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The ‘Valerie’, the yacht that could not flee from the port of Barcelona

The yacht of the Russian oligarch held in Barcelona tried to leave two days before

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 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 Sánchez said on La Sexta television on Monday. “We are talking about a yacht that we estimate is worth $140m.”

“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 were also docked in Barcelona.

The 85-metre (279ft) superyacht Valerie belongs to Sergei Chemezov, a former KGB officer who heads state conglomerate Rostec, two sources told Reuters.

Sailing under the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the vessel is registered to Chemezov’s stepdaughter, Anastasia Ignatova, through a the 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 24 February.

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 9 February, 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.

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