A court in Norway has released Andrey Yakunin, the son of Vladimir Yakunin, the former head of the Russian Railways state corporation, reported the BBC Russian Service, citing the NRK television company. A Norwegian appeals court made the decision to release Yakunin, according to the publication.
Vladimir Yakunin is a member of the Ozero cooperative (a dacha cooperative associated with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle) and a close confidant of the Russian president.
The court agreed with the defense and ruled that the man did not commit a criminal offense, Yakunin's lawyer told NRK.
Yakunin was detained on October 17 and was in court in Tromsø. He was taken into custody for two weeks.
Andrei Yakunin, 47, holds British and Russian citizenship and owns a business in Italy, where he is currently based. He gave an interview over the summer in which he said he opposed the war and did not vote for Putin.
He was reportedly arrested for launching a drone in the northern Norwegian town of Hammerfest, the site of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant. The drone was launched from a sailing yacht named the Firebird, which was flying the British flag. Norwegian law prohibits Russians from launching drones in Norwegian airspace.
This is the fourth case of illegally launched drones or secret sites in northern Norway reported this week. Six Russians were earlier arrested due to similar incidents. Two Norwegian airports have been closed due to the launch of drones.
The Insider earlier detailed how Vladimir Yakunin became the holder of Russian Railways’ “obshchak” (organized crime jargon referring to a collective fund intended for use in the interests of a criminal group) when he became head of the state-owned railway operator in 2005. Money for the “obshchak” was collected through kickbacks for state companies and exported to offshore companies through a “Moldovan laundromat». The total damage to the Russian budget from the embezzlement amounted to more than $20 billion.