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Sanctions-dodgers: Kabaeva, Putin's daughters, Tereshkova, and others

Almost 900 people have already been sanctioned by the European Union because of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. However, some politicians and government officials, businessmen close to Putin, and other beneficiaries of the Russian regime have been undeservedly neglected by Europeans. The Insider corrects this mistake.

  • Alina Kabaeva

  • Putin's Daughters

  • Valentina Tereshkova, the great «zeroer»

  • Trustees

  • Putin's oligarchs

  • Dmitry Sablin, MP, billionaire, Ukrainian was ideologue

Alina Kabaeva

Alina Kabaeva is not only a member of Putin's inner circle, but she is also the head of the board of directors of Yuri Kovalchuk's National Media Group, which owns shares in Channel One, REN TV, and other media outlets. Kabaeva earns hundreds of millions a year for doing her job (at least formally). So far, she is not on the sanctions list and has been affected only indirectly: the Italian authorities will probably seize one of Putin's super-yachts, the 14-meter Sheherazade, which had been apparently used by Kabayeva (the media has been calling Kabayeva Sheherazade since the early 2000s).

Putin's Daughters

It is unclear why the oligarchs have been placed on the sanctions lists together with their families, yet so far no sanctions have been extended to Vladimir Putin's daughters (at least those born in a legal marriage). According to The Insider, Putin's daughters liked to travel to NATO countries, including multiple times after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in 2014. For example, the president's eldest daughter Maria Vorontsova, according to the airline reservations data obtained by The Insider, recently flew to Milan on November 27, 2021, and visited Munich at least four times (most recently in December 2019), flew to Amsterdam seven times (she is known to have a Dutch husband), most recently in 2019, also flew to Naples (October 16, 2019), Vienna (September 18, 2019), Nice (October 6, 2019), Hannover (March 21, 2019), Berlin (October 27, 2018), Athens (September 26, 2018), Paris (September 9, 2016, May 27, 2018) and Rome (July 20, 2016). According to The Insider, Maria Vorontsova supports her father's policy vis-à-vis Ukraine.

Maria Vorontsova (Putina)
Maria Vorontsova (Putina)

The younger daughter Katerina Tikhonova flew to Munich at least 21 times between 2015 and 2019, four times to Zurich (most recently on January 21, 2020), three times to Milan (most recently on October 21, 2019), three times to Vienna in 2015-2016, as well as to Stuttgart (August 17, 2019), Helsinki (March 28, 2019), Brussels (November 30, 2018), Vienna (October 16, 2015, April 2, 2016, October 14, 2016), Rome (June 11, 2016), Zagreb (June 3, 2016), Copenhagen (May 27, 2016), Ljubljana (February 5, 2016 ), Nice (August 20, 2015) and London (February 25, 2017, March 15, 2017).

Ekaterina Tikhonova (Putina)
Ekaterina Tikhonova (Putina)

Sometimes Putin's daughters fly together; for example, they chose to celebrate New Year's Eve 2020 in Germany. They also use business jets. Three years ago, Vorontsova flew to Rovaniemi, Finland, in an Embraer Legacy 600 jet, registration number D-AVAN.

This plane is for rent. Such a round-trip flight for Putin's daughter would currently cost 33,000 euros. Vorontsova's official income cannot explain such profligacy.

Valentina Tereshkova, the great «zeroer»

The sanctions lists include almost all deputies, but not Valentina Tereshkova, even though she was the main public lobbyist for the constitutional reform that allowed Putin to «zero out» his presidential term and extend his rule. Tereshkova also supported the occupation of Ukraine: in late February 2014, she came to Crimea with a delegation of deputies to discuss a «referendum» on the peninsula's annexation to Russia (she later voted «for» the annexation). True, on the day of the vote on the war in Ukraine she did not show up at the session, and it is probably for this formal reason that she is not on the sanctions list.

According to the Navalny team's investigation, Tereshkova's daughter and son-in-law have an apartment in Italy. Their Bergamo property is worth 250,000 euros.

In Russia, Tereshkova's daughter Elena is in the pharmaceutical business; her firm is a government supplier. Her daughter's husband Andrei Rodionov worked at the State Duma as an aide to his mother-in-law.


Tatyana Navka, recently included in the U.S. (but not the EU) sanctions lists, is not just the wife of Kremlin talking head Dmitry Peskov but was herself among Putin's trustees during the 2012 and 2018 presidential elections. After her athletic career ended, Navka has been busy organizing ice shows. She receives subsidies from the government for her productions.

Among Putin's confidants there are many famous Russians who have publicly supported the invasion of Ukraine. These include actors Sergei Bezrukov and Mikhail Boyarsky, chess player Sergei Kariakin, and singer Oleg Gazmanov, who owns real estate in Italy.

Chess player Sergey Karjakin (right)
Chess player Sergey Karjakin (right)

Putin's oligarchs

Amazingly, while the sanctions lists included billionaires who kept a certain distance from Putin (such as Aven and Fridman), they did not include some billionaires from Putin's closest entourage, such as Vladimir Litvinenko, co-owner of PhosAgro (in 2020 his fortune was estimated at $1.5 billion). It was Litvinenko who, according to his own daughter, had written Putin's Ph.D. thesis, which Putin then had no trouble defending because the scientific council was headed by the same Litvinenko.

The sanctions lists also did not include Vladimir Potanin, the head of NorNickel. When Putin came to power, Potanin became one of the sponsors of United Russia and was listed as an official supporter of the party. «Our president's mandate is more powerful than that of any western politician,» Potanin said of Putin during his third term. Putin responded by decorating the oligarch with the Order of Merit to the Fatherland.

«Most of western politicians are quite vocal and have ungrounded hopes we will break under the pressure of sanctions,» said Potanin. «Westerners are screaming even louder than we are. They have a much lower threshold for pain, they are not used to inconvenience and discomfort. In this sense, they cannot compete with us. We will endure in spite of them. One hundred percent!»

Iskander Makhmudov and Andrei Bokarev, former partners of Alexei Krivoruchko, now Deputy Minister of Defense of Russia, have also dodged the sanctions. Until 2017, Bokarev and Makhmudov were shareholders in the Kalashnikov Concern (however, they gained more notoriety because of their ties to the Izmailovo gang). After the start of the war in Ukraine in 2014 and the ensuing sanctions, Makhmudov and Bokarev became the main recipients of state contracts, squeezing out Putin's wallet Arkady Rotenberg, who had been sanctioned, and gaining the assets of another Putin's wallet, Gennady Timchenko.

Leonid Mikhelson, a partner of Putin's friend Gennady Timchenko and the United Russia State Duma deputy Leonid Simanovsky was not sanctioned either. Kirill Shamalov, Putin's ex son-in-law, was able to buy a 3.8% stake in Mikhelson's company Sibur worth $380 million for only $100 in 2015. Two years later, Shamalov sold those shares to Mikhelson.

Still unsanctioned is God Nisanov, co-owner of the company Kiev Square, who has close ties to the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin. Naryshkin's family uses the billionaire's property.

Dmitry Sablin, MP, billionaire, Ukrainian was ideologue

Dmitry Sablin, a State Duma deputy from the United Russia party, is known as the creator of the Anti-Maidan movement. This is an ultra-patriotic association that advocates the seizure of Ukrainian territories. Anti-Maidan activists often act as initiators of criminal cases against oppositionists. Sablin is also a leader of the organization Combat Brotherhood, which receives multimillion grants from the state budget. Combat Brotherhood members were recruited for combat operations in Donbass.

Dmitry Sablin is one of the richest members of the State Duma. Together with his wife he owns the group of companies Rota. Their interests are focused on agriculture, construction, and the services sector (restaurants, hotels, and beauty salons). The Sablins' businesses largely depend on being in favor with the authorities. His companies also make money on state procurements, selling apartments for the resettlement of orphans at inflated prices.

Sablin dodged the sanctions list because he did not participate in the very first vote on asking the president to recognize the independence of the DNR and LNR. He was absent from the parliament that day, on February 15. He also did not show up for work on February 22, when the State Duma ratified the agreement with the «republics.»

Another wealthy United Russia politician, Zelimkhan Mutsoyev, similarly skipped the vote. Mutsoyev's brother is a British citizen. The deputy, acting as a lobbyist in the State Duma, has transferred the bulk of his business to his brother.

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