'Sweet payback': Putin kept waiting by Erdogan ahead of meeting in Iran
Russian President Vladimir Putin was left awkwardly standing in front of cameras while waiting to meet with his Turkish counterpart, getting a taste of his own power tactic. Video posted to Twitter shows Putin looking frazzled as he waited for nearly one minute for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to arrive for their meeting in Tehran, Iran, on Tuesday. Once Ergodan walked in, Putin shrugged before smirking and walking over to give him a handshake. What was widely viewed as a waiting game on social media highlights a back-and-forth of similar incidents between Putin and Erdogan over the years.
© Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with the Secretary-General of the Japanese National Security Council. Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images
- The former head of MI6 predicted Nikolai Patrushev will replace Putin if the president falls ill.
- Patrushev, a top security official, is one of few people known to have Putin's ear.
- Richard Dearlove made the comments this week on his podcast "One Decision."
A former KGB comrade of Vladimir Putin's could be next in line to take the Russian president's place in power, the former head of British intelligence predicted.
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Speculation over a possible Putin replacement has surged in recent months amid conflicting reports that the Russian leader's health could be in decline. Kremlin insiders have even quietly begun discussing potential successors in case Putin is forced out over the Ukrainian invasion or succumbs to a hypothetical illness, according to reports.
Assets linked to one of 'Putin's favorite oligarchs' include a private Airbus jet and one of the world's largest megayachts — take a look
- Alisher Usmanov is linked to around $3.4 billion in assets, according to an anti-corruption group.
- The tycoon has been sanctioned by the UK, US, EU, and Switzerland.
- His assets include a $600 million megayacht and a private Airbus.
A number of assets linked to a sanctioned billionaire, Alisher Usmanov, have been frozen in the wake of Russia's attack on Ukraine.
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"He believes it's his entitlement, it's Russia's entitlement, to dominate Ukraine," CIA Director William Burns said in Aspen.From the introduction of Russian currency to the complete shuttering of Ukrainian broadcasting, the Kremlin is taking extreme measures to make Ukrainian towns look, feel, and operate like Russia.
The billionaire — one of the wealthiest men in Russia — was sanctioned by the US, European Union, and UK in the weeks following the invasion, as governments targeted high-net-worth individuals with links to the Kremlin and put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw from Ukraine.
The Russian Asset Tracker — a database compiled by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which catalogs assets it says belong to individuals close to Vladimir Putin — says assets it has identified as being linked to Usmanov are worth a "minimum known value" of $3.4 billion.
The investigative journalism nonprofit, working alongside media outlets, launched the site to track down assets of several oligarchs, a number of which are linked to offshore companies and bank accounts, according to the tracker's website.
The tracker provides information on 14 oligarchs, including Usmanov.
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Below are some of the properties and other assets linked to Usmanov, including a $600 million megayacht and private Airbus jet.
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Usmanov — who has been described by the EU as "one of Vladimir Putin's favorite oligarchs" — founded USM Holdings in 2012 and retains a 49% stake in it, Insider's Grace Dean previously reported.
The holding company has investment interests in metals, mining, telecoms, and technology, according to its website, and owns a company which claims to be Russia's largest iron-ore producer.
The billionaire — whose net worth is estimated at $14 billion, according to Forbes — also said he has invested around $880 million in Facebook.
Usmanov owns Beechwood House in Highgate, North London, which is estimated to be valued at around £48 million, or $62.9 million, according to the UK government.
The UK sanctioned Usmanov on March 3, stating that the oligarch — as well as another, Igor Shuvalov — would be "cut off from their significant UK interests including mansions worth tens of millions."
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But a spokesperson for Usmanov later told The Guardian that the billionaire's UK property holdings had been transferred into "irrevocable trusts," and Usmanov no longer held beneficial rights over them.
"From that point on, Mr. Usmanov did not own them, nor was he able to manage them or deal with their sale, but could only use them on a rental basis. Mr. Usmanov withdrew from the beneficiaries of the trusts, donating his beneficial rights to his family," the spokesperson said, according to The Guardian.
The trusts cannot be amended after creation, and since Usmanov reportedly no longer owns them, properties like Beechwood house could be out of the government's reach, Insider's Huileng Tan previously reported.
A spokesperson for Usmanov did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on his link to the property.
Sutton Place Estate
The UK government said that Usmanov owned Sutton Place, a 16th-century estate located in Surrey, in the south of England.
The property is estimated to be valued at $40.5 million and is listed as a Grade I historic building, according to the OCCRP's asset tracker.
The mansion was owned by a series of wealthy men in the 20th century, per OCCRP, including the oil magnate J. Paul Getty.
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The estate is not listed as belonging to an individual but instead to two companies in Cyprus, according to the tracker. A recent investigation by the Financial Times found a number of business links connecting Usmanov to the property, but could not trace it directly back to him.
A spokesperson for Usmanov told Insider that Sutton Place is not "owned or used by Mr. Usmanov."
"It is the property of the trusts whose beneficiary is his sister, and who has a family of her own. We have already stated that long ago, Mr. Usmanov transferred his real estate and other property into irrevocable family trusts. We have also emphasised that this had nothing to do with sanctions or an attempt to hide anything, but was driven by the wish to care for his relatives," the statement added.
The spokesperson said that Usmanov started to establish trusts 15 years ago, renouncing any rights he held to the assets he transferred into them.
It is not clear when the assets related to Sutton Place Estate were transferred into the trust.
Usmanov has also been linked with a $600 million superyacht, Dilbar.
According to the US Treasury, Dilbar is named after Usmanov's mother.
The vessel is the "largest motor yacht in the world by gross tonnage," according to its manufacturer, Lürssen, weighing 15,917 tons and stretching to 512 feet.
It also has the largest pool installed on a yacht, at 82 feet long, according to Lürssen.
The yacht was seized by Germany's Federal Police on April 14 after they ascertained it was owned by Usmanov's sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova.
Ismailova has also been added to the EU sanctions list, which says that Usmanov "indirectly transferred assets," including the megayacht, to her.
According to the EU, Usmanov in 2017 ceased to be a shareholder in the trust company that indirectly owns Dilbar, leaving Ismailova as "the only beneficial owner of the yacht."
The yacht has been docked in Hamburg, Germany, for months. Forbes originally reported that the yacht had been seized in Germany but later issued a correction.
The crew of the megayacht were later dismissed as sanctions meant their wages could not be paid.
Usmanov has also been linked to a black Mercedes-Maybach S650, which was detained in March by authorities in Sardinia, Italy, Insider's Kate Duffy previously reported.
The vehicle — which is reported to be fitted with armor plating and bulletproof glass — weighs five tonnes and is worth around 600,000 euros ($670,000).
Sardinian authorities did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment in relation to the reports of the car's seizure.
Mercedes said the vehicle can withstand the force of two hand grenades exploding at the same time, according to The Times.
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Mercedes did not clarify the vehicle's features in a statement sent to Insider.
Usmanov also owns an Airbus A340-300 which is estimated to have cost between $350 and $500 million, according to the US Treasury.
The aircraft is one of the largest privately owned planes in Russia, and is named Bourkhan, after Usmanov's father, according to the Treasury. The Treasury also said that the plane's registration, M-IABU, stands for "I'm Alisher Burhanovich Usmanov."
A spokesperson for Usmanov did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment in relation to Usmanov's link to the aircraft.
Sardinian coastal villas
The billionaire is also linked to a number of villas along the Mediterranean coast of the Italian island of Sardinia, which are not registered to him, but rather to offshore companies, according to OCCRP's tracker.
The cluster of five villas is located in a coastal area within the municipality of Arzachena in Sardinia, per the tracker.
One villa — which is valued at $5.9 million — is owned by Usmanov's sister Gulbakhor Ismailova, while another — valued at $6.9 million — is owned by an Italian company, which is in turn owned by a Bermudan company belonging to Usmanov, called Pauillac Property Limited, according to the OCCRP tracker.
According to the EU's sanctions list, Ismailova has "been linked to luxury real estate in Italy and Latvia, that can be linked to her brother Alisher Usmanov."
A spokesperson for Usmanov did not respond to Insider's request for comment in relation to his link to the properties in Sardinia.
Sir Richard Dearlove, who served as head of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service from 1999 to 2004, asserted this week that the most likely heir candidate is Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's Security Council and a longtime Putin ally known to be one of exceedingly few officials to have the president's trust.
"I'm almost certain it would Patrushev," Dearlove said on a Thursday episode of the podcast "One Decision," which he co-hosts, during a discussion about the ongoing impacts of Putin's war in Ukraine, more than five months after Russian forces invaded.
The former MI6 chief has previously theorized about Putin's likely longevity. In May, Dearlove on his podcast predicted that Putin will be out of power by 2023 and forced into a medical facility for long-term illness in an effort to remove the president without a coup.
The Kremlin has denied that Putin is suffering from any health issues, and Putin himself said in June that such claims were "greatly exaggerated." CIA Director William Burns this month also dispelled rumors about the state of Putin's health, saying "as far as we can tell, he's entirely too healthy."
But questions remain, and Patrushev's emergence as a dependable frontman and frequent, public promoter of Russia's war in recent months has prompted questions about his personal aims and whether or not he may be seeking Putin's power for himself.
A Kremlin spokesperson told The Washington Post earlier this month that Patrushev's role had not significantly changed and brushed off suggestions that the security secretary had amassed new powers. Similarly, a spokesperson for the Security Council denied to the outlet that Patrushev is seeking any advancement.
Still, it seems experts consider Patrushev a man to watch. On Thursday's "One Decision" episode, both Dearlove and Louise Shelley, an expert on Russian money, predicted that, should Putin fall ill, it would be a member of the Siloviki — or high-ranking officials in top Russian institutions — that would take his place. Patrushev's role as Security Council secretary is akin to the national security adviser in the US.
While Russia's oligarchs have become fodder for fascination in the wake of the war, Shelley told the podcast that Putin's replacement would be unlikely to come from such a pool.
"In general, the oligarchs at the moment have very little influence on Putin," she said. "He is living in a very close circle with his close advisers."
But whether Patrushev or any other replacement would last, is another question entirely, the experts said.
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