Fire breaks out at Italian lake villa owned by member of Putin's inner circle

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A fire that broke out Wednesday at a villa near Lake Como, Italy, which is owned by sanctioned Russian state TV host and Putin propagandist Vladimir Solovyev, is reportedly being investigated as an act of protest. 

The blaze at the property in Menaggio, which has since been extinguished, left “limited” damage, local fire authorities told Reuters. Solovyev, who works for the Russian state-run Channel One network, owns two homes around Lake Como worth a combined $8.7 million, the news agency added. 

The villa was under renovation at the time of the fire, which involved tires at the site, another fire official told The Associated Press. 

Italian police work outside of the villa owned by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyev, after unidentified people attempted to set fire to it, in Menaggio, on Lake Como, Italy, on Wednesday.

Italian police work outside of the villa owned by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyev, after unidentified people attempted to set fire to it, in Menaggio, on Lake Como, Italy, on Wednesday. (Reuters/Flavio Lo Scalzo)

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He said police were investigating the fire as a suspected act of protest. 

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both of Solovyev’s Lake Como properties were seized by Italian police when he was placed on a European Union sanctions list, Reuters reports. 

The EU says Solovyev was targeted because of his support for “actions or policies which undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” 

A firefighter walks by the villa owned by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyev, after unidentified people attempted to set fire to it, in Menaggio, on Lake Como, Italy, on Wednesday.

A firefighter walks by the villa owned by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyev, after unidentified people attempted to set fire to it, in Menaggio, on Lake Como, Italy, on Wednesday. (Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via Reuters)

Last week, Solovyev criticized negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey

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“Nice talks in Turkey!” Solovyev said on his Wednesday show, apparently railing against Russia’s negotiator who had come out of the meetings with positive statements about prospects for a deal, for compromise, with Ukraine. 

A general view of the villa owned by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyev.

A general view of the villa owned by Russian TV presenter Vladimir Solovyev. (Reuters/Flavio Lo Scalzo)

“My friend failed to consider that any negotiation with the Nazis, as long as your boot is not on their throat, is perceived as weakness. And you must not shake the hand of this scum,” he added. “And you must not exchange different formulas with them, ask ‘How you are doing?’, have small-talk. In principle, you don’t have to meet them or talk to them.” 

Fox News’ Amy Kellogg and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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