US names Kremlin outliers in ‘phone book’ sanctions report

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A list of wealthy Russians close to the Kremlin released by the United States on Tuesday included businessmen who distanced themselves from the Kremlin or even fell victim to the Russian ruling elite.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with his relatives ahead of the next presidential election in Moscow, Russia, January 30, 2018. REUTERS / Grigory Dukor

The US Treasury Department has named 210 people, including 96 “oligarchs” with wealth of $ 1 billion or more, to a list of people considered close to the Kremlin as part of a sanctions package signed in August. Last year.

Those included will not be immediately subject to sanctions, but may face sanctions. President Vladimir Putin called the list an “unfriendly act” that would further complicate relations between Moscow and Washington.

Some of those named, however, have publicly clashed with the Kremlin and moved their assets overseas, or been prosecuted and their businesses attacked by people close to Putin.

Senior Russian officials and business leaders, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, also noted that the US report bears similarities to the Forbes ranking of Russian billionaires and public lists of Russian billionaires. government employees.

“List compilers have demonstrated a good knowledge of Internet resources,” joked a Kremlin close and influential businessmen. “They also found the Forbes listings … serious, thoughtful work.”

A spokesperson for the US Treasury confirmed that the list of oligarchs was taken from public sources, including Forbes. There is no regulatory definition of oligarch, he said, so the Treasury Department set the threshold of $ 1 billion, which was also the same criterion used by Forbes.

One person whose listing surprised people in Moscow is Vladimir Yevtushenkov, a billionaire who was placed under house arrest in 2014 for alleged money laundering and has since clashed with powerful oil boss Igor Sechin. , head of Rosneft. ROSN.MM and a longtime confidant of Putin.

Russian conglomerate Sistema AFKS.MM, who owns the assets of Yevtushenkov, has spent much of the past year in a costly legal dispute with Rosneft over the privatization of a smaller oil company. Sistema did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sistema agreed to pay Rosneft 100 billion rubles ($ 1.79 billion) as part of a settlement agreement in late December and has lost 40% of its market value since the legal battle erupted in early May.

A senior official close to the Kremlin said the inclusion of Sergei Galitsky, CEO and majority owner of Russian food retailer Magnit MGNT.MM, and Dmitry Kamenshchik, owner of Russia’s second largest airport, was also “illogical”.

A spokesperson for Kamenshchik declined to comment immediately. Magnit did not respond to a request for comment.

Galitsky is not considered close to Putin, and a 20 billion ruble ($ 350 million) football stadium he built in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar has been scrapped for the Cup of the world 2018.

A Western banker in Moscow said he was surprised to see Galitsky on the list. “Why the hell is he here?” ” he said.

Kamenshchik spent more than four months under house arrest in 2016 on charges related to security measures at Moscow airport he owned at the time of a terrorist attack in 2011.

Asked for comment on Tuesday, a source from a company whose CEO has been named on the list compared the US report to a “phone book.”

” What is that ? Said the source. “An obtuse comprehensive list of political leaders, plus the Forbes list.” Work on the Titanic has been done.

Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Katya Golubkova and Darya Korsunskaya in Moscow and Joel Schectman in Washington; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Giles Elgood and James Dalgleish

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Marvin M. Moreno

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