A Russian citizen has been arrested in Norway for launching a drone. According to Norwegian media reports, he is the son of an individual “close to Vladimir Putin”. The spokesman for the Norwegian police has also said that the arrested man holds both Russian and British citizenship, is 47 years old, and lives in Italy. The arrested man’s father is on U.S. sanctions lists, writes The Barents Observer. As the Agentstvo Telegram channel has pointed out, Andrey Yakunin, son of Vladimir Yakunin, former head of the Russian Railways state corporation and member of the Ozero cooperative (a dacha cooperative associated with Vladimir Putin’s inner circle), fits the description.
Andrey Yakunin is indeed a holder of both British and Russian citizenship and has a business in Italy. He is also 47 years old. This summer, Yakunin gave an interview in which he claimed to oppose the war in Ukraine, adding that had never voted for Putin. This fact also coincides with Norwegian reports: according to The Barents Observer, the Russian arrested in Norway “hit Russian media headlines earlier this year when he stated his strong opposition to the military invasion of Ukraine”.
The Russian was arrested for launching a drone near Hammerfest in northern Norway, the site of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plant. The drone was launched from a sailing yacht named the Firebird, which was flying the British flag. Norwegian law prohibits Russians from launching drones in Norwegian airspace. According to The Barents Observer, the man’s lawyer insists that his citizenship should be viewed as British, which is why he launched the drone in the first place. “He admitted to flying the drone, but he had no reason to believe it was illegal. He is a British citizen,” the lawyer said.
This is the fourth case of illegally launched drones or secret sites in northern Norway reported this week. Six Russians were earlier arrested due to similar incidents. Two Norwegian airports have been closed due to the launch of drones.
Andrey Yakunin is one of the founders of the British company Venture Investments & Yield Management, which has invested in a number of hotels in Europe and Russia. Andrey Yakunin estimates his investments in Italy, where he is now based, at €150 million, but claims that he is far from the oligarchs from the Forbes list.
The Insider earlier detailed how Vladimir Yakunin became the holder of Russian Railways’ “obshchak” (organized crime jargon referring to a collective fund intended for use in the interests of a criminal group – Translator’s note) when he became head of the state-owned railway operator in 2005. Money for the “obshchak” was collected through kickbacks for state companies and exported to offshore companies through a “Moldovan laundromat». The total damage to the Russian budget from the embezzlement amounted to more than $20 billion.