‘Super host’ Turkey home to 11 yachts of Russian oligarchs - report

Turkey is becoming the mooring place of choice for Russian oligarchs and their super yachts seeking to evade Western sanctions, the Daily Mail reported at the weekend.

Four of the yachts are owned by billionaire and former Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich, who was seen drinking expensive wine and devouring chateaubriand steak at the resort town of Göcek, where three of his boats are based, the Daily Mail said.

Abramovich was flanked by four burly bodyguards and accompanied by his family as he entered the CaesarEt Lounge in Göcek, which is surrounded by tranquil waters and natural beauty on Turkey’s forested southern coastline.

Onlookers said Abramovich, who has been welcomed with open arms by the Turkish government, seemed perfectly at ease. Turkey lies beyond the grasp of U.K., EU and U.S. sanctions – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan enjoys close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has sought to remain equidistant between Russia and Ukraine since Moscow’s invasion in late April.

The Daily Mail said some of Abramovich’s yachts, worth around £1.1 billion, are available for hire for rich party-goers and holidaymakers. The Mail on Sunday, the newspaper’s Sunday edition, said it found two of them moored at Göcek last week -- the Eclipse, worth more than £400million with two helicopter pads, two swimming pools, a disco and even an anti-missile system, and the Garcon, worth £17million. The £32million Halo, which flies under the flag of the South Pacific’s Cook Islands, is also believed to be in Göcek, the Daily Mail said.

Abramovich’s fourth superyacht, My Solaris, which is worth about £430million and equipped with a helipad, gym, spa and several swimming pools, was anchored down the coast in Bodrum, the newspaper said.

Other yachts at Göcek belonging to Russian oligarchs included the Flying Fox, which was anchored next to the Garcon at the Azure Marina. The boat, worth more than £339 million, is owned by Dmitry Kamenshchik, an ally of Putin and boss of Moscow Domodedovo airport. Its transponder, like those of Abramovich’s yachts, was switched off, rendering it remotely unidentifiable.

The Daily Mail said the Flying Fox has been rented at least three times for £3 million per week since its arrival in Göcek. An Arab prince had chartered it recently, one security guard said.

Turkey boasts better yachting grounds than somewhere like Dubai, which only has the appeal of the city itself, said Rory Jackson, an expert at Vessels Value.

“When the sanctions fell it was not the Mediterranean season, so the oligarchs had time to think where they could take their yachts,” Jackson said.

Opinions were mixed among local residents and businesses about the presence of the Russian boats, the newspaper said.

“Of course these yachts are a problem,” said Şükrü Aydın, 54, a tour boat operator. “Firstly, they are anchored at sea and are obstructing small boats like ours. We cannot go near them as it triggers their alarm systems.”

Zeynep Ketenci, who owns a boutique clothing shop, said: “Of course, we have more Russians compared with last year. They are here because you want to take away their possessions. This is imperial.”

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