Wednesday 31 January 2018

US Treasury draws up "Kremlin List", including Lavrov and Medvedev

While this outrage that could potentially declare FM Lavrov persona no grata Russia has just saved America’s bacon:

Russian PM Medvedev, FM Lavrov & other top figures included in US Treasury’s ‘Kremlin List’
The entire Russian government is included in the US Treasury’s ‘Kremlin List,’ which also features scores of influential businessmen. Moscow slammed the report, saying it virtually amounts to a breakdown of ties.

Russian PM Medvedev, FM Lavrov & other top figures included in US Treasury’s ‘Kremlin List’

30 January, 2018

The document is part of a sanctions law signed by Trump in August,  which targeted Russia in retaliation for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election – a claim which still lacks any evidence.

The first part lists a total of 114 Russian political figures, including Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, head of the Presidential Administration Anton Vaino, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, as well as all Russian ministers, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials.

Apart from Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his deputies, the ‘Kremlin List’ features other top security officials, including head of Russian Security Service (FSB) Aleksandr Bortnikov.

It also names Dmitriy Kochnev, the head of the FSO – an agency tasked with protecting high-ranking state officials.

Viktor Zolotov, the head of the National Guard Service (Rosgvardiya), is also among the “big guns” mentioned by the US Treasury.

The Russian business world also has its fair share, with 96 businessmen, including the heads of the biggest banks – such as Sberbank and VTB – making the list. The heads of state gas company Gazprom and state oil company Rosneft, as well as the heads of major transport companies such as Russian Railways and Aeroflot are on the list.

The list also includes Russian tycoons Alisher Usmanov and Roman Abramovich. Uzbek-born billionaire Usmanov is among the world’s 100 richest people, with a net worth of more than $15 billion. He made his fortune through metal and mining operations, and also has shares in media companies and Arsenal Football Club.

Abramovich is arguably the most famous football-club owner from Russia, having purchased Chelsea FC in 2003 and invested millions signing superstar players for the team. Apart from his investment in sports, he also owns stakes in steel giant Evraz and Norilsk Nickel.

According to the report, people featured in the list were selected on the basis of “individuals’ official position in the case of senior political figures, or a net worth of $1 billion or more for oligarchs.”

Despite being a part of the sanctions law, the document notes that “it is not a sanctions list, and the inclusion of individuals or entities in this report… does not and in no way should be interpreted to impose sanctions on those individuals or entities.”

The report adds that it “does not create any other restrictions, prohibitions or limitations on dealing with such persons by either U.S. or foreign persons.”

Its intention is to “name and shame” Russian oligarchs, and to send a message that “Putin's aggression in terms of Russian interference in our elections will be very costly to them,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state who led the State Department Sanctions Office, as quoted by USA Today.

The report also has a “classified annex” that could include other people with a net worth below $1 billion, according to the US Treasury’s document.
Hitting back, Russian Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov slammed the US Treasury’s list, saying that it almost means a breakdown of bilateral relations.

Formally our countries have relations, but including in the sanctions list almost all our country’s leadership means that those relations automatically break down,” he said.

His colleague Konstantin Kosachev, head of the upper house’s Committee for International Relations, sarcastically noted that the US just “rewrote the Kremlin phone book” in a desperate attempt to find any compromising evidence on Russian officials. The senator also painted a grim picture of the move’s outcomes.

The consequences are extremely toxic and will undermine the prospects of cooperation for years to come. Those relations will never be normal, at least while Washington is ruled by the current generation of politicians,” Kosachev wroteon Facebook. He added that those politicians maintain a Cold-War mentality and are obsessed with the idea of “American exceptionalism.”

US Releases "Oligarch List" Identifying 210 Richest, Most Influential Russians

26 November, 2014

A day after President Donald Trump notified Congress that the sanctions bill it passed in August was sufficiently "serving as a deterrent", and that no new sanctions would be taken against individuals fingered in the bill, the Treasury Department quietly released the - now effectively meaningless - "Oligarchs List", to the relief of the Russian business and government elite.

Included in the list, which was published minutes before the midnight deadline, are 114 senior political figures, and 96 oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich - the owner of the Chelsea Football Club - Oleg Deripaska - purportedly a former client of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and tech entrepreneur Yuriy Milner.

According to the Financial Times, the Kremlin responded by saying the list amounted to a roster of "enemies of the United States," and had cast US-Russian relations into an "unprecedented situation."

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that President Vladimir Putin said the list complicates US-Russia relations, calling it "an unfriendly act." However, he said Russia would refrain from retaliating.

The Treasury Department was required to compile and publish a report on possible targets for US sanctions by a bill passed by Congress in August that was intended to make sure the Trump administration keeps pressure on the Kremlin over its military intervention in Ukraine.

After initially slipping following the publication of the list of names, Russian equities bounced back in early European trading as traders realized the list was less targeted than some had expected, or as some called it "much ado about nothing" and just a rehash of the Forbes richest Russians. By midday the Moex index of leading Russian shares was up 0.3%. The ruble climbed 0.1% to 56.25 to the dollar, bolstered by firming crude prices.  

The list was compiled based on “objective criteria drawn from publicly available sources,” Treasury said, including those with net worth of $1 billion or more for the oligarchs and high official position for the senior political figures.

Notably, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the Financial Minister Sergey Lavrov.

"They just included everybody, all the big businessmen, all the major bureaucrats," said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Financial Group, a Moscow brokerage, told Bloomberg

Government officials listed ranged from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Energy Minister Alexander Novak to the heads of state companies and Kremlin representatives in Russia’s regions.

As RT pointed out, some businessmen appeared to make the list just because they were successful:

Arkady Volozh - Worth $1.1 billion, Volozh is the founder and CEO of the Russia’s largest IT company, Yandex. The company is Google’s main rival on the Russian market, offering various services like a search engine, smartphone apps, its own in-house maps and navigation systems, music streaming service, and taxi service.
Sergey Galitsky - Sergey Galitsky is the founder and CEO of Magnit – Russia’s biggest supermarket chain and cosmetics retailer with more than 14,000 stores. His net worth is $4.4 billion, according to Forbes estimates.
Oleg Tinkov - Oleg Tinkov is the founder and owner of Tinkoff Bank, which has issued 6.4 million credit cards and has an almost 10% market share in Russia. Working online mostly, Tinkoff claims to be the largest internet bank in the world. Oleg Tinkov is worth $2.4 billion, according to Forbes.
Yuri Milner - Russia’s most influential tech investor, Yuri Milner was an early investor in Facebook and Twitter. He is worth $3.5 billion, and has interests in Chinese tech companies, including online retailers Alibaba and, and smartphone producer Xiaomi.

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