Ukraine targeted Alexander Lebedev as part of a wave of sanctions against individuals supportive of Russia’s war, placing greater scrutiny on the oligarch’s links to the UK government.
Lebedev, a Russian citizen who has not been sanctioned by the UK in its efforts to stop the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, bought the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers more than a decade ago. He has hosted former UK prime minister Boris Johnson at lavish parties in London and at a villa in Umbria.
Johnson gave Lebedev’s son a seat for life in the UK’s upper house of parliament despite security warnings from MI5, according to previous reporting by Tortoise. The Cabinet Office has told parliament that “Lord Lebedev is a man of good standing.” Lord Lebedev has said that he has “no links to the Kremlin.”
Ukraine’s decision to sanction Lebedev was made by the country’s National Security and Defence Council on October 19, 2022, but has not previously been reported.
The Council’s secretary, Oleksiy Danilov, signed off on the decision, which was given effect by a decree from President Volodymyr Zelensky. The decree states that the list should be made available to the UK and EU member states.
The sanctions block Lebedev, who owns substantial tourism assets in occupied Crimea, from moving funds out of Ukraine and from making financial transactions within the country.
The designation suggests that Lebedev is a “person directly or indirectly controlled by residents of a foreign state or acting in their interests”.
Tortoise has previously reported on a leaked document from Italy’s External Intelligence and Security Agency, which states that Lebedev enjoys “the favour and friendship of Vladimir Putin”.
Other individuals sanctioned by Ukraine on the same list include Zavizon Oleksiy Volodymyrovych, a commander in the Russian Ground Forces, and Sapelin Andrey Yuriyovych, a board member of Novikombank, one of Russia’s largest banks.
Canada sanctioned Lebedev and 13 other Russian oligarchs a year ago for directly enabling “Vladimir Putin’s senseless war in Ukraine.”
The Canadian government told Tortoise that it “works in coordination with like-minded countries to assess potential targets that would most impact Putin and his enablers,” adding that it “continues to work with our international allies and partners and is monitoring the situation closely.”
The UK, which is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance with Canada, has said it keeps “all sanctions under review and they are determined after careful consideration.” It has sanctioned more than 1,500 people and entities since Russia invaded Ukraine.
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