May 26, 2022

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Why is the US targeting Putin’s daughters, Katrina and Maria?

Why is the US targeting Putin's daughters, Katrina and Maria?

WASHINGTON, April 7 (Reuters) – The latest round of US sanctions against Russia includes two new targets: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, Katrina and Maria, whom US officials believe are hiding Putin’s fortune.

Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova, Putin’s daughter, is a tech executive whose work supports the Russian government and its defense industry, according to details in the US sanctions package announced Wednesday.

The United States said his other daughter, Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, is leading government-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin for gene research, and Putin personally supervises them.

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“We have reason to believe that Putin, and many of his cronies, the oligarchy, are hiding their wealth, hiding their assets, with family members putting their assets and wealth into the American financial system, as well as many other parts of the US financial system,” a senior administration official told reporters.

“We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members, which is why we are targeting them,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Thursday, the Kremlin said it was puzzled by the US decision, describing the move against the girls as part of a broader Western frenzy against Russia.

Reuters was unable to reach Putin’s daughters or their representatives.

The sanctions announced Wednesday also include the daughter and wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The United States has also banned Americans from investing in Russia, targeting Russian financial institutions and Kremlin officials, in response to what President Joe Biden has called Russian “atrocities” in Ukraine. Read more

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Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians and says the photographs of the corpses in Bucha, north of Kyiv, were planned to justify further sanctions against Moscow.

Moscow says it is participating in a “special military operation” aimed at the disarmament and “disarmament” of Ukraine. Ukraine and Western governments reject this as a false excuse to invade Russia.

Putin’s wealth is a sensitive topic in Russia. The Kremlin denied last year that it was the owner of a luxury mansion on the Black Sea, as opposition politician Alexei Navalny claimed in a video that drew a huge audience on YouTube. Read more

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in February that sanctions against Putin himself were pointless.

“(Putin) is completely indifferent. The sanctions contain ridiculous allegations about some assets,” Peskov said. “The president has no assets other than those he declared.”

But US lawmakers think otherwise.

“Putin and members of his regime are hiding their dirty money in countries governed by law by buying mansions, mega yachts, artwork and other high-value assets,” US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said a few weeks ago. Rewards for information leading to the confiscation of assets held by sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

rock and roll dancer

Putin’s two daughters, whom the United States believes are helping him hide his fortune, have not publicly confirmed that the Russian leader is their father, and he has refused to answer questions about them.

A 2015 investigation by Reuters detailed the connections and influences Katrina, a rock-and-roll acrobatic dancer, has on the next generation of Moscow’s elite. (For the story, see: https://reut.rs/3ubo3kR)

“Katerina, 29, described herself as the wife of Kirill Shamalov, the son of Nikolai Shamalov, an old friend of President Putin,” the report said. Shamlov is a major shareholder in the Bank of Russia, which US officials have described as the personal bank of the Russian elite.

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As husband and wife, Kirill and Katerina had corporate holdings worth about $2 billion, according to estimates provided by financial analysts to Reuters. This was in addition to other property and assets.

Putin’s eldest daughter, Maria, studied biology at Saint Petersburg University and medicine at Moscow State University, according to a Reuters investigation. It is also heavily involved in genetic research work, which Putin described in the past as an area that “will determine the future of the entire world.”

According to Russian and Western media reports, Maria married Dutch businessman Jorit Joost Wassen.

The Reuters report said she was practicing a biomedical profession specializing in the endocrine system in 2015, as a doctoral candidate at the Center for Endocrinology Research in Moscow, and co-author of a book on “idiopathic dwarfism” in children.

The report indicated that her husband worked at Gazprombank, a large bank with strong links to the elite surrounding Putin. Estimates of their assets and holdings were not immediately available.

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(Nandita Bose reports) in Washington. Editing by Heather Timmons and Jonathan Otis

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