Cape Town’s mayor has called on South Africa’s government to bar Alexei Mordashov’s superyacht from docking in its port after the sanctioned Russian oligarch’s vessel left Hong Kong bound for the city.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis on Monday said that he had lobbied Naledi Pandor, the South African foreign minister, over a “moral duty” to block one of Russia’s richest men before his yacht, the ‘Nord’, is set to arrive in Cape Town next month.
The 142-metre yacht has already become a symbol of checked global compliance with western sanctions on Russia’s elite over the war in Ukraine after it docked in Hong Kong’s waters for weeks despite US pressure.
In the early days of the war, the Russia-flagged vessel made a dash for Vladivostok after weighing anchor in the Seychelles.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress has declined to condemn Russia over the war and abstained from a UN vote this month on condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian land.
The city government of Cape Town, which is run by the main opposition Democratic Alliance, does not have its own powers to deny port entry.
“To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Mordashov is aboard the vessel and intends to enter South Africa through the port of Cape Town,” Hill-Lewis said. “If this happens, Mr Mordashov — and his luxury yacht — will be considered to be guests of the South African state.”
The ‘Nord’ was sailing through the Strait of Malacca on Monday, with its arrival in Cape Town set for November 9, according to the MarineTraffic ship tracking site.
Mordashov is the owner of Severstal, Russia’s biggest steel producer, and his Severgroup is a major shareholder in Bank Rossiya, known as ‘Putin’s bank’.
“It must be said that so far, our country’s foreign policy conduct in relation to Russia’s illegal, imperialist war has been nothing less than shameful,” Hill-Lewis said. “Here is an opportunity to correct some of those errors of judgment and stand up for what is clearly right.”
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