At this point, we have gotten used to reading reports and headlines about Russian billionaires having their assets like villas and yachts seized by governments looking to crack down on Russia after it invaded Ukraine. However, one of the Russian billionaires, Oleg Deripaska, is in the inverse of that situation, allegedly having a whole hotel complex in the Russian resort city of Sochi seized by the Russian government after his criticism of the war.
The Financial Times reported that Deripaska is “one of the few” billionaires who have publicly voiced criticism of the invasion from within Russia, and the court order to seize the Imeretinskiy hotel complex, valued at around $1 billion, pre-dates Deripaska’s public antiwar statements.
This seizure is meant to be in connection to a land dispute filed by Russia’s Sirius Federal Territory (established under President Putin), but the decision to seize the complex allegedly comes after the Kremlin asked Deripaska to tone down on his criticisms of the war, including his statement that referred to the invasion as ‘madness.’ He also tweeted several weeks after the war first started:
“We need peace as soon as possible, as we have already passed the point of no return.”
The seizure could be seen as representing extra pressure by the Russian government on Deripaska, and an attempt to silence any dissent or criticism of their war in Ukraine. President Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied that in a statement to the Financial Times, commenting:
“Sirius is indeed [Putin’s] baby, he’s the one who came up with the idea…but this has nothing to do with the court cases.”
Peskov also minimized Deripaska’s own statements about the war:
“He never spoke out against the operation…Like many, he’s pushing for everything to be done better and more efficiently… he’s stating his point of view.”
RogSibAl, Deripaska’s firm that owned the hotel complex, has essentially been evicted from the property after the ruling and is now facing a separate court ruling to seize its other real estate holdings. Though just recently been reported on publicly, this ruling was made in September of 2022, barely six days after the dispute was first filed.
Even though Deripaska might or might not be in trouble with his government, he is also no stranger to US sanctions, which he has allegedly faced since 2018 for how Kremlin ties. In 2019, he unsuccessfully filed a suit against the US Treasury Department over these sanctions.