Italy seizes villas owned by propaganda TV host Soloviov, oligarch Usmanov

Italy seizes villas owned by propaganda TV host Soloviov, oligarch Usmanov

Italian police have seized villas and yachts worth at least EUR 140 million ($153 million) from high-profile Russians who were placed on an EU sanctions list following Moscow's attack on Ukraine, sources said on Saturday.

A police source said a villa owned by billionaire businessman Alisher Usmanov on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, and a villa on Lake Como owned by state TV host Vladimir Soloviov, had both been seized, Ukrinform reports citing Reuters.

In addition, sources confirmed that yachts belonging to Russia's richest man, Alexey Mordashov, and Gennady Timchenko, who has close tied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, were impounded overnight in the northern Italian port of Imperia.

Russian oligarchs are believed to have bought numerous villas in choice Italian locations over the past 20 years and sources said more assets were expected to be seized in coming days as Western states implement massive sanctions to try to force Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

Italian banks were instructed by the Bank of Italy's financial intelligence division on Friday to urgently let it know of all measures taken to freeze the assets of people and entities placed on the EU list.

Uzbekistan-born metals and telecoms tycoon Usmanov is well known in Italy for owning multiple properties on Sardinia, while Italian media say Mordashov owned a villa worth some EUR 66 million ($72 million) on the same island.

Taking into account the assets of his whole family, Forbes magazine estimates that Mordashov had an estimated net worth of $29.1 billion before sanctions hit.

His 65 meter (215 ft) yacht the "Lady M" had a price tag of EUR 65 million, while Timchenko's boat Lena was worth some EUR 50 million, a police source said.

Timchenko made a fortune in oil trading and has been described by Putin as one of his closest associates.

Read also: Sanctions must increase: Kuleba calls on West to cut Sberbank off from SWIFT, close ports for Russia

Soloviov reportedly complained on Russian television when he found out last month that he risked losing his Italian villa.

"Suddenly someone makes a decision that this journalist is now on the list of sanctions. And right away it affects your real estate. Wait a minute. But you told us that Europe has sacred property rights," he was quoted saying by The Daily Beast.

As reported, on February 24, Russia declared war on Ukraine. Russian troops invaded Ukraine from the north, east, and south – from the occupied Crimea. They have been destroying cities, killing civilians, shelling critical infrastructure and households.

Martial law was imposed in Ukraine and general mobilization was announced.

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