The UK has added Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former wife and family members to its sanctions list in a bid to target the financial network supporting Putin’s “luxury lifestyle,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.
The new sanctions are targeted at Putin’s “wallet” of family and friends, those whom the Russian leader “rewards with state positions and wealth in return for their undying loyalty,” the Foreign Office said on May 13.
Russia’s official records list only modest assets for Putin, including a small flat in St. Petersburg, two Soviet-era cars from the 1950s, a trailer, and a small garage.
But according to the UK government, Putin “relies on his network of family, childhood friends, and selected elite who have benefited from his rule and in turn support his lifestyle.”
Putin’s “lavish lifestyle” has regularly been on display, said the Foreign Office, citing reports exposing links to a £566 million ($693 million) yacht and a $1 billion ($1.2 billion) “Putin palace”—officially owned by his close associate Arkady Rotenberg, who was sanctioned by the UK in December 2020.
In a statement, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle. We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails.”
Among the newly sanctioned is Putin’s former wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya. Since her divorce from the president in 2014, she has benefited from “preferential business relationships with state-owned entities,” the Foreign Office said.
One of the most high-profile figures on the list is Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast who is widely reported to be Putin’s mistress. The Foreign Office said, “she is alleged to have a close personal relationship with Putin.”
Kabaeva previously sat as a deputy in the Duma for Putin’s United Russia and has risen to become chair of the board of the National Media Group, reportedly the largest private Russian media company. Her grandmother has also been sanctioned.
Igor Putin, Putin’s first cousin and director of Pechenga International Sea Port, has also been targeted, along with Mikhail Putin, another businessman and relative who is deputy chairman of the management board of energy giant Gazprom.
Roman Putin, a first cousin once removed, has been publicly open about his relation to the Russian president and emphasises how this family connection enabled his company, Putin Consulting, to help foreign investors in Russia, the Foreign Office said when sanctioning him.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, the UK has sanctioned more than 1,000 individuals and 100 entities.