Wednesday

18th Oct 2017

EU blacklists three Putin 'cronies'

  • The EU has expanded the blacklist to Putin's inner circle (Photo: premier.gov.ru)

The EU on Wednesday (30 July) for the first time included three of Vladimir Putin's loyal oligarchs and his propaganda chief on an existing blacklist in response to Russia's continued "destabilisation" of Ukraine.

The decision, published in the EU official journal, lists eight new names and three more entities to the travel ban and asset freeze list that already included 87 names and 20 organisations.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

First listed is Alexey Alexeyevich Gromov, Putin's deputy chief of staff "responsible for instructing Russian media outlets to take a line favourable with the separatists in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, therefore supporting the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea".

Gromov, 54 years old, is a Soviet-era trained diplomat in charge of Kremlin's media relations since 1996.

Three Ukrainian separatists are also on the list: Oksana Tchigrina, spokewoman for the so-called Lugansk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine who defended the shooting down of a Ukrainian military airplane and the taking of hostages.

Boris Litvinov, chairman of the "Supreme Council" of another separatist region - Donetsk - is listed for having organised an illegal referendum which proclaimed the independence of that "republic."

Sergey Abisov, "minister of interior of the Republic of Crimea" is on the list for having accepted this post - to which Putin appointed him - and thus having "undermined the territorial integ­rity, sovereignty and unity of Ukraine."

Further listed is 40-year old Konstantin Valere­vich Malofeev, the former employer of the Donetsk separatists' leader. Malofeev is under investigation by Ukrainian authorities for supporting the separatists financially. He also spoke in favour of Crimea's annexation and said that "you can't incor­porate the whole of Ukraine into Russia. The East (of Ukraine) maybe."

The inner circle

But the novelty of these fresh sanctions is the inclusion of what diplomats call "Putin's cronies".

First among the cronies is 62-year old Arkady Romanovich Rotenberg, "a long-time acquaintance of President Putin and his former judo sparring partner."

According to Forbes magazine, Rotenberg's fortune is estimated at €2.7bn, as he and his brother Boris (who is not on the list) acquired subsidiaries of the gas giant Gazprom.

The official journal notes that Rotenberg was awarded lucrative state contracts, particularly linked to the Sochi Olympic Games earlier this year.

"He is a major shareholder of Giprotransmost, a company which has received a public procure­ment contract by a Russian state-owned company to conduct the feasibility study of the construction of a bridge from Russia to the illeg­ally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea, therefore consolidating its integration into the Russian Federation which in turn further under­mines the territorial integrity of Ukraine," the official journal reads.

Another old-time friend of the Russian President is 63-year old Yuriy Valentinovich Kovalchuk, co-founder of Ozero Dacha, "a cooperative society bringing together an influential group of individuals around President Putin".

Kovalchuk is chairman and largest shareholder (38%) of Bank Rossiya, "considered the personal bank of senior officials of the Russian Federation."

"Since the illegal annexation of Crimea, Bank Rossiya has opened branches across Crimea and Sevastopol, thereby consolidating their integration into the Russian Federation."

"Furthermore, Bank Rossiya has important stakes in the National Media Group which in turn controls television stations which actively support the Russian government's policies of destabilisa­tion of Ukraine," the official journal explains.

The third "crony" is 64-year old Nikolay Terentievich Shamalov, the second-largest shareholder (10%) of Bank Rossiya and also a co-founder of the Ozero Dacha group of Putin friends.

Three companies have also been added to the blacklist.

First is Almaz-Antey, a Russian state-owned manufacturer of missiles used by separatists in eastern Ukraine to shoot down planes.

The EU was outraged when one of these missiles - believed to have been fired by separatists - shot down the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing 298 people, mostly EU citizens on 17 July.

"The Russian authorities have been providing heavy weaponry to separatists in eastern Ukraine, contributing to the destabilisa­tion of Ukraine. These weapons are used by the separatists, including for shooting down airplanes. As a state-owned company, Almaz-Antei therefore contributes to the destabilisation of Ukraine," the official journal reads.

Dobrolet, a subsidiary of a Russian state-owned airline, is also listed for having operated flights between Moscow and Crimea. "It therefore facilitates the integration of the illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and undermines Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity," the EU decision says.

The Russian National Commercial Bank, which has become the main bank in Crimea after the annexation, is listed for having "supported materially and financially the actions of the Russian government to integrate Crimea into the Russian Federation, thus under­ mining Ukraine's territorial integrity."

A whole list of banned exports to Crimea is also annexed to the decision - ranging from financial services to chemicals and pipelines.

The EU official journal on Thursday is expected to publish a further list of economic sanctions applying to Russia in response to the downing of the MH17 and the continued arming of Ukrainian rebels.

EU officials said this was meant as a "strong warning" for Russia to change course.

12,000 troops

But so far, Moscow showed no sign of a strategy rethink.

On Wednesday, the Russian central bank said it will provide support to the state-owned banks which will be hit by the EU sanctions, after already being blacklisted on US markets.

"If necessary, appropriate measures will be taken to support these organisations in order to protect the interests of their customers, depositors and creditors," it said in a statement.

In addition, the Russian sanitary authority announced an import ban on Polish fruit and vegetables, adding that other EU countries may be soon targeted.

On the ground, little appear to have changed either.

Reuters reported Nato military commander General Philip Breedlove on Wednesday as saying that the number of Russian troops and weaponry along the border with Ukraine is increasing and is "well over 12,000".

EU in diplomatic push to save Iran deal

EU leaders mobilise to stop Trump's attack on Iran deal, as Congress prepares knife-edge vote with implications for trans-Atantic ties and Middle East stability.

Opinion

EU can still end Rohingya ethnic cleansing

If European leaders speak and act now, there's a chance ethnic cleansing could end before the last Burmese Rohingya is killed, captured, or exiled.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish Court declares Catalan referendum law void
  2. EU to keep 'Dieselgate' letter secret
  3. No deal yet on Mediterranean alliance for EU agencies
  4. EU Commission condemns Maltese journalist's murder
  5. Poland denies wrongdoing over forest logging
  6. Risk to asylum kids in EU increasing, says charity
  7. Schroeder warns of Turkey and Russia drifting towards China
  8. EU parliament wants equal pay for posted workers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU rejects UK claim it's slowing Brexit talks
  2. Nepal troops arrive in Libya to guard UN refugee agency
  3. Is Banking Authority HQ the Brexit 'booby prize'?
  4. EU-Russia trade bouncing back - despite sanctions
  5. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  6. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  7. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  8. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  2. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  3. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  4. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  8. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  9. CESIJoin CESI@Noon on October 18 and Debate On: 'European Defence Union: What Next?'
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews