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Putin pal’s $200M yacht spotted in Croatia after Ukraine treason charge

Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, a Putin pal who fled Ukrainian house arrest when the Russian invasion began, may be on the run — but his $200 million megayacht is firmly anchored in Croatia. If Ukraine falls, Medvedchuk is Putin’s top choice to head a puppet government in the shattered country. He has been on US sanctions lists since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Crimea. In May, Ukraine arrested Medvedchuk for high treason and for plundering state resources in Crimea, which was unlawfully annexed by Russia in 2014. Medvedchuk is believed to be in Russia, or at his lavish Crimean estate. But although he’s sanctioned in the US, the EU is still on friendly terms with him — in part because officials there are said to believe he may be a useful peace broker. In the past, he’s brokered prisoner exchanges between Russia and Ukraine, diplomats say. For now, Medvedchuk’s $200 million megayacht — Royal Romance — remains in full view, docked in the pretty port town of Rijeka, Croatia. Royal Romance was built in the Netherlands in 2014, the same year Russia invaded Crimea. The yacht comes equipped with a 40-foot long pool that feeds an onboard waterfall, plus four sun-splashed platforms wrapped in glass. In case anyone gets any ideas to sabotage Medvedchuk’s pricey plaything — the way Ukrainian Taras Ostapchuk flooded Lady Anastasia, the Spanish-docked megayacht owned by an arms dealing oligarch — there’s a local security firm standing guard, noted local resident John Clayton, who formerly headed the democratization department at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Mission to Serbia. “It’s been here for the past year. We’ve watched it with some disgust. It’s now guarded by a private security guard,” Clayton told The Post. Clayton provided The Post with a picture he took of the superyacht. Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with The Post’s live coverage. Clayton says he alerted the British and American embassies to the yacht’s location. “I’ve been emailing the British Embassy, but they are ignoring me. However, the US Embassy is tracking it now,” Clayton claimed. Medvedchuk, a legal eagle turned oil and media mogul — whose three pro-Putin propaganda TV stations were taken off the air in Ukraine — is also a pro-Putin politician, and he owes his oil-based fortune to his ties to the Russian dictator. The two are so close that Putin is godfather to one of Medvedchuk’s two daughters. The dictator and the mogul reportedly watch Formula One races together. Putin once kept a Ukrainian president waiting because he was having dinner with Medvedchuk, Russia expert Anders Aslund told The Post. Medvedchuk is reportedly worth around $620 million, according to Forbes, but Aslund says he’s worth far more thanks to stashing illicit funds in offshore accounts. The megayacht is registered in the Cayman Islands. And it is extremely expensive to maintain — perhaps up to $1 million a month. “We have no idea how this is being paid given that he’s now on the run,” Clayton said. However Clayton did have some suggestions on what to do with the yacht now. “Morally, it should either be seized and sold, with the assets going to support the people of Ukraine, or it should be used to house the Ukrainian refugees now arriving in Croatia. Personally, we prefer the latter option, but it should be up to the Ukrainian people to decide as it was purchased with wealth stolen from their country,” Clayton said.

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