The European Union has named and blacklisted two Russian military commanders it says led troops involved in atrocities in Ukraine, describing them as the “butchers” of the town of Bucha and the town of Mariupol.
The latest EU blacklist, published on Friday, targets 65 more people for sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions also included a ban on most Russian oil imports to the EU and the withdrawal of Russia’s main lender, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payment system.
Among those named on the list is Azatbek Omurbekov, who the EU says led Russian troops as they “killed, raped and tortured civilians in Bucha”, earning him the nickname “Bucha’s Butcher”. “.
Also named is Mikhail Mizintsev, a Russian general who the EU says oversaw the siege and bombardment of the city of Mariupol that killed thousands of civilians.
Russian rocket and artillery attacks on the port city hit a maternity ward and theater, killing hundreds of children, said the EU, which dubbed Mizintsev “the butcher of Mariupol”.
Russia has denied killing civilians in Bucha and Mariupol, saying evidence of civilian killings and the theater and maternity hospital bombing was staged to incriminate Moscow.
Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Russia of trying to deflect blame for atrocities committed by its forces in Ukraine.
Another significant addition to the EU blacklist, which now includes more than 1,100 names in total, is Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnastics medalist and then an MP for Putin’s United Russia party.
In 2008, Russian newspaper Moskovsky Korrespondent named Kabaeva as Putin’s girlfriend. Putin dismissed the claim. The newspaper closed shortly after the article appeared.
‘Lack of independence’
The EU also cited Elizaveta and Nikolay Peskov, the children of Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, as well as Peskov’s wife – former ice skating champion Tatiana Navka.
Peskov was quoted by Russian news agency TASS as saying the EU proved its “lack of independence” by blacklisting his family after the United States did. He said his daughter had studied in France and loved the country, but was now working and living in Russia.
Aleksandra Melnichenko, the wife of Russian billionaire businessman Andrey Melnichenko, was also named to the list after becoming the beneficial owner of her husband’s businesses.
The businessman was blacklisted in March but sought to avoid commercial damage to his businesses – fertilizer producer EuroChem and coal company SUEK – by transferring ownership of his companies to his wife through a chain of trusts stretching from Moscow to Bermuda, a Reuters news agency investigation has revealed. .
“In March 2022, Aleksandra Melnichenko replaced her husband as the beneficial owner of Firstline Trust, managed by Linetrust PTC Ltd, a company which represents the ultimate owner of the EuroChem Group,” the EU noted on Friday.
The latest sanctions also hit Arkady Volozh, who immediately resigned as chief executive of Yandex – the Russian internet giant in which state-owned banks including Sberbank have a stake, the EU said. Yandex, which is not subject to EU sanctions, promoted state narratives and reduced the visibility of content critical of the Kremlin, including about the war in Ukraine, the EU said.
Yandex shares fell 10% after the EU announced on Friday, the 100th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company’s share then recouped a 6% loss.
The EU also hit Russia’s National Settlement Depository, which Moscow planned to use to service the country’s Eurobonds after Citibank pulled out, raising the risk of a major foreign debt default. by Russia.