In an unusual diplomatic move related to western sanctions against Russia, it has been reported that the 92.5-metre superyacht Royal Romance (IMO 1012268), valued at about $200m pre-sanctions and belonging to Ukrainian-born, pro-Kremlin businessman and political leader, Viktor Medvedchuk will be transferred to the Ukrainian government and sold at an auction overseen by Ukraine’s Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA).
The yacht was seized in connection with EU sanctions at the Port of Rijeka in Croatia as early as March 16th this year. It had been moored in Croatia for some time
Medvedchuk is a staunch supporter and a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and he has been made subject to US and EU sanctions.
The US FBI and Croatian local police boarded the vessel sometime between November 13th and 22nd after obtaining a search warrant from a Croatian court. After a search was conducted, a district court in Split, Croatia, decided to transfer the ownership of the vessel to Ukraine for auction.
ARMA has been in close contact with Croatian law enforcement, the Croatian Justice ministry, and the authorities of the port to finalize the transfer of the yacht.
Medvedchuk had been sanctioned by the Ukrainian government as long ago as February 2021 for backing Russian-aligned separatists in Eastern Ukraine. He was arrested in Kyiv under the charges of “illegal exploitation of natural resources” in Russian-Occupied Crimea. He spent the next 10 months under house arrest, but then escaped during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. He was recaptured by Ukrainian forces, but then traded back to Russia in exchange for 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
2015-built, possibly Cayman Islands flagged, 2,901 gt Royal Romance is listed by Equasis as being owned and managed by Lanelia Holdings Ltd of Majuro, Marshall Islands.