Teenager Who Tracked Elon Musk Jet, Now Tracking Russian Oligarchs

The pressure continues to be ramped up on Russia and the supporters of President Vladimir Putin, amid the invasion of Ukraine.

The Guardian newspaper has revealed that Florida teenager, Jack Sweeney, has quickly grown a huge Twitter following after creating an account to track the movements of private jets and helicopters of Russian oligarchs.

Jack Sweeney is a 19 year old student from Florida, US. He recently came to light for developing the Twitter bot @ElonJet (followed by 391,000 people), to track the movements of Elon Musk’s Gulfstream private jet, and post real-time updates of its location on Twitter.

Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk. Image credit: SpaceX

Jet tracking

Musk was not happy at having his movements publicly revealed in this manner, and exchanged direct messages with Sweeney, asking him to take the bot down for security reasons, saying he didn’t “love the idea of being shot by a nutcase.”

Musk offered Sweeney $5,000 for the account, but Sweeney countered with a demand for $50,000.

Musk stopped communicating with Sweeney, saying it didn’t feel right “to pay to shut this down.”

Sweeney has also developed about a dozen other flight bot accounts that track the travels of high-profile tech titans, including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

Now the Guardian has reported that Sweeney has turned his attention to Russia’s oligarchs, who are currently facing crippling sanctions and asset seizure for supporting Vladimir Putin.

Sweeney at the weekend created the @RuOligarchJets bot, which tracks the flight paths of the jets of at least 21 Russian oligarchs and tycoons.

The account has already amassed 162,000 Twitter followers.

Tracking oligarchs

Among those being tracked by @RuOligarchJets are Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, who last week ceded control of the football club to its charitable trust, and who reportedly this week has placed the football club up for sale for £3 billion.

The teenager said he got the idea for the new account to monitor the flight paths of Russian oligarchs, as their movements come under increasing scrutiny following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to @RuOligarchJets, the private jets and helicopters of Roman Abramovich, have been taking off and touching down in various destinations including Moscow, Baku, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Dubai as of Monday.

More recently Roman Abramovich’s Jet LX-RAY has been tracked flying into and out of Turkey.

Turkey has been a key supplier of military drones to Ukraine, and it controls passage to the Black Sea via the Dardanelles straits. Earlier this week Turkey warned nations not to transit warships through the straits.

That decision essentially closes the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits to all military vessels, which could be significant during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Other oligarchs being tracked by Sweeney include the steel magnate Alexander Abramov. According to Sweeney’s tracking, Abramov’s jets and helicopters have been taking off and touching down in locales spread across the world including London, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda and Abu Dhabi.

Putin tracker

Speaking to NBC, the 19-year-old University of Central Florida student said, “It’s just been crazy. I just figured some people would be interested in it. I just didn’t think all kinds of people would be.”

“Before this, I didn’t even know there were these [influential] oligarchs like this. They probably do have a decent amount of power from what I can understand,” he reportedly said.

Along with Russian billionaires, Sweeney also has started tracking the flight paths of planes and jets owned by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, the Guardian reported.

Last week, he launched @PutinJet but added a disclaimer, saying, “Don’t expect this to be too accurate though, there are a dozen VIP Russian planes and ADS-B [Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast] coverage isn’t great in Russia.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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