Ukraine wants to take possession of Russian billionaire businessmen perceived to be in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, hit by devasting Western sanctions.
In an interview with Radio Liberty, Alexander Novikov, head of Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) said the agency is currently looking abroad for the assets of Russian citizens along with Prosecutor General’s Office in order to confiscate their property in favor of Ukraine.
Kyiv can achieve its intent by appealing to the International Criminal Court and the European Court of Human Rights, as well as to the national courts of countries that have launched an investigation into war crimes committed by Russia, Novikov said.“To date, EU countries have imposed sanctions on the property of 619 Russian persons, which means these assets will be frozen. Ukraine is working on taking possession of such assets,” he added.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova has created a coordination group headed by a representative of the NACP for this purpose.
“We work together with investigative journalists from different countries, with the Russian opposition, with international law firms, law enforcement agencies of the European Union and the United States. This whole process is headed by the Office of the Prosecutor General,” Novikov explained.
The official expects the number of sanctioned Russian citizens and companies to reach at least 6,000.
In his opinion, now “it is not the search for assets that is critical, but an increase of at least 10 times in the number of individuals and legal entities of the Russian Federation on which sanctions are imposed.”
Alisher Usmanov – among the richest in the world with net worth of around $17.6 billion – is said to be among those sanctioned by the U.S., UK and EU. He’s reportedly one of Putin’s ‘favorite’ oligarchs. Born in Uzbekistan while it was still part of the Soviet Union, he runs USM Holdings, a huge conglomerate that involves mining and telecoms, including Russia’s second biggest mobile network MegaFon.
“Not all the oligarchs close to Putin, who actually finance the war against Ukraine, have been sanctioned. In particular, sanctions have not been imposed on all members of the Russian government. Sanctions have been imposed only on every third enterprise of Russia’s military-industrial sector. Therefore, today it is extremely necessary to increase the number of sanctioned Russians from six hundred to six thousand people. I am sure that the all their assets will be found, frozen and expropriated in favor of Ukraine,” Novikov said.
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