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2 Russian billionaires win appeal against EU sanctions

The General Court of the EU revoked on Wednesday the restrictive measures imposed on Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, two Russian billionaires, between February 2022 and March 2023. The two were originally sanctioned in connection with Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven are significant shareholders of Alfa Group, a cooperation that includes Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s major financial institutions. They are under EU sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Council of the EU initiated actions to impose restrictive measures, including freezing their funds and economic resources, arguing that they provided support to Russian decision-makers. The council also alleged that their actions and policies had undermined or threatened Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

The General Court of the EU upheld the appeals of Aven and Fridman, annulling both the initial acts and the subsequent acts that maintained their inclusion on the lists of restrictive measures. The court ruled that the provided reasons in the initial acts were insufficiently substantiated. The maintaining acts were also deemed invalid since the council failed to present any additional evidence beyond what was relied upon in the initial acts. While acknowledging the potential connections between Aven, Fridman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin or his associates, the General Court concluded that there was no evidence demonstrating their support for actions or policies that threatened Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.

Lawyers for Aven and Fridman celebrated the court’s ruling, telling POLITICO that the accusations against their clients were entirely baseless. They emphasized the significance of the court’s decision and expressed hope that it would send a strong message within the EU and beyond.

Fridman, a Ukrainian-born Russian billionaire, was ranked as the ninth-richest Russian in 2023. His business interests encompass healthcare, technology, and energy companies, with operations in both Russia and other regions. In 2022, Ukraine authorities seized Fridman’s assets, alleging that he had transferred funds to Russia before the war, and use the bank to draw funds amidst possible sanctions and other coercive measures.

Article: 2 Russian billionaires win appeal against EU sanctions

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