How an Aristocrat Helped a Kremlin Nepo Baby Flee U.S. Cops

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

A descendant of a Grand Duke and a former vice-governor in Russia has reportedly been arrested in Italy for allegedly helping the son of a Putin ally flee Italy to avoid extradition to the United States.

The man, a Russian national and Swiss resident named Dmitry Chirakadze, 54, was arrested at an airport in Italy for helping organize the escape of Artyom Uss—the son of the ex-Krasnoyarsk region governor, Aleksandr Uss. Chirakadze had just landed from Sardinia, where he and his wife own a luxury resort, according to Corriere Della Sera and other local media.

Chirakadze also reportedly owns a large hunting estate in Krasnoyarsk whose grounds are reportedly a favorite of Aleksandr Uss.

Artyom Uss had been detained in 2022 at the Milan Malpensa airport after Washington accused him of participating in a scheme to export American military technology to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. In order to avoid extradition to the United States, he broke free from his house arrest and fled to Russia last year with the help of Russian security services, according to Italian investigators.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the individuals who helped Uss flee have ties to a Serbian organized crime group. The U.S. Department of Justice has announced an award of up to $7 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction.

Uss faces up to 30 years in prison in the United States.

Chirakadze was “one of the promoters and organizers” of Uss’ escape, and allegedly took on a “higher level” organizational role in the plot, the Italian prosecutor’s office said. Prosecutors there described him as an aristocrat descended from a grand duke of Georgia.

Shady past

Chirakadze and Uss’ ties go back years. Chirakadze’s wife, Lyubov Orlova, controls a majority of Luxury Sardinia S.R.L., which owns Hotel Don Diego, which boasts a private beach and poolside lunch service nestled on the island of Sardinia just across from the islands of Tavolara and Molara.

Since 2021, Aleksandr Uss’ youngest daughter, Alexandra Uss, owns the Cypriot company, Dunegenes Trading Limited, which has a share in Luxury Sardinia S.R.L., according to iStories.

According to the Italian prosecutor’s office, Chirakadze is a shareholder in several Russian companies with members of the Uss family as well.

But beyond allegedly organizing transnational escape routes for the prodigal Uss son, Chirakadze has a storied past in the extractive sector in Siberia, complete with infighting between Russian businesses, connections to shady Russian oligarchs, misuse of funds, and even one reported attempt on his life.

Chirakadze’s brush with trouble began while practicing swimming in the freezing waters of one of Moscow’s parks, where he befriended entrepreneur Mikhail Zhivilo, who ran the MIKOM investment firm in the 1990s, according to RFERL. Chirakadze soon became a junior partner at MIKOM, which fought over the aluminum business with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch sanctioned by the United States. Deripaska had sought to wrest control of NKAZ, a major aluminum producer, away from MIKOM.

When MIKOM lost control of NKAZ and transferred ownership to Sibirski Aluminum and Russian Aluminum—Deripaska enterprises—NKAZ U.S. trading partners accused Sibirski Aluminum, Russian Aluminum, and Deripaska of fraud, murder, and money laundering.

The murder accusations don’t stop there.

In 1997 during a visit to his mother’s home in Moscow, hitmen attacked Chirakadze on the street with a metal pipe and stabbed him eight times in the neck and chest, according to an RFERL and Kommersant report from the time. He reportedly went to the ICU and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Eventually, when his friend Zhivilo was accused of planning a murder against the governor of Kemerovo, Chirakadze took over as acting president of MIKOM.

In the late 1990s, he was tied to the misuse of a World Bank loan of 17 billion rubles for the coal mining industry, according to Kommersant. Chirakadze had been serving as the vice-governor of the Kemerovo region. But the region, which received the World Bank loan for the coal mining industry, had allocated some of the money to a dairy plant instead, according to Kommersant.

In the early 2000s, Chirakadze charted a new path and invested hundreds of millions of rubles to create, which provides online services for Russian courts and distributes information on court decisions in Russia. (Although at the time of development, he was accused of using another company’s systems to develop

On the run

Chirakadze allegedly worked with a ring of criminals to smuggle Uss out of Italy. Five men accused of helping Uss escape Italy by car through the Balkans have already been detained.

Chirakadze and Uss’ wife, Maria Yagodina, had allegedly approached one of the co-conspirators and suggested that Uss leave Italy promptly, according to the Corriere Della Sera. That alleged co-conspirator, Vladimir Jovancic, a Bosnia and Herzegovina national known as “Vlad the old man,” according to L’Unione Sarda, has already been interrogated and arrested.

Jovancic had told the Italian authorities that “the Russian gentleman who was with us… he had everything proposed, he was in charge of how the operation move[d].”

The day after an Italian court approved Uss’ extradition to the United States, Uss escaped from his home. Jovancic planned to arrive at Uss’ home under the pretext of delivering groceries to Uss, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. At his home, Jovancic provided Uss with bolt cutters, which Uss used to remove his electronic ankle monitoring device.

They used cars registered in different countries and Serbian, Bosnian, Italian and Slovenian phone numbers to distract investigators, according to Reuters.

The Italian prosecutor’s office said there are “serious indications of guilt” for Chirakadze and that they have traced phone traffic to point the finger at him.

His locations were “perfectly compatible with the places of interest already identified by the investigators, in particular those where preparatory meetings and meetings have taken place for the organizational phases (luxury hotels and restaurants in the province of Milan),” the office said, according to a translation from Milano Today.

The authorities announced on Friday they are also looking for Yagodina, Uss’ wife, who also fled to Russia.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.