Britain imposes sanctions on Putin’s alleged girlfriend Alina Kabaeva

Britain imposes sanctions on Putin’s alleged girlfriend Alina Kabaeva

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Friday announced a new wave of sanctions targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intimate circle of family and childhood friends, including his ex-wife, first cousins ​​​​and one Wife widely identified as his girlfriend, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva.

British officials said the 12 people in the latest tranche of sanctions are not brand oligarchs, jet-setting people who own football teams or huge oil and gas positions, but rather trusted fixers, relatives and childhood friends who are helping the Russian leader to hide and spend his fortune fortune.

The UK has become the first country to impose sanctions on 39-year-old Kabaeva, an Olympic rhythmic gymnastics champion and former cover model for Vogue Russia. Putin is 69 years old.

Kabaeva rose to become CEO of the National Media Group, reportedly Russia’s largest private media company and a source of war propaganda, officials said.

“She is said to have a close personal relationship with Putin and previously served as a member of the Duma for Putin’s United Russia,” Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement.

The British officials who briefed reporters said these friends and family members are not particularly talented at their jobs but are “constructed into positions” to help Putin, suggesting they are well-paid helpers “lurking in the shadows.” “.

The Kremlin has long denied a romantic relationship between Putin and Kabaeva. A Russian newspaper that ran a report in 2008 linking the two was mysteriously shut down soon after, although various reports suggest she is the mother of several of his children.

Kabaeva appears to have ended her athletic career around the time she was romantically involved with Putin. She later became a member of parliament for Putin’s ruling party, United Russia, and was one of six torchbearers during the opening ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

According to an April report in the Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration discussed imposing sanctions on Kabaeva but decided against it “at the last minute” amid fears that such a move would further escalate tensions between Russia and the United States would.

Putin has not acknowledged any relationship with Kabaeva, but British officials said measures have been taken to keep her out of the public eye since the start of the Ukraine war, including removing her name from Russian business websites.

The British sanctions list hit Putin very closely. These include Kabaeva’s grandmother, who the UK government says owns a luxury apartment in Moscow, and the Russian president’s ex-wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, former first lady of the Russian Federation.

Also on the list are Igor Putin, the President’s first cousin; Mikhail Putin, a relative; and Roman Putin, a first cousin once removed.

Britain and the United States had previously imposed sanctions on Putin’s daughters Maria Vorontsova, 36, and Katerina Tikhonova, 35. They are his children with Ocheretnaya.

The British government referred to the individuals as “enablers”.

“We are exposing and targeting the shady network that underpins Putin’s luxury lifestyle and exacerbating the vice in his inner circle,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement on Friday.

Britain is leading the sanctions campaign and has targeted more than 1,000 individuals and 100 companies, including oligarchs, worth $142 billion. British officials have said assets in the UK have been frozen in “tens of billions” of pounds.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday advised its citizens to refrain from traveling to the UK, warning visitors about the “extremely unfriendly course” Britain has taken and saying it was best not to travel “to avoid financial losses and other potential problems.” to avoid”.

Bryan Pietsch in Seoul contributed to this report.

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