28th Feb 2024

Even dead Russians could stay on EU blacklists

  • Russian president Vladimir Putin (r) at an official funeral back in 2014 (Photo:
Listen to article

The EU fears Russia will commandeer more European factories, according to new sanctions — which could see even dead Russians' money kept frozen.

Russians "benefitting from the compulsory transfer of ownership of, or control over, entities established in Russia that were previously owned or controlled by Union entities" can, in future, be subject to EU visa-bans and asset-freezes, the new EU sanctions say.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

They also include a special "derogation", under which Russian firms or oligarchs' frozen money in the EU can be paid out to European victims.

The permitted transfers would "enable the payment of the consideration agreed by the parties or for the compensation decided by a judicial or administrative authority ... in the context of the compulsory transfer of ownership or control by the government of the Russian Federation".

Russian president Vladimir Putin spooked those EU companies still doing business in Russia in July, when he seized the factories of French food-maker Danone and Danish brewer Carlsberg.

Putin passed them on to his cronies, including a nephew of Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov and businessman Taimuraz Bolloev.

The EU blacklisted a further 60 Russian individuals and 84 entities on Monday, including one of Putin's cousins, Russian officers and mercenaries, and officials who abused Ukrainian children, but not yet including the Danone or Carlsberg factories' new Russian owners.

The EU added several Russian drone-making firms and media companies to the blacklist, compared to an initial draft in November.

The new additions included Spas TV and Tsargrad TV.

Spas TV was "owned by the Russian Orthodox Church," the EU said, and "justifies Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine on religious and spiritual grounds".

Tsargrad TV was "justifying the illegal transportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and their subsequent adoption by Russian families", the EU said.

Meanwhile, two Kazakhstan-based firms got off the hook, compared to the November draft.

The EU had been intending to impose tougher export controls on Arba and Da Group on grounds they were helping Russia to buy prohibited technology, but their names were no longer on Monday's list.

The headline item in the EU's 12th round of sanctions since Putin invaded Ukraine almost two years ago was a ban on imports of Russian diamonds.

This prompted opposition memes of Russian tourists visiting the EU wearing hats and fur coats dripping with gems.

But the EU ban extended to any kind of "transit" of Russian diamonds across its borders.

And Russian "personal affects" could only enter the EU if they "do not pose significant circumvention concerns, such as personal hygiene items, or clothing worn by travellers or contained in their luggage, and which are clearly intended for their or their family members' strict personal use", Monday's sanctions said.

The EU also restricted Russian exports of iron, copper, and aluminium.

The sanctions regime — the EU's toughest ever — now covers almost 2,000 Russian VIPs and entities and bans over €130bn a year in trade.

Eternal freeze

Dozens of Russian oligarchs have sued the EU to get off the blacklist in pending cases.

Lobbying EU capitals and institutions was another way to get off EU blacklists in the past — but that is now illegal under EU sanctions and would have to be done clandestinely.

Previously, dying was the only automatic way of getting your name deleted and your fortune unfrozen.

But under Monday's decision, the EU will be free to hold onto the frozen money even posthumously.

This "sets out the conditions on which the [EU] Council is able to retain the name of a deceased person on the list ... [if] it considers there is a likelihood that the assets concerned would otherwise be used to finance Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine".

The EU deemed the measure necessary because clannish Kremlin ties meant that inherited wealth ended up in the same hands, politically speaking.

"It was needed, because the former automatism in delisting [deaths] was a source of concern," an EU diplomat said.

"Anyway, you never know if a guy like Prigozhin, for instance, is really dead or alive," he added, referring to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former Russian mercenary boss under EU sanctions said by Putin to have died in air accident in August, after he had earlier launched a mini-coup.


For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive

The EU Commission's 2022 CSDDD proposal did not include provisions incorporating "conflict due diligence", they were added, after the Russian invasion, by the European Parliament and Council into the final directive text — for Ukraine's sake, vote for it.

Latest News

  1. Macron on Western boots in Ukraine: What he really meant
  2. Amazon lobbyists banned from EU Parliament
  3. MEPs adopt new transparency rules for political ads
  4. EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash
  5. Memo from Munich — EU needs to reinvent democracy support
  6. For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive
  7. All of Orbán's MPs back Sweden's Nato entry
  8. India makes first objection to EU carbon levy at WTO summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us