Spain seizes Russian oligarch's yacht in Barcelona

Superyacht Valerie is seen at Barcelona Port

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Reporting by Belen Carreno, Joan Faus and Isla Binnie, additional reporting Catarina Demony; Editing by Aislinn Laing and Cynthia Osterman

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Workers walk past super yachts at the MB92 yard in  Barcelona.

Could sanctions leave oligarchs’ super yachts high and dry in Spain?

Russia’s wealthiest men own vessels worth millions. Now penalties might make it illegal to supply or service them

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Among the many gleaming white boats lining Barcelona’s historic port, the super yachts of the super-rich stand out.

If there are fewer of them than usual at the moment it’s because most are still wintering in the Caribbean. However, overshadowing the small fry (super yachts are roughly defined as starting from 25 metres in length) are a number of palatial vessels, including yachts owned by the King of Bahrain, Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie, and media mogul Barry Diller.

Among them are three vessels belonging to some of Russia’s wealthiest men. They have a combined value of hundreds of millions of dollars. Their owners could be forgiven for feeling a little nervous as western governments ponder who to target next in a threatened barrage of sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine.

All three yachts are in for refitting in the MB92 shipyard, which specialises in servicing super yachts. The largest is the 139-metre, Bermudian-flagged Solaris, which belongs to Roman Abramovich, the man who owns 29% of mining company Evraz, as well as Chelsea football club.

Next up is the 74-metre Aurora, owned by Andrey Molchanov, who has a controlling stake in LSR Group, Russia’s biggest producer of building materials, and a current net worth of €1bn, according to Forbes magazine.

Finally, there is the 70-metre Galactica Super Nova, whose owner is Vagit Alekperov, president and chief executive of Lukoil, in which he has around a 20% stake. He also owns 36.8% of the football club Spartak Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Vagit Alekperov, the president of Lukoil, in Moscow.

Lukoil is considered to be a potential target for European sanctions, given the energy giant’s importance to the Russian economy, and the fact that it is already subject to some US sanctions. It is a company of strategic importance to Russia, and Alekperov was among a gathering of business leaders summoned by Putin to a meeting in the Kremlin on Thursday.

Since 2017, Alekperov has also been part-owner of Marina Port Vell, Barcelona’s pleasure port. The old port, which dates back to Roman times, was renovated for the 1992 Olympic Games, and in 2010 it was ceded by the conservative city government to the London-based Salamanca Group for development as a marina for super yachts.

In 2017, ownership passed to the Qatari Investment bank, QInvest, and a fund with several international investors, among whom Alekperov is a stakeholder, in a concession that expires in 2048. The port is investing €20m (£16m) in a bid to become the biggest super yacht marina in the Mediterranean.

Abramovich is one of 35 individuals who should be considered for sanctions, according to a list drawn up by the organisation of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The names of the 35, who range from businessmen to media owners, government officials and politicians, was read out in parliament this week last week by Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran. She said: “We need to start by heeding the names of those who were identified by Alexei Navalny and his team as ‘key enablers’ more than a year ago.”

Solaris, one of four yachts owned by Roman Abramovich.

Abramovich holds Israeli and Portuguese citizenship and his lawyers insist that “he is not subject to sanctions, and this has been confirmed publicly by the prime minister”. They have said neither he nor Evraz “fit the description of those likely to be subject to sanctions, as set out by the foreign secretary”. Alekperov and Molchanov did not respond to requests for comment.

The three businessmen have not been named on any sanctions list. However, both US president Joe Biden and Boris Johnson have threatened wider action against the owners of companies across sectors including energy, mining and construction, which puts individuals such as Alekperov within the scope of those who could be affected.

“The UK’s new designation criteria permit a broad range of businesses to be designated as financial sanctions targets,” says sanctions expert Stacy Keen at law firm Pinsent Masons. “In relation to Russia’s strategically important businesses, the regulations specify that this applies to those operating in the chemicals, construction, defence, electronics, energy, extractives, financial services, transport and information, communications and digital technologies sectors.”

So, were such sanctions applied, what would it mean for the oligarchs’ yachts in Barcelona and elsewhere?

“The way sanctions work is that they don’t seize assets, but freeze them, and the individuals can’t use them to generate funds,” says Keen.

“If the EU were to make a designation equivalent to that made by the UK, no Spanish or other EU business would be allowed to supply services, from fuel to crew, for the use of the yacht. In effect, the yacht wouldn’t be able to function.”

How this will play out depends on the alignment of sanctions between the main players – the US, the UK and the EU. All three have promised coordinated action, and while there are some differences in measures taken in recent days, there are areas of overlap.

However, this is unlikely to have any knock-on effect on the thriving wider super yacht market, where order books are full for at least five years. According to MB92, 185 super yachts were built in 2021, compared with 148 in 2019. Covid led to a boom in the deluxe vessels, which provide an ideal form of social distancing for the 1%. Record numbers of the vessels were moored off the coasts of Italy and Greece in 2021.

The long waiting lists have also boosted the secondhand super yacht market as well, with some vessels selling for more than their original cost.

The business is getting bigger and so are the boats, as billionaires vie to outdo each other with their floating palaces. Solaris, which cost $600m, was built last year, and can reportedly accommodate 36 guests in its 18 luxurious cabins as well as 60 crew members. There is a gym, swimming pool, sauna, beauty salon and a jacuzzi. It is said to come with state-of-the-art security including a radar-controlled missile detection system, bulletproof windows and armoured protection. The yacht was spotted sailing up the Catalan coast on Wednesday, possibly on sea trials after its refit in Barcelona, before returning to its moorings.

The super yacht Galactica Super Nova, owned by Vagit Alekperov.

These yachts are not only hugely expensive to build, they cost a fortune to maintain and crew. On average, owners must spend 10% of the purchase price annually to keep one afloat, which means Solaris has running costs of around $60m a year.

Solaris is just one of Abramovich’s four yachts. The 170-metre Eclipse, currently moored in the Caribbean, is the second largest in the world, after the 180-metre Azzam owned by Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE. The Eclipse was in the Barcelona shipyard for a refit at the end of last year.

Txema Rubio, MB92’s commercial director, says the yard can work on up to 25 yachts at a time. The average refit costs around €900,000, although in some cases this may rise to as much as €20m.

Despite their vast size, some super yachts travel with a “shadow boat” that carries accessories – such as speedboats, jet skis, cars, helicopters and even submarines – which the owners don’t want cluttering up their showcase yacht.Refits take a minimum of three months, sometimes much longer, during which time the yard may need to accommodate hundreds of crew members.

Part of the popularity of Barcelona as a marina and a super yacht shipyard is that crew get to spend months in one of the world’s most attractive cities while the vessels are moored or in dry dock. If sanctions are imposed, the oligarchs’ crews may find they have a lot more time on their hands.

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Yacht linked to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich leaves Barcelona

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BARCELONA (Reuters) -A superyacht linked to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich left Barcelona on Tuesday where it had been undergoing repairs in a local shipyard, ship-tracking data showed.

The 140-metre (460-foot) Solaris, which sails under a Bermuda flag according to monitoring site Marine Traffic, left Spanish company MB92's Barcelona shipyard just after 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday, according to the same site. MB92 declined to comment.

The superyacht, which was built in a German shipyard and first took to the sea early last year, is one of a string of yachts owned by Abramovich, according to reports in luxury goods publications SuperYachtFan, SuperYacht Times and Forbes.

Abramovich, who last week put Chelsea Football Club up for sale and promised to donate money from the proceeds to help victims of the war in Ukraine, has not been the target so far of any sanctions over Moscow's invasion.

A spokeswoman for Abramovich said: "We never comment on the movements of the yacht or any other vehicles or vessels."

The boat had been at the Barcelona shipyard since late 2021, a sector source said. It was unclear where it was headed.

Video: Oligarchs aren't just in Russia, how the rich influence American elections

The European Commission has prepared a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the invasion of Ukraine that will hit additional Russian oligarchs and politicians and three Belarusian banks, three sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

French authorities last week took into temporary custody four cargo vessels and one luxury yacht linked to Russian oligarchs as the United States and other governments ramped up sanctions on Russia's super-rich with links to President Vladimir Putin.

At least five other superyachts owned by Russian billionaires were anchored or cruising in the Maldives last week, an island nation in the Indian Ocean with no extradition treaty with the United States.

There are currently three other yachts reportedly tied to Russian oligarchs at the Barcelona shipyard, according to Marine Traffic. One of them is related to Sergei Chemezov, chief of Russian state aerospace and defence conglomerate Rostec, who was sanctioned last week by the United States.

The other two are understood to belong to Russian oligarchs who have not been sanctioned - Andrey Molchanov, the main shareholder in Russian homebuilder LSR, and metals magnate Mikhail Prokhorov.

Another superyacht, named Eclipse, which is also reportedly owned by Abramovich, was in Barcelona last autumn and is now in the Caribbean Sea near the British Virgin Islands.

(Reporting by Joan Faus and Catarina Demony; Editing by Nathan Allen, Aislinn Laing and Sandra Maler)

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Roman Abramovich’s superyacht leaves Barcelona port as net closes on Russian oligarchs in European waters

The 140-metre 'my solaris' yacht headed through the mediterranean after leaving the spanish port.

Roman Abramovich's super yacht Solaris is seen at Barcelona Port in Barcelona city, Spain, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/ Albert Gea

A superyacht owned by Roman Abramovich slipped out of Barcelona port, joining a growing exodus of vessels owned by Russian oligarchs from European ports amid the threat of seizure.

The 140-metre My Solaris was heading southeast through the Mediterranean after leaving the Spanish port on Tuesday, according to ship tracking data from MarineTraffic.

The European Commission has prepared a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus over the Ukraine invasion which could target Russian oligarchs, politicians and banks.

Mr Abramovich, who last week said he would sell Chelsea Football Club and would give the proceeds of the sale to the victims of the Ukraine war, has not been the target of sanctions.

Three other superyachts linked to Russian oligarchs are anchored in Barcelona where they loom over the other boats like over-sized toys for the super-rich.

One is named Valerie , a 85-metre yacht owned by Sergei Chemezov, head of the Russian defence conglomerate Rostec, who was sanctioned by the US government last week.

Superyacht Valerie, linked to chief of Russian state aerospace and defence conglomerate Rostec Sergei Chemezov, is seen at Barcelona Port in Barcelona city, Spain, March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Albert Gea

The other two belong to oligarchs who have not been sanctioned.

The $120m Aurora , owned by Andrey Molchanov, the main shareholder in Russian homebuilder LSR, dominates the marina.

Nearby is the 95-metre Palladium which has its own swimming pool and private cinema and is owned by metals magnate Mikhail Prokhorov.

French authorities last week temporarily impounded four cargo vessels and one luxury yacht linked to the Russian oligarchs as the US and other governments brought in extra sanctions against those close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Germany and Italy have also seized superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs but despite its popularity as a destination for the super-rich to stop off in their yachts, Spain has yet to impound any vessels.

Spain has asked the EU to introduce a ban on Russian oligarchs’ yachts in ports across the continent but so far Madrid has not seized any vessels.

The left-wing government is collecting details on yacht owners from the most popular ports in Barcelona, Puerto Banus near Marbella and in the Balearic Islands.

As Barcelona remains a playground for Russia’s super-rich, the sizeable Russian émigré community claimed they were the target of a boycott of their businesses and their restaurants, while Russian school children are being targeted by other pupils. One Russian shop outside Barcelona was vandalised, police said.

“They cannot hate us just because we are Russian. We are not to blame for political decisions and least of all the children,” said Natalia Loskutova, president of Raduga, a cultural association.

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In Barceloneta, the former fishing village which is now dominated by tourist flats and the superyacht marina, the colours of the Ukrainian flag fly but more by accident than on purpose.

The Barcelona neighbourhood has its own flag which shares the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian national flag.

The superyacht Marina Port Vell was owned by the British company, Salamanca Group, but in 2017, it was sold to the Qatari Investment bank QInvest and a fund with various international investors.

One of these is Vagit Alekperov, the president of the Russian energy giant Lukoil, who was valued at $17.9bn by Forbes magazine.

His superyacht Galactica Super Nova left Barcelona last week for Montenegro, which does not have an extradition treaty with the EU.

A spokesman for Mr Abramovich said: “I am sorry but we never comment on the movements on the yacht or any other vehicles or vessels.”

“Sometimes these yachts are assets of companies who are registered in jurisdictions where they do not need to register beneficial owners so it can be difficult for governments to establish who the real owner is,” Roland Papp, of Transparency International, an anti-corruption group told i .

At least five other superyachts owned by Russian billionaires were anchored in the Maldives or the Seychelles last week, in the Indian Ocean.

Eclipse, another yacht owned by Mr Abramovich, which left Barcelona last autumn is now in the Caribbean Sea near the British Virgin Islands, according to SuperYachtFan, a website dedicated to these luxury vessels.

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Targeting super yachts owned by Russian oligarchs could hit a nerve in Moscow

Poor transparency around ownership of assets can cause challenges, experts say.

russian yacht barcelona

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With sanctions levied and financial assets seized, Russian oligarchs have been scrambling to get their super yachts out of Western ports in search of safer harbours. 

One yacht, said to belong to Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, abruptly left port in Hamburg, Germany, just weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted wide-reaching sanctions. Others were not so quick to leave European ports. 

Authorities in La Ciotat, on France's Mediterranean coast, seized a yacht they say is linked to sanctioned Russian oligarch Igor Sechin, the CEO of state oil company Rosneft. He was Russia's deputy prime minister from 2008 to 2012.

  • Canada slaps sanctions on Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich
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Industry watchers say oligarchs everywhere are trying to keep their yachts from being taken.

​​"There's a few yachts that we are watching at the moment in the Atlantic," said Sam Tucker, head of super yachts at the firm VesselsValue, which tracks and estimates the value of these giant luxury yachts. 

"I'm expecting some of them to start doing U-turns in the middle of the ocean," he told CBC Radio's Day 6 .

russian yacht barcelona

Western countries have imposed a punishing package of sanctions and export control restrictions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia's biggest banks were hit, as was the country's central bank. Major state-owned companies and some of the country's wealthiest individuals have seen overseas assets frozen.

The investment bank JP Morgan Chase believes Russia's economy will shrink 35 per cent in the second quarter of 2022 and seven per cent for the entire year.

russian yacht barcelona

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki says the suite of sanctions is meant to make every aspect of life difficult on Putin and the oligarchs who protect him.

"What we're talking about here is seizing their assets, seizing their yachts and making it harder for them to send their children to go to colleges and universities in the West," Psaki said in a briefing this week. "These are significant steps that will impact the people who are closely around President Putin."

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Putin?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Putin</a>´s Yacht "The Gracefull" inbound Kaliningrad from Hamburg in anticipation of future sanctions due to the conflict in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ukraine?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ukraine</a>. <a href="https://t.co/qdhAUhCH1m">pic.twitter.com/qdhAUhCH1m</a> &mdash; @GDarkconrad

Symbolic target

The yachts themselves are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but experts in Russian sanctions say this isn't just about the dollar value.

"They don't have much value compared to the total net worth of an oligarch," said Bill Browder, a long-time advocate for stiff sanctions against Russian oligarchs, in an email to CBC Radio. 

But they are "a highly symbolic attack on something coveted by the oligarchs."

These ultra-luxurious ships became a status symbol for the oligarchs as they amassed fortunes in the 1990s and early 2000s.

"There is a bit of oneupmanship," Tucker told Day 6 . He says the biggest and most expensive ships are cloaked in secrecy. They have extreme privacy and security features, including bulletproof glass, and some require crew to sign non-disclosure agreements.

russian yacht barcelona

But Tucker says the biggest security and privacy feature of all is the opaque ownership structure of the yachts. He says precious little information about who actually owns these ships is available.

"[Only] basic information is disclosed — for example, the registered owner — which is often a shell company or a 'special interest vehicle' registered in Monaco, Malta, [or the] Cayman Islands," he said.

Untying those knots is a notorious problem, but one usually confined to taxation issues.

russian yacht barcelona

"One thing that I think may come out of this whole situation is the increased call for transparency and transparent ownership," said Tucker.

Yachts on the move

So far, only four super yachts have been seized, including a 213-foot yacht owned by Alexei Mordashov in Imperia, Italy.

While authorities sift through the byzantine paper trail of ownership, other oligarchs have scrambled their crews to get the yachts to somewhere safe.

"One of the things I've been trying to figure out is, where do they go [next]?" asked Alex Finley, a former CIA officer living in Barcelona, in an interview with  As It Happens host Gillian Findlay .

This week, Finley tweeted photos tracking a ship said to be owned by Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who owns the Chelsea Football Club.

  • Anxious Russians flee by the hundreds each day into neighbouring Finland

"A lot of these yachts that we've been looking at are heading towards the Maldives or the Seychelles. A few are in Montenegro, but they look like they're probably going to be on the move," Finley said in the interview .

Here you can see the sterns of both Aurora and Valerie, and in the other pic, the empty slip where Solaris used to be (which is the size of the empty hole in my heart). 7/ <a href="https://t.co/Luvj5vyWXp">pic.twitter.com/Luvj5vyWXp</a> &mdash; @alexzfinley

Neither the Maldives nor the Seychelles signed onto the sanctions, so the ships are probably safe from seizure there. Another major hub is Dubai.

"I think we're going to see Dubai as a big hotspot for these yachts," said Tucker. "It has hot weather all year round and … Russians can fly to Dubai without going through the EU airspace."

Tucker agrees that targeting the yachts is a symbolic move.

"It's really sending the message that they aren't untouchable. We've closed the skies on both sides of the Atlantic so their private jets can't operate, and now we're going after their super yachts," he said.

"I'd be feeling quite vulnerable if I was an oligarch right now."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

russian yacht barcelona

Senior Business reporter for CBC News. A former host of On the Money and World Report on CBC Radio, Peter Armstrong has been a foreign correspondent and parliamentary reporter for CBC. Subscribe to Peter's newsletter here: cbc.ca/mindyourbusiness Twitter: @armstrongcbc

Interview with Sam Tucker produced by Rachel Levy-Mclaughlin

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Here are the superyachts seized from Russian oligarchs

As part of an international pressure campaign on Russia, authorities from around the world have seized more than a half-dozen superyachts belonging to billionaire oligarchs allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The yacht seizures since the Feb. 24 invasion are "just the beginning," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in March, as an international task force worked to identify further assets that can be seized or frozen.

“The Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to hold accountable those who facilitate the death and destruction we are witnessing in Ukraine,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said of the ongoing efforts in May.

Here are the superyachts government officials have seized since Russia invaded Ukraine last month.

Image: The Amadea anchored at a pier in Pasatarlasi on Feb. 18, 2020 in Bodrum, Turkey.

The Justice Department announced May 5 that the Fijian government had seized billionaire oligarch Suleiman Kerimov 's 348-foot yacht Amadea. The vessel, which is valued at more than $300 million , arrived in Fiji last month. Kerimov, who's worth an estimated $14 billion and has ties to the Russian government, was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department over alleged money laundering in 2018.

Special features on the sprawling yacht include a helipad, infinity pool, a jacuzzi and multiple bars, according to a report in Boat International . It can accommodate 16 overnight guests in addition to 36 crew members, the report said.

Tango yacht in Marmaris, Turkey on April 19, 2014.

In April, Spanish law-enforcement officials seized a 255-foot yacht called the Tango, which Justice Department says is owned by oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Vekselberg is an aluminum magnate who the Treasury Department says has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Tango is worth an estimated $90 million, prosecutors said , and Vekselberg allegedly purchased it through shell companies. The 11-year-old yacht has seven staterooms and reportedly includes amenities such as a pool, gym and beauty salon .

Detained Superyachts Of Sanctioned Russian Billionaires

Authorities in Italy seized a 215-foot superyacht called the Lady M this month. It's owned by Alexei Mordashov, Russia's richest businessman, and it’s estimated to be worth $27 million . The vessel, which requires a crew of 14, has six guest cabins , a pool and a gym.

But it pales in comparison to another of Mordashov's yachts, the $500 million Nord . The 464-foot vessel, which has two helipads and a waterfall and can accommodate 36 guests, was anchored this month in the Seychelles, where the U.S. and European Union sanctions don’t apply.

Image: The yacht "Lena", belonging to Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch close to Russian President, in the port of San Remo on on March 5, 2022 .

Italian officials also seized the 132-foot superyacht Lena, owned by the energy magnate Gennady Timchenko. Estimated to be worth $8 million, it has five cabins and can accommodate 10 guests.

The "SY A" yacht, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, seized by Italian authorities

SY A — short for Sailing Yacht A — is one of the world's largest superyachts. Valued at over $440 million, the 469-foot vessel, owned by the fertilizer magnate Andrey Melnichenko, has eight decks, multiple elevators, an underwater observation area and the world's tallest masts . It was seized in the Italian port of Trieste.

Image: The 85m long yacht "Valerie", linked to Rostec defense firm chief Sergei Chemezov, moored in the port of Barcelona, on March 15, 2022.

Authorities in Spain seized Sergei Chemezov's Valerie, a 279-foot superyacht that had been moored in Barcelona. Chemezov , a former KGB officer, heads the state conglomerate Rostec. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez touted the seizure on La Sexta television. “We are talking about a yacht that we estimate is worth $140 million,” Sanchez said.

Image: Amore Vero, a yacht owned by a company linked to Igor Sechin, chief executive of Russian energy giant Rosneft, in a shipyard in La Ciotat, near Marseille, southern France, on March 3, 2022.

Officials in France announced this month that they had seized the 289-foot Amore Vero, which was undergoing repairs in a shipyard near Marseille. When they arrived, authorities said, they found the crew preparing for an urgent departure, even though the repair work was scheduled to last through April. The $120 million boat, which has seven cabins , is linked to Igor Sechin, described by the U.S. Treasury Department as a close ally of Putin's.

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Dareh Gregorian is a politics reporter for NBC News.

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Spain has now impounded three yachts linked to Russian oligarchs

Click here for all our reports related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine .

UPDATED – Thurs 17 March at 19h

Spanish authorities impounded a third yacht suspected of belonging to a Russian oligarch on Wednesday, as part of the EU sanctions over the Ukraine war, the transport ministry said.

The 135-metre long yacht, Crescent , has been stopped from leaving the Catalan port of Tarragona whilst police determine if it ‘belongs or is under the control of’ someone on the EU sanctions list, the ministry said in a statement.

The yacht reportedly belongs to Igor Sechin , the head of Russia’s oil giant Rosneft and another ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin . The Crescent has been docked in Tarragona since November. It had requested permission to depart the port on 4 March but did not set sail, the ministry said.

Sechin is on the EU’s list of Russian tycoons targeted by sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.

On Tuesday this week, Spanish authorities impounded a yacht called Lady Anastasia on the island of Mallorca which reportedly belongs to Russian tycoon Alexander Mikheev , the head of weapons exporting group Rosoboronexport . The same yacht had been in the news at the end of February when a Ukrainian sailor was arrested in Mallorca by Spain’s Guardia Civil  for trying to sink the vessel.  Also read:  Ukrainian sailor in court for trying to sink luxury yacht of Russian boss in Mallorca .

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Monday during a TV interview that police had impounded another 85-metre-long yacht in Barcelona [see report below]. 

Original report below:

An 85-metre yacht worth $140 million has been impounded in the port of Barcelona , Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez  has said. It reportedly belongs to Russian oligarch Sergei Chemezov.  

The yacht is reportedly named Valerie , which is linked to Rostec defence firm chief Chemezov, a former KGB officer and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin .

‘Today we seized – the technical term is provisionally immobilised – a yacht belonging to one of the principal oligarchs,’ Sánchez said on La Sexta television. ‘We are talking about a yacht that we estimate is worth $140 million,’ he said, adding that ‘others were to follow’, without giving further details.

The Valerie  superyacht sails under the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The vessel is registered to Chemezov’s stepdaughter, Anastasia Ignatova , through a British Virgin Islands company, according to a 2021 article published in the Pandora Papers information leak.

Yachts are among the assets of oligarchs targeted by sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Chemezov  had previously been sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and by the UK in 2020 over his involvement in Russia’s annexation of Crimea . He was also named in sanctions lists this month by the United States and Australia. The US sanctions also targeted Chemezov’s stepdaughter, as well as his wife and son. A fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia is due to be unveiled in the coming days.

The yacht has been in Barcelona since 9 February, according to Marine Traffic, and was until Monday under repair at Barcelona’s shipyard MB92.

My Solaris , the €500 million superyacht of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich , left Barcelona on 11 March and its crew are now looking to dock at a port further East where the vessel will not be seized by authorities.

Also read:  France seizes Russian oil czar’s $120m superyacht, as EU sanctions start to bite .

Also read:  Ukrainian sailor in court for trying to sink luxury yacht of Russian boss in Mallorca .

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Spain could seize superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs under sanctions against Ukraine invasion

Superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs which are currently moored in Spain could be seized by authorities under sanctions threatened by the EU in retaliation for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Three palatial yachts currently being serviced in Barcelona ports and at least one in Mallorca could be targeted under sanctions being threatened against some of Russia’s wealthiest men.

Mineral tycoon and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich could see his 139-metre Solaris seized.

The vessel, dubbed the ‘most expensive custom made yacht with an eye-popping price tag of €600million, is currently undergoing a refit in Barcelona’s MB92 shipyard.

While Russian construction magnate Andrey Molcahnov with an estimated worth of over €1 billion could be stripped of his 74-metre Aurora.

A third vessel in the Barcelona shipyard, the 70-metre Galactica Super Nova belongs to Vagit Alekperov, president and chief executive of Lukoil, who also has a 36.8% stake of the football club Spartak Moscow.

Across the water in Mallorca, is the 77-metre Tango owned by Russian telecom billionaire and close cohort of Vladimir Putin, Viktor Vekselberg.

All have been tipped as likely to be among assets frozen by authorities in Spain if the EU approves sanctions against individual Russians.

Other vessels known to be owned by associates of Putin have recently left Spanish ports to head out to international waters as the conflict in the Ukraine intensified.

I took this panorama shot of the Bcn port today. Off the top of my head, I spot four Russian superyachts. 1. Solaris (Abramovich) 2. Galactica Super Nova (Vagit Alekperov) 3. Aurora (Andrey Molchanov) 4. Sea Rhapsody (Andrey Kostin) pic.twitter.com/of4xgLVxmx — Alex Finley (@alexzfinley) January 14, 2022

Until earlier this month, the Sea Rhapsody, a superyacht belonging to Andrey Kostin, the chief executive of VTB, one of Russia’s biggest banks, was moored in Barcelona but set sail just days before Putin’s forces entered Ukraine.

Meanwhile a superyacht believed to be owned by Putin himself sailed out of a German shipyard to a Russian port just days before the invasion.

The 82-metre long vessel named Graceful is believed to have cost close to €100 million and sailed out of Hamburg two weeks ago.

Dozens of other pleasure craft belonging to wealthy Russians are moored in ports across Spain and its islands. Although not on the scale of the mega-yachts they could still be among the assets seized if their owners appear on the black list.

Some of the most expensive real estate along Spain’s costas is also owned by Russians linked to the Putin regime and could be seized by authorities if such sanctions are approved.

The European Union has moved closer to a massive package of sanctions targeting both sectors of the Russian economy and individuals but has yet to announce who is on the list.

On Saturday, one Ukrainian crew member sabotaged the yacht belonging to his Russian boss arms manufacturer in response to watching Russian attacks on his hometown Kyiv.

  • Ukrainian sailor arrested for sinking of superyacht owned by Russian arms dealer in Spain’s Mallorca
  • Here’s what you can do to help people in Ukraine  
  • WATCH: Javier Bardem joins anti-war protests in support of Ukraine as rallies held across Spain  

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Spain seizes Russian oligarch's yacht in Barcelona

Spain seizes Russian oligarch's yacht in Barcelona

MADRID - Spain has temporarily seized a Russian oligarch's $140 million yacht in Barcelona, the country said on Monday, as two sources said the vessel belonged to the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Today we seized — the technical term is provisionally immobilized — a yacht belonging to one of the principal oligarchs," Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on La Sexta television. "We are talking about a yacht that we estimate is worth $140 million."

"There will be more," he added, without elaborating. Monitoring site Marine Traffic has said that yachts linked to two other oligarchs who are not yet sanctioned are also docked in Barcelona.

The 85-meter (279-foot) superyacht Valerie belongs to Sergei Chemezov, a former KGB officer who heads state conglomerate Rostec, two sources said.

Sailing under the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the vessel is registered to Chemezov's stepdaughter, Anastasia Ignatova, through a British Virgin Islands company, according to a 2021 article published in the Pandora Papers information leak.

The West has sanctioned Russian billionaires, frozen state assets and cut off much of the Russian corporate sector from the global economy since Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Chemezov was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 and Britain in 2020 over Russia's annexation of Crimea and was named in sanctions lists this month by the United States and Australia. The US sanctions also targeted Chemezov's stepdaughter as well as his wife and son.

He was not named in the latest European list of sanctioned Russian figures but the EU imposed measures against him in 2014. A fourth package of EU sanctions against Russia is due to be unveiled in the coming days.

The yacht has been in Barcelona since Feb 9, according to Marine Traffic, and was until Monday under repair at Barcelona's shipyard MB92.

The yacht will remain under detention while Spanish authorities confirm its ownership and whether they feature on any list of sanctions targets, a government source said.

Chemezov told staff in a message shared with Reuters this week that Russia, which describes its actions in Ukraine as a "special military operation" to safeguard domestic security, would emerge "victorious" despite the sanctions.  —Reuters

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's $600 million superyacht was targeted by a failed graffiti stunt while docked in Barcelona

  • A man tried to graffiti Roman Abramovich's $600 million superyacht, Crónica Global reported.
  • The man hired a boat and tried to vandalize the yacht when it was docked in Barcelona, per the report.
  • Abramovich's yacht has since left the port and the oligarch has been sanctioned by the UK.

Insider Today

A man tried to graffiti Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich 's $600 million superyacht when it was docked in Barcelona, police confirmed to Spanish news site Crónica Global .

The West has imposed steep sanctions on Russian elites and oligarchs in the weeks since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, freezing their assets and in some cases limiting travel. Their superyachts and private jets – the most high-profile displays of their wealth – have been hit by government sanctions and activist action. A superyacht that belongs to a Russian oligarch and former KGB agent has been stuck in Norway for over a month because fuel suppliers are refusing to do business with its owner, even though he hasn't been sanctioned.

Abramovich, who owns top-ranking Chelsea Football Club and is worth around $13.9 billion , has close ties to the Kremlin . His 460-foot vessel, Solaris, left the Port of Barcelona a few days after the graffiti attempt and he has since been sanctioned by the UK .

Related stories

According to Barcelona-based Crónica Global , a Lithuanian man hired a boat in the port on March 3 and asked the captain and sailor to direct it towards Solaris.

When his intention to graffiti it with spray paint became clear, the captain and the sailor protested, leading the man to try to take control of the boat, Crónica Global reported. After managing to overpower the man, the captain and sailor docked the boat back at the port and contacted port police and the Civil Guard, the publication reported.

The man said that he opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, per Crónica Global.

A Civil Guard spokesperson confirmed to Crónica Global that an incident occurred in the port on March 3 involving a passenger who wanted to graffiti a boat. The spokesperson said that there had been no arrests because charges hadn't been pressed. The Civil Guard didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The Solaris, which has been docked in a shipyard for repairs since late 2021, left Barcelona on March 8  and headed east . As of Thursday morning it was located just south of Greece, while Eclipse, another superyacht owned by Abramovich, was just south of Italy, per MarineTraffic data .

Abramovich's $65 million private jet, meanwhile, flew back to Moscow on Tuesday after traveling to Istanbul and Tel Aviv over the weekend. Abramovich himself was spotted at an airport in Israel on Tuesday.

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russian yacht barcelona

These Boats Are Really Big, but Barcelona Has the Room

The city has become a hub for billionaires’ superyachts, banking on the strength of the “blue economy.”

A huge yacht under repair in Barcelona, Spain, which has become a hub for superyachts. Credit... Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

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Raphael Minder

By Raphael Minder

  • Jan. 10, 2022

BARCELONA, Spain — Launched less than a year ago, the 460-foot-long, eight-deck Solaris is one of the newest of the superyachts that are the floating palaces of the sea. It has a helipad, of course, plus a swimming pool and all the other high-tech amenities required by its Russian billionaire owner, Roman Abramovich .

But on a recent morning in Barcelona, the $600 million Solaris was out of the water, wedged into a dry dock, as workers toiled underneath its light-gray hull. They were fixing its finlike stabilizers, which help steady the massive vessel in rough seas but retract when there are no swells. At the opposite end of the boatyard, another giant, the Sea Rhapsody, was getting a final checkup before being put back into the water.

As the rich have gotten richer during the pandemic, their boats have gotten larger and more expensive — and when these over-the-top superyachts aren’t taking their owners to private holiday spots in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, they need a place to drop anchor and deal with repairs.

russian yacht barcelona

And it is here that Barcelona, whose days as a commercial shipyard faded years ago, sees an economic opportunity.

Barcelona has turned itself into a hub for these luxury vessels, combining a private marina that is investing 20 million euros ($22.7 million) this year to turn itself into the largest port reserved for superyachts in the Mediterranean and maintenance facilities that can hoist behemoths out of the water and then summon a small army to do repairs.

And it doesn’t hurt that Barcelona offers the ships’ crew members downtime in one of the Mediterranean’s biggest tourism destinations.

Attracting billionaire yacht owners is only a small part of Barcelona’s efforts to tap into the “blue economy” of the sea, said Jaume Collboni, the deputy mayor. Barcelona’s port authority recently approved the construction of a new terminal for cruise ships, set to open in 2024. The city is also overhauling the seafront area that was developed for the Summer Olympics of 1992, which Barcelona hosted.

The pandemic was a huge blow for a city that normally welcomes millions of visitors. It showed that “diversification is becoming very important,” Mr. Collboni said. “When tourism dropped down to zero, some parts of the city were heavily affected, and we have needed to find new jobs, also for a less qualified work force.”

At the same time, the spread of the coronavirus gave the world’s billionaires a new excuse for keeping their distance from other people, a role perfectly suited for superyachts.

Worldwide about 5,700 yachts are over 30 meters long (just under 100 feet), and this fleet is set to expand 15 percent by 2025, according to industry projections . At the pinnacle of this market are about 370 megayachts of over 60 meters, whose number has risen 70 percent in the past decade and is forecast to reach 500 in about seven years. Construction yards have been struggling to keep up: The order book for superyachts is full until 2025.

MB92, the company that operates Barcelona’s superyacht maintenance facility, known as a refit yard, has 180 employees, but much of the labor is carried out by about 1,000 subcontractors whose jobs cover a variety of specialties, including painting, carpentry and insulation work. About 40 workshops are scattered around the yard, and during the peak repair seasons of spring and fall the yard can work on about 25 yachts at a time.

The yacht maintenance business has been jumping. MB92, which also owns a smaller yard in La Ciotat, France, reported revenue of €191 million (about $215 million) in 2021, up from €150 million in 2019.

Even if a superyacht is a striking showcase of wealth, owners expect those working for them to keep silent about their assets and whereabouts. When asked about the Sea Rhapsody’s destination once it left the yard, Henk Dreijer, the commercial director of MB92, demurred, suggesting that it was bound for “the Caribbean, but it could also be the Seychelles or somewhere else.”

“We work for people who like to be very discreet,” he added.

In Barcelona, which is led by a left-wing city government , not everybody welcomes the arrival of billionaires and their yachts, whose marinas are typically fenced off from the rest of the city’s waterfront.

“We are bringing in the richest people in the world, but they don’t spend their money in our local neighborhoods, they have yachts that fly the flags of tax havens, and they hire crews who are not from Barcelona,” said Gala Pin, a city lawmaker in Barcelona until 2019.

“We have also allowed private and very opaque companies to squeeze profits from public land and instead fence off access to a port area that should be enjoyed by all the citizens of Barcelona,” she added.

A decade ago, Ms. Pin and other residents held demonstrations to protest the initial project to develop Port Vell, a privately owned marina for luxury yachts. But Ms. Pin now concedes that the yacht business is very firmly anchored in Barcelona. Meanwhile, the city’s dwindling fishing fleet is squeezed into a small enclave, sandwiched between MB92’s yard and the superyacht marina.

Port Vell is in the midst of a major overhaul to become the largest superyacht marina in the Mediterranean. It is jointly owned by QInvest, a Qatari investment firm, and a group of investors led by Vagit Alekperov, the president of the Russian oil company Lukoil. Mr. Alekperov is also a partner in a fund run by Squircle Capital, a private equity firm based in Luxembourg. In 2019, Squircle bought a majority stake in MB92, the shipyard operator.

Even if the owners spend little time in Barcelona, the largest of these yachts have several dozen crew members who make lengthy stays and are “people with salaries that are generally higher than local salaries and money that they have not been spending on board,” said Ignacio Erroz, the director general of Port Vell. He said a PwC study commissioned by his company had estimated that Port Vell contributed €30 million a year to Barcelona’s economy.

Mr. Erroz forecast that Barcelona would continue to grow as a superyacht hub, in large part because “being able to anchor right in the heart of a big city is a major selling point.” But he also anticipated tougher competition.

“I think we will see many more existing ports adapting their infrastructure to welcome this kind of boat,” he said.

Raphael Minder  covers Spain and Portugal, based in Madrid. He previously worked for Bloomberg News in Switzerland and for the Financial Times in Paris, Brussels, Sydney and finally Hong Kong. More about Raphael Minder

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Abramovich moves superyacht from Barcelona yard as UK imposes sanctions

Oligarch’s $600m Solaris now ‘cruising’ in the western Mediterranean

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich moved his $600m superyacht Solaris out of a Barcelona shipyard hours before the UK announced sanctions against him.

The owner of Chelsea Football Club in England has denied links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but measures against him had been looking increasingly likely due to the war in Ukraine.

russian yacht barcelona

MarineTraffic data shows the Solaris is now listed as “cruising” in the western Mediterranean, heading east, but with no destination listed.

The 140-metre vessel left the MB92 yard on Tuesday. The Bermuda-flagged Solaris had been undergoing maintenance.

The shipyard is not commenting.

The German-built superyacht was launched at Lloyd Werft in Germany last year.

Abramovich has put Chelsea FC up for sale and promised to donate money from the proceeds to help victims of the war in Ukraine, although the sanctions place question marks over how that process will now unfold.

A spokeswoman for the Russian billionaire told Reuters: “We never comment on the movements of the yacht or any other vehicles or vessels.”

Western authorities are increasingly looking to seize vessels owned by rich Russians.

Other Russian yachts in Barcelona

There are currently three other yachts reportedly tied to Russian oligarchs at the Barcelona shipyard, according to MarineTraffic.

Reuters reported one of them is linked to Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russian state aerospace and defence conglomerate Rostec.

He was sanctioned last week by the US.

The other two are understood to belong to Russian oligarchs who have not been sanctioned: Andrey Molchanov, the main shareholder in Russian homebuilder LSR, and metals tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov.

Abramovich is reported to own another yacht called Eclipse.

VesselsValue told TradeWinds the ship is heading to Europe from the Caribbean, potentially joining the Solaris.

No destination is shown.

Igor Sechin, head of Russian energy company Rosneft, was also sanctioned by the UK on Thursday, as was Alexei Miller, chief executive of Gazprom.

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Russian yacht seized by court in Barcelona

A court in Spain has ordered the seizure of M/Y Meridian A , formerly known as Valerie , due to unpaid shipyard bills. Meridian A is a Russian-owned yacht that has been in Barcelona since early March due to a travel freeze ordered by Spanish authorities. To read more, click here.

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COMMENTS

  1. Spain seizes Russian oligarch's yacht in Barcelona

    MADRID, March 14 (Reuters) - Spain has temporarily seized a Russian oligarch's $140 million yacht in Barcelona, the country said on Monday, as two sources said the vessel belonged to the...

  2. Spain has seized Russian oligarch's $140m superyacht in Barcelona, PM

    Spain has temporarily seized a Russian oligarch's $140m (£108m) yacht in Barcelona, as two sources said the vessel belonged to the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, an ally of...

  3. Spain seizes another Russian yacht believed to belong to an oligarch

    March 16, 2022 MADRID — Spain, which has pledged to seize the suspected superyachts of Russian oligarchs targeted for sanctions imposed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, on Wednesday...

  4. Spain seizes Russian oligarch's yacht in Barcelona

    Spain has temporarily seized a Russian oligarch's $140 million yacht in Barcelona, the country said on Monday, as two sources said the vessel belonged to the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Today we seized - the technical term is provisionally immobilised - a yacht belonging to one of the principal oligarchs," Spanish Prime Minister ...

  5. Could sanctions leave oligarchs' super yachts high and dry in Spain

    The port is investing €20m (£16m) in a bid to become the biggest super yacht marina in the Mediterranean. Abramovich is one of 35 individuals who should be considered for sanctions, according to...

  6. Yacht linked to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich leaves Barcelona

    BARCELONA (Reuters) -A superyacht linked to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich left Barcelona on Tuesday where it had been undergoing repairs in a local shipyard, ship-tracking data showed. The 140-metre (460-foot) Solaris, which sails under a Bermuda flag according to monitoring site Marine Traffic, left Spanish company MB92's Barcelona shipyard just after 5 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday ...

  7. Roman Abramovich's superyacht leaves Barcelona port as net closes on

    A superyacht owned by Roman Abramovich slipped out of Barcelona port, joining a growing exodus of vessels owned by Russian oligarchs from European ports amid the threat of seizure.

  8. Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich's $600M Yacht Flees Spanish ...

    The vessel, named Solaris, left the shipyard of the Spanish yacht-maintenance firm MB92 in Barcelona on Tuesday afternoon, according to the ship-tracking site MarineTraffic. Solaris, which spans ...

  9. Spain Impounds $154 Million Russian-Owned Yacht in Barcelona

    Barcelona is one of Europe's largest ports and a favorite for owners of large yachts that use it as a base to sail the Mediterranean. Chemezov, 69, was already sanctioned in September 2014, as...

  10. Spain seizes Russian oligarch superyachts in Barcelona and Mallorca

    A €140 million superyacht owned by an oligarch friend of Russian leader Vladamir Putin has been seized by authorities in Barcelona. Another craft has also been impounded in Mallorca. It's the...

  11. Targeting super yachts owned by Russian oligarchs could hit a nerve in

    Roman Abramovich's super yacht Solaris is seen at Barcelona Port on March 3, 2022. (Albert Gea/Reuters) With sanctions levied and financial assets seized, Russian oligarchs have been scrambling to ...

  12. Here are the superyachts seized from Russian oligarchs

    March 16, 2022, 5:52 PM PDT / Updated May 5, 2022, 11:44 AM PDT By Dareh Gregorian As part of an international pressure campaign on Russia, authorities from around the world have seized more than a...

  13. Spain has now impounded three yachts linked to Russian oligarchs

    An 85-metre yacht worth $140 million has been impounded in the port of Barcelona, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said. It reportedly belongs to Russian oligarch Sergei Chemezov.

  14. Spain could seize superyachts owned by Russian oligarchs under

    A third vessel in the Barcelona shipyard, the 70-metre Galactica Super Nova belongs to Vagit Alekperov, president and chief executive of Lukoil, who also has a 36.8% stake of the football club ...

  15. Spain seizes Russian oligarch's yacht in Barcelona

    Spain has temporarily seized a Russian oligarch's $140 million yacht in Barcelona, the country said on Monday, as two sources said the vessel belonged to the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

  16. Russian Oligarch Abramovich's Superyacht Targeted by Graffiti Activist

    Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's $600 million superyacht was targeted by a failed graffiti stunt while docked in Barcelona. Solaris left Barcelona on March 8 after being docked in a shipyard ...

  17. Barcelona Banks on Superyachts, Becoming a Hub

    Jan. 10, 2022 BARCELONA, Spain — Launched less than a year ago, the 460-foot-long, eight-deck Solaris is one of the newest of the superyachts that are the floating palaces of the sea. It has a...

  18. List of Russian Oligarchs' yachts, homes and assets being ...

    Authorities in Gibraltar have detained the "Axioma" yacht linked to Russian billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky, ... The 279-foot yacht "Valerie" moored in the port of Barcelona, Spain, on March ...

  19. Abramovich moves superyacht from Barcelona yard as UK imposes sanctions

    Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich moved his $600m superyacht Solaris out of a Barcelona shipyard hours before the UK announced sanctions against him. The owner of Chelsea Football Club in England ...

  20. US has spent about $20 million to maintain superyacht seized from a

    The yacht Amadea of sanctioned Russian Oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, seized by the Fiji government at the request of the US, arrives at the Honolulu Harbor, Hawaii, June 16, 2022.

  21. Russian yacht seized by court in Barcelona

    Russian yacht seized by court in Barcelona Nov 7, 2022 by To the Triton. A court in Spain has ordered the seizure of M/Y Meridian A, formerly known as Valerie, due to unpaid shipyard bills. Meridian A is a Russian-owned yacht that has been in Barcelona since early March due to a travel freeze ordered by Spanish authorities.