EU court takes Russian billionaires Fridman, Aven off sanctions list

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The European Union Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday to remove Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven from a list of individuals facing European Union sanctions after Russia’s attack on Ukraine in 2022.

“The General Court considers that none of the reasons set out in the initial acts is sufficiently substantiated and that the inclusion of Mr Aven and Mr Fridman on the lists at issue was therefore not justified,” the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement.

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The funds and economic resources of both men were frozen after the European Council imposed restrictions following the Russian invasion. Both are major shareholders of conglomerate Alfa Group, which includes Russia’s top private bank Alfa Bank and its biggest food retailer X5 Retail Group.

The court ruled the billionaires should not have been included on the list between February 2022 and March 2023.

An EU decision in March 2023 reimposed the restrictive measures on the two men, who have lodged a separate appeal against that action.

The court said the Council may have grounds to establish that Fridman and Aven have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it does not demonstrate the men have supported actions or policies against Ukraine, or that they have supported Russian decision makers financially.

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