Who in Ukraine Has Russia Imposed Sanctions On and Why?

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



On November 1st Russia published a list of Ukrainians on who personal sanctions were imposed. It includes almost all the deputy corps of Ukraine, most top officials, and a number of journalists and leaders of opinions. There are many businessmen in the list, among which there is only one fat cat. Besides natural persons in the resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation there are some tens of companies. “Strana” has analysed this list.

What is said about it in the document

A decree on sanctions against the Ukrainian authorities and businessmen who are close to them appeared on the website of the government of Russia on November 1st. It includes 322 physical and 68 legal entities.

In the document it is said that the persons included in this list can now expect the freezing of non-cash funds, paperless securities, and property on the territory of Russia. Also they are forbidden from transferring money outside of the borders of the Russian Federation. In general it is everything that was said in the decree of Putin that was issued at the end of October. The list of those who are under sanctions is as wide as possible, says the decree.

“Among natural and legal entities on who sanctions will imposed there are judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the VIII convocation, large Ukrainian businessmen, officials of the Administration of the President of Ukraine, heads of executive bodies of Ukraine and large Ukrainian companies, and legal entities controlled by the largest businessmen of Ukraine,” it is said in the document.

Who was included in Russia’s “black list”

Now we will analyse who was included in the document and according to what principle.

  • Verkhovna Rada

This includes the speaker of parliament Andriy Parubiy, and also almost all people’s deputies from the factions who voted for “anti-Russian” laws. However, a certain selective approach is also visible here. The “vertical” of the president Poroshenko is touched in an odd way.

Thus, the people’s deputy Aleksandr Granovsky – who, according to our information, supervises the courts under Poroshenko’s reign – was included in the sanctions list. But the “grey eminence” of the president Igor Kononenko, who placed his people in state industries, wasn’t affected.

Also the president’s representative in the Rada Irina Lutsenko (there is only her husband, who is Prosecutor-General Yury Lutsenko) wasn’t included in the list. However, the informal head of the campaign headquarters of the president Igor Gryniv was included in the list.

Looking ahead, we will say that Petro Poroshenko isn’t under sanctions – although his son, the People’s Deputy Aleksey Poroshenko, was included in the document.

Almost all the leaders of factions were included in the list – Artur Gerasimov (“Bloc of Petro Poroshenko”), Maksim Burbak (“People’s Front”), Oleg Berezyuk (“Samopomich”), Oleg Lyashko (“Radical Party”), and even Yulia Tymoshenko (“Fatherland”).

The presence of the latter in the list is especially interesting – the speakers supporting Poroshenko call Yulia an “agent of the Kremlin”. So on the one hand it takes away an important trump card from the president – the guarantor already now builds a campaign against Tymoshenko with the main thesis “Yulia is Putin’s friend”.

On the other hand, it’s as if Tymoshenko’s inclusion in Moscow’s list erases the hopes of a certain layer of people who intend to vote for the leader of “Fatherland” for the purpose of ending the Donbass war and the conflict with Russia. In other words, it’s as if the sanctions hint that Tymoshenko is same “president of war” as Poroshenko.

An exotic inclusion in the Russian sanctions list is the people’s deputy Mikhail Gavrilyuk, better known as Cossack Gavrilyuk.

Also, some deputies from the groups “Will of the People” (Oles Dovgy) and “Revival” (the people’s deputy Geller, who is close to Kolomoisky) was included in the list.

  • Cabinet of Ministers and the Presidential Administration
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In the list there is practically all the ministers who in this or that way are active on the basis of anti-Russian statements or forceful opposition concerning Donbass.

Thus, from the Cabinet of Ministers the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and a number of his deputies, the Minister of Infrastructure Vladimir Omelyan, the Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak were included in the list, and from the General Staff – Viktor Muzhenko.

It should be noted that from the ranks of the army for some reason there isn’t the commander of the Operation of United ForcesSergey Nayev (who has, as is known, Crimean roots – his relatives still live on the peninsula).

The “cultural bloc” – the Deputy Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kirilenko, the Minister of Culture Evgeny Nishchuk, and the head of the Ministry of Education Liliya Grinevich  – was fully included in the sanctions list.

The list also includes the head of the Ministry of Affairs of the Occupied Territories Yury Grymchak and the “Minister of truth” Yury Stets. In addition, the acting head of the Ministry of Healthcare Ulana Suprun was included in the list.

But the economic-financial bloc of the Cabinet of Ministers was not touched, including the Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman who wasn’t included in the list either because he is more involved in the economy than in Ukrainisation, or for the same reason that Petro Poroshenko isn’t mentioned in the list: a probable refusal to include the top officials of the state in the list.

By the way, the officials of the Presidential Administration are also in the list – beginning with the head of the Presidential Administration Igor Raynin. The main lobbyist of autocephaly Rostislav Pavlenko was also included in the list. But the former head of the administration Boris Lozhkin wasn’t included in the list.

  • Siloviki

As was already mentioned, Arsen Avakov and Yury Lutsenko were placed on the sanctions list. Besides this, in the decree of the Government of the Russian Federation there is also the head of the SBU Vasily Gritsak, and also his deputy Pavel Demchina, who is Poroshenko’s departmental “mole”.

In the list there is also the head of the National Police Sergey Knyazev. It is worth separately mentioning the National Security and Defense Council: both its secretary Aleksandr Turchynov, and his deputy and man of Poroshenko Oleg Gladkovsky were included in the list.

It is interesting that the scandalous deputy head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Semochko was also included in the list. The day prior journalists found out that he has big ties with the Russian Federation.

  • Businessmen

The largest Ukrainian oligarch in the list is Viktor Pinchuk. Also there is the agrarian magnate from Petro Poroshenko’s environment Yury Kosyuk. There is one more agrarian – Aleksey Vadatursky.

Also under sanctions there is Aleksandr and Galina Gerega, who have a construction business and recently seriously increased their capital.

On the list there is also Konstantin Grigorishin, who owns many Ukrainian regional energy companies. It is interesting that he is considered to be a Ukrainian-Russian businessman – and here the wide field for sanctions opens.

In the list there is also Pavel Fuks, who until recently had a large-scale business in Russia.

By the way, he left because of problems with the authoritative senator Aleksandr Shishkin (who accuses Fuks of “taking away” a large sum of money from him). Therefore the path to Russia has been closed for Fuks. At the same time, many in Ukraine still consider him to be almost a “liaison” with Moscow.

In the resolution there is also Kolomoisky’s partner Gennady Bogolyubov – while Kolomoisky himself wasn’t included in the list, as well as the richest person in Ukraine Rinat Akhmetov. There is no Dmitry Firtash, but there is his business partner Ivan Fursin. And in the list of sanctioned enterprises there are about 7 objects that belong to Firtash. But his top managers were included in the list abundantly – the CEO of the “SKM” holding belonging to Akhmetov, Oleg Popov, and also the head of “Metinvest”, which is a part of “SKM”, Yury Ryzhenkov. 

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One more sanctioned businessman is Leonid Yurushev, who has Greek nationality and is rumoured to support Arseniy Yatsenyuk and People’s Front.

But Andrey Adamovsky, who is the partner of the aforementioned Granovsky, isn’t present in the list. Although as “Strana” proved the other day, this businessman has two large agricultural firms in the annexed Crimea.

It is interesting that in the sanctions list there is also the Buryak brothers – the former owners of “Brokbusinessbank”, who sold it before Maidan to Sergey Kurchenko and hasn’t participated in Ukraine’s political life since then.

  • City mayors

Here it is easier to say who isn’t in the list: the mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klitschko, the head of Lvov Andrey Sadovyi, the mayor of Odessa Gennady Trukhanov, and the mayor of Kharkov Gennady Kernes. But the governor of Dnepr Boris Filatov fell under sanctions.

  • Nationalists

Sanctions were imposed on almost all well-known Ukrainian nationalists – from Oleg Tyagnibok to Dmitry Korchinsky, from Andrey Biletsky to Evgeny Karas and Larisa Nitsoy. And, of course, Irina Farion.

  • Leaders of opinions

From journalists, political scientists, and bloggers the TV host of “Espreso” Vitaly Portnikov, the political scientist Aleksey Golobutsky, and also the heads of Ukrainian TV channels – Egor Benkendorf (112), Aleksandr Tkachenko (1+1), Vladimir Borodyansky (STB), Aleksandr Bogutsky (ICTV) – were included in the list.

At the same time it is curious that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine also suggests to impose sanctions on the “112” TV channel. The main motive is that it allegedly belongs to Vladimir Putin’s godfather Viktor Medvedchuk and is engaged in “pro-Russian propaganda”.

Now, it turns out that Russia is also imposing sanctions on the head of the “112” TV channel. Although it’s possible that Moscow hasn’t updated its databases and Benkendorf is still registered there as the chairman of the board of the “Inter” TV channel (he left this post in 2016).

From the conventional media managers specified in the sanctions document it is possible to name some people’s deputies – Viktoriya Syumar (the head of the Freedom of Speech Committee), Mustafa Nayyem, and Sergey Leshchenko, who are former journalists who remain leaders of opinions.

Interestingly, in the list there is no Arkady Babchenko, who, according to the SBU, Russia wanted to liquidate and send a killer to.

Consequences of the sanctions

It should be noted that the vast majority of the inclusions in the list have hardly any economic interests in Russia .

As the people’s deputy Mikhail Dobkin ironically noted, “actually, from all the persons included in the sanctions list person No. 49 suffered the most – the People’s Deputy cossack Gavrilyuk. After all, when his deputy powers will come to an end, he won’t be able to do construction work in the Russian Federation because of personal sanctions”.

That’s why there is a reason to consider most of the names from a purely political point of view – Moscow publicly declared who it doesn’t like in Ukraine.

There is a completely different situation with the business part of the list. Despite the fact that in recent years Ukrainian oligarchs seek not to advertise their ties with Russia, they [these ties – ed], nevertheless, didn’t disappear anywhere, even concerning representatives of the environment of the president. Not to mention the businessmen who are less close to the authorities. That’s why there will be certain consequences for them.

“A number of large Ukrainian companies (in particular Rinat Akhmetov’s enterprises) in the past took out loans from banks of Russian origin. Now the deterioration of conditions vis-a-vis servicing credits can await them,” said one of the representatives of large business who “Strana” managed to talk to.”In addition to this, many non-advertised schemes for earning money in Russia can be blocked. In general, it is especially the representatives of the largest Ukrainian financial-industrial groups that are the main targets of sanctions, and not politicians. Russia is dissatisfied with the fact that they come to Moscow, go about their business, say how they don’t like the post-Maidan authorities, about how they want peace in Donbass and the restoration of relations with Russia, and then come back to Ukraine and do what they are told to do by Bankova Street. For example, concerning the information policy of TV channels and supporting or not supporting these or those candidates during elections. It is because of this that many processes stall. Including, for example, the reunification of political forces of the Southeast. Moscow is fed up of this. And the current sanctions is only the beginning. For example, certain politicians and businessmen who own businesses in Russia and would be most of all affected by sanctions haven’t yet been placed on the list”.

The political scientist Ruslan Bortnik laid out the vision of the sanctions on his Facebook page:

  1. This in general doesn’t really look like sanctions – compare them to the American or even the Ukrainian ones, but it is most likely an invitation to conversation. This is purpose No. 1.

  2. Aim No. 2 is to bring disorder in the Ukrainian political elite. Should we wait for the fight ‘agents of the Kremlin’ versus ‘enemies of the Kremlin’? It is precisely for this reason that strange persons and companies were included in the ‘sanctions’ list, and 10 times more strange ones weren’t included in the list…

  3. The list was formed by at least two (key) centers of decision-making:

    3.1. On natural persons – this is an assessment of their activity regarding Ukrainian-Russian relations. At this time some receive a finger wagging, some are beckoned, some are given greetings by business partners in the Russian Federation, and some are trolled or frankly given PR in the nationalist political segment … of Ukraine. For some the award ‘enemy of the Kremlin’ during elections will be more valuable than a star of ‘hero of Ukraine’;

    3.2. On legal entities – the lobbyist approach of Russian companies dominates, who thus try to force out Ukrainian competitors from the Russian markets – first of all, agrarian production, pharmaceutics, and so on.

    Well, it’s understandable – if indeed there is now such ‘heat’, then why not profit from it.

  4. This decision is also the answer to the ‘internal Russian question’ – why do they do it against us, but we don’t do the same in return?

  5. Having expanded sanctions – in a way where everything is up in the air – against the companies controlled by sanctioned natural and legal entities, the Russian Federation threatened any Ukrainian or related company with sanctions. Special greetings to Petro Poroshenko via Poroshenko Jr.

  6. Having given the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation the right to add new persons to the list or to exclude some from the list whenever it wants to, the Russian Federation tries to make these sanctions long-term entertainment.

  7. There will certainly be economic losses for Ukrainian exportation to the Russian Federation ($3.4 billion for the first half of the year 2018), but they won’t become critical for the economy (in 5 years export has anyway fallen fourfold). Although cutting many jobs (first of all in the agrarian sector) is very probable.

  8. The probability of toughening the political-economic standoff between the Russian Federation and Ukraine up to a visa regime and the severance of railway communications has significantly increased. And Petro Poroshenko received a continuation of his favourite series.

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