France seizes two yachts owned by Russian oligarch

French authorities have seized two yachts, thought to worth a total of €90 million, belonging to Alexey Kuzmichev - a close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

French authorities have continued in their seizure of super-yachts and other assets belonging to Russian oligarchs.
French authorities have continued in their seizure of super-yachts and other assets belonging to Russian oligarchs. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP)

French authorities have confiscated two luxury yachts belonging to one of Russia’s most influential businessmen, the latest move by Western governments to seize the assets of associates of President Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

The “Little Bear,” a 17-metre vessel worth €20 million belonging to Alexey Kuzmichev, a main shareholder of the Alfa conglomerate, was seized in the Mediterranean resort of Cannes on March 16, a government source told AFP on Wednesday.

His “Big Bear,” a 26-metre boat that was being serviced in nearby Antibes, reportedly worth €70 million, was seized on Monday.

Kuzmichev, 59, “has well established ties to the Russian president,” the European Union said in a March 15 statement announcing sanctions against Russians suspected of being close to Putin.

As a billionaire who is one of Russia’s biggest taxpayers, he is accused of providing “a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine,” the statement said.

The French Riviera has long been a favourite retreat for the Russian elite, many of whom got rich by swearing allegiance to Putin as he has consolidated his control of Russia since first becoming elected president in 2000.

Early this month, French authorities seized the “Amore Vero” superyacht belonging to Russia’s oil magnate Igor Sechin, an 86-metre vessel reportedly worth some $120 million.

Spain, Italy and Britain have also seized Russian yachts as part of EU efforts to pressure Putin to call off his invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Gibraltar officials said they had impounded a superyacht belonging to Russian oligarch Dmitry Pumpyansky following a complaint from a creditor bank.

Pumpyansky, the boss of TMK, Russia’s biggest manufacturer of steel pipes, was added to the list of Russian tycoons targeted by EU and UK sanctions this month following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Member comments

  1. All wrong and getting totally out of hand. How anyone with the slightest hint of a brain cell would think that this will make any difference is an embarrassment in any Government position. The only reason is jealousy and to keep the baying mob happy.

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France ‘strongly condemns’ Russia’s expulsion of its diplomats

France "strongly condemns" the expulsion of 34 of its diplomats by Russia, the foreign ministry said Wednesday, a tit-for-tat move by Moscow after Paris ordered some Russian staff to leave.

France 'strongly condemns' Russia's expulsion of its diplomats

Saying the step had “no legitimate basis”, the ministry said in a statementthat “the work of the diplomats and staff at (France’s) embassy in Russia… takes place fully within the framework of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations” — whereas Paris expelled the Russian staff in April on suspicion of being spies.

Moscow said Wednesday it was expelling 34 “employees of French diplomatic missions” in a tit-for-tat move following the
expulsion of Russian diplomats from France as part of joint European action over Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.

“Thirty four employees of French diplomatic missions in Russia have been declared persona non grata,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that they have two weeks to leave the country.

Moscow made the announcement after summoning France’s ambassador to Russia, Pierre Levy, and telling him that the expulsion of 41 employees of Russian diplomatic missions was a “provocative and unfounded decision”, the statement

“It has been stressed that this step causes serious damage to Russian-French relations and constructive bilateral cooperation,” the foreign ministry said.

French President Emmanuel Macron initially led diplomatic outreach to the Kremlin over Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine but his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin have eventually tapered off and overt French military
support to Ukraine has increased in recent months.