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More Top Russian Businessmen Likely to be Caught in New Sanctions Net

Strong evidence that the West will freeze assets and block travel of significantly more Russians than in the past.

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Editor’s note - RI published an extensive analysis of the new restrictions by a leading expert on August 8, entitled: Russians Should Urgently Repatriate Their Assets From the West.

For a Russian version of this article, click here.

<figcaption>He's upping the ante</figcaption>
He's upping the ante

Informed observers are predicting that a whole new category of Russian politicians, businessmen, and companies will be caught up in new sanctions. The list of sanctioned individuals has been expanded several times, and it now appears that it will increase again in the near future.

Last week the US stopped issuing travel visas to Russian citizens, effective the 23rd of August. Visa issuance will resume September 1st, but only in Moscow. Issuance in other Russian cities has been put on hold indefinitely.

In fact, the US began making it more difficult for Russians to get visas several months before Russia dramatically reduced, by 70%, the number of US diplomats allowed to work in Russia.

The spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, lashed out at the new barriers. In an interview with Rain TV, an opposition news channel, she said the restrictions were just inflicting cruelty on ‘ordinary people’, going so far as to compare it to ‘genocide’.

But how about ‘non-ordinary’ people, i.e. high-ranking politicians, bureaucrats, and businessmen close to the Russian leadership? Observers are saying that in the near future their travel could be restricted, and their assets frozen not just by the US, but also the EU, Canada, Australia, and other countries.

The list of sanctioned persons could significantly increase in the near future, and people are speculating about who will get caught in the net this time. The name of Natalia Rotenberg, the former wife of the prominent Russian businessman, who lives in the UK, comes up as a possible example. She is very active in the activities of her charity, the NR foundation, organizing events in Russia, the EU, and the UK.

Ms. Rotenberg in a Ferrari

According to the ‘about’ page on the foundation’s website:

“ … the NR foundation now supports children and young adults from many countries around the world. From ballet, music, gymnastics, the aim is to give back and help dedicated people to achieve their full potential.”

The page also describes her business activities:

“Natalia's own passion to achieve and succeed has propelled her to be the founder and current CEO of NR group, which as an international brand has holdings and numerous investments worldwide.”

The extensive activities of Ms. Rotenberg in Russia are bound to attract the attention of Western officials, especially after the recent passing of a new bill by the US House of Representatives. The White House has indicated that it supports the bill.

According to the bill, individuals who have business contacts with Russian intelligence or defense sectors will be sanctioned. The sanctions extend to anyone who invests more than $US 10 million, or assists in arranging such investments, if those investments help Russia privatize state assets, illegally enriching bureaucrats, their relatives, and people close to them. Clearly Ms. Rotenberg fits the profile.

Will Western countries investigate what the NR fund invests in, why this UK resident travels to Russia so often, and whose interests she lobbies in her adopted country?

Ms. Rotenberg is a good example of the type of person who might be banned from the EU, UK, and US.

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