A woman believed to be the girlfriend of Russian President Vladimir Putin was among 22 individuals added to the list of Russians sanctioned by Canada over the war in Ukraine.
Alina Kabaeva, 39, a former Olympic gymnast who is now the chair of the National Media Group in Russia, has long been reported to be Putin’s girlfriend and alleged to be the mother of some of his children. Both she and Putin have denied a romantic link.
Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Tuesday Canada was working with its allies and adding new people to financial sanctions each week in a bid to “suffocate the Putin regime” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
“We’re doing it every week, that’s our goal,” she said. “It’s been like that since Feb. 24 and we’re doing it along with allies. So, what we are doing is sometimes we take the lead. Sometimes we work with the Americans, sometimes we work with the Europeans and at the end of the day, when all the G7 ministers gather, we know that we’re working on the same entities and individuals.”
Kabaeva, who is also a former Russian politician, was first sanctioned by the United Kingdom two weeks ago. The Wall Street Journal reported a month ago that the United States had held off adding Kabaeva to its list of sanctioned individuals for fear it would escalate tensions between Russia and the U.S. too much.
Joly was careful in how she described Kabaeva Tuesday, initially calling her “a person very close to Putin” and then when asked to elaborate on whom she was referring to, grimacing and pausing. “So it’s his–” she said, pausing. “I don’t know (what) to call her, but his partner, yes, I guess.”
Others on the list of sanctions that came into force last Friday include billionaire Andrei Kozitsyn and several bankers including Elena Aleksandrovna Georgieva, the head of the Russian Novikombank.
The latest round of sanctions also includes four financial institutions.
Canada has sanctioned more than 1,500 individuals and entities since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
“At this point our goal is to isolate economically, politically and diplomatically Russia,” Joly said.
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