Soon to be oligarchs without yachts, I hope. The sanctions might be beginning to sting.
BBC understands that some oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union are “shocked” to find their debit cards no longer function, and they are now relying on using cash from safes.
The French acted quickly on Wednesday when customs officers noticed that Mr Sechin’s 88-metre “Amore Vero” – which translates as “true love” – was “taking steps to sail off urgently”.
It arrived in in the Mediterranean port of La Ciotat in January and had been due to stay there while being repaired until 1 April.
In Hamburg shipyard authorities seized Mr Usmanov’s 156-metre ‘Dilbar’, the world’s largest motor yacht by gross tonnage, according to Forbes magazine.
Seizing half-billion dollar yachts seems like a fair cop to me. Take ’em all. Although I don’t know what you can do with a seized yacht; they’re rather useless luxuries, expensive to maintain. The lack of utility is the only thing preventing me for getting letters of marque and embarking on a pirate’s life.
Texas Republican Rep. Lance Gooden is expected to roll out a measure Monday that would allow private U.S. citizens to seize yachts, planes or other property belonging to sanctioned Russian citizens amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Gooden would do it with legislation requiring President Biden to issue letters of marque and reprisal, an enumerated power of Congress mentioned in Article 1 of the Constitution, which were routinely used during the War of 1812 for Americans to seize property on behalf of the U.S. government, but have not been issued since.
“Putin and his inner circle still have yachts and planes sitting in harbors and airports all over the world,” Gooden told Fox News Digital. “The United States must use every tool at our disposal to seize them and hold Russia accountable for the disgusting invasion of Ukraine. The oligarchs who enabled this crisis are a good place to start.”
Uh, question. I’m see the word “oligarch” all over the place, and it only seems to be applied to Russians. But this is not what “oligarch” means, and it has no obligate connection to Russia.
Oligarchy (from Greek ὀλιγαρχία (oligarkhía); from ὀλίγος (olígos) ‘few’, and ἄρχω (arkho) ‘to rule or to command’) is a form of power structure in which power rests with a small number of people. These people may or may not be distinguished by one or several characteristics, such as nobility, fame, wealth, education, or corporate, religious, political, or military control.
I’m all for privateers boarding and taking over yachts (preferable debarking the passengers and crew safely somewhere), but I don’t like that everyone seems to think it’s specifically a Russian thing. America has oligarchs.
You know, Jeff Bezos bought a yacht to accompany his super-yacht. His super-yacht is so big that he pressured a Dutch city to dismantle a historic bridge so he can get it out of the shipyard.
The Amazon founder’s 417-foot-long, three-masted ship that cost’s roughly $500 million is under construction in the Netherlands, but the pleasure boat will be too tall to pass under Rotterdam’s landmark Koningshaven Bridge, which has a 130-foot clearance, according to the NL Times, which cited Dutch-language outlet Rijnmond.
As a work-around, the megabillionaire and the boatmaker Oceano reportedly asked Rotterdam officials to temporarily dismantle the iconic bridge, and pledged to reimburse the city for expenses.
Taking apart and reassembling the middle section of the bridge known locally as “De Hef” was expected to take more than two weeks, the paper said. Rotterdam officials touted Bezos’ pet project as a revenue generator.
The citizens of Rotterdam have suggested an entirely inappropriate response.
The city has not yet signed off on any bridge construction, but according to Jalopnik, some aggrieved residents are ready to take matters into their own hands. “Rotterdam was built from the rubble by Rotterdammers and we don’t just take it apart for the phallus symbol of a megalomaniac billionaire. Not without a fight,” reads a Facebook post calling for protesters to throw their old eggs at the boat as it sails by (per Jalopnik’s translation.)
No. Just no. This is a terrible idea. Don’t throw rotten eggs at the boat. Instead, organize boarding parties, storm the dock, take control of the boat, throw the crew overboard, and set sail for the South Pacific. If Bezos is aboard at the time, even better: make him walk the plank.
No pity for oligarchs!
Autobot Silverwynde says
Nah, don’t waste eggs. Throw feces instead.
Marcus Ranum says
As the Houthis have demonstrated, anti-tank missiles work pretty well against ships. I’m just saying it’d be a shame if someone blew a hole in that thing and the Hermes seat covers got all wet.
In other news, Ukraine authorities say seized Russian tanks don’t need to be declared on tax form.
Sink them in places where coral reefs need surfaces to colonize.
It’s really nice than every now and then some rich fucks are mildly inconvenienced.
Well, if I bought a vessel that wouldn’t fit under a bridge, I’d have the excessive height part of the vessel dismantled, as it’s my problem and I’ll not force a populace to endure my problem. I’d also have a few terse words with the builders, as they sure as hell should’ve known it was too damned high to pass under the bridge.
As or letters of marque, one small problem. Every European nation signed the Congress of Paris that outlawed the practice. While we’re not signatories, we’d then run the risk of being proclaimed pirates, no better than the pirates of Barbary. That’s widely considered excessively naughty.
Still, I am in the market for a bargain patrol boat. I’ll rehab it and demil anything needing teeth pulled, then convert it to a nice house boat.
Snarki, child of Loki says
I hear that a lot of Russian oligarchs have houses in London, as a way of laundering their ill-gotten gains.
But it can be hard to track them down. SO:
Just lock up all the London houses owned by anyone named “Boris” to start with. It’s a twofer!
Empowering private citizens to seize personal property is a good way to get someone killed. It’s also likely unconstitutional.
“Although I don’t know what you can do with a seized yacht”
Aye, matey! Those sissy boats probably are only stocked with wine and champagne, nary a cask of ale nor a bottle of rum to be found. And where are the cannon ports?
That twat faced twat johnson is giving his mega rich Russian mates 30 days head start before he comes alooking for their
A Russian olie has been found dead has been found dead in his Surrey pad.
@2 Drop a cow on them as they passed up the dismantled bridge.
That would make you a privateer, not technically a pirate.
As much as I like to bash Bezos and billionaires (and I do) I think this bridge thing is a red herring. The builder, Oceanco, routinely builds yachts in the 300-400ft range and from what I understand, they have dismantled this exact bridge in the past, more than once, to allow them to move boats out of the canal system into the ocean. And even if this information is incorrect (I cannot prove it) I don’t think Bezos is to blame – if anything its the builder who is to blame, it’s the builder who contracted to build this yacht and (presumably) assured their client that the boat could in fact be delivered and was not intended to spend eternity in a Dutch canal. I am trying to imagine the meeting that would have occurred before construction began where they told Bezos team “Sure, we can build it, but it will never be able to leave the canal” and then Bezos replying “Don’t worry, I’ll pay them off somehow to remove the bridge”. I just can’t see that happening. But maybe my imagination is not working hard enough.
Nathaniel Hellerstein says
Did you say privateer?
Words can acquire new meaning over time. In relation to Russia (end Ukraine) it means people who got rich and powerful exploiting state resources for private gain. Norilsk Nickel was state company, it was acquired by oligarch as political favor and now the profits are helping those who did the favor first.
IN USA it works differently, people get rich and buy themselves politicians, who owes his position to rich man and helps him enrich himself even further
The current Russian government is most definitely not an oligarchy. An oligarchy means rule by a committee and the usual example is the oligarchy that ruled ancient Greece after their democratic form of government was disbanded by Macedonia. (The Greek democracy was a democracy in the true sense of the word with every qualified citizen able to vote on every issue and also able to sit on every jury. Some juries had over 1,500 jurors.). Russia’s current form of government is ironically a feudal aristocracy in which the country is divided into several (economic) dukedoms, each ruled by an all powerful and extravagantly wealthy duke, and the whole country ruled by the most powerful and wealth archduke. What is so ironic about this is that the communist revolution was intended to rid the country of exactly this kind of governance. Least we Americans be too smug about this state of affairs in Russia, that is exactly the form of government the US is headed towards.
Siezed yachts make great housing for the homeless!
Cristian Eigel says
Same Oligarchs and other rich dudes with yachts buy apartments and houses all around the world making it almost impossible for someone to buy an apartment in a bigger city. I say take the yachts and turn them into living quarters for teachers.
And yes, since we start with the yachts of Russian billionaires, why stop at nationality? Destroy all the yachts and private planes.
drew @16: I was thinking the exact same thing. And it could also house refugees which would be quite appropriate. And seize funds from all the owners to pay for food and maintenance.
Indeed, oligarchs are everywhere. Here’s some (unvetted) background on the use of the term “oligarch” specific to Russia (and Ukraine) in a piece titled, What is a Russian oligarch?…and note where it starts:
And the latest part brings us right back to one of our own oligarchs, Donald Trump, plus similar folks in the big buck real estate world.
Over here in GB there have been calls for the mansions owned by Russians to be used to house Ukrainians.
Re: Marcus Ranum @ #3…
Rather before that, Royal Marines on South Georgia used an anti-tank missile to blow a 5 foot hole, just above the waterline, in the hull of an Argentine frigate that sailed a little too close to the shore. Said frigate then made port on the island and didn’t leave during the entire dispute in the South Atlantic.
The difference between a tank and a frigate being that a tank is actually armored.
The Congresscritter is barking up the wrong tree. It’s Congress that has the power to issue letters of marque and reprisal. Says so right there in the US Constitution. Why should Biden do his dirty work for him?
As already noted, authorizing privateers (which is what a letter of marque does) is now illegal in internaltion law of the sea.
The distinction (in many cases) between a pirate and a privateer depends on who you’re talking to.
I say all this as the descendant of someone who did sail as an officer on a privateer during the American Revolution. He later commanded an 18-gun Brig’o’War (the Notre Dame) as part of the South Carolina Navy. Since his ship was engaged in capture, recapture, and sinking of British vessels, there wasn’t a huge difference between what he did in both those cases. What was different was that, as a Naval captain, when he was a PoW, he survived. Had he been caught as a privateer, he would probably be have been hanged as a pirate. What a difference a little paperwork makes.
Atlas Shrugged had a character called Ragnar the pirate, so the far-righters ought to be on board with privateers going after the allies of Putin… oh, I forgot, they think Putin is great.
I’ll just leave this here:
On the subject of the egregiously wealthy and expensive waste that hurts the environment, a freight ship sunk this week. Its only cargo was sports cars and luxury cars. You can be sure the rich jerks will be demanding (and getting) insurance payouts on those cars. Screw ’em. If they can afford the cars, they can afford to eat the loss.
Marcus Ranum says
Rather before that, Royal Marines on South Georgia used an anti-tank missile to blow a 5 foot hole, just above the waterline, in the hull of an Argentine frigate that sailed a little too close to the shore.
George MacDonald Fraser has a rather funny story in Quartered Safe Out Here in which he engages a Japanese river-boat with a PIAT. He claimed that he is the only person he ever heard of who was stupid enough to pull off a trick like that.
Donate the ship to Sea Shepherd?
In one article I read, a recently seized “superyacht” was described as being 156 meters long. That’s longer than a WW2 Liberty ship (and–probably–rather less useful).
I agree that “oligarch” is a term for them. Would “mobster” be a better one? The “-arch” suggests they should rule over something, but what is it other than a “business” with some very shady money trails?
Is Donald Trump an “American oligarch”? OK, tricky, because he lived in the White House for a while, so let’s talk about Trump pre-2016. He certainly wasn’t an “entrepreneur” or “magnate” at least by the usual criteria. He intentionally avoided the due diligence normally accorded to corporations, cheated on taxes, and hid or inflated his wealth as the need required. People did erroneously refer to him as a capitalist, though he was just a cheat.
In any case, I think the same term should apply to Trump and his Russian counterparts: mobster, gangster, criminal. This is where I’d start.
Some pundit probably settled on “oligarch” because they thought it sounded erudite, the way somebody decided to refer to high-level advisors as “czar” (e.g. “drug czar”) or the way kabuki caught on even though it is not an appropriate metaphor at all.
me@29 should say: I agree that “oligarch” is a poor term for them.
I actually preview and proofread these, believe it or not. Sigh.
Three were purchased by Argentina and served in the Falklands war. One, the Guerrico, was hit by the Royal Marines on South Georgia with an 84-mm Carl Gustav anti-tank rocket and small-arms fire; she required three days in dry dock to repair.
@ 6 wzrd1
While we’re not signatories
That’s okay, you are not signatories for the International Court of Justice or the Law of the Sea or the Convention on the Rights of the Child or ….
Can one still hang pirates?
@7 Snarki, child of Loki
Just lock up all the London houses owned by anyone named “Boris” to start with.
This sounds like it has the potential to be another, spectacular own goal. Weakening the oligarchs simply may increase Putin’s power.
He inherited them and likely has no great love for mast of them but probably does not want to spend political capital getting rid of any as long as they stay out of politics. Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Yukos Oil is a good lesson on what happen if one of them does not.
Thanks whheydt in 23 for saying what I was about to. I would have added more emphasis that it’s truly an awful idea in the modern world.
@26 Used at anything other than horizontal, I read that the round was liable to fall out of the front of a PIAT.
But like everything else I have read that is just another myth.
Will there be gentlemen pirates? Asking for a friend.
Re: GerardofTitanServer @ #34…
One way to look at privateers in the modern world would be to consider how the major Naval powers would react if, say, Somali issued Letters of Marque to their folks that have been capturing passing commercial vessels.
As I noted, in the relevant period, the practical differences between a “privateer” and an “pirate” depends on which side you’re one, and the distinction between either of those and a Man’O’War is the government that commissions the ship and the officers. Note that one of the great attractions to Naval service, at least into the 19th century, was the payment of prize money. (And, FYI, the ancestor I mentioned apparently did quite well in that regard, except for one fly in the ointment. He was paid in the fiat Continental currency, which was worthless after the war ended.)
I was in La Ciotat after learning about the seizure of the Amore Vero, and thought I recognised the quay it was docked at (in the photo published by the French authorities), which happens to be the publicly-accessible quay with three(?) spots capable of accommodating superyachts. So I walked that entire quay, nope, wasn’t there… either it’s at another quay (presumably inside the shipyard (as shown by other images of uncertain date)) or has been moved (albeit various vessel trackers claim it is still in La Ciotat).
What was more interesting is there were no superyachts at that publicly-accessible quay. From memory, that’s a bit unusual, but certainly not unheard-of. It was a bit amusing, where the superyachts usually dock at that quay, there was only the Harbour Master’s zodiac (rigid inflatable), looking a bit forlorn. (Their office is on that quay, so seeing their boat there isn’t surprising.)
No, I didn’t have any rotten eggs, pirates, or whatevers to throw, it was just a pleasant day, and having finished my business elsewhere, decided to amble over to that quay.
Follow-up to me@38, teh superyacht Amore Vero is still in La Ciotat (as am I), I spotted it at a quay in the shipyard, corresponding exactly to the images France seizes superyacht linked to Russia’s Sechin as oligarch assets get targeted, Guerre en Ukraine : cinq bateaux appartenant à des sociétés ou à des oligarques russes immobilisés en France, and others.
I also overheard half of a conversation (in English), where the gentleman I could hear seemed to claim the French authorities were tipped-off by a “whistleblower” teh superyacht was about to do a runner (seems plausible, albeit I cannot confirm), and that the seizure has messed-up the shipyard’s schedule (also seems plausible, but again I cannot confirm).
Sadly, I didn’t see any gunboats, very large
hand-ship-cuffs, or (what I really wanted to see) rubber ducks with policeman’s helmets holding teh superyacht at bay…
Seems perfectly logical that nobody should pay rent on a property owned by a russian without fear of eviction. Many Floridians, Londoners, etc would be thrilled. Except there is no way the managers of the network of shell corporations between the renter and the oligarch are going to accept that. Sure they would keep the rent payments for themselves claiming sanctions, but no way the proletariat would be allowed to benefit.
(Weird how class distinctions seem to pop up in posts more and more often.)
With all this time to plan I’m really hoping for an epic and spectacular egg show from the Dutch.
Years ago I watched some of MTV’s Sweet 16 show, and was truly disgusted. Until I thought about the numerous people that got paid making and presenting all those ostentatious displays of wealth. Seemed like an excellent method of redistributing wealth. Much better use of money than gambling on stock and real estate prices.
Our hero: a Ukrainian ship engineer valiantly attempted to sink oligarch’s yacht before being arrested in Majorca.
While out of jail awaiting trial, he left for home to join the resistance.
One nit. If someone asked me to point to the part of the constitution that granted the power to congress to hire mercenaries, I would probably point to the bit about letters of marque and reprisal.
Re: GerrardoftheTitanServer @ #44…
A Letter of Marque doesn’t mean that Congress is financing the privateer. Just licensing them to operate. So I don’t think that can be used to claim that Congress has the power to hire mercenaries.
That said, mercenary companies have a pretty long history of looting (or threatening to loot) if they don’t get paid…and (no doubt) sometimes when they do.
Of course. It requires stretching. But again, if someone asked me to point to a section, it would be the section about raising an army and the section on letters of marque. If you squint just right and combine bits of the two, you get mercenaries. AFAIK, too much of the modern USA military are contractors and not uniformed military.
It wasn’t until just now that I realized how much discussions of “what is constitutional” can sound like D&D players accusing each other of rule abuse.
We D&D players call it “rules-lawyering” for a reason! :)