Russian oligarchs to contest ‘spurious’ EU sanctions

Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven deny that they are especially close to Putin

Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven said they would contest the "spurious and unfounded basis" of European Union sanctions imposed for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The EU on Monday sanctioned both Mr Fridman and Mr Aven, along with dozens of other prominent Russians. The EU said “Aven is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs” and that Mr Fridman had been “referred to as a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle.”

"Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven. are profoundly shocked by the demonstrably false allegations made in the EU Regulation purporting to justify the basis on which they have been sanctioned," the businessmen said.

“Mr Fridman and Mr Aven will contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions – vigorously and through all means available to them – to reverse unwarranted and unnecessary damage to the livelihoods and prosperity of their many employees, customers, partners and stakeholders and the businesses that they and their partners have built up over the past 25 years.”

Mr Aven said it was wrong of the EU to say that he was an "especially close personal friend" of Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin. Mr Fridman said it was untrue that he had "cultivated strong ties" to the administration of Mr Putin.

They both said it was untrue to state they “were unofficial emissaries for the Russian government” or that they had supported or benefited from Russian decision makers responsible for the destabilisation of Ukraine.

“These are malicious and deliberate falsehoods – pure and simple, the product of historical fantasies and conspiracy theories dreamt up by private individuals with their own agendas,” the two businessmen said.

“Sanctioning them based on disproven and malicious gossip will have no impact on Russia’s actions in Ukraine, because Pyotr and Mikhail have no financial or political relationship with President Putin or the Kremlin.” – Reuters

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