The Ukrainian sailor who partially sank his Russian oligarch boss’ superyacht is back home in Ukraine to fight for his homeland but he insists he is “not a hero”.
The sailor admitted trying to sink the ‘Lady Anastasia’ belonging to Alexander Mijeev by flooding the engine room of the vessel, which is docked in Port Adriana, a marina on the Spanish Balearic island of Majorca.
Mijeev is a Russian tycoon who runs the company Rosoboronexport, which manufactures helicopters for the Russian army.
The sailor, named as Taras Ostapchuk, 55, can be seen in this photograph with a Ukrainian road sign in the background after he reportedly took a flight to Zurich in Switzerland on Monday (28th February), before flying to Warsaw in Poland and then heading into Ukraine by train, reportedly heading towards the capital Kyiv.
He said: “I am going to fight for my country” and also added “I have never picked up a gun, but if necessary I will.”
His son, who has not been named, was reportedly waiting for him in Kyiv. Ostapchuk told Spanish media shortly before his departure: “As soon as I arrive in the first city in Ukraine, I will look for a military commander and ask him if they need me.
“I said to myself: Why do I need a job if I don’t have my country?
“I had a good job as chief mechanic on the ship and a good salary, but I’m going to fight for my country.
“I lost my job, but that’s not a problem.
“I will not lose my country.
“I am not a hero, I am an old man, but I have a lot of experience in mechanics. I have never picked up a gun but if necessary I will pick it up. Why not?”
Speaking about the superyacht incident, a lawyer for Ostapchuk, named as Neus Canylles, said: “He wanted economic revenge against his boss because he understood that he was responsible for all the missiles that were falling in Kyiv.
“As he has told in his story: He arrived at the ship, closed the fuel hatches, lowered the electricity and then opened the two water inlet valves that caused sea water to start coming in.”
The owner Mijeev is a Russian tycoon who has diverse business interests, primarily in manufacturing weapons, including military helicopters, for the Russian government, according to the statement the sailor gave the police after his arrest on Saturday, 26th February.
Ostapchuk reportedly said that he took the decision after seeing the devastation left by a Russian missile that had hit a block of flats in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in a residential area, according to the Spanish police.
The saboteur reportedly said: “A lot of people that lived there had nothing to do with the military.”
The Ukrainian sailor reportedly said that he lives in a similar type of building and that he “understood” that the missile had been produced by a company that belongs to the vessel’s owner, his boss, Mijeev.
The lady Anastasia is a 47-metre (155-foot) vessel that was built in 2007 and is reportedly worth approximately EUR 6 million (GBP 5 million) and has a capacity for 10 people. It has since been confirmed that the vessel has partially sunk.