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Russian Mega Yachts Hit Hard in the Maelstrom of International Sanctions

Published: March 17, 2022
This photograph taken on March 15, 2022 shows the 85m long, St Vincent and the Grenadines-flagged yacht "Valerie", moored in the port of Barcelona. - An 85-metre yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch was impounded in the Spanish port of Barcelona, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said. The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the yacht seized is named Valerie, which it linked to Rostec defence firm chief Sergei Chemezov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Image: LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the international community to levy unprecedented levels of sanctions against both Russia and those known to be close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.

A popular target amidst the flurry of sanctions are the mega yachts owned by Russian plutocrats. These floating mansions are finding it hard to find friendly waters and are being seized by authorities at practically every opportunity.

Purchasing a mega yacht is a strategy Russian billionaires employ in order to park their money. The yachts are essentially used as a store of value, in addition to their obvious other uses. Since the conflict began, at least seven mega yachts have been seized much to the dismay of the billionaire owners.

On the list is the Amore Vero, a mega-yacht owned by Rosneft CEO Igor “Darth Vader” Sechin. The yacht is said to have a swimming pool that converts to a helipad. It was seized in France when Sechin allegedly attempted to evade sanctions by ordering the vessel to sail to Turkey.

Also on the list is a 279-foot $140 million mega yacht owned by former KGB officer Sergei Chemezov, who now leads Rostec. Rostec is a Russian organization involving around 700 enterprises, including 14 holding companies and 11 defense-industry related entities. The conglomerate operates in some 60 constituents in the Russian Federation and supplies goods to over 70 countries. Its 2017 revenue topped $27.2 billion. 

The Lady Anastasia, owned by Alexander Mikheyev, who runs the helicopter division of a subsidiary of Rostec, had his yacht seized in Spain. Last month, the yacht survived an attack by a Ukrainian sailor. During the attack he told his crew to abandon ship and then attempted to sink it. He said, “I don’t regret anything I’ve done,” prior to being arrested. 

On March 14, Spanish authorities announced they had seized the Valerie, an 85-metre long, $143 million vessel owned by Sergei Chemezov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The vessel was retained by Spain’s General Directorate of the Merchant Marine, which is responsible for marine traffic in the country. 

While technically not a seizure, the mega yacht dubbed Ragnor, owned by another former KGB agent, Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, is trapped in Norway. The yacht is trapped not because of sanctions but because no one is willing to refuel it, according to NPR. The yacht is said to sport a BigBo amphibious ATV, heli-skiing equipment, four See-Doos, four ski scooters, six Seabobs, a multipurpose island and a giant slide.  

In Germany, the $735 million super-yacht, dubbed the Dilbar, has been stuck in port with German authorities not allowing it to leave. The vessel sports the largest indoor swimming pool ever installed on a private vehicle. It was named for Kremlin-tied plutocrat Alisher Usmanov’s mother. 

Authorities in Italy have seized at least three vessels connected to the Russian Federation, including the Sailing Yacht A, owned by sanctioned fertilizer mogul Andrey Melnichenko. Melnichenko insists he has “no political affiliations” however that did not sway authorities. The seizure of his vessel was caught on video.

Also seized by Italian authorities are the Lena and Lady M. The Lena is estimated to be worth somewhere between $8 and $55 million and is owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Gennady Timcheko. Timchenko was the founder of Russian private investment group, Volga and it’s said he is a close friend of Vladimir Putin. 

The Lady M, is estimated to be worth at least $27 million — Italian authorities believe it to be worth much more — and sports a pool, helicopter landing pad, and a full salon.