UK sanctions collaborators of Russia’s illegal sham referendums

  • The UK has announced a package of sanctions in response to the Russian regime’s illegal mock referendums in Ukraine
  • Sanctions target top Russian officials enforcing illegal voting in four regions of Ukraine and “Putin’s favorite PR agency”
  • The sanctions also hit oligarchs with combined global net worth of £6.3 billion and board members of large state-owned banks

The foreign minister today (26 September) announced 92 sanctions in response to the Russian regime’s holding of mock referendums in four regions of Ukraine – in clear violation of international law, including the UN Charter.

The Russian regime organized these sham referenda in a desperate attempt to appropriate land and justify its illegal war. The trial mirrors their approach in Crimea in 2014, combining disinformation, intimidation and fake results. These referenda do not represent the demonstrated will of the Ukrainian people and are a serious violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and political independence.

Secretary of State James Cleverly said:

Sham referees held at the barrel of a gun cannot be free or fair, and we will never recognize their results. They follow a clear pattern of violence, intimidation, torture and forced deportations in the Russian-held areas of Ukraine.

Today’s sanctions will target those behind these bogus votes and those who continue to support the Russian regime’s war of aggression. We stand by the Ukrainian people and our support will continue until their sovereignty is restored.

To conduct these fake referendums, the Russian regime has dispatched officials and collaborators to each of these temporarily controlled regions – 33 of those individuals are being sanctioned today. These include:

  • Sergei Yeliseyev – the head of government in Kherson, recently installed by the Russian government and Vice Admiral in the Russian Navy. Since resigning from the Ukrainian Navy in 2014, Yeliseyev has continued to undermine Ukraine’s independence
  • Ivan Kusov – the minister of education and science of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic and tasked by Pasechnik – the chairman of the LPR – to “help our educational institutions to seamlessly integrate into the educational system of Russia”.
  • Yevhen Balytskyi – the Russian-installed head of the so-called government in Zaporizhia, who has backed the Russian invasion with public statements of support since March. In August, Balytskyi reportedly signed a decree allowing a referendum on Zaporizhia’s accession to the Russian Federation
  • Evgeniy Solntsev – the deputy chairman of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic
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IMA Consulting, branded as “Putin’s favorite PR agency,” was also sanctioned. IMA was reportedly tasked with directing the public campaigns for these sham referendums – both to aid their implementation in the four temporarily controlled areas and to repel their false legitimacy in Russia.

Goznak, a security documents company known for its monopoly on manufacturing “tens of millions” of state documents, including expedited passports, in the temporarily controlled areas, was also sanctioned.

Putin continues to rely on his cabal of oligarchs and select elites to fund his war. Today, another four oligarchs with an estimated combined global net worth of £6.3bn were also sanctioned for supporting or profiting from the government of Russia and operating in sectors of strategic importance. These include:

  • God Nisanov and Zarakh Iliev – known as the “Kings of Russian Property” and with a combined worldwide net worth of £2bn, the pair own and control Kievskaya Ploshchad Group, a major construction company operating across Russia
  • Iskander Makhmudov – President and founder of the Ural Mining and Metallurgic Company. A major metals magnate, Makhmudov has an estimated global net worth of £2.7 billion
  • Igor Makarov – President and owner of ARETI International Group, a major investor in the oil and gas sector, and founder of Itera, Russia’s first independent gas company before it was bought by state-owned Rosneft. Makarov is worth an estimated £1.6 billion
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Today’s package also includes 55 board members from state-affiliated organizations that continue to fund Russia’s war machine – serving as a stark reminder of the cost of supporting Putin’s operation. Among those sanctioned are:

  • 23 people from the Management Board and Management Board of Gazprombank
  • 16 members of the Supervisory Board of Sberbank, the Management Board and other directors
  • 10 people from Sovcombank, including the Deputy Chairman and members of the Supervisory Board and Management Board

The UK will never recognize the results of mock referendums or attempts to annex Ukraine’s territory. Ukraine voted overwhelmingly for independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and its continued brave resistance to Russian aggression clearly demonstrates its desire to remain an independent sovereign state.

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Together with our international partners, we condemn the outrageous actions of the Russian government. Together with partners, we will continue to pursue targeted sanctions and advocate sustained economic and political pressure on Russia.

To date, the UK has sanctioned over 1,200 individuals and over 120 companies, including over 120 oligarchs with an estimated combined fortune of over £130 billion.


Asset Freeze

An asset freeze prevents any UK citizen or UK company from dealing with funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by the nominated person. UK financial sanctions apply to all persons within UK territory and territorial sea and to all British persons wherever they are in the world. It also prevents funds or economic resources from being made available for or on behalf of the designated person.

travel ban

A travel ban means that the designated person must be refused permission to enter or reside in the UK provided the person is an Excluded Person under Section 8B of the Immigration Act 1971.

transportation sanctions

Recently introduced powers make it a criminal offense for any Russian aircraft to fly or land in the UK and give the government the power to remove aircraft owned by certain Russian individuals and legal entities from the UK aircraft register, even if the sanctioned person is not on board. Russian ships are also not allowed to call at British ports.

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