Vladimir Putin’s mistress, ex-wife and members of his extended family have been sanctioned by the UK government. The move was aimed at destabilising the Russian president’s ‘cabal of family, friends and elites’ who funded his lifestyle, the Foreign Office said.
It hopes the West closing in on his inner circle with ever-growing sanctions will put more pressure on Moscow following the invasion of Ukraine. While Putin’s assets appear to be modest, his ‘shady network’ of confidantes and companions have helped prop up his habits, 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,’ she announced. ‘We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails.’
The former KGB officer’s assets appear to be fairly unremarkable, with official records noting them to include a small flat in St Petersburg, two Soviet-era cars from the 1950s, a trailer and a small garage. However, he is said to have displayed a lavish lifestyle and has been linked to a £566million yacht and the $1billion ‘Putin palace’ which is officially owned by close associate, Arkady Rotenberg.
British authorities believe he relies on the ‘wallet’ of childhood friends and family as well as a handpicked set of elites who have benefited from his leadership and are now in turn helping him out. Among those who have been hit with sanctions, is retired Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who is widely reported to be Putin’s mistress.
A UK official described the pair as having a ‘close personal relationship’ while reports suggested she has not only been engaged to the Russian leader but has had children with him too. Kabaeva has since become chair of the board of the National Media Group, one of the largest private Russian media companies, and previously sat as a deputy in the Duma.
Former first lady of the Russian Federation and ex-wife of Putin, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, was also named on the sanctions list. Since her divorce from the president in 2014, she has benefited from ‘preferential business relationships with state-owned entities’, officials said.
Sanctions have been placed on Igor Putin, a first cousin of the leader and director of Pechenga International Sea Port. Also hit with punitive measures is Mikhail Putin, another businessman and relative who is deputy chairman of the management board of energy giant Gazprom.
Roman Putin, Putin’s first cousin once removed, has been publicly open about his relation to the president. He emphasises how this family connection enabled his company, Putin Consulting, to help foreign investors in Russia, the Foreign Office said as they announced sanctions against him.