New US sanctions against Putin’s rumored girlfriend in the midst of the Ukraine conflict

A woman identified in press accounts as Vladimir Putin’s lifelong love interest is among the Russian elites who are the subject of a new wave of U.S. sanctions.

Alina Kabaeva, a former state Duma member and Olympic gymnast in her childhood, has had her visa blocked by the government, according to the Treasury Department, which also announced various property limitations. She is also the CEO of a Russian national media organization, according to the department, which supports Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sanctions against Kabaeva have been demanded by Kremlin critics and imprisoned Russian rights activist Alexey Navalny because they claim that her news organization was the first to characterize Western opinion on the invasion as a disinformation campaign.

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In May, the U.K. sanctioned Kabaeva, and in June, the EU placed asset and travel restrictions on her.

Also named in Treasury’s current sanctions package is Andrey Grigoryevich Guryev, an oligarch who owns the Witanhurst estate, a 25-bedroom home that is the second-largest estate in London after Buckingham Palace.

The Alfa Nero, his $120 million yacht, was also listed as banned property. His son Andrey Andreevich Guryev and his son’s Russian business company Dzhi AI Invest OOO were also sanctioned.

“What we’ve observed is that the US government has determined that a lot of oligarchs are utilising family as a vehicle to escape sanctions,” says Christian Contardo, a former Treasury attorney who is currently with Lowenstein Sandler LLP.

Some oligarchs, he claimed, “would transfer ownership to their spouses and children.”

The United States placed sanctions on Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, two of Putin’s adult daughters, in April.

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Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, the chairman of the board of directors for the Russian steel producer Publichnoe Aktsionernoe Obschestvo Magnitogorskiy Metallurgicheskiy Kombinat, also known as MMK, and its affiliates were also targeted for financial penalties.

In addition, 893 Russian Federation officials, including Federation Council and military members, would have their visas blocked, according to today’s State Department report.

Putin’s supporters “have enriched themselves and supported luxurious lifestyles while innocent people suffer from Russia’s illegal war of aggression,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

“The United States will also continue to choke off the funding and equipment supporting Russia’s unwarranted conflict in Ukraine, together with our friends.”

According to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “we will continue to promote responsibility for President Putin and his cronies whose actions have caused so much pain and destruction in Ukraine and will reassert our support for the brave people of Ukraine.”

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