Sanctions of Italy and Russia: desire for an oligarch

Europe Magazine

Status: 25.06.2022 11:01

Porto Cervo in Sardinia has become a different place since the outbreak of the Ukrainian war. Oligarch Usmanov has a villa here. It is now administered by the Italian state. And instead of rumble.

Author Rüdiger Kronthaler, ARD Studio Rome

In any case, security surveillance works as if the oligarch was still living in his secluded luxury villa: Porto Cervo, with its steep coastline and turquoise sea, is a piece of land rich in nature. And wealthy Russian vacationers have taken generous care of the region in recent decades. But everything has changed since the beginning of the Ukrainian attack.

Rudiger Kronthaler

The security service, which addresses reporters in front of Alisher Usman’s villa, is in charge of the Italian state. He now manages the multibillionaire’s assets and is responsible for swimming pools, gardens and yachts owned by sanctioned Russians on Italian territory.

Sardinia and the Russian oligarchs

Rüdiger Kronthaler, ARD Rome, Europamagazin, June 25, 2022

The list of sanctions processed quickly

In total, Italy has frozen goods worth 1.7 billion euros. In the spring of a few weeks, the special unit of the financial police for the fight against terrorist financing succeeded in drawing up an EU sanctions list and identifying their cases.

The Central Unit may act without a court order. Now, however, the flip side of the investigative success is becoming clearer: the maintenance of the Usmanow villa in Porto Cervo alone is estimated at € 120,000 a year. And the absence of oligarchs weakens the local economy.

If the generous Russians stay away

Near the villa, which is not visible from the outside, there is a nice little restaurant. The owner asks ARD– Get involved and show Usmanow’s former regular place. He has been going to Sardinia regularly for many years, eating in a restaurant and meeting business partners.

Now the local restaurants are not in danger of bankruptcy, because the Russian oligarchs and their courage no longer come to Sardinia. More classy guests from the Gulf states or the USA are still coming. However, the owner of the restaurant, Massimo Scard, openly tells him that he does not believe in sanctions and that Italy is cutting his leg by freezing the goods.

Craftsmen, house workers, gardeners no longer have anything to do. The Russians, who are considered particularly generous, are also absent from shops and restaurants: only here on the Costa Smeralda, according to projections, they have spent 80 million euros each summer.

You can’t get too close to Usman’s villa in Sardinia – but it’s the state that shields the confiscated building.

Image: ARD Studio Rome

Generous gifts – only from the spirit of the community?

Emotionally, Costa Smeralda also developed an addiction to oligarch Usman. For example, Usmanov donated an ambulance to the village of Arzachena. He sponsored the restoration of the Capitoline Museums in Rome. Since 2018 he has been an honorary citizen of Arzachena.

However, in the light of the Ukrainian war, the question arises: were these gestures really personally motivated as a show of solidarity with Italy? Or did he do it to create the addictions and fan the conflicts of loyalty that are now erupting on the postcard coast of northern Sardinia?

The fact is: many here are against sanctions against their honest Russian citizen.

Proximity that now leads to sanctions: Vladimir Putin and Alisher Usmanov

Image: BR

Can Usmanov still defend himself?

The mayor of Arzachena does not want to be shaken by honorary citizenship. He doesn’t want to give an interview about Usmanow. And the oligarch himself is militant: The speaker denies it ARD that Usmanov is particularly close to Putin or that he supports the war against Ukraine: “Mr Usmanov has no connection or influence on Russian foreign policy. Any indication that he supports the Ukrainian conflict is unfounded.”

He appealed against EU sanctions to the European Court of Justice. In Sardinia, many are likely to hope for the super-rich to succeed.

You can see this and other reports in the Europamagazine – on Sunday at 12.45 in the first.

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