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Russia's economic collapse hits home in Miami

Four yachts sat docked outside a North Miami restaurant called Lique on Thursday night for the Russian-American Chamber of South Florida Luxury Yacht Business Mixer event. And many of the attendees had shared anxieties.

Ralph Navarro, CEO of Florida Yachts International, footed the bill to rent out the space in the hope of building connections with wealthy Russians with the ultimate goal of possibly making a sale.


The Russian-American Chamber of South Florida held a yacht mixer on Thursday.
CNBC
The Russian-American Chamber of South Florida held a yacht mixer on Thursday.

About 300 people, most of them members of the Russian American Chamber, were in attendance, and roughly 80 percent of them are Russian business owners and managers in industries ranging from real estate to computer technology and finance.

It's a crowd that has grown increasingly concerned about its financial situation in light of the economic downturn of the country where many of them do business, CNBC's conversations with the attendees revealed.

Read MoreWarning: Russia's banking system could face 'failures'

Chingiz Askerov lives in Miami but owns a major shopping center in Moscow, Domodedova Shopping Mall, which includes grocery stores and clothing merchants as well as restaurants. He also owns commercial and residential real estate in Moscow, which he told CNBC has lost significant value with the fall of the ruble.

"Any person doing business in Russia right now is being harmed," he said.

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He noted that his business also has suffered because of low oil prices and the sanctions imposed against Russia by the United States and European Union in retaliation for its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

"People are buying a lot less, because having a salary in rubles does not help," he said. "It's as though everything is now worth half of what it used to be."

Lique restaurant and lounge owner Alex Podolny said he can see the consequences of Russia's faltering economy among some of his clientele.

"There's difference, they are not spending like they used to," he said. "People from Russia (and) Ukraine of high net worth are definitely scared, and it's concerning to me for my own business."

Read MoreRussian business is braced for 'much worse'

He said Russian businessmen tell him they think things will worsen economically. Conversations with several people at the event made clear that some had noticed a decreasing number of Russians either coming to Miami or engaging in more business in the U.S.

'Russian rich still love new construction'

Real estate broker Valentina Aved at an event sponsored by Florida Yachts International.
Dina Gusovsky | CNBC
Real estate broker Valentina Aved at an event sponsored by Florida Yachts International.

On the othe rhand, Valentina Aved of Villa Valentina Realty said that she is not concerned, despite that about 80 percent of her clients are Russian. She said she still sees interest from Russian residents who are looking to rent or buy apartments in Miami and Palm Beach.

"They like new construction and are willing to pay top dollar for (a) luxury lifestyle," she said as she handed out colorful business cards to potential clients.

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She said business was booming for her.

As for yacht company owner Navarro, he said he's broadening his approach to reach out to more diverse clientele.