Lake Como villas of sanctioned Russian TV star vandalized

April 6, 2022 GMT

ROME (AP) — Two villas on Italy’s Lake Como owned by pro-Putin Russian television personality Vladimir Soloyvev were vandalized early Wednesday, with “KILLER” and “NO WAR” spray-painted on one and flaming tires tossed into the other to protest his support for the invasion of Ukraine, authorities said.

The pool of the spray-painted property in the town of Pianello del Lario was also tinted red, according to video of the scene by Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Solovyev was one of the first figures targeted by European Union sanctions because of his support for the war. A presenter on state run Channel One, Solovyev is “known for his extremely hostile attitude towards Ukraine and praise of the Russian government,” according to the EU sanctions list. The EU says he was targeted for sanctions because of his support for “actions or policies which undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

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The Italian government announced March 5 that Solovyev’s Como-area properties had been frozen, and estimated their combined value at 8 million euros (US$8.7 million).

An official at the Como fire station said firefighters were called shortly after dawn to the scene of a fire at his under-construction villa in Menaggio, one of the picturesque towns that dot the lake in northern Italy. He said police were investigating the vandalism as a “demonstrative act.”

Menaggio Mayor Michele Spaggiari, who went to the scene, said the villa had been under renovation, no one was home and the flaming tires did no real damage. “There wasn’t anything to burn,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

He said the acts of vandalism had not been preceded by any local protests or social media posts against Solovyev. “I’m certain it came from outsiders,” he said.

Italian carabinieri were investigating.