Brussels stops branding Russian businessmen ‘oligarchs’
The word ‘oligarch’ – commonly used by EU officials to refer to Russian entrepreneurs targeted by sanctions – has been replaced with the more neutral ‘leading businessperson’ in the bloc’s latest documentation related to the issue.
The EU Council has also changed some of the reasons for including 140 individuals and 41 entities associated with Russia to its sanctions list.
The term ‘oligarch’ describes a rich business leader with a great deal of political influence, particularly with reference to individuals who benefited from the privatization of state-run industries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The term no longer appears in EU reports justifying the imposition of personal sanctions against Russian tycoons like Alisher Usmanov, Pyotr Aven, Roman Abramovich, and Oleg Deripaska. The word was also removed from depictions of President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with representatives of the country’s biggest businesses, which took place in February 2022.
Earlier this year, the EU Council clarified the formal criteria for introducing personal sanctions against Russian businessmen, having expanded the official reasons that allow Brussels to blacklist individuals related to the sanction-hit nation. Under the regulations, the EU can impose sanctions on leading businessmen operating in Russia, and businessmen operating in the economic sectors that are seen as a significant source of income for the country.
According to the latest changes, sanctions against Alexey Mordashov, the chairman of Russian steel giant Severstal, satisfy both criteria.
Meanwhile, the reasoning behind introducing penalties against Andrey Melnichenko – whose businesses include fertilizer producer EuroChem and the coal producer SUEK – is that the mogul continues to benefit from the wealth he transferred to his wife. Melnichenko was previously only identified as a former owner of the production groups.
The European Council also revealed the identities of four Russians, one of whom is deceased, who have been removed from its sanctions list. The bloc decided not to extend restrictions, which expire this week, against Russian businessman Grigory Berezkin, billionaire and former Federation Council member Farkhad Akhmedov, and the former head of Russian e-commerce firm Ozon, Aleksandr Shulgin. Brussels also removed Russian Army Colonel Georgy Shuvaev, who died in the autumn of 2022.
The decision not to renew penalties against the individuals was announced earlier this week, although the EU did not provide their names until Thursday.
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