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Russia to sell Volodymyr Zelensky’s holiday home on Black Sea to finance invasion

Emperor's House residential complex in the Black Sea resort of Yalta where Vladimir Zelensky’s apartment is located - Newsflash
Emperor's House residential complex in the Black Sea resort of Yalta where Vladimir Zelensky’s apartment is located - Newsflash

Russia has announced that it has nationalised Volodymyr Zelensky’s holiday home on Crimea’s Black Sea coast and plans to sell the property to fund its invasion of Ukraine.

The Russia-installed leader of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014, on Thursday recorded a video, announcing the local legislature’s decision to nationalise 57 properties that used to belong to Ukrainian tycoons and public figures.

“Crimea will regain rights for a number of properties including a building in Simferopol that belongs to the banned Crimean Tatar parliament as well as Olena Zelenska’s flat,” said Sergey Aksyonov, referring to the president’s flat that is registered in his wife’s name.

“Enemies of Russia won’t be making money in Russian Crimea,” he added.

Mr Zelensky was the country’s most popular comedian and co-owner of a successful TV production company before he was elected president in 2019.

The Zelenskys bought a three-room penthouse apartment in Crimea’s prestigious coastal town of Livadia in 2013 and reportedly never got to live there because of reported renovations and the subsequent annexation.

Russian state media estimated it to be worth about $800,000 (£648,000).

Forced to pay bribes

Russia’s annexation of 2014 triggered a massive land grab across the peninsula as at least 4,000 enterprises and individuals had their property expropriated just in the first year of the invasion.

In many cases, owners were forced to pay bribes to simply re-assert their property rights as the Russian government started to register properties anew.

Vladimir Konstantinov, speaker of the Russia-declared parliament, said on Thursday the Zelenskys’ flat will be sold off and the proceeds are likely to be used to fund the war in Ukraine.

“It will be put up for sale, and money will first of all go towards the needs of the special military operation, families of the killed soldiers and families of the mobilised men,” he told state Russian TV.

He suggested the Ukrainian president is not going to miss the property: “Of course, it is not a big loss for him.”

Mr Zelensky reportedly was not renting it out.

Earlier this year, Russian authorities in Crimea ordered the nationalisation of about 700 properties, from vineyards to factories, belonging to some of Ukraine’s richest tycoons suspected of “enemy activity” and links to the Kyiv government.

It was not clear where the proceeds from that sell-off went.