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Ukrainian sailors tried to block a Russian oligarch's yacht from docking in Turkey

A yacht reportedly belonging to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is docked at an Aegean coastal resort in Bodrum, Turkey, on Monday. A group of young Ukrainian sailors had protested its arrival from a small boat.
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Ihlas News Agency/AFP via Getty
A yacht reportedly belonging to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is docked at an Aegean coastal resort in Bodrum, Turkey, on Monday. A group of young Ukrainian sailors had protested its arrival from a small boat.

Two superyachts linked to Russian oligarch and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich have reportedly docked in the sanction-free waters of Turkey in recent days, though not without protest.

The Solaris yacht left Montenegro last week and traveled southeast to Turkey, avoiding European waters and arriving at the port city of Bodrum on Monday, Reuters reported, citing shipping data.

There, the 460-foot yacht was met by a small group of young Ukrainian sailors who tried to block it from reaching the dock. Video footage from the BBC, CNN, SkyNews and others shows people on a small boat, waving Ukrainian flags and chanting "no war in Ukraine."

Güldenay Sonumut, a producer for Sky News, tweeted footage of several people sitting in a boat bobbing in the water, chanting "Go away!" at the massive yacht in front of them.

They have been identified as students of the Odesa Children and Youth Sailing School, also known as the Optimist Sailing Club. The BBC says the team had left Ukraine before Russia invaded last month to compete in an annual competition in Turkey.

Coach Paulo Dontsov told CNN that it was the full team's decision to protest, telling the BBC that their aim was to make supporters of the war uncomfortable. He said the Turkish coast guard eventually arrived and asked the dinghy to move slightly farther away.

"We talked with them and they were polite," he added. "They said that they realized why we're doing this, but we should do it with keeping the rules of their country."

Sky News reports that the protesters were temporarily detained after the incident and that Abramovich is not believed to have been on board the yacht at the time.

The Solaris is currently docked in Bodrum, according to the tracker Marine Traffic. And a second superyacht linked to Abramovich also arrived in Turkey this week.

Citing Turkish media, ABC News reports that a yacht named Eclipse docked at a port in the resort town of Marmaris on Tuesday. Unnamed sources told Reuters that Abramovich and other wealthy Russians are looking to invest in Turkey amid mounting sanctions from Western countries.

Turkey has criticized Russia's invasion of Ukraine but has said it won't introduce sanctions because it sees them as counterproductive.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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