Russian billionaires Fridman and Aven to contest 'spurious' EU sanctions

  • 2022-03-01

LONDON - Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven said they would contest the "spurious and unfounded basis" of European Union sanctions imposed for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Aven, who is the council chairman of Russia's Alfa-Bank, also holds Latvian citizenship. Meanwhile, Fridman is a co-owner of Alfa-Bank.

The EU on Monday sanctioned both Fridman and Aven, along with dozens of other prominent Russians.

The EU said "Aven is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs" and that Fridman had been "referred to as a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle."

"Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven... are profoundly shocked by the demonstrably false allegations made in the EU Regulation purporting to justify the basis on which they have been sanctioned," the businessmen said.

"Mr. Fridman and Mr. Aven will contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions - vigorously and through all means available to them – to reverse unwarranted and unnecessary damage to the livelihoods and prosperity of their many employees, customers, partners and stakeholders and the businesses that they and their partners have built up over the past 25 years."

Aven said it was wrong of the EU to say that he was an "especially close personal friend" of Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin. Fridman said it was untrue that he had “cultivated strong ties” to the administration of Vladimir Putin.

They both said it was untrue to state they "were unofficial emissaries for the Russian government" or that they had supported or benefited from Russian decision makers responsible for the destabilization of Ukraine.

"These are malicious and deliberate falsehoods – pure and simple, the product of historical fantasies and conspiracy theories dreamt up by private individuals with their own agendas," the two businessmen said.

"Sanctioning them based on disproven and malicious gossip will have no impact on Russia’s actions in Ukraine, because Pyotr and Mikhail have no financial or political relationship with President Putin or the Kremlin."

Meanwhile, Aven on Thursday attended a meeting between Putin and high-ranking oligarchs and state business leaders in the Kremlin, where Putin explained his arguments for starting a war and talked about measures to ease Western sanctions.

Latvian Justice Minister Janis Bordans admitted on Tuesday that the Ministry of Justice was looking for solutions to revoke the Latvian citizenship of Aven.

The Minister, as a politician, believes that Aven should be deprived of his citizenship, but in a legal way. Although Aven's grandfather was a Latvian rifleman, Bordans has previously advocated that people whose Latvian ancestors had previously left Latvia to receive citizenship must be loyal to the Republic of Latvia.