One of the highest-profile superyachts immobilised by western governments following the Russian invasion of Ukraine is Yacht A, whose beneficial owner is Andrey Melnichenko and a one-time frequent visitor to Monaco waters.

The fertiliser and coal billionaire (51) was deemed by western governments to be part of Putin’s inner circle of oligarchs and duly sanctioned.

The vessel has been moored off the Italian port of Trieste for more than a year and has cost the hard-pressed Italian taxpayer more than seven million euros in maintenance and upkeep costs.

“Some have anti-missile radars, others their own submarines or retractable helipads,” explains Alex Finley, a former CIA agent, now a specialist in Russian influence converted into a yacht tracker. “All these technologies require maintenance. Not necessarily so that everything works perfectly, but, at least, so that these devices do not present any danger for the personnel of the port or for the crew,” he told FranceInfos.

Designed by Philippe Starck and built by Nobiskrug in Germany, the vessel is the world’s biggest sailing yacht at 143m in length, Sky reported in March 2022.

A statement from the Official Journal of the European Union described Melnichenko as belonging to the “most influential circle of Russian businesspeople with close connections to the Russian Government”.

It added: “On 24 February 2022, in the aftermath of the initial stages of Russian aggression against Ukraine, Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko, along with other 36 businesspeople, met with President Vladimir Putin and other members of the Russian government to discuss the impact of the course of action in the wake of Western sanctions.

“The fact that he was invited to attend this meeting shows that he is a member of the closest circle of Vladimir Putin and that he is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.”

A spokesperson for Melnichenko said at the time that the businessman had “no relation to the tragic events in Ukraine and has no political affiliations.”

“There is no justification whatsoever for placing him on the EU sanctions list.

“We will be disputing these baseless and unjustified sanctions, and believe that the rule of law and common sense will prevail.”

When NEWS.MC reported some time ago about Melnichenko’s real estate interests in Monaco, we were contacted by a company in London telling us that our report violated its client’s right to privacy.


PHOTO: Yacht A moored off Monte-Carlo Bay in August