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Australia Slaps Sanctions on Russia, Reaffirms Support for Ukraine

Published: June 20, 2014 (Issue # 1816)



  • Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Australia, speaking in Geneva at a Meeting of the Conference on Disarmament in March.
    Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré / UN Photo

Australia on Thursday announced asset freezes and travel bans against 50 Russian officials and businessmen and 11 Russian companies that it blames for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The sanctions — Australia's first against Russia since the Ukrainian crisis exploded — follow the same lines as those imposed by the U.S. and the European Union in recent months, targeting members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, as well as banks and companies connected to the ruling elite.

Among the people included on Australia's consolidated blacklist as of Thursday are billionaire businessmen Boris Rotenberg and his brother Arkady — Putin's former judo partner — and Gennady Timchenko.

SMP Bank and Investkapitalbank, both of which list the Rotenbergs among their co-owners, are also on the blacklist, published on the Australian Foreign Ministry's website, as is industrial construction company Stroitransgaz — 63 percent owned by Timchenko.

Top-level Russian politicians to have been named are Presidential aides Sergei Glazyev, an economist and fierce proponent of Eurasian economic integration, and Vladislav Surkov, formerly Putin's chief political fixer. Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Yelena Mizulina, head of the State Duma's committee on family women and children, are also on the list.

Responding to the list's publication, Matviyenko slammed Australia's imposition of sanctions as "a theater of the absurd," and said that they should "only provoke laughter from everyone now, or at least a smile," RIA Novosti reported.

"Those who provoked this political crisis, those who stirred the pot, brought the country to a state of civil war and humanitarian catastrophe, they are known but their names have not wound up on any blacklists," Matviyenko said.

Russia is the one "constantly being threatened, having a political club waved at it, sanctions imposed on it," despite the fact that it is the one country fighting for a peaceful solution to the crisis, she said.

That stance does not wash with the West, which pins on Russia much of the responsibility for the situation in Ukraine. Since Moscow-leaning former President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by street protesters in February, Russia has annexed the Crimean peninsula and — as the West sees it — colluded in the eruption of violence in Ukraine's eastern regions. The death tally during fighting between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine has risen into the scores.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a statement that the sanctions reaffirm Australia's support for Ukraine and urged armed groups in eastern Ukraine to lay down their weapons and enter into peace talks.

Bishop first announced Australia's intention to impose sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian officials in March, before widening the net in May, though no names were provided on either occasion.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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