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Ukrainian children were seen on an inflatable dinghy waving flags emblazoned with ‘No War’ as they attempted to stop Roman Abramovich’s £750m superyacht from docking in sanction-free Turkey
The Chelsea FC owner’s second luxury superyacht has arrived in Turkey in the latest move by the under-fire oligarch to protect his prize assets from Western sanctions over Russia‘s war in Ukraine.
A group of 10 Ukrainian protesters, including five children, in a motor boat flying a Ukraine flag saying ‘No War’ tried in vain to stop the Solaris docking by sailing in front of it, but were held back by police.
The Turkish-based Association of Ukrainians in Bodrum group said it was ‘successful’ until the coastguard intervened.
It claims its ‘brave sportsmen’ were taken ashore, given ‘a round of tasty Turkish tea with delights and a warning’ and released.
‘They were demanding immediate stop of Russian invasion to Ukraine and to end Russian vile war,’ the group added on Facebook.
Abramovich’s yacht, the 460ft Solaris, docked in Bodrum about 40 miles away from his other yacht which arrived 16 hours later after at 6am UK time today.
His 533ft long Eclipse – worth an estimated £750m – docked this morning in Marmaris which is popular with British holidaymakers and is in the heart of the idyllic Turkish Riviera.
The arrival of both yachts in Turkey means they are safe – for now at least – from sanctions designed to punish Putin’s inner circle for his decision to invade Ukraine.
Ukrainian children aboard an inflatable dinghy attempted to stop Roman Abramovich’s yacht from docking this morning as the 140m vessel arrived in the Turkish resort of Bodrum
Eclipse’s arrival in Turkey follows Abramovich’s other yacht – the £430million Solaris – also docking in the Turkish port of Bodrum, 50 miles west of Marmaris, where it was greeted by protesters waving Ukrainian flags
Eclipse arrived in Marmaris (left) around 6am UK time today having set sail from the Caribbean, where it typically spends the winter month, on February 21. It was careful to avoid EU waters including the Greek island of Rhodes (right) along the way
A group of 10 Ukrainian protesters, including five children, in a motor boat flying a Ukraine saying ‘No War’ tried in vain to stop the Solaris docking by sailing in front of it, but were held back by police
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Efforts to capture assets linked to oligarchs has been described as a ‘cat and mouse’ game as crews seek to avoid having them seized.
NATO member Turkey is a safe haven for the Chelsea FC owner’s yachts and other assets as the country has not joined nations such as the US, UK, France, Spain and Germany in sanctioning those closest to Putin.
The Eclipse usually spends much of the winter in the Caribbean where Abramovich has a 70 acre beachside estate on the billionaire playground island of St Barts.
But it left St Maarten, around 20 miles from St Barts, on February 21 as Putin gathered his forces to invade Ukraine. It went through the Straits of Gibraltar nine-days-ago – just two miles outside British territorial waters – and studiously avoided the waters of EU countries as it continued sailing east.
The Solaris had been undergoing repairs in Barcelona, but left hurriedly on March 8 as EU countries began seizing assets. It arrived four days later in the port of Tivat in Montenegro which is not in the bloc.
Montenegro, which is eager to join the EU, had agreed to replicate sanctions against Russia, but in practice it only banned flights by the country’s airlines. Abramovich therefore viewed the superyacht marina in Tivat as a safer location than Spain – at least temporarily, sources said.
The Solaris hurriedly left Tivat last Monday just before the EU announced it had followed the UK’s lead and sanctioned Abramovich over his Kremlin links.
Shipping tracker websites showed the yacht’s destination was originally posted as Istanbul, allowing it to cross the Bosphorus channel into the Black Sea and reach Russia if necessary.
But the destination was later removed and changed to say ‘awaiting orders’ as it moved down the Adriatic and into the Ionian. Last week the Solaris failed to head north east to Istanbul after rounding mainland Greece, meaning that Istanbul seemed an unlikely destination.
It instead continued east in waters south of Crete, slowing to a virtual standstill for up to seven hours on Saturday as the crew appeared to dither over where they were heading.
The Solaris could have headed south east to go through the Suez Canal and reach Dubai or the Seychelles where other yachts owned by oligarchs have sought sanctuary.
At one point the Russian tanker Vyazma – previously linked to the Russian navy – appeared beside it, leading to social media speculation that it could have been refuelling the Solaris.
But shipping tracker sites revealed that the Vyazma did not slow down and the vessels remained a mile apart.
The Vyazma has previously been seen alongside Russian warships around Norway and in the North Sea as well as the Mediterranean.
The Solaris picked up speed to more than nine knots as it sailed yesterday morning through the narrow channel between the Greek island of Simi near Rhodes and mainland Turkey, after updating its voyage description to ‘scenic cruising’.
It then skirted carefully around Greek territory Kos to reach Bodrum where Abramovich has previously holidayed on his yachts, and docked beside a jetty at around 2.30pm UK time.
Last week MailOnline revealed how Abramovich’s yachts were brazenly flying Red Ensign flags giving them British protection on the high seas – despite facing UK sanctions.
Both yachts are registered in the British overseas territory of Bermuda, entitling them to fly Bermuda’s version of the Red Ensign, featuring the Union Jack in a top corner.
Abramovich faces having his yachts seized if they stray in to UK waters after he was sanctioned by the British government 12 days ago over his links to President Putin.
But bizarrely the Red Ensign registration means he can enjoy a range of benefits from the UK including British consular assistance and protection of the Royal Navy.
The UK’s official Government website states: ‘The Red Ensign, is one of the most admired and well known emblems on the high seas with every vessel sporting it under the protection of the Royal Navy’.
Roman Abramovich’s £750million superyacht Eclipse (file image) has docked in the Turkish port city of Marmaris as its crew tries to avoid having the vessel seized by EU countries after Vladimir Putin’s inner circle were sanctioned over Ukraine
Solaris had been docked in Barcelona undergoing repairs but hurriedly set sail on March 8 as Spain began cracking down on oligarch wealth. It went first to Montenegro before heading to Bodrum (pictured in port)
Abramovich is worth up to £12billion and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world
It adds that ships sailing under the flag can enjoy ‘international tax breaks’ and ‘British consular support for ships in foreign docks’.
The rules mean that Abramovich could even technically ask for the assistance of the British government if his yachts are threatened with ‘sanctions’ by another country.
Ian Hodge, the chairman of the Merchant Navy Association described the flying of the Red Ensign on the yachts as an ‘embarrassment’ and called for them to be de-registered by the Bermudan authorities.
The flying of Bermuda’s version of the Red Ensign on the Abramovich yachts has also protests in the UK’s former colony which has the Queen as its head of state.
Bermuda resident Frank Morgan said the continuing registration of the yachts on the island was at odds with the territory’s support for the people of Ukraine.
Abramovich was spotted in Tel Aviv airport on Monday last week before he flew on his private jet to Istanbul.
The same jet left Istanbul for Moscow just hours later, according to flight tracker records, and Abramovich has not been seen since.
The Solaris which has a crew of 60 was built for Abramovich by German yard Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven and was only launched last year.
It has eight decks, cabins for 36 guests, a gym, sauna, jacuzzi and a swimming pool that can be converted into a dance floor, a flotilla of jet-skis, at least one helicopter, and a rumoured personal submarine.
Both Solaris and Eclipse are also thought to have a series of security measures to protect against pirates, kidnappers or special forces from hostile states.
They are said to include radar-controlled missile detection systems, bulletproof windows and armoured protection around their wheelhouses and main cabins.
The Chelsea Football Club owner was seen in Tel Aviv airport earlier this month on his way to Istanbul, as the EU decided to follow the UK and sanction him
Source: Daily Mail