Updated at 9.50am with new details on yacht changing course

A Russian oligarch yacht which had been due to arrive in Malta on Tuesday, has altered course to Beirut, according to a ship-tracking website.

The Malta-flagged Ragnar is owned by Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former KGB agent who is said to have served together with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Its British captain says the owner is not on any sanctions list.

The 68-metre yacht sailed from Norway on March 30 after it was refused refueling in protest over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It proceeded slowly to the Mediterranean and moored in Tunisia before continuing its journey.

It was close to Malta on Tuesday morning. 

Questioned by Times of Malta over whether the vessel would have been allowed to berth in Malta, a spokesperson for Transport Malta said: "Should the superyacht, being a Malta-flagged vessel, make a request to obtain services or to enter a Maltese port, depending on the prevailing circumstances, the authority will consult with the relevant competent authorities and consider such request at the appropriate time."

According to a ship-tracking website, the Ragnar, circled, will arrive in Malta at around 4pm today. Photo: Marine TrafficAccording to a ship-tracking website, the Ragnar, circled, will arrive in Malta at around 4pm today. Photo: Marine Traffic

According to the Marine Traffic website, the yacht arrived at the Tunisian port of Yasmine Hammamet on Saturday.

Russian tycoons and their superyachts

Russian billionaires have been moving their superyachts since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, in a bid to avoid Western sanctions.

Strzhalkovsky is the former head of mining giant Norilsk Nickel and is said to be worth in the region of €372 million.

His yacht has a deck for a helicopter and includes an amphibious car, an onboard pool and a giant slide.

Earlier this month, news agency Reuters reported that a yacht linked to Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska had entered a bay near the southwestern Turkish resort of Gocek.

The same agency said billionaire Andrey Melnichenko’s superyacht Motor Yacht A sought refuge in the Maldives just one day after the coal and fertilizer entrepreneur was placed on the European Union’s sanctions list on March 9.

Western countries have been seizing luxury vessels that belong to Russian oligarchs ever since the beginning of the attack by Putin’s troops on Ukraine late February.

In Italy, the authorities seized another of Melnichenko’s vessels, the world’s largest sailing yacht, estimated by the Italian financial police to be worth €538 million.

The French and Spanish authorities have seized other luxury yachts as part of the sanctions in place. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us