The hunt for superyachts of sanctioned Russian oligarchs


    Two superyachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have docked in Turkey, beyond the reach of UK and EU sanctions.  
    Each of the vessels cost more than $500m and are among a number tracked by Lloyd's List Intelligence. The shipping data experts have been monitoring on-board tracking devices and have shared this information exclusively with the BBC, enabling the journeys of these and other vessels linked to sanctioned Russians to be plotted.
    A boatload of young Ukrainians tried to stop the superyacht My Solaris docking in Bodrum in Turkey. The other Abramovich-linked yacht Eclipse sailed to Marmaris.
    The UK, US and EU have said they will target superyachts, and at least eight have been seized so far. More remain at large - some are on the move, others are moored in places that are currently safe from sanctions, including the Maldives.
Many superyachts are linked to Russian billionaires but ownership is shrouded in secrecy - boats are often registered through a series of offshore companies.
    The team at Lloyd's List sifted through registration papers, credit reports and other records to determine who they believe is linked to each superyacht. 
    My Solaris, which is estimated to have cost $600m, boasts a pool and a helipad. It has a crew of up to 60 and can accommodate more than 30 guests.
    It left Barcelona on 8 March where it was undergoing repairs.
    It docked off Tivat in Montenegro days after Mr Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK. Tivat, in the mountain-fringed Bay of Kotor, is a hub for superyachts and boasts a large marina.
My Solaris info graphic
    My Solaris left Tivat and was sailing off the Greek west coast when the EU sanctioned Mr Abramovich on 15 March.
    After this date, the yacht's tracking data shows it was steering clear of Greek territorial waters (Greece is in the EU) and sailing in international waters, where it cannot be seized. 
    On 21 March, it arrived in the Turkish resort of Bodrum, which has a modern marina and can accommodate superyachts up to 140m in length. 
    But its path was blocked by a small dinghy carrying eight children from a Ukrainian junior sailing team and their coach, waving Ukrainian flags. 
    Coach Paulo Donstov told the BBC they were there to compete in a sailing championship and were tipped off about the arrival of My Solaris.
Bodrum protesters

    "We want the world to know that Ukraine wants freedom and peace," said Mr Donstov, whose family are still in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa. 
    Turkey has said it has "no intention" of joining EU sanctions on Russians and, unlike most European countries, it is still allowing direct flights from Russia.
    The captain of one vessel linked to a wealthy Russian, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC that Turkish officials had made it clear that Russian ships are "very welcome and will be treated as any other vessel".
    The Eclipse is one of the world's largest superyachts. It has nine decks, three helipads and a three-person submarine. It is also rumoured to have a missile-defence system and a laser-directed light system to deter photographers from taking pictures of the boat.
It was docked off the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten - a Dutch overseas territory linked to the EU - but left at the beginning of March. It then sailed east through the Mediterranean, north of Algeria. 
Eclipse map
    On 22 March, the data showed it arriving at Marmaris in Turkey. The resort, a former fishing village, is another popular destination for superyachts. There is a marina, an Ottoman castle and more than 50 diving sites nearby.

Andrei Kostin 

Sea Rhapsody
    Sea Rhapsody has also been on the move. It has been linked to Andrei Kostin, president of the Russian state-owned VTB bank, who has been sanctioned by the US, EU and UK authorities.
Sea Rhapsody map
    The vessel, which boasts a cinema and a gym, left Fethiye in Turkey on 18 February, heading for Oman before arriving in the Seychelles on 3 March, where it has remained since.

Oleg Deripaska

    Other superyachts haven't moved. One of them is Clio which is linked to Oleg Deripaska, an industrialist with close ties to President Putin, who has been sanctioned by the UK and the US.
    It has its own support vessel called Sputnik - complete with its own helipad - and is currently near the Maldives. 
    Several other superyachts linked to sanctioned Russians are in or near the Maldives, including the Ocean Victory linked to Viktor Rashnikov and Nord linked to Alexei Mordashov.
    The Madame Gu - linked to Andrey Skoch who has been sanctioned by the EU and UK - is in Dubai.
    The Maldives, the Seychelles and Dubai don't have an agreement with the US, UK or EU that would allow the authorities to seize property, protecting yachts there from any sanctions.
    But they may not be able to stay in safe waters indefinitely. "These things are living, guzzling animals on the water that need maintenance… so you need ports that can cater to that," says Capucine de Vallée, CEO of Boat Bookings. "All the leading shipyards are in northern Europe." 
    She believes manufacturers may stop offering parts and maintenance due to sanctions. 
    Out of the nine superyachts linked to sanctioned Russians, only one is docked in European waters. 
    The Tango - linked to Viktor Vekselberg - is docked off the coast of Palma in Spain. Mr Vekselberg is under sanction by the US and the UK, but not the EU.

Vladimir Putin

Global map of yacht positions
    A superyacht linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past sailed back to Russian waters before the invasion of Ukraine began.
    Graceful moved from Germany to the coast of Kaliningrad, Russia, in mid-February.
    But Lloyd's List says the movement data is limited as the vessel turned off its tracking device for several weeks. 
    Under the UN Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, ships must have their onboard-trackers switched on at all times unless there is a danger to the safety of the crew and vessel.
    Several other yachts linked to Russians have also occasionally turned off their tracking data in the last month.
US officials are examining the ownership of a second yacht, the Scheherazade which is currently docked off the Italian town of Marina di Carrara.
    Supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexander Navalny have linked the 140m vessel, estimated to be worth $700m, to President Putin. 

Which yachts have been seized? 

    At this time of year, many superyachts would usually start heading toward popular European destinations, such as Port Hercule in Monaco or Marina Grande on the Italian island of Capri. 
    "Between December and April it's Caribbean season, and then yachts are moved to Europe for the Mediterranean season which will normally run from May to September," says Chris Jefferies of Superyacht World Magazine.
Superyacht A

    Several yachts linked to sanctioned Russians have already been seized by authorities in France, Italy and Spain:
  • Sailing Yacht A seized in Trieste, Italy (linked to Andrei Melnichenko)
  • Lena seized in San Remo, Italy (linked to Gennadiy Timchenko)
  • Lady M seized in Imperia, Italy (linked to Alexei Mordashov)
  • Amore Vero seized in La Ciotat, France (linked to Russian oligarch Igor Sechin)
  • Valerie seized near Barcelona, Spain (linked to Sergei Chemenov)
  • Crescent seized in Tarragona, Spain
  • Lady Anastasia seized in Port Adriano, Spain (linked to Alexander Mikheev)
  • Axioma seized in Gibraltar (linked to Dmitrievich Pumpyansky)
    There is still confusion about the status of one of the world's biggest superyachts, the Dilbar - linked to sanctioned Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov. 
    It had been reported that it had been seized while docked in Hamburg. The local authorities told us that this was not the case and that it was still there for ongoing repairs.
Officials on yacht

What about unsanctioned yachts? 

    Lloyds List looked at more than 40 superyachts which they linked to wealthy Russians. Many of them haven't been sanctioned and there are clusters of them (highlighted in blue) still in the Mediterranean.
Global map of yacht positions
    But they are already getting a frosty welcome in some ports. Crew members have been shunned in Monaco, according to Ms de Vallee, with some contractors refusing to carry out maintenance work because of fears they might have their payments confiscated by the EU.
The captain of one superyacht told us: "Our line of credit is completely cut, which makes operating very difficult."
Is this really Putin's boat? :)
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