blog_passport_full11

Putin Spokesman Accused Again of Graft, This Time Over Luxury Yacht

Putin Spokesman Accused Again of Graft, This Time Over Luxury Yacht

You would think that after already getting into hot water over corruption allegations linked to a $600,000 watch, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov might want to keep a low profile. But the longtime Kremlin official’s extravagant lifestyle is once again being discussed in Russia — this time over a trip that he allegedly took on a luxury yacht with his family and friends off the coast of the Italian island of Sardinia.

The allegations come from a recent article by Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who, citing an unidentified source, said he was tipped off about Peskov’s recent vacation with his new wife, Olympic figure-skating champion Tatiana Navka, and others aboard the yacht, which costs an estimated $390,000 per week. The luxury vessel, called the Maltese Falcon, is advertised as one of the most expensive yachting experiences in the world and comes with add-ons like jet-skis, kayaks, and even small sailing boats.

Navalny used an online yacht tracking service and followed geo-tagged social media posts from Peskov’s friend, former Moscow district official Oleg Mitvol, as well as Peskov’s stepdaughter, who can be seen wearing a bathrobe with “Maltese Falcon” written on it. Navalny says he has corroborated his source’s claims and now is demanding that Peskov, a state employee, explain how he could afford such an expensive trip on his public salary. “Dmitry Peskov would need to save up his full salary for three years just to afford this yacht for seven days,” wrote Navalny.

Even though Navalny has provided evidence linking Peskov’s friends and family to the yacht, he has so far not shown proof of Peskov himself being there. Instead, Navalny wrote it is “impossible to imagine that Peskov’s 15-year-old stepdaughter and the 49-year-old Mitvol are spending time together by themselves.”

In response to the new allegations, Peskov has already gone on the defensive, telling the Russian newspaper RBK on Monday that he is currently in Sicily and has not rented the yacht. “I’m renting a hotel,” he reportedly said.

After wedding photographs circulating on social media showed Peskov kissing his bride while wearing a watch estimated to cost more than $600,000, Navalny jumped on the corruption scandal. Peskov denied the allegations and said that the watch was a wedding present from his wife. However, Navalny then published a photo from three months before the wedding from Peskov’s daughter’s Instagram account showing the Kremlin official wearing the exact same watch.

Photo credit: MAXIM SHIPENKOV/AFP/Getty Images