Ukraine: Two Russian Jewish oligarchs among those sanctioned by Boris Johnson

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Ukraine: Two Russian Jewish oligarchs among those sanctioned by Boris Johnson

Boris and Igor Rotenberg, close allies of Vladimir Putin, have assets frozen as part of the 'first barrage' of penalties against the Kremlin for its invasion of Eastern Ukraine

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Boris Rotenberg and Boris Johnson
Boris Rotenberg and Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has named two Russian Jewish oligarchs amongst three individuals been targeted in the “the first barrage” of measures in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

In a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister named  Boris and Igor Rotenberg, who are relatives and are both Jewish.

Boris Rotenberg is co-owner of SGM Group, Russia’s largest construction and infrastructure company.

Igor Rotenberg is a billionaire involved in drilling, infrastructure and real estate.

The third individual named by the PM – Putin ally Gennady Timchenko –  is a billionaire hockey enthusiast with wide business interests in energy, transportation and construction via his Volga investment group.

The trio will be barred from entering Britain and all UK individuals and entities will be banned from dealing with them.

The PM announced a series of sanctions against Russia on Tuesday after it ordered troops into two rebel-held regions of eastern Ukraine.
Five banks have had their assets frozen.

The Foreign Office later announced the UK would also sanction Russian parliamentarians who voted to recognise the two-rebel held areas as independent last week.

But the PM immediately came under pressure from MPs both on his own side and on the Opposition benches to introduce tougher sanctions.

Senior Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said there were “serious flaws” in the new sanctions regime.

The Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary chair also expressed concern the moves  would not affect “oligarchs close to Putin who do not hold an official position in a company”.

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, told the World at One that the UK should be going “much further, much faster” in terms of imposing sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile the Leeds Labour MP Alex Sobel said he had been at the United Nations last week and had met with Ukrainian MPs.

He said they wanted “far broader sanctions” to be outlined.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said it was not clear whether the measures are intended to stop Putin going any further, or  to get him to withdraw his troops.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he welcomed British sanctions, but said the UK “must be prepared to go further”.

He called for Russia to be excluded from the global SWIFT payment system, the banning of trading in Russian sovereign debt and action to prevent Russia “broadcasting its propaganda around the world”.

This was reference to the Russia Today (RT) news channel.

At the afternoon Downing Street lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson said  Johnson “mis-spoke” when he told MPs earlier that Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich had been subject to sanctions.

James Cleverly, the Minister for Europe, later told MPs the government intended to “escalate these sanctions.”

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