The European Union is set to lift sanctions on two Russian businessmen after a review of the restrictions imposed on individuals and entities as punishment for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.
(Bloomberg) — The European Union is set to lift sanctions on two Russian businessmen after a review of the restrictions imposed on individuals and entities as punishment for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.
The EU is expected to remove tycoons Grigory Berezkin and Farkhad Akhmedov from the list, the people said. The EU’s legal services asked for the change last month, the people said. Reuters earlier reported the plan for the two men.
The moves still require formal sign off and could still change before they’re adopted. The EU declined to comment, saying the process was ongoing.
Separately, billionaire Arkady Volozh, the co-founder of Yandex NV who publicly condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine in a statement last month, is expected to remain on the list for another six months at least, the people said.
While the US and UK have both previously lifted sanctions on some Russians, the two tycoons are the wealthiest Russians to get sanctions relief in the EU. They, and Volozh, developed their businesses and expanded their fortunes during Putin’s reign; however, none of them was seen as being particularly close to the Kremlin.
Azerbaijan-born Akhmedov, who currently lives in Baku, made much of his fortune from the sale of his stake in Russian gas producer Nortgas in November 2012 for $1.4 billion. In 2021 he settled the largest divorce in the UK, agreeing to pay his ex-wife around 135 million pounds ($186 million).
Russia-born Berezkin is the chairman of ESN group, which holds interests in energy and media businesses.
Read more: Yandex Founder Condemns Russian War as Deal to Split Firm Stalls
Volozh, who lives in Israel, was sanctioned in June last year, with the bloc saying Yandex, which runs Russia’s biggest search engine, supported Kremlin propaganda and narratives about the war. Domiciled in the Netherlands, Yandex has come under intense pressure both in Russia and abroad since the February 2022 invasion. Volozh, who said he had kept silent about the war initially as he attempted to help the company’s engineers leave Russia.
President Putin on Tuesday called the anti-war condemnations of businessmen like Volozh as little more than an attempt to safeguard their assets abroad. Putin called Volozh a “gifted” entrepreneur and wished him good health.
–With assistance from Stephanie Bodoni.
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