Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation released a video on Monday claiming to have linked Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Scheherazadeone of the 20 largest yachts in the world, worth an estimated $700 million.
Navalny researchers say they were able to access a list of Scheherazadeand that they discovered – using phone numbers and credit score data – that several of them are Russian nationals employed by Russia’s Federal Protection Service, a government agency that provides security to senior Russian officials and state property. A Scheherazade crew member also previously worked on the 270ft long Gracious yacht, which has also been linked to Putin, according to the 15-Minute Navalny video.
The 459 feet long Scheherazade is equipped with a helipad, swimming pool, movie theater and even a security system capable of shooting down drones, according to SuperYachtFan. Vessel, built by German shipbuilder Lürssen in 2020, is currently located in Marina di Carrara, an Italian port on the west coast of Italy, according to MarineTraffic. (The New York Times reported earlier this month that Italian law enforcement had opened an investigation into the yacht).
Navalny’s anti-corruption group previously alleged, in a video released in 2021 that has been streamed nearly 123 million times, that Vladimir Putin was the true owner of the so-called ‘Putin’s Palace’, an extravagant mansion-fortress located on the Black Sea. Putin denied ownership of the estate; Arkady Rotenberg, a longtime friend and ally of Putin, said the estate actually belonged to him.
Nalvany has been in jail since January 2021 for violating an alleged embezzlement sentence. He was arrested at the airport five months after falling seriously ill on a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow last August, according to a United Nations report. Toxicology reports later determined that he had been poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Two of his close associates, Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov, were recently added to the Russian list of “terrorists and extremists”.
Putin’s yacht doxing comes amid a wave of US and EU sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs and their Western-based assets, including yachts, mansions and private jets. In his State of the Union address on March 1, President Joe Biden promised, “We join our European allies in finding and seizing your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets. We come for your ill-begotten gains. On March 16, the US Departments of Justice and Treasury announced the creation of a new multilateral task force targeting Russian oligarchs.
In recent weeks, Western law enforcement has frozen a number of superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs. In Germany, authorities froze the 512 feet Dilbar’superyacht, which is owned by Alisher Usmanov, a sanctioned Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin. Especially bad news for the ScheherazadeItalian police embarked on March 12 and froze a sailboat belonging to Andrey Melnichenko, another sanctioned Russian billionaire.
Tracking yacht owners can be difficult, thanks to the use of front companies. the Scheherazade, for example, flies the Cayman Islands flag and is owned by Bielor Asset Ltd, an anonymous entity registered in the Marshall Islands. This type of offshore ownership arrangement makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to determine the beneficial owners of assets.