Super yacht Dilbar, owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, anchors in Weymouth bay in Weymouth, UK.

The disappearance of the Russian Oligarch Yachts

Ever since Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin made massive and unpopular invasions in Ukraine, a lot of the Russian oligarchy are having their Yachts confiscated in every place in the world. 

When the Russian’s yachts started to being confiscated, a lot of yachts started to ‘’disappear’’ all over the world.

A super yacht, linked to Putin, who have two helipads, a swimming pool and a movie theater, has been confiscated in Italy, an anti-corruption activists have claimed that the boat, which is valued at €650 million, belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, citing as evidence a crew list which contains the names of people who work for the organization that looks after the president’s security.

Two super yachts linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have docked in Turkey, outside the reach of UK and European Union sanctions.

Each of the vessels costs more than $500 million – and is part of a series being tracked by Lloyd’s List’s intelligence division.

A boat full of young Ukrainians tried to stop the super yacht MY Solaris from docking in Bodrum, Turkey. The other yacht attached to Abramovich, Eclipse, sailed to Marmaris.

The UK, US and European Union have all said they will target the super yachts, so far, more than 17 worth over $2.25 billion have been seized by international authorities as of mid-April 2022.

Leonardo Dicaprio Yacht GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
DiCaprio party on a yatch.

Many remain at large, some are on the move, others anchored in places that are currently safe from sanctions, including the Maldives.

Many super yachts are linked to Russian billionaires, but ownership is shrouded in secrecy and the boats are often registered through a number of offshore companies.

Lloyd’s List staff combed through registration documents, credit reports and other documents to determine who they believe each super yacht is tied to.

The war in Ukraine, yachts and social media users

When the war between Russia and Ukraine began, many internet users revolted by the injustice and pain caused by wars, many people on the internet started to organize themselves to try to make a sense of justice through the law.

An example of that was Alex Finley, who is a woman who thinks of it as a way to get pleasure through people. Finley, is an author and former CIA officer, is online tweeting names, locations, ownership and the latest status of various yachts owned by Russian oligarchs.

According to Alex, seeing the yachts being seized feels like a “little  bit of justice.” 

She’s part of a growing group of online spectators watching and reporting as governments around the world seize Russian oligarchs’ assets as part of sanctions for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While money can often be hidden and moved between offshore bank accounts, it’s trickier to conceal a 511-foot megayacht with an indoor pool, multiple helipads and a tracking system.

Alex and the group of spectators are using automated Twitter accounts, online tracking sites and homemade bingo cards, casual fans of financial retribution are following the location of the oligarchs’ ships and jets, often hoping to catch them on the run or docked in a country likely to seize them. Social media accounts have sprung up to follow the movements of these luxurious vehicles and keep track of which ones have been frozen or taken into possession by governments.

The Russian billionaires became the new object of fascination after the White House and European Union moved to sanction dozens of individual oligarchs and their associates as part of the larger Western crackdown on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

According to the White House in a March 3 statement, “The United States and governments all over the world will work to identify and freeze the assets Russian elites and their family members hold in our respective jurisdictions — their yachts, luxury apartments, money, and other ill-gotten gains.”

After that, some strange cases of super yachts been disappearing and reappearing in countries where the jurisdictions are kinder with boats, has increase a lot.

Putin Yatch located in Sirius, by Sochi

Putin’s Yatch, the Lyutsia is parked now on the Russian coast by Sochi, as confirmed by the Russian Superyatch tracker app. And it appears that Putin put his money where his boat is: Photos obtained by the Sun show the maritime mansion that belongs to the Russian President and its six floors of swanky amenities. Putin’s Yatch includes a 16-foot aquarium, multiple televisions — including a 15-foot beast spanning an entire wall — and a self-leveling pool table so that guests can play even when the sea turns turbulent.

Putin's yatch location in Sirius, a town by Sochi.
Putin’s yatch location in Sirius, a town by Sochi.

If you want to follow a tracker of yachts tied to sanctioned Russians, you can here at this Russian Superyacht Spotter:

Super yatch with helicopter on a mountain backdrop.
Super yatch with helicopter on a mountain backdrop.

The megayacht of a Billionaire Russian that had disappeared has now resurfaced after disappearing for two weeks.

The super yacht which belongs to Leonid Mikhelson, who is the richest person in Russia after President Vladimir Putin, has reappeared on the radio after almost two weeks of radio silence.

Mikhelson is the CEO of Russian gas company Novatek, he owns a quarter of the shares of the gas company. Novatek is the largest non-state-owned natural gas provider in Russia, producing around 10% of Russia’s gas. he has faced sanctions from the U.K. and Canada since Russia’s war on Ukraine began.

The ship, which has two helicopter pads, an elevator, a pool, and room for 12 guests, last broadcast 12 days earlier that it was headed to the Bahamas. It also previously indicated it might head to Barcelona’s Port Vell.

The erratic movements of the boat show the increasing desperation of oligarchs to keep their ships off the radar of governments trying to seize them. Some vessels have logged more than 5,000 nautical miles since the start of the invasion, according to an analysis by Bloomberg with Spire Global.

The $150 million, 85-meter-long Pacific appeared cruising past the Canary Islands on May 20 after 12 days without broadcasting its position, and more recently has been seen near Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Sailing with the boat transponder shut off violates international maritime law.

While the vessel has indicated it will be heading to Port Said in Egypt as its next destination, analysts predict the ship will continue from there toward either the Maldives or Turkey—jurisdictions that are kinder to the very large boats owned by Russian oligarchs.

Viktor Vekselberg.
Viktor Vekselberg.

United States sanctions have targeted a yacht and an aircraft belonging to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg

Another example of a billionaire who has been target from the government of the United States are Viktor Vekselberg, who lives in Switzerland.

The US Treasury Department said on Friday that Vekselberg, who has an estimated $6 billion fortune, has close links with Russian President Vladimir Putin and former president Dmitry Medvedev, while he insists that he has no close connections to the Kremlin. 

The US accused Vekselberg of acting on behalf of Putin and of being a key player in Russia’s technology sector through his holding company Renova, “Furthermore, Vekselberg has taken part in Russian diplomatic and soft power activities on behalf of the Kremlin,” the statement read.

The yacht, called Tango, and the private aircraft have an estimated combined value of $180 million.

His name has not yet appeared on the list of European Union sanctioned individuals, which Switzerland has decided to mirror with its own measures, but Switzerland is facing pressure from Washington to also observe US sanctions, according to Swiss public broadcaster SRF.

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