Britain on Friday sanctioned 12 members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “inner circle,” accusing them of hiding their ill-gotten wealth in exchange for influential state positions.
They included his ex-wife Lyudmila Ocheretnaya and hisa 38-year-old former Olympic gymnast.
The UK government said he “allegedly had a close personal relationship with Putin”.
“We are exposing and targeting the shadow web that underpins Putin’s luxury lifestyle and reinforcing vice in his inner circle,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.
“We will continue to sanction all those who aid and abet Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails,” he said.
The Kremlin leader’s modest state salary and officially declared assets are believed by reports linking him to a luxury yacht and sprawling estate dubbed “Putin’s Palace”, the UK said.
His true wealth is hidden by a network of family, childhood friends, and select members of the Russian elite who have been appointed to powerful roles “in exchange for their undying loyalty.”
Others sanctioned on Friday included Putin’s cousins and Alexander Plekhov, a “close friend” who controls Vital Development Corp.
Britain said it had already sanctioned more than 1,000 people and 100 Russian entities, includingworth more than 140,000 million dollars, since Putin ordered the at the end of February.
The Wall Street Journal reports at the end of last month that because the measure was seen as too drastic.
The newspaper quoted unnamed officials as saying theon Russian interference in the US presidential election revealed that Kabaeva had benefited from Putin’s influence and personal wealth. The US government suspected Kabaeva of hiding some of that wealth abroad, the Journal reported, adding that US officials also believe she is the mother of at least three of Putin’s children.
However, potential sanctions against Kabaeva were eventually halted, as the step was seen as “such a personal blow to Mr. Putin that it could further heighten tensions between Russia and the United States,” the Journal wrote.
Rumors have circulated for years about Kabaeva’s personal relationship with the Russian leader. Russian tabloids have dubbed her “Russia’s First Mistress” and even the “Secret First Lady.”