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UKRAINE CONFLICT

PUTIN

Putin’s judo pal has Rome luxury hotel seized

Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, a judo partner of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has seen assets worth €30 million seized in Italy including a luxury hotel in central Rome.

Putin's judo pal has Rome luxury hotel seized
Arkady Rotenberg is the 27th richest person in Russia. Photo: Alexander Kulebyakin/Interpress/AFP

Italy’s financial police have seized the Berg Luxury Hotel, a stone’s throw from Rome’s famous Via Veneto, as part of EU and US sanctions over Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict. 

When contacted by The Local, staff at the hotel said it was open for business but refused to answer further questions. The nearby Aurora 31 suites were also seized by authorities, Corriere della Sera reported.

Berg Luxury Hotel

The Berg Luxury Hotel in central Rome was one of the properties seized by Italian authorities.

Rotenberg’s holiday homes in Sardinia have also been hit by sanctions. They include an apartment in the island’s capital, Cagliari, and villas in Villasimius and Arzachena. A property in Tarquinia, north-west of Rome, has also been seized according to Corriere.

According to the US government Arkady Rotenberg and his brother Boris Rotenberg “have amassed enormous amounts of wealth during the years of Putin’s rule in Russia.”

The siblings were awarded around $7 billion (€5.4 billion) in contracts for Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympics held earlier this year, awarded to them by Putin, the US government has said.

Arkady Rotenberg’s net worth is $3.4 billion, making him the 27th richest person in Russia, according to Forbes.

He is “one of the most influential businessmen in Russia” and has “remained close” to Putin since being the president’s judo sparring partner, Forbes said. 

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RUSSIA

Twitter trolls’ ‘coup’ against Italy’s president to be probed

Rome's public prosecutor's anti-terrorism section is to probe hundreds of Twitter accounts demanding the resignation of President Sergio Mattarella in the midst of an Italian government crisis in May.

Twitter trolls' 'coup' against Italy's president to be probed
Photos: AFP

The Twitter accounts popped up as Italy was mired in political chaos on the evening of May 27 after a days-long standoff over the composition of Italy's government cabinet.

President Mattarella vetoed the nomination of fierce eurosceptic Paolo Savona as economy minister, enraging the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League and prompting their prime minister-elect to step aside.

That night, nearly 400 Twitter accounts calling for the president to resign were created in a few minutes before being deleted within hours, according to a police inquiry, the reports said, adding that the probe, which will open next week, would be led by the anti-terrorist section of the Rome public prosecutors' office.

Ministers in the new government, however, said they were unconcerned by the allegations.

“I was not aware of it and it does not worry me in the least,” Interior Minister and League head Matteo Salvini said in an interview published Saturday in the daily Il Foglio.

“It's been months since I read that the Russians are influencing Brexit, the US, French and Italian elections. For me it is total nonsense,” added the minister, an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin.