Putin’s ex-wife, family members targeted in latest UK curbs

Saturday, May 14, 2022

LONDON: The mistress, ex-wife and family members of Russian president Vladimir Putin have been added to the ever-growing UK sanctions list as Liz Truss looks to target the “shady network propping” up the leader.

The Foreign Office said Friday’s announcement of further measures would see members of Putin’s close and inner circle hit as the UK government continues to seek new ways of punishing Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Putin’s official assets are modest, according to the Foreign Office, with his lifestyle “funded by a cabal of family, friends and elites”.

Foreign Secretary Ms Truss said: “We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle. We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails.”

One of the most high-profile figures on the list is Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast who is widely reported to be Putin’s mistress.

A UK official described her as having a “close personal relationship” with the former KGB officer. Unconfirmed reports suggest the 2004 Athens gold medallist has been engaged to the Russian leader and has had his children.

Official records list the Kremlin leader’s assets as being fairly unnoteworthy, including a small flat in St Petersburg, two Soviet-era cars from the 1950s, a trailer, and a small garage.

But UK aides said that in reality the 69-year-old relies on his “wallet” of family, childhood friends, along with a hand-picked set of elites, who have benefited from his rule and in turn support his lifestyle.

The reward for such people is influence over the affairs of the Russian state that goes far beyond their formal positions, the Foreign Office said.

Despite officially owning few assets, Putin is said to have displayed a lavish lifestyle, with the Whitehall department pointing to reports exposing links to a £566 million yacht and a $1 billion ‘Putin palace’ – officially owned by close associate, Arkady Rotenberg, who was sanctioned in December 2020.

Those newly placed on the sanctions list, which has grown to more than 1,000 individuals and 100 entities, include former first lady of the Russian Federation and ex-wife of Putin, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya.

Since her divorce from the president in 2014, Ms Ocheretnaya has benefited from “preferential business relationships with state-owned entities”, officials said.

Igor Putin, a first cousin of the leader and director of Pechenga International Sea Port, has also been targeted, along with Mikhail Putin, another businessman and relative who is deputy chairman of the management board of energy giant Gazprom.

Roman Putin, a first cousin once removed, has been publicly open about his relation to the president and emphasises how this family connection enabled his company, Putin Consulting, to help foreign investors in Russia, the Foreign Office said when sanctioning him.

The announcement comes after the Foreign Secretary urged a meeting of G7 foreign ministers to maintain sanctions against Russia until it has fully withdrawn from Ukraine.