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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

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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