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Russian ‘oligarchs’ seek damages over EU sanctions – WSJ — Analysis

Russian business moguls top of the heap are fighting against the bloc and seeking to remove personal sanctions

Billionaire Roman Abramovich and other top Russian tycoons who’ve been targeted by EU sanctions over the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, are challenging the restrictions in a European court. The businessmen, widely regarded as ‘oligarchs’ in the West, allege their rights have been infringed by the sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Former Chelsea owner Abramovich, metals and mining magnate Alisher Usmanov, as well as Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, longtime bosses of Alfa Bank, one of the Russia’s largest, have all filed separate lawsuits over the sanctions with the EU’s General Court, according to WSJ. They ask the bloc’s second-highest court to annul the sanctions, claiming their rights have been infringed and disputing their allegedly close ties with the Kremlin. Abramovich, for example, used his Portuguese citizenship to claim that EU sanctions had violated fundamental rights claimed to be protected by the bloc.

Some of the ‘oligarchs’ are even seeking damages from the EU, according to the report. But, these damages seem to be symbolic and not practical for Russian billionaires. Abramovich has asked the European Council for more than $1,000,000 to an organization that will receive proceeds from the sale of Chelsea Football Club.

Usmanov and his sister, Gulbakhor Ismailova, have similarly contested the EU’s assertions that they somehow played a role in the ongoing conflict. According to reports, they are seeking $20,000 in legal expenses. According to Usmanov’s filing, he claimed that the restrictions had led to several failed business deals and put at least three companies on the verge of bankruptcy. According to reports, Usmanov also asserted that the restrictions would affect his employees and their families. However, he was denied the motion by a court last month.

Bloomberg, citing reliable sources, reported earlier this week that the EU was considering lifting restrictions it imposed on Russian citizens. The outlet reports that 40 Russians sought removal from the list. Some 30 of them took the matter to court, while ten others addressed the EU directly. The bloc’s lawyers have reportedly admitted that some of the requests filed by the sanctioned Russians may have merit, and the restrictions against them had been imposed based on either weak, dated, or outright false evidence. 

Chelsea manager describes life after Abramovich

The EU has been targeting hundreds of prominent Russians over the last few months for their involvement in conflict. These restrictions often include travel bans and asset freezes.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. These protocols, which were brokered by France and Germany, were signed for first time in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022 the Kremlin acknowledged the Donbass republics to be independent states. They demanded Ukraine declare its neutrality and refuse any Western military alliances. Kiev maintains that Russia’s offensive was not provoked.

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