UK sanctions Putin’s ex-wife and alleged girlfriend

LONDON — Britain has sanctioned close relatives and friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin believed to have hidden his personal wealth for many years.

The list of 12 individuals sanctioned Friday includes Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, Putin’s ex-wife and former first lady; Alina Kabaeva, a retired Olympic gymnast who is alleged to have a close personal relationship with the Russian president; Kabaeva’s grandmother, a long-standing associate of Putin; and three of Putin’s cousins, among others.

Businesspeople including Alexander Plekhov, a close friend of the Russian president whose company Vital Development Corporation has, according to the British government, benefited from significant state patronage, have also been sanctioned.

All of them will be hit by an asset freeze, preventing them from using any funds or assets held in Britain, and a travel ban, prohibiting them from entering the U.K. or remaining in Britain.

Although these are not household names, the U.K. government argues their “undying loyalty” to Putin “has benefited them personally” and they have been helping the president to hide some of his massive, undeclared personal wealth, a U.K. official said.

Putin’s declared assets only include a small flat in St. Petersburg, two Soviet-era cars from the 1950s, a trailer and a small garage, the government said. But media reports have exposed links to a £566 million yacht and a $1 billion mansion, officially owned by Putin’s associate Arkady Rotenberg, who was sanctioned in December 2020.

“We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.