Pressure is growing on the Italian authorities to seize Scheherazade, the huge superyacht believed to belong to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. He also owns a smaller yacht, Graceful.

In keeping with normal oligarch procedures the yacht’s ownership is clouded in mystery. But Alexei Navalny’s team have claimed that the crew roster gives the game away. Almost all the crew members are Russian citizens, and many of them are employed by the Federal Protection Service (FSO), the agency responsible for Putin’s personal security. Only the captain – Guy Bennett-Pearce – is British, and he refuses to give the game away.

The New York Times has also claimed to have established a link between the $700 million yacht and the Russian leader.

The yacht is anchored off Tuscany, at the Marina di Carrara.

In the year that its owner took delivery, Putin submitted a tax statement showing an annual salary of $136,000, three cars dating from Soviet times and a battered cramping trailer inherited from his father.

Independent estimates put Putin’s net worth, acquired from stolen state assets, as high as $200 billion. There has been a slew of asset freezes and confiscations of yachts, aircraft and real estate in recent weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far, Putin has not been named in any sanctions enforcements.

PHOTO: Scheherazade