Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday urged Italy to seize a mysterious yacht worth about $700 million associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking to the Italian parliament, Zelensky said Putin and his wealthy backers often vacationed in Italy and that all their assets should be frozen in order to put pressure on them to end the invasion of Ukraine.
“Don’t be a resort for killers. Block all their real estate, bills and yachts – from the Scheherazade to the smallest,” he said, referring to a superyacht docked in Italy’s Marina di Carrara port.
The sleek six-deck vessel has two helicopter landing areas and can accommodate 18 guests and 40 crew members. Its owner has never been publicly identified, but there are persistent rumors in the media that it belongs to Putin or a member of his inner circle.
An organization founded by imprisoned Alexei Navalny, a fierce Putin critic, released a report Monday saying it had evidence that the boat belonged to the Russian leader.
It said many of its crew members were from the Russian Federal Protection Service (FSO), tasked with protecting the Russian president, and flew regular flights to Italy.
The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request for comment whether Putin owned the Scheherazade or whether members of the FSO were crew members.
An Italian police source told Reuters on Tuesday that investigators did not believe the yacht belonged to anyone close to Putin. However, the source added that the government was still trying to determine who owned it.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi told parliament on Tuesday that his government seized more than €800 million in assets owned in Italy from Russian businessmen as part of EU sanctions against Putin, his friends and associates.
However, officials have said very little is known about what Putin might own, or where he keeps his assets.
To put more pressure on Moscow, Zelensky told Italian lawmakers that the European Union should impose a full trade embargo on Russia, including a ban on oil purchases.
“Support a ban on Russian ships entering your ports so that they feel the price of their aggression,” he said.
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