Turkish police on Monday raided the historic yacht used by legendary Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. On the decks of the exclusive craft, 20 businessmen and prostitutes were arrested on suspicion of taking part in wild orgies.
Some of the alleged prostitutes were minors from Russia and Ukraine. Turkish media reported that the person who had chartered the exquisite vessel at that time was the Kazakh billionaire Alexander Mashkevitch, who also holds Israeli citizenship and is president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
According to Turkish reports, there are receipts proving that Mashkevitch, who has businesses throughout central Asia, paid in advance for the use of the yacht for five days – exactly the days during which the wild parties were allegedly held.
However, Turkish authorities say a sex trade network was using the yacht, which was leased by the government five years ago to a local businessman. The authorities say participants in the orgies paid between $3,000 and $10,000 for a night on the decks of the yacht.
The 446-foot Savarona includes 17 luxury suites. It was built in 1931 for Mrs. Emily Roebling Cadwalader, granddaughter of New York's Brooklyn Bridge architect John Augustus Roebling, and purchased by the Turkish government in 1938. Ataturk, considered the father of modern Turkey, enjoyed a few weeks aboard before his death in the same year.
About 20 years ago, the ship was leased for a period of 49 years in exchange for $60 million. The high maintenance costs compel the lease holder to charter the vessel out for various uses. Diana Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed were among the VIPs who chartered the yacht.
The orgy affair raised a storm in Turkey, because any slur on the memory of Ataturk is an offense punishable by imprisonment. Turkey's finance minister rushed to declare the cancelation of the lease agreement, the confiscation of the vessel, and its transfer to Ministry of Culture responsibility. The main opposition party, which continues in Ataturk's path, calls for turning the yacht into a national museum.
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