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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

Thursday, Oct. 30


Dental-Expo St. Petersburg 2014 concludes today at Lenexpo. Welcoming specialists from throughout the federation, the forum is an opportunity for dentists to share tricks of the trade and peruse the most recent innovations in technology and equipment, with over 100 companies hocking their wares at the event.



Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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