Male, March 3 (EFE).- The Maldives is suffering the impact of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, seeing a significant decrease in the arrival of Russian tourists, its main market, though the country may now become a getaway destination for the country’s oligarchs on their yachts.
Russian tourism this year represented 15.5 percent of arrivals in the Maldives, followed by the United Kingdom with 11.1 percent, and Ukraine in eighth place with 2.3 percent. On Feb. 25, one day after the war broke out, there were 8,000 Russians and 750 Ukrainians in the archipelago, according to official data from the Tourism Maldivian Ministry.
The war between the two countries caused “great damage” to the economy of the archipelago, said Mohamed Shaz Waleed, executive director of one of the country’s characteristic luxury hotels.
“The damage will be great. Since the war started, the Maldives must have lost at least $ 200 million,” Waleed said, pointing to the cancellation of reservations as the main reason.
The warm climate of the archipelago and its paradisiacal beaches, as well as the ease of obtaining a visa for Russian citizens, are some of the reasons that encourage this tourism.
Among them, increasingly emerging is the arrival of great fortunes, the same oligarchs who are now targeted by sanctions for Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
This is the case of billionaire Oleg Deripaska, president of the RUSAL Unified Company, the world’s largest aluminum company, whose yacht “Clio” anchored this week in the waters of Male, presumably to escape United States sanctions. These include the confiscation of several of his properties such as yachts or mansions.
Also moored in the port of the Maldivian capital was the “Titan” yacht of Russian industrial tycoon Alexander Abramov, according to the shipyard’s website.
They may be joined by Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin’s yacht “Nirvana,” recently seen in the vicinity of the archipelago, according to data from the specialized platform “MarineTraffic.”
Despite this coincidence, Maldivian officials from the state port corporation or the Immigration Department refused to comment on the matter when asked by EFE.
Maldivian lawyer Mahfooz Saeed told EFE that the country does not have an extradition agreement with the United States and cannot legally deliver assets there “unless the individual is wanted for a criminal investigation or if he is escaping legal punishment.
Maldives was one of the 141 countries that approved in the United Nations General Assembly a Wednesday resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine and demanding that Russia immediately withdraw its troops. EFE