The European Court found sanctions against two Russian oligarchs illegal - ForumDaily
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The European Court found sanctions against two Russian oligarchs illegal

Lawyers achieved the reversal of decisions on European sanctions against two Russian oligarchs. But for now, Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman remain under punitive measures, reports Guardian.

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Photo: iStock.com/CatLane

The European Court ruled that the Council of the European Union did not provide sufficient evidence to establish the involvement of oligarchs Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman in actions that “undermine or jeopardize the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

The EU Supreme Court overturned the sanctions imposed on these oligarchs in 2022-2023.

About how the US introduced sanctions against Russia because of Navalny’s death, read in our material.

"Day of the Oligarch's Triumph"

Aven and Fridman were placed on the EU sanctions list shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. According to the Council of the European Union, Fridman and Aven provided material or financial support to the Russian authorities, supported actions and policies of the Russian Federation that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine. Announcing the sanctions in February 2022, the Council called Aven “one of the oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin.” The council also stated that Fridman “managed to establish strong ties with the administration of Vladimir Putin.”

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Along with dozens of other Russian oligarchs, Aven and Fridman challenged the sanctions in EU courts, calling them “false and unfounded.”

On April 10, the court ruled that billionaires should not have been included in the list between February 2022 and March 2023.

In particular, the court noted that the degree of closeness of businessmen to Putin and his entourage does not prove that they supported, including financially, the actions and policies of the Russian authorities towards Ukraine. This decision will be seen as a serious blow to the EU sanctions regime against Moscow. The Council of the European Union may appeal.

The decision on Wednesday, April 10, will likely pave the way for these billionaires to have sanctions lifted through a separate appeal against the March 2023 action.

“This is the day Putin won a victory in the European courts. This is the day of declaration of impunity and irresponsibility for the war. You can also designate it as “the day of the oligarch’s triumph.” There will be a big party in the Kremlin. Sanctions have been lifted from the oligarchs Fridman and Aven. They did not speak out against the war. They run their business in Russia. Naturally, they did not condemn Putin for the war,” said Maria Pevchikh, a close ally of Navalny who has lobbied for sanctions against Russian figures close to Putin.

In addition to the EU, at the beginning of the war, sanctions against Aven and Friedman were imposed by the United States, Great Britain and their allies. After this, the businessmen left the board of directors of Alfa Bank. They publicly declared the sanctions unfair and complained about the financial restrictions associated with them, reports Meduza.

"Counterproductive mistake"

Aven's fortune is estimated at $4,3 billion.

Ukraine-born Friedman was named Britain's 11th richest person on the Sunday Times Rich List. His fortune is estimated at $11 billion.

Commenting on the decision of the European Union Court, Friedman said that he was “satisfied” with its current decision.

Aven did not comment on the court ruling. European lawyers for businessmen called the sanctions against their clients a “counterproductive mistake.” They hope that the EU court ruling will be an “important signal” that will be heard in the EU and beyond.

Members of the Russian opposition criticized the court's decision and said the two oligarchs had not been open enough about Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

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“I would like to ask European politicians: what has changed since you imposed sanctions on the Russian oligarchs? Neither Friedman nor Aven made any statements against the war, or any attempts to end it. They just hired very expensive lawyers and found good lobbyists. Anti-war Russians in Europe face many problems, but for Russian oligarchs everything is easily solved with money,” wrote the widow of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Yulia Navalnaya.

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