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RNZ News

A New Zealand protest flotilla has arrived outside the luxury Northland home of Russian oligarch Alexander Abramov.

The eight vessels sailed to Helena Bay, north of Whangārei, early today to protest over the two-week-old Russian invasion of Ukraine facing the private estate owned by Abramov.

Locals on kayaks and boats were expected to join them.

The flotilla is asking the government to freeze Abramov’s New Zealand assets.

Although he is one of the few super-rich influential Russians with assets in New Zealand — a handful of wealthy Russians are estimated to have $60 million invested in the country — he is not on the official sanctions list intended to put pressure on Russia to stop the invasion of Ukraine.

The government has said the list will remain under review.

Greenpeace joins protest
The global environmental campaigner Greenpeace has joined the flotilla.

Greenpeace programme director Niamh O’Flynn is on board a yacht, and told RNZ the water was a bit choppy, but demonstrators plan to remain on their vessels in the bay and stay for a few hours to get their message across.

“The main message is that we need to do our bit to end this war peacefully, and that means sanctioning oligarchs, it means freezing the assets of oligarchs like Alexander Abramov, immediately.”

She said sanctioning oligarchs puts pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

Greenpeace programme director Niamh O'Flynn
Greenpeace’s Niamh O’Flynn at the protest in Helena Bay, in front of Alexander Abramov’s Northland property. Image: Greenpeace

On February 24, the government announced a list of officials from the Russian government and others involved in the invasion of Ukraine, who are named in a targeted travel ban.

On March 9, the new Russia Sanctions Bill was passed by Parliament under urgency by all parties. It allows for New Zealand to impose harsher sanctions.

Some Northlanders living near Abramov’s lodge earlier put up Ukrainian flags on their properties.

The luxury Abramov property in Northland's Helena Bay
The luxury Abramov lodge in Northland’s Helena Bay. Image: RNZ
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