August 29, 2023

Of War and Yachts


Of War and Yachts
Graceful in the port of Sochi, 2015 Alexxx1979, Wikimedia Commons

A year and a half into the conflict in Ukraine, the Russian government allocated roughly $32 million for the care and refurbishment of the yacht Graceful, linked to President Vladimir Putin. So argue findings by associates of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The investigative team said that a considerable portion, specifically R240 million (about $2.5 million), was spent solely on wooden products for the yacht. There waa also the acquisition of an R8 million ($84,000) coffee table, a carpet spanning over 100 square meters for the bedroom of the "owner" (procured for R5 million [$52,000]), and other furniture.

"Right now, during the war, three billion rubles were spent on Putin’s toy," said an investigator in the video outlining the report. This sum includes funds for restoration, maintenance, crew salaries, overhead costs, communications, dry dock storage costs, and fuel. The investigators predict that siginificant expenditures will be ongoing. Currently, the yacht is en route to the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

The 82-meter Graceful was built by the German shipbuilding company Blohm and Voss. The officially registered owner, as reported by the BBC, is the Argument company, co-founded by Alexander Kolpakov, head of the presidential affairs department, and Oleg Kuznetsov, head of Military Unit 1473 of the FSO (the Russian agency concerned with tasks related to the protection of several high-ranking state officials).

Notably, the vessel’s itinerary has often coincided with the Russian president’s schedule. It frequently makes appearances around Sochi, home to Putin’s Bocharov Ruchey residence and a rumored palace on Idokopas. Further, photographs of the yacht show a government telephone, identical to those present in all of Putin’s official offices, and the yacht gym is furnished with the same equipment found in Putin’s armored train.

Following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Graceful was subjected to sanctions, mirroring the predicament of the 140-meter yacht Scheherazade, also associated with Vladimir Putin. The latter was apprehended in Italy in May 2022, while Graceful successfully navigated to Kaliningrad only weeks before February 24, 2022.

Associates of Alexei Navalny noted that the sanctions failed to impede the substantial yacht overhaul. In particular, an intricate infrastructure was established, involving assistants from Europe, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, to facilitate equipment procurement and refurbishment. Notably, the Estonian company Breeze Marine is referenced, among others, in the investigation. Crew uniforms were sourced from Italy, with expenses covered by a Dubai-based company, and the merchandise was routed through Lithuania before reaching Kaliningrad.

You Might Also Like

Leave or Die
  • August 15, 2023

Leave or Die

In which we visit a "typical" Siberian town and dig into the issues and people who live there.
No Money, Only War
  • March 29, 2023

No Money, Only War

Russian authorities blame the "special military operation" for the disruption of infrastructural and social projects.
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Little Humpbacked Horse

The Little Humpbacked Horse

A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Fearful Majesty

Fearful Majesty

This acclaimed biography of one of Russia’s most important and tyrannical rulers is not only a rich, readable biography, it is also surprisingly timely, revealing how many of the issues Russia faces today have their roots in Ivan’s reign.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod: A Novel in Many Voices

Stargorod is a mid-sized provincial city that exists only in Russian metaphorical space. It has its roots in Gogol, and Ilf and Petrov, and is a place far from Moscow, but close to Russian hearts. It is a place of mystery and normality, of provincial innocence and Black Earth wisdom. Strange, inexplicable things happen in Stargorod. So do good things. And bad things. A lot like life everywhere, one might say. Only with a heavy dose of vodka, longing and mystery.
At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955