U.S. President Barack Obama announced a fresh round of sanctions on seven high-level Russian individuals on Monday, which senior U.S. officials classified as the most “comprehensive” sanctions since the end of the Cold War.
On a conference call Monday morning, senior Obama administration officials repeatedly cast the seven Russian individuals as “cronies” close to the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The officials said the U.S. was targeting the personal finances of the seven individuals listed in a new executive order signed by Obama on Monday.
The executive order targeted seven Russian government officials: Vladislav Surkov, Sergey Glazyev, Leonid Slutsky, Andrei Klishas, Valentina Matviyenko, Dmitry Rogozin and Yelena Mizulina. Read on to learn more about each official and their role in the Ukrainian crisis.
1. Vladislav Surkov
Surkov, a Russian businessman and politician, is known as the “grey cardinal” because of the wide influence he wields behind the scenes. He returned to Putin’s administration as an aide last September after spending 12 years as the First Deputy of the Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration from 1999-2011. Surkov is credited with helping build the “sovereign democracy” that concentrated power with the president during Putin’s first presidential term. He was pushed out of the Kremlin in 2011 and quit the Cabinet in 2013, but Putin brought him back into the fold later that year.
2. Sergey Glasyev
Glasyev is a key senior Putin aide responsible for developing Russia’s relationship with Ukraine. In early February, he accused the U.S. of arming Ukrainian “rebels” and assisting in what he called a “coup” against the administration of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. Before the start of the Winter Olympics, Glasyev hinted Russia could get involved in the Ukraine if the crisis there continued to deteriorate. Last year, he dismissed the idea Ukrainians wanted to loosen ties with Russia and integrate with the European Union as a “sick self-delusion.”
Glasyev has suggested Russia should respond to sanctions by boycotting the dollar, something for which he was widely mocked. Despite his current role in the Russian government, Glasyev has been a critic of Putin, even running for president against him in 2004. In 2007, Glasyev said he was retiring from politics, but, in mid-2012, Putin appointed him as a senior presidential aide.
3. Leonid Slutsky
Slutsky is a member of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. He also serves as the chairman of the Russian parliamentary committee that deals with former Soviet lands. Slutsky’s statements on the crisis have largely echoed those of Putin, as he has said Russia has a duty to protect Russian speakers in Ukraine it feels are in danger.
“If lives and health of our compatriots are in danger, we won’t stay aside,” Slutsky declared in late February, right after the ouster of Yanukovych.
4. Andrei Klishas
Klishas is a member of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament. He told RT he was “quite satisfied” with the rest of his company on the list of those sanctioned by the White House. Klishas has responded to past sanction threats from the U.S. and European Union by drafting legislation allowing Russia to reciprocate. He was appointed to the Federation Council in March 2012. Previously, Klishas worked at as president of MMC Norilsk Nickel, a nickel and palladium mining and smelting company.
5. Valentina Matviyenko
As chair of Russia’s Federation Council, Matviyenko is Russia’s third most powerful politician and highest-ranking female politician. In 2008, she ranked 31st on Forbes’ list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the world. Her rise to power was largely precipitated through her close relationship with Putin, which fostered her victory in the 2003 gubernatorial election in Saint Petersburg, Putin’s home city.
On Monday, Matviyenko called the sanctions “political blackmail.”
“This is an unprecedented decision. Such a thing was unheard of even during the Cold War,” she told Interfax.
6. Dmitry Rogozin
Rogozin is Russia’s first deputy prime minister, in charge of Russia’s defence industry. He is a former Russian ambassador to NATO and a former special representative on on anti-missile defence and negotiations with NATO. Under Rogozin, Russia’s arms industry has clashed with the U.S. on weapons deliveries to various countries, including; Syria, Libya, and Iran.
Rogozin snarked on Twitter Monday that the sanctions wouldn’t achieve their intended purpose, pointing out they won’t affect those without assets abroad.
“Comrade Obama, and what will you do with those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or didn’t you think of that?” Rogozin said.
7. Yelena Mizulina
Mizulina, a longtime member of the Russian parliament is perhaps best known for writing the anti-gay law that sparked months of controversy ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Mizulina authored the legislation, which bans what it describes as propaganda from “nontraditional sexual relations,” in her role as chair of the powerful Committee on Family, Women and Children.
She believes the phrase “gays are people too” should be considered politically extremist. She also believes children of gay parents — even their biological parents — should be taken away from them.Mizulina was described by The Associated Press last August as “Putin’s conservative champion,” using her position on the committee to write increasingly social conservative laws.
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