US targets former Olympic gymnast, steel producer with fresh Russia sanctions

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The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast the Treasury Department described as having a close relationship with President Vladimir Putin, as part of the latest US response to Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

The Treasury Department said in a statement Kabaeva heads the National Media Group, a pro-Kremlin group of television, radio and print organizations. Putin has denied they are romantically linked.

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The latest round of sanctions also targets Publichnoe Aktsionernoe Obschestvo Magnitogorskiy Metallurgicheskiy Kombinat (MMK), one of the world’s largest steel producers, as well as the majority owner and chairman of the board of directors, Viktor Filippovich Rashnikov, the Treasury said.

The Treasury said MMK is one of Russia’s largest taxpayers and provides a substantial source of revenue to the Russian government.

Washington also designated two of its subsidiaries, Russia-based Investitsionnaya Kompaniya MMK-FINANS and Turkey-based MMK Metalurji Sanayi Ticaret Ve Liman Isletmeciligi Anonim Sirketi.

“The Treasury Department will use every tool at our disposal to make sure that Russian elites and the Kremlin’s enablers are held accountable for their complicity in a war that has cost countless lives,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in the statement.

“Together with our allies, the United States will also continue to choke off revenue and equipment underpinning Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”

Among the Russian elites targeted in Tuesday’s move was Andrey Guryev, described by the Treasury as a close associate of Putin who formerly served in the Russian government and the founder of PhosAgro, a Russian chemical company. PhosAgro was not designated.

The Treasury also targeted a Cayman Islands-flagged yacht, the Alfa Nero, reportedly bought by Guryev for $120 million in 2014, according to the statement.

Washington also cracked down on what it said were sanctions evasion attempts on Tuesday, designating a financial institution owned by the Russian Federal Agency for State Property Management. The Treasury said Joint Stock Company Promising Industrial and Infrastructure Technologies attempted to circumvent sanctions imposed on the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

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