Locals Strand Russian Oligarch’s Yacht In Norway

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At a northern Norwegian port town, a 223-foot superyacht owned by Russian oligarch and former KGB agent Vladimir Strzhalkovsky is now stuck because nobody nearby is willing to sell fuel to keep it on its way. Strzhalkovsky has not been sanctioned by the European Union over the unfolding war in Ukraine, but locals have (clearly) taken matters into their own hands. The oligarch whose ship has been targeted in that northern Norwegian jurisdiction, which is called Narvik, also used to lead the large mining company Norilsk Nickel. The ship “offers charter trips for winter getaways. But its captain says a recent trip fell through, and he now wants to bring the ship back to its home port in Malta,” according to an NPR report. As oil supplier Sven Holmlund put it: “Why should we help them? They can row home. Or use a sail.”

This occasion is far from the first time that a so-called superyacht tied to a wealthy Russian oligarch has seen its free travel jeopardized in connection to the ongoing war in Ukraine. In Spain, authorities have apparently seized three such vessels, and the U.S. Justice Department helped announce the launch this week of an international task force to work on issues including going after these assets of Russian oligarchs. In fact, the department said, U.S. officials had already helped with overseas seizures: “In the last three weeks alone, information provided by U.S. law enforcement to foreign partners has contributed to the restraint of multiple vessels controlled by sanctioned individuals and entities,” the department said in their statement from this Wednesday. These seizures have significant ramifications — the values of these yachts are routinely in the hundreds of millions of dollars, meaning that slices of these oligarchs’ fortunes have suddenly ended up essentially frozen.

Interestingly, one of the large yachts that has been subjected to seizure by Spanish authorities is the same vessel that a Ukrainian engineer recently tried to sink in outrage over the Russian invasion. That yacht is called the Lady Anastasia, and the individual who targeted it — Taras Ostapchuk — was revealed to be heading to his home country after getting released on bail. He apparently intended to join the fight against Russian invaders and said in court: “I don’t regret anything I’ve done and I would do it again.” In another instance (as previously reported on this site), a remarkably high-dollar vessel that is apparently the world’s largest sailing yacht and is owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko has been seized by the Italian government amid the worldwide push to hold the Putin regime economically accountable for the unfolding Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Italian authorities ID’ed the vessel as the biggest sailing yacht.) That yacht under dispute is some 470 feet long and is worth around $578 million — a huge asset, both in terms of physical size and financial value.