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Italian officials seized a $700 million luxury yacht with ties to the Russian government, Rome's ministry of finance announced Friday.
Italian authorities scrambled to investigate the nearly 460-foot superyacht known as the Scheherazade, which was dry-docked in the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara as concerns mounted the Kremlin-linked vessel would set out to Italian waters shortly.
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The yacht was seized under coordinated measures with the European Union due to Russia's involvement in "undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."
The Scheherazade, a 459-foot luxury yacht, is docked at the shipyard in Marina Di Carrara, Italy, March 23, 2022. (Francesco Mazzei/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)
The finance ministry said the vessel, which flew the flag of the Cayman Islands, "had long been under the attention of the authorities."
Despite the acknowledged investigation that found the yacht to have "prominent" links to Russians targeted under EU sanctions, Italian officials omitted the name of the owner of the Scheherazade.
Some reporting has suggested the Scheherazade belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin, while other reports have pointed to Eduard Khudainatov, a Russian former executive of a state-owned oil company, .
Italy’s financial police patrol boat is seen in front of the multimillion-dollar megayacht Scheherazade, which is docked at the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara, Tuscany, May 6, 2022. (Federico Scoppa/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)
Khudainatov does not appear to have yet been specifically sanctioned, but a decree passed by Italian Finance Minister Daniele Franco barred the vessel from sailing away.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy specifically referenced the megayacht in a March address to Italy’s parliament in a plea for action.
"Don't be a resort for murderers," he said in a translated address. "Block all their real estate, accounts and yachts — from Scheherazade to the smallest ones. Block the assets of all those who have influence in Russia."
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with top officials about support to the aviation industry in Russia amid western sanctions via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, March 31, 2022. (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP / AP Images)
Ukraine has pressed the international community to impose harsher sanctions on Russia as it has continued its deadly war in Ukraine for more than 10 weeks.
The U.S., along with several European nations, have made moves to cut Russian oil ties, while others have pledged to do so by the end of 2022.
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Zelenskyy slammed EU nations that continue to purchase Russian oil, its No. 1 export.
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"You shouldn’t be a little evil and a little good. It is inadmissible to impose sanctions and with another hand to sign new contracts with Russia. This is definitely inadmissible in times of war. This is hypocrisy," Zelenskyy said during a virtual address to the U.K.’s Royal Institute of International Affairs Chatham House Friday.
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