A new investigation from Russian journalist Maria Pevchikh and reported by various outlets alleges that Russian President Vladimir Putin had his superyacht “Graceful,” reportedly valued at some $100 million, moved from a shipyard in Hamburg, Germany to Kaliningrad in Russia weeks before the invasion of Ukraine in an attempt to stop it from being seized by international authorities in the sanctions that would be known to follow.
Graceful was being refitted by the shipbuilding company Blohm & Voss when an email from SCF Group, the largest shipping company in Russia, was sent to Blohm & Voss, claiming that the craft’s owner was dissatisfied with the project and wanted the ship moved to somewhere within the Russian Federation. The email read:
“The owner is not happy with the retrofit. He is dissatisfied with the delays in the construction process…The owner wants the Graceful to be brought to the Russian Federation on February 1st (…). Please mobilise an uninterrupted crew – 2 shifts…Please accelerate all works which may interfere with Graceful sailing out on 01 February…Please calculate the amount to be paid by Owners due to early departure. Crew and myself will provide full assistance to prepare Graceful for Towing.”
The investigation is claiming that Blohm & Voss were scheduled to work on Graceful for at least another year before the hastily arranged departure, with employees of the firm reportedly having to move out of their homes temporarily in order to meet the deadline of February 1 of last year, weeks before the invasion began. It eventually made it out behind schedule on February 7, and the investigators claim that it was all done by Putin in advance in order to keep the craft safe from seizure.
The craft has since been renamed “Kosatka” (Russian for “killer whale”), and is one Russian superyacht that hasn’t been seized by any outside authorities thanks to the seemingly shrewd maneuvering uncovered by Pevchikh’s investigation. It boasts such amenities as an indoor swimming pool that can be automatically converted into a theater or dance floor, a helipad, and a wine cave with room for 400 bottles.