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German authorities deny reports of seized Russian yachts

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German authorities on Thursday denied reports that three yachts belonging to Russian oligarchs had been seized in the port of Hamburg as a result of Western sanctions over Ukraine.

The Handelsblatt daily and other German media reported the seizure of the yachts including the “Dilbar”, the world’s biggest by tonnage and owned by the Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov.

Susanne Meinecke, a spokeswoman for Hamburg’s economy and innovation authority, said the reports were not true and told AFP: “To my knowledge, no yachts have been seized.”

However, the vessels are unlikely to leave Hamburg any time soon since all goods transported to Russia from the German port now require individual customs permits.

The “automatic release of goods to Russia” has been stopped, Hamburg economics senator Michael Westhagemann said Tuesday, meaning “no more goods are going out to Russia as of now”.

According to the media reports, the “Dilbar” is currently at the Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg for repair work.

Blohm+Voss declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The 156-metre (512-foot) yacht is valued at $600 million (540 million euros), according to Forbes, which first reported the news.

German yacht maker Luerssen, which manufactured the “Dilbar” describes it as “one of the most complex and challenging yachts ever built“.

The vessel includes a 25-metre swimming pool, “the largest pool ever to have been installed on a yacht”, as well as having two helicopter pads.

Usmanov, 68, has been among dozens of Russian oligarchs hit by punishing Western sanctions over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the English Premier League football club Everton suspended its sponsorship agreements with several companies in which Usmanov had a stake.

The EU declaration said Usmanov “has been referred to as one of Vladimir Putin’s favourite oligarchs”.

“He is considered to be one of Russia’s businessmen-officials, who were entrusted with servicing financial flows, but their positions depend on” Putin, it said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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