Pro-Kremlin lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk’s family still likely uses its $200 million yacht despite freezes imposed on its assets, according to a July 8 report by the Slidstvo.info investigative project.
Medvedchuk and his allies have been sanctioned and charged with high treason in recent months as President Volodymyr Zelensky launched a crackdown on the Kremlin’s lobby in Ukraine. However, Medvedchuk’s prospects may not be as bad as they seem.
The National Security and Defense Council, the Security Service of Ukraine and the President’s Office did not respond to requests for comment. Medvedchuk’s spokesman Oleh Babanin declined to comment.
In 2015 Sergii Leshchenko, then a member of parliament and now a Kyiv Post columnist, said that Fregata Marine Ltd, which he said was owned by Medvedchuk, had acquired the Royal Romance, a $200 million yacht. At that time the information could not be verified.
However, in 2020 Medvedchuk disclosed in his asset declaration that his wife, Oksana Marchenko, owns Fregata Marine Ltd, which is registered in the Marshall Islands.
On Feb. 19, 2021 the National Security and Defense Council imposed sanctions on Medvedchuk and his wife, which froze their assets.
The Security Service of Ukraine said in April it had seized a yacht owned by Medvedchuk.
However, it turned out that the service seized a yacht called the Romance-1, not the Royal Romance. The Romance-1 is smaller and less expensive than the Royal Romance.
On March 31, the Royal Romance was transferred from Fregata Marine Ltd. to Lanelia Holding Ltd., which is also registered in the Marshall Islands.
There is evidence that Medvedchuk’s family still likely uses the Royal Romance despite the sanctions.
On May 11, Marchenko posted photos from the coast of Croatia. On the previous day, the Royal Romance was sailing along that coast, according to Marine Traffic, a site that monitors the movement of ships.
Medvedchuk is a personal friend of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is the godfather of the lawmaker’s daughter. He has long been Putin’s unofficial representative in Ukraine.
Medvedchuk, the co-leader of the pro-Kremlin Opposition Platform – For Life party, and his ally, lawmaker Taras Kozak, were charged with high treason on May 11. Later Medvedchuk was placed under house arrest.
Medvedchuk and Kozak are suspected of colluding with the Russian government to extract natural resources in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that has been illegally occupied by Russia since the 2014 military invasion.
The recent treason charges against them are the latest step in Ukraine’s crackdown on Medvedchuk and his interests. It began in early February, when the government sanctioned Kozak and shut down three of his television channels that Medvedchuk allegedly controlled.
Sanctions against Medvedchuk, both opposition leaders’ spouses and businesses soon followed. The state ordered the nationalization of one of Medvedchuk’s most prized possessions — an oil pipeline that used to belong to Ukraine.
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