22nd Oct 2016

Draft EU blacklist names Putin's dog

A draft EU blacklist to be implemented in case of further escalation in Ukraine contains Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s pet labrador.

The text – seen by EUobserver – designates the 14-year old animal, Koni, also known as Connie Paulgrave, on grounds it “actively participated in the decision-making procedures of the President of the Russian Federation on the deployment of Russian forces on Ukrainian sovereign territory”.

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The draft list, which contains more than 100 names of Russian officials, MPs, businessmen, and military chiefs, is being implemented tranche by tranche in line with developments on the crisis.

The EU blacklisted 21 names on 17 March when Crimea held an “illegal” referendum on independence and 12 more names on 21 March when Putin annexed the region.

It has declined to say what would trigger further measures.

But one EU diplomat told this website on Tuesday (1 April) that if Russia invades the Ukrainian mainland, as well as Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, EU countries would give “serious consideration” to going forward.

Another EU contact said imposing a visa ban and asset freeze on Koni would “send a strong message to the Russian leadership that the Union is capable of speaking with one voice on issues of existential importance.”

He added that while the EU has not designated domestic animals in the past, it has, under Chapter V of the EU treaty, targeted family members of recalcitrant foreign leaders in an effort to exert pressure.

A third EU contact noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened personally at the last EU summit to add the dog's name.

“She said the Union must act to counter criticism that it is weaker on Ukraine than the US,” the source said. “But the feeling around the table was that she’s been waiting for an opportunity to hit back after the 2007 incident.”

Merkel, who is said to fear dogs, was taunted by Putin at a meeting in Sochi seven years ago when he let Koni approach her and sniff her shoes.

Putin has publicly admitted that Koni, who often accompanies him on official meetings, plays a role in policy-making. "I try to consult my dog Koni and she gives me good advice," the Russian leader told press in 2007.

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