By Anish Chand in Lautoka
“We don’t do Russians.” This was the response from Fiji’s Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete when asked about the arrival on Tuesday of Russian super yacht Amadea.
“We’ll need clarification on that then we can comment on that,” he said. “We don’t do Russians.”
While the Prime Minister’s office did not respond to queries on the subject, the United States Embassy in Suva and the Delegation of the European Union in the Pacific said they had been in contact with the Fiji government over the presence in Fiji of the super yacht.
The Amadea, which arrived on Tuesday and was still in port yesterday, is owned by Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov.
Kerimov is on the United States, British and European Union sanctions list that came out after Russia’s invasion on Ukraine. Yachts owned by other sanctioned individuals have been seized all over the world.
“Seizing assets of Russian oligarchs supporting the invasion of Ukraine is a part of the sanction regime applied by the European Union,” said Sujiro Seam, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union.
“Several Russian oligarchs’ yachts have already been impounded in the European Union. The European Union is cooperating with partners around the world on the matter, including in the Pacific.
Consulting with Fiji
“The European Union is aware of reports of the presence of Amadea in Lautoka and, together with like-minded partners, is consulting with the government of Fiji.”
The US Embassy in Fiji also issued a similar statement, saying they are “cooperating with Fijian authorities on the matter”.
“The United States is committed to finding and seizing the assets of the oligarchs who have supported the Russian Federation’s brutal, unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine,” Stephanie Fitzmaurice, the regional public affairs officer said.
We are working closely with governments and private sector partners in Europe, and the entire world, including Fiji, on this issue.”
According to Fijian entry requirements, yachts must seek approval from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade and Tourism and the Immigration Department before departing their last port.
Anish Chand is the Fiji Times West Bureau chief reporter. Republished with permission.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.