“Vladimir Putin keeps all his money with the oligarchs,” said William Browder, a U.S.-born and London-based financier and human rights activist who was once a major investor in Russia but ran afoul of the government in the late 2000s. “And this is a very effective psychological warfare, to start seizing yachts. I think it’s demoralizing for the oligarchs, and it’s demoralizing for Vladimir Putin. And he’s a guy who ... rules by image, you know, is the person who has pictures of himself with the shirt off on a horse. And so it’s a bad image to have one of his best friends’ yacht seized in the south of France,” Browder said.
European governments are moving against Russian oligarchs to pressure Russian President Vladimir Putin to back down on his war in Ukraine, seizing superyachts and other luxury properties from billionaires on sanctions lists, AP reports.
Italy since Friday has seized 143 million euros ($156 million) in luxury yachts and villas in some of its most picturesque destinations, including Sardinia, the Ligurian coast and Lake Como.
“We must be able to stop Putin’s attack, bringing him to the table, and he won’t go with niceties,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told Italian state TV on Friday, announcing Italy’s plans to begin the seizures of property belonging to oligarchs close to Putin.
Italian financial police moved quickly seizing the superyacht “Lena” belonging to Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Putin, in the port of San Remo; the 65-meter (215-foot) “Lady M” owned by Alexei Mordashov in nearby Imperia, featuring six suites and estimated to be worth 65 million euros; as well as villas in Tuscany and Como, according to government officials.
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