Calls grow to impound Russian billionaires' luxury boats in protest at shooting down of MH17 | Mail Online

By Kieran Corcoran

Published: 05:39 EST, 25 July 2014 | Updated: 20:09 EST, 25 July 2014




The luxury superyachts of billionaire oligarchs could be seized as part of a squeeze on Vladimir Putin's Russia as international outrage builds over the attack on passenger jet MH17.

Foreign policy experts raised the prospect of levying sanctions on the super-rich allies of the Russian president as a way of punishing the country over its links to attack on the passenger jet.

Dozens of wealthy businessmen with links to Putin's government are based outside the country, as are their prized yachts, some of which are worth as much as £1billion.

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Billion-pound palace: Roman Abramovich's Eclipse, pictured, is worth as much as £1billion. Super-rich Russians such as Abramovich could be caught up in rounds of sanctions directed against Russia

Second ride: Abramovich also has a second yacht named Luna, worth £105million


Rich-list: Roman Abramovich is worth around £5.4billion

Eclipse, worth £1billion, and Luna, worth £105million, are both the possessions of Chelsea FC owner and super-rich Russia Roman Abramovich.

Eclipse, the main vessel, is 535ft long and can hold 34 guests across 18 cabins. It has two swimming pools, a pair of helipads, a nightclub, cinema, theatre, submarine and missile defence system.

It is thought to be 

Luna, a more humble affair, is just 380ft long, has a single swimming pool and nine cabins which can hold 18. 

This could make them a target for sanctions by the international community, and they could be impounded by court as a way to 'make life difficult' for those at the top and exert pressure on Russia.

Super-wealthy businessmen including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, metals trader Oleg Deripaska and energy magnate Andrey Melnichenko have strong links to the Russian leader and also flaunt their wealth with glamorous ships.

'Ostentatious': Pictured is the Dilbar, owned by Russian business magnate Alisher Usmanov


'Richest man in Russia': Alisher Usmanov

The Dilbar, 360ft superyacht, is one of the prize possessions of Alisher Usmanov, 60.

Valued at around £100million, the vessel has space for 20 guests and features a pool, and hot tub and two helipads

Usmanov has been described by Forbes magazine as 'the wealthiest man in Russia'. He amassed his £11billion fortune from metals trading and his telecoms company Megaphone, which is the second largest mobile carrier in Russia.

He also owns a newspaper and a substantial stake in Arsenal football club.

Splashing out: Le Grand Bleu, owned by Eugene Shvidler, is another superyacht owned by a Russia billionaire

Features: The huge yacht, pictured moored in Kent, can hold 20 guests, as well as two smaller boats

Russia Ambassador: 'Too early to lay blame over MH17'

The vessels could become targets of governments looking to teach Russia a lesson, and become a 'symbolic' way to discipline the country, alongside wider sanctions being considered against the Russian economy.

Dr Andrew Foxall, an expert from the Henry Jackson Society think-tank,said there was a 'stronger case than ever' for seizing the ships, which would send a 'symbolic but important message' to Russia.

'The point of these sanctions is to get at the people who enable Putin to act as he is doing - and sanctions are one of the best ways of doing that.' 

'It's part of a wider clamping-down on them, their lifestyle they lead in the West while facilitating and enabling Putin to do as he has been doing in eastern Ukraine and Russia.

A-team: Andrey Melnichenko is the owner of the above superyacht, named A in honour of his wife


Super-rich: Andrey Melnichenko

A, pictured above on the open seas, is the £200million ship of billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.

It is 390ft long, and features a dancefloor with a glass ceiling, which is also the floor of a swimming pool on the floor above.

The ship has two other swimming pools as well as a bomb-proof master bedroom and a series of fingerprint security devices to restrict access to parts of the interior.

The 42-year-old's personal wealth is estimated at £6.4billion. His fortune was amassed by the founding of a Russian bank, from which he moved into manufacturing pipes and selling coal and fertiliser.

'There's a legitimate argument for looking at their broader lifestyles, and manifestations of ostentatious wealth, like yachts for example.'

Putin has been blamed by the West for the attack last week which led to the jet being shot down. It is believed a surface-to-air missile used by pro-Russian rebels brought down the blame, killing all 298 on board.

Other experts said that while sanctions on oligarch's yachts would send a strong signal, it could be difficult to enact because governments would need to prove the men were directly linked to the situation.

It was also suggested that authorities in ports where oligarchs' tend to moor their prize possessions could be reluctant to seize the ships for fear of scaring off other super-rich holidaymakers.

A spokesman for the Open Europe think-tank told MailOnline: 'Dictators like Saddam Hussein and the Gadaffis have had their yachts impounded in the past.

'Sanctions are always a bit of a mixed bag - if you're trying to ostracise a country they can be quite effective.

'For individuals, you can make life very difficult for them - but in this case it's not clear how much influence these people have on Putin and Russia.'


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