US slaps sanctions on Russian tycoons

Economic penalties target 7 Russian oligarchs, 17 senior Russian government officials
WASHINGTON: Washington slapped sanctions on dozens of Russian individuals and entities Friday, including seven Russian oligarchs and 17 senior Russian officials.
The widespread penalties are in retaliation for what Washington says are Moscow’s increasingly malign activities ranging from its annexation of Crimea to continued support of the Syrian regime, as well as its efforts “to subvert Western democracies, and malicious cyber activities”.
“The Russian government operates for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement announcing the economic penalties.
“Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from this corrupt system will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities.”
Those designated Friday include some of Russia’s richest men, among them energy tycoons Vladimir Bogdanov and Oleg Deripaska. Also sanctioned were Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian financier who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin; oil executive Igor Rotenberg; energy executive Kirill Shamalov; Russian billionaire businessman Andrei Skoch; and Putin’s ex-son-in-law Kirill Shamalov.
Twelve companies owned by the seven Russian businessmen were also sanctioned.
Among the government officials blacklisted Friday are Andrey Akimov, the chairman of state-owned Gazprombank, and Gazprom Neft board member Sergey Fursenko.
Under Friday’s actions, U.S. individuals are generally prohibited from doing business with the entities and individuals, and any assets they possess in the U.S. have been frozen.
-Weapons firm
The U.S. further sanctioned Rosoboroneksport, a Russian state-owned weapons trading firm the Treasury Department says has “longstanding and ongoing ties to the Government of Syria, with billions of dollars’ worth of weapons sales over more than a decade.”
Rosoboroneksport subsidiary Russian Financial Corporation Bank was also designated for its ties to the firm.
“Russia has contributed to the instability of the Government of Syria through the sales and transfer of Russian-origin military equipment in support of Assad’s regime, enabling Assad to continue carrying out attacks against Syrian citizens,” the Treasury Department said.
In a statement, Rosoboronexport said: “We are studying the document, final conclusions have not yet been drawn. However, the fact that precisely Rosoboronexport has been targeted, confirms the real purpose of sanctions.
“All these loud words and accusations are just a pretext to oust Russia from the global arms market. Rude and pragmatic. This is pure unfair competition.”
-Russia: This is robbery
Slamming the new sanctions, the Russian Foreign Ministry called them theft of Russian private property in the U.S.
“There have been more than five dozen U.S. attempts to put pressure on Russia,” it said in a statement on its website.
“With nothing to show for the previous 50 rounds, Washington continues to frighten with the refusal of American visas, and threatens Russian business with freezing property and financial assets, forgetting that taking private property is called robbery.”
“The forceful seizure of Russian diplomatic property shows that the once-sacred right to property became a mere phrase,” said the statement, branding the U.S. an “opponent of the free market economy,” and accusing it of “censoring” Russian TV channel RT.
No measures will turn Russia aside from its chosen course, said the ministry statement.–AA

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