Anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny's group, FBK, has accused Vladimir Putin's longtime spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, of accepting a bribe to pay for an expensive yacht, which he allegedly rented recently during his honeymoon in the Mediterranean.
According to FBK, Peskov rented the famous "Maltese Falcon," a 260-foot yacht that costs 385,000 euros ($426,000) per week. Navalny says the money to pay this fee came from Russian business tycoon Ziyavudin Magomedov, who owns the private investment company Summa Group. (In 2012, Forbes listed Magomedov as Russia's 111th richest person, valued at $900 million.)
FBK says it bases its claim on an anonymous source, and lacks direct proof that Magomedov covered Peskov's supposed yachting costs. The group is asking Russian investigators to open a case into the accusations.
FBK has also appealed to police in Rhode Island and the US Justice Department, saying the Maltese Falcon's holding company is based there, and Magomedov's alleged role in the scandal could mean that an American company has become entangled in a foreign government's corruption case.
We don't have any billing statements; we're a nonprofit, not the special forces. We can't seize documents, and that's why we don't have a piece of paper where it's written, “I, Ziyavudin Magomedov, paid for Peskov's yacht, so he would solve some of my business problems.”
The investment group Summa Group owns several companies, including shares in the Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port. Navalny also points out that Ziyavudin Magomedov's brother, Magomed Magomedov, was a Russian senator for seven years, and his cousins, Akhmed and Magomed Bilalov, were involved in construction work for Sochi's Olympic infrastructure, though they were later suspended from their contracts.
Earlier in August, Navalny's organization also claimed that Peskov wore to his wedding a wristwatch valued at more than half a million dollars. (Peskov says the watch was a gift from his wife, and isn't worth as much as Navalny claims.)
In mid-August, Navalny published circumstantial evidence that Peskov rented the Maltese Falcon while on vacation in Sardinia. Peskov has denied the accusation, saying he spent his honeymoon in Sicily, not Sardinia.