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EU Court removes Russian oligarchs Fridman, Aven from sanctions list

by Martin Fornusek April 10, 2024 11:55 AM 2 min read
Russian billionaires and businessmen Mikhail Fridman (L) and Petr Aven (R) attend the plenary session of the Congress of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) on the sidelines of Russian Business Week in Moscow, Russia, on March 16, 2017. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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The EU Court of Justice ruled on April 10 to lift sanctions against Russian business tycoons Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, imposed in response to the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The ruling is a serious setback for the EU's efforts to punish business people involved in feeding Moscow's war of aggression. Fridman and Aven are some of the most high-profile Russian oligarchs to have their sanctions overturned.

"The General Court upholds the requests of Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman and annuls both the initial acts and the acts maintaining the lists of restrictive measures for the period from Feb. 28, 2022, to March 15, 2023," the court said in a statement.

While acknowledging "a degree of proximity between Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman and (Russian President) Vladimir Putin or his entourage," the court said that the EU failed to demonstrate that the two oligarchs "supported actions or policies that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine."

The ruling can be appealed within 2 months and 10 days of its announcement.

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Aven and Fridman are among the key figures of the Russian financial giant Alfa Group. Ukraine-born Fridman had previously lived in the U.K., where he was allegedly detained in 2022 for money laundering before being released on bail and returning to Russia last October.

Aven reportedly lives in Latvia, as he also holds Latvian citizenship.

The EU sanctioned the two oligarchs in February 2022, arguing that they "supported actions and policies that undermine or threaten" Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. The businessmen had also been sanctioned by the U.S. and Ukraine.

Investigative reporters uncovered in May 2023 that the Alfa Insurance firm, a subsidiary of Fridman and Aven's Alfa Bank, insures the vehicles of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. The company is also reported to provide services to Putin's Main Office of Special Programs, which guards him.

Ukraine decided in July 2023 to nationalize Sense Bank, a rebranded Ukrainian branch of Alfa-Bank, on the grounds that its owners are under sanctions.

Investigative Stories from Ukraine: Companies of Russian oligarch Fridman allegedly support Russian war effort in Ukraine
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