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Polygon found Putin's sixth yacht and an airline used by his close friends

Russian President Vladimir Putin owns at least six yachts. As Polygon found out, in addition to Scheherazade, Graceful, Olympia, Seagull and Shellest, he also uses a 32-meter yacht Nega. The yacht owner's subsidiaries also own an airline company, its fleet includes helicopters and business jets used by Putin's closest entourage.

Yacht Negа

Putin uses the yacht Nega during his vacations in the Leningrad Region and the Russian North. In particular, he visits the monastery on the Konevets island on Lake Ladoga.

According to the newspaper, the yacht belongs to a group of companies that maintains various facilities associated with Putin, including the palace at Cape Idokopas.

Nega is a small superyacht with two Rolls-Royce engines, it can speed up to 22 knots (almost 41 km/h). It can accommodate ten passengers and up to four crew members. A yacht of the same design was used by the former President Dmitry Medvedev. The price of his yacht Fotinia was estimated at $11 million. The publication suggests that Nega was bought for the same price. According to the FCS, the yacht was officially imported into Russia twice (the unique identification number, HIN, is the same in both declarations). Polygon found out that in June 2013 the yacht was declared by Bawaria Group Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company.

At the end of 2013, the yacht left Russia, and in April 2014, it was reregistered in the customs database as imported goods. The supplier was the Finnish company Kotka Yacht Store. Presumably, the vessel spent the winter of 2013-2014 in Finland for repairs and was returned to the owner in the spring.

The importer in both cases was Helios, a Russian legal entity. The company is listed in the International Telecommunication Union database as the owner of the vessel (the database includes all the vessels in the world along with their callsigns, types of communications equipment and lighthouse identifiers). The database also contains emergency contacts. The Russian Maritime Register of Shipping has the company's address and e-mail. The vessel's home port is St. Petersburg. Though the yacht is capable of sailing in high seas, it never left Russia's internal waters: apart from St. Petersburg the vessel visited the ports of Vyborg, Vysotsk, Shlisselburg, and Kronstadt.

The publication reminds that Putin likes to rest in the Leningrad Region and the Russian North. For example, his daughter Katerina Tikhonova and the son of one of his close friends Kirill Shamalov had their wedding ceremony at the Igora resort in 2013. On the island of Lodochny between Vyborg and Vysotsk is the Sellgren villa, where the movie «The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson: The Twentieth Century Begins» was filmed and where Putin likes to stay nowadays.

A source familiar with the circumstances of the purchase suggests that the yacht may have been taken to the Finnish town of Kotka for winter storage and scheduled maintenance. That is also the current location of Medvedev's yacht Fotinia, which could be confiscated due to sanctions. On March 21, the Finnish authorities reported the detention of 22 vessels that could fall under sanctions.

Aircraft and railroad cars

Helios is part of a large group of companies. These legal entities own a number of properties used by Putin, including the aforementioned Sellgren villa, the resort of Igora and the palace at Cape Idokopas in the Krasnodar Krai. This group of companies is controlled by the shareholders of the Bank Rossiya, the key owner of which is an old friend of the president, Yury Kovalchuk, whose companies funded the construction of the palace.

The publication assumes there is a division of responsibilities within the group of companies serving the interests of Putin, and Helios is in charge of transportation. That legal entity together with some of its affiliates owns airplanes, helicopters, and even railcars in addition to sea vessels.

In May 2016, Moscow Region governor Andrei Vorobiev posted on his Instagram page a photo taken from an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter, which is part of Russair's fleet. This is a small airline, its fleet consisting of business jets and helicopters, some of which the company leases from a Rosneft subsidiary and from Sogaz.

Polygon says that, judging by Russair's accounting statements, the aircraft it leases and services include:

two Dassault Falcon 7X business jets, one of which is part of the special Rossiya flying squadron which serves top government officials;
a Dassault Falcon 8X jet and a Dassault Falcon 900LX jet;
a new Russian Tu-204;
two Anglo-Italian AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters;
two French-German Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters;
four Russian Mi-8 helicopters

Russair is owned by Briz, a subsidiary of the owner of the yacht Nega. The publication, citing an acquaintance of businessman Gennady Timchenko's, says the airline's services are used not only by high-ranking officials, but also by Vladimir Putin's friends. A source told Polygon they book flights to that would take them to the president from St. Petersburg to discuss important matters. According to Flightradar24 data, most business jet flights are from St. Petersburg to Sochi and Gelendzhik. Sochi is home to the president's residence, Bocharov Ruchei, and the Gelendzhik airport is the closest to the palace at Cape Idokopas.

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