Sanctional Debut of Alekperov and Nabiullina

Sanctional Debut of Alekperov and Nabiullina

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On April 8, Australia published its own sanctions lists related to Russia's special military operation in Ukraine. The list of sanctioned representatives of Russia's top business and political circles can be called groundbreaking.

It includes several major figures that had previously not been put in the EU, U.S., UK and other countries’ lists of restrictions. In particular, Elvira Nabiullina, Chairwoman of the Central Bank of Russia, got on sanctions list due to the Australians. In this case, though, it is not the fact that she was finally put on the list that is surprising, but why other countries had not imposed any sanctions on Nabiullina previously. This is especially surprising given the fact that the Central Bank itself has been under restrictive measures in some jurisdictions almost since the beginning of the special operation since late February. Nabiullina's colleague in the financial bloc of the Russian leadership, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, is already included, for example, in the U.S. sanctions lists.

When compiling its lists, it seems as if the Australian government decided to do a favor to those Russian officials and oligarchs to whom their compatriots have been already given the cold shoulder. How is it that you are not under Western sanctions? Even the most Western-loyal oligarchs of the “first wave” like Fridman and Abramovich are already tightly mired in European, British, and American restrictions. For example, the main shareholder of Vagit Alekperov, Vladimir Potanin, and his namesake Yevtushenkov were not on the previous sanctions lists. However, representatives of the far continent have corrected the situation thanks to the Australians, in addition to the aforementioned owners of Lukoil, Nornickel and AFK Sistema, metallurgists Vladimir Lisin and Andrei Bokarev, co-owner of Evraz Alexander Abramov, financier Oleg Boiko are now among the businessmen sanctioned by Western countries for the first time. By the way, almost all of these entrepreneurs were also included in similar sanctions lists of the UK on April 13.

The latest Forbes list of the Russian billionaires, which will be traditionally published closer to the May public holidays, will probably have a new column to indicate in which countries the assets of this or that oligarch are frozen, where they are not allowed to enter, and where their planes and yachts are not waiting. In a couple of months, it may turn out that there will be no need for this column. The sanctions activities of foreign countries have gathered such momentum that soon there may not be a single person with any high position in the government or a major business that is not on a particular sanctions list.

Western politicians do not forget about our journalists. While it all began with the obvious candidates, the flagships of the Russian state media industry such as Margarita Simonyan, Dmitry Kiselyov, and Vladimir Solovyov since last week, it is not limited to them. The latest EU list includes other representatives of the “fourth estate,” Head of the Defense Ministry's Zvezda media holding company Alexei Pimanov, and the CEOs of TASS news agency, VGTRK and the St. Petersburg TV channel Sergei Mikhailov, Oleg Dobrodeyev, and Alexander Malkevich. The European diplomats also paid attention to the editors-in-chief of the most popular Russian tabloids, Komsomolskaya Pravda and Moskovsky Komsomolets, Vladimir Sungorkin and Pavel Gusev.

It is surprising to see RBC owner Grigory Berezkin on the list as this media outlet is unlikely to have any special sympathies for the authorities, although with the appearance of a new investor there in 2017, journalists of the publication had to learn to understand where the “solid double line” between media freedom and the interests of the state runs.

Political insiders point out that the introduction of new sanctions and restrictions only brings the Russian elite together. In reality, the “carpet bombing” of sanctions speaks to the sad fact that regardless of the duration of the Russian special operation in Ukraine and its final results, the reintegration of our businesses into the global economy will take a very long time and resources.

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