'Go Away, Russian Ship!' Ukrainian Sailors Block Abramovich's Superyacht in Turkey

A group of Ukrainian sailors on a motor boat, most of them children, tried to block Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s 456-foot superyacht Solaris from docking at the Turkish city of Bodrum on Monday, March 21, before being briefly detained.

The protest was staged by members of a Ukrainian sailing club, Optimist Sailing Team Ukraine, who had traveled to Turkey to take part in a competition before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to one of the team’s coaches, Vyacheslav ‘Slava’ Madonich, who stayed on shore where he captured video as the blockade got underway.

Seven of the 11 protesters were children, aged between 9 and 14, Madonich told Storyful.

The Solaris yacht, valued at $600 million, according to the website SuperYachtFan, was successfully docked after the activists were detained by authorities, the Turkish newspaper Sozcu reported.

Madonich’s 18-year-old son, Oskar Madonich, was among the protesters and shot this footage as the group waved Ukrainian flags emblazoned with the words “No War” from a comparatively tiny boat placed in front of Abramovich’s towering superyacht. One protester is heard shouting, “Go away, Russian ship!” and the group chants “No war in Ukraine” and other pro-Ukraine slogans.

Slava Madonich confirmed on Facebook that the protesters had been detained by police after 15 minutes, but said the officers had been “kind and understanding” and released everyone quickly. Madonich later told Storyful the team had been “well received” in Turkey.

A few hours after the protest, Madonich posted photos on Facebook showing the team enjoying snacks and tea around a table. Madonich said one of the photos was taken by a police officer, and said coast guard officers had joined the group at the table for cups of tea.

There was no indication that Abramovich was on the yacht as it arrived in Bodrum, according to Reuters.

Abramovich, who owns English football club Chelsea FC, was sanctioned by the UK and European Union earlier in March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since then, the Putin-linked oligarch had faced the threat of his assets being seized by UK or EU authorities.

His superyacht, Solaris, was built in 2021 by the Lloyd Werft shipyard in Germany and its exterior was designed by Marc Newson, an Australian-born designer based in London, according to information provided by the websites Superyacht Times and YachtCharterFleet.com.

The yacht can cater to up to 36 guests and contains “premium beauty and wellness amenities, including beach club and sauna,” along with a “generous pool,” according to YachtCharterFleet.com. Credit: Oskar Madonich via Storyful

Video transcript

- I know this is ship of Abramovich, Russian oligarch. Don't let him come to this place. Go away, Russian ship! Go away! No war in Ukraine! [BACKGROUND CHATTER] - [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] - No war in Ukraine! No war in Ukraine! No war in Ukraine!