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10th Dec 2022

Russian ideologue and caviar on latest EU blacklist

  • Alexander Dugin (r) "ideologically and theologically" justified Russia's aggression, the EU proposals said (Photo: Fars Media Corporation)
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The EU is aiming to blacklist Russian celebrity philosopher Alexander Dugin and strike at Russia's oil, steel, and forestry industries in its latest sanctions, new proposals say.

It's also set to hit Russian diamond-mining giant Alrosa, but spare the rest of the diamond sector, while banning imports of caviar, vodka, and cigarettes.

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  • Alrosa operates huge mines in remote Russian regions (Photo: alrosa.ru)

The EU Commission and foreign service put forward the ideas on Wednesday (28 September) in reaction to Russia's plan to annex parts of eastern Ukraine.

They also contained prohibitions on EU nationals working with the Kremlin.

Dugin was to face a visa-ban and asset-freeze because he urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to go to war to create "a totalitarian, Russia-dominated Eurasian empire, which includes Ukraine for historical, religious, and geographical reasons", an internal EU document, seen by EUobserver, said.

Pro-war music stars Yulia Chicherina, Oleg Gazmanov, and Nikolay Rastorguyev, as well as Russian arms industry barons Aleksandr Kochkin and Alan Luahnkikov, also featured on the new blacklist.

But most of the 29 individuals were little-known officials involved in fake independence referendums in Russia-occupied Ukraine.

Symbolic names aside, the commission fleshed out plans to impose a cap on Russian oil prices.

Shipping firms and insurers will be forbidden from handling Russian oil unless its "purchase price per barrel" is "at or below a pre-established price cap set by the Price Cap Setting Body of the G7+ Price Cap Coalition", it said, referring to a club of Western states.

The EU will oversee an "attestation process" in which firms will have to "demonstrate that it [oil] has been purchased at or below the price cap", it added.

It also aims to restrict new contracts with Russian oil giants Gazprom Neft, Rosneft, and Transneft.

There is to be a blanket ban on imports of Russian steel, from industrial rolls to "sewing needles", and on all forestry products, including wood, pulp and paper, as part of an EU trade embargo worth €7bn.

This includes Russian shellfish, caviar, spirits, cigarettes, and cosmetics.

Russia's diamond sector was mostly spared, but Russian diamond-mining giant Alrosa should be put on an asset-freeze and financial transaction blacklist, the commission proposed.

It said the firm had sponsored an 'Alrosa' naval submarine and that Putin had boasted its €5.8 billion a year income gave him "serious revenues".

The Commission proposals were designed to please all 27 EU capitals, following consultations last weekend.

EU ambassadors will discuss the final decision on Friday, the same day Putin is due to annex Ukrainian territories, and details of the new sanctions are still subject to change.

Hungary, for instance, vetoed the blacklisting of another Russian cultural treasure (patriarch Kirill) in June and Putin-friendly Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán is now saying EU sanctions have "backfired".

In other tensions, Baltic states, Ireland, and Poland are pushing for a full embargo on Russian diamonds, but Belgium stands to lose thousands of jobs in its Antwerp diamond-trading centre if that was to go ahead.

"The aim is to have a deal [on Russia sanctions] before the Prague Summit," an EU diplomat said, referring to an EU leaders' meeting next week.

Russia's servants

Meanwhile, the EU proposals also take aim at Russia's friends in Europe.

They are to prohibit EU nationals from taking executive jobs at major Russian state firms, after a string of top Austrian, French, and German politicians joined Russian companies before the war.

They ban provision of accountancy, architectural, engineering, IT, and legal services to Russian firms and individuals. The legal ban refers to "non-contentious" commercial services only, so that Russians still have right of representation in EU courts, the commission documents said.

Individuals who help Russia to circumvent EU sanctions will also be blacklisted in future, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell promised press in Brussels on Wednesday.

"Sanctions work. Sanctions matter, but they have to be maintained over time," he said. The new package of EU measures was a "biting" one, commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

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