.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for information on whether Putin owned the Scheherazade or whether FSO members were crew members.
According to a police source in Italy, detectives do not believe the yacht was owned by anyone in Putin’s entourage. However, the source went on to say that the government was still trying to figure out who the owner was.
On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told parliament that his government had taken more than 800 million euros in assets owned by Russian businesses in Italy as part of EU sanctions targeting Putin and his associates.
Officials have stated, however, that little is known about Putin’s assets or where they are held.
Zelensky told Italian MPs that the European Union needed to impose a comprehensive trade embargo on Russia, including a restriction on oil purchases, in order to put additional pressure on Moscow.