As the West looks to impose further sanctions on Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s cronies more targets are being added to the “blacklist”.
Planes, boats, and bank accounts – the prized assets of oligarchs around the world – are being squeezed tighter and tighter by a relentless America, United Kingdom, and EU.
However, one billionaire appears to have slipped through – so far.
Despite his close links to the Kremlin and key players in Ukraine, Vladmir Yevtushenkov seems untouched.
Yevtushenkov, 73, was named in the Kremlin Report as one of 200 businessmen and officials alleged to be corrupt.
He is said by Forbes Magazine to be worth $1.4 billion – he once had $9 billion, then making him Russia’s 15th richest person.
He is married with two children and lives in Moscow.
However, last week his west London home in Holland Park was besieged by protesters chanting “blood money out of London”.
Waving placards and shouting “Yevtushenkov is killing Ukraine”, the demonstrators demanded the UK Government sanctions him and his role in the invasion.
His company Kronshtadt – part of the Sistema Group – is said to be supplying Orion drones for Russian forces to bomb cities.
Critics says Yevtushenkov – with his inside Kremlin information about Russia looking to occupy Ukraine – invested heavily in the business.
It is also alleged he has played a part in fomenting war Ukraine.
According to “Echo of Moscow” – an anti-war radio station now closed – Yevtushenkov was named as “one of the intermediaries who brought former President Viktor Yanukovych together with people who arranged all this in Ukraine.”
Worldwide Venture Capitalists are also being urged to withdraw from companies linked to Russian oligarchs.
Who is Yevtushenkov?
He has a master’s degree in chemistry and a PhD in economics.
He never made a secret that he was close to the influential Yury Luzhkov, who served as mayor of Moscow from 1992 to 2010.
Soon after Luzhkov became the first vice-chairman of the Moscow City Executive Committee, Yevtushenkov was appointed head of the central board for science and technology of the capital’s government.
Three years later, when Luzhkov was elected chair of the Moscow City Executive Committee, Yevtushenkov became the head of the city committee on science and technology.
His wife is the sister of Luzhkov’s wife Yelena, herself a billionaire businesswoman.
In 1990, Yevtushenkov became the chair of the board of directors of the Moscow Committee for Science and Technology ZAO.
In 1993, he created his AFK Sistema PAO on the base of this company.
Firstly, Yevtushenkov gained control of the Moscow telephone network.
During the privatization, he bought a 55% stake in MGTS and became the owner of one of the world’s largest telephone networks, serving more than four million clients.
During the two years of AFK Sistema’s work in the telecom market, the company’s capital reached a billion dollars.
Yevtushenkov’s Moscow Bank for Reconstruction and Development became one of the designated banks of the Government of Moscow, so it had the opportunity to serve the financial flows of the city.
Sistema-Gals, one of the AFK Sistema’s units, became the real-state developer of the centre of Moscow.
His RTI Systems concern is among the hundred largest defence companies in the world.
It supplies radio equipment to the Russian Ministry of Defence.
The MTS company, which belongs to Yevtushenkov’s corporation, is one of the largest mobile communication networks in Russia.
Yevtushenkov, together with his family, is said to own property in Europe, including three villas on the French Riviera.
The family is the owner of the French company SCI Petr.
The SCI Petr accounts show it owns a property – a villa called Willa Waikiki.
On the opposite street there is Villa Nouadibou, belonging to French company SCI Kristine, which Yevtushenkov and his wife own.
The third villa – estimated to be worth €7 million – is next door.
It too belongs to a French company called SCI Umbto.
Investigators have also revealed the business empire has a private Boeing jet registered in Aruba, a Caribbean island that’s part of The Netherlands.
Yevtushenkov still can fly freely to European countries.
Yevtushenkov and his close links with Ukraine
Yevtushenkov, from Smolensk, Russia, has long-standing economic and personal ties with the Ukrainian ex-elite.
He is a close friend of Viktor Yanukovych, 71, who was ousted as President of Ukraine in 2014.
The former leader is now in exile – but Kremlin insiders says Putin would restore him to power.
Yevtushenkov is also close to Serhiy Taruta, 66, the ex-governor of the Donetsk region.
Taruta is a staunch defender of Putin.
Another ally is Nykola Bilokon, 67, then minister of Internal Affairs in Yanukovych’s government.
He was an adviser to Yevtushenko in his AFK Sistema business.
In 2014 Yevtushenkov was accused by Russian finance investigators of money laundering.
The allegations followed the buying of shares in the oil company Bashneft.
The charges were dropped within months.
Also in 2014, Yevtushenkov was extremely close to imposing sanctions, when he decided to launch MTS in Crimea, having received permission from the Russian security forces.
At the end of May 2014, the K-Telecom mobile operator received the frequencies on which the MTS network operated.
According to sources close to the State Commission for Radio Frequencies, K-Telecom was affiliated with MTS, although MTS official representatives denied any connection with it.
In 2018, the senator Ileana Ros-Leitinen sent an appeal to the head of the US State Department and Treasury Secretary with a request to consider the AFC activities for violations.
The State Department started its own investigation into the involvement of Yevtushenkov’s company in activities in Crimea.
Despite this no sanctions were imposed.
Being aware of the military plans of Ukraine, Yevtushenkov promptly invested in the production of military equipment.
In 2015, a year after the “Russian Spring”, Yevtushenkov acquired the Kronstadt Group, which specialized in the development of unmanned drones.
For five years, Kronstadt Group has completely updated the Russia’s defence line.
And a year later, when a possible armed conflict between Ukraine and the country’s Donbass region was widely anticipated, he quickly built a drone plant in Dubna.
Will Yevtushenkov enter the west blacklist?
A Ukraine political observer said:
“It is extremely clear why Yevtushenko does not want to come out of the background.
“AFK Sistema wants to attract external investors, but it is one of the riskiest investments – even for Russian assets.
“It was the same even before the events in Ukraine.
“According to the Federal Tax Service, the loss of AFK Sistema is 46 billion rubles.
“The subsidiaries, including the construction company Etalon, are also losing money.
“The risks of bankruptcy are more than real.
“The emphasis in news and among investors can provoke panic, result in refunds under cost-sharing arrangements and stop investment activity.
“Another good reason for Yevtushenkov to be afraid is his real estate in the EU.
“The western sanctions’ list now look more like carpet-bombing, while those who really deserve to be there stay in the ‘haven’.
“Now more sanctions against Russia are expected.
“Depending on whether Yevtushenkov is added to the blacklist, it will be possible to draw conclusions about the quality of this blacklist, as well as about the goals and effectiveness of the sanctions’ strategy in general.”
Cars beep in support as protesters chant “Blood money, out of London!” at Vladimir Yevtushenkov’s mansion 31 Holland Park. He also owns 7 Holland Park Mews. Sistema Group produces combat drones for Russian military. Not sanctioned. @londonmaidan @UkrainianLondon pic.twitter.com/T1jp2FBekx
— Svitlana Pyrkalo (@pyrkalo) March 19, 2022