The EU has imposed sanctions on Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast who is alleged to have a close personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in its latest package of punitive measures over the war in Ukraine.
Kabaeva will not be able to travel to the EU and any assets she has in the bloc will be frozen as part of the package that was adopted on Friday and entered into force later in the day with publication in the EU’s Official Journal.
Kabaeva was sanctioned by the U.K. last month. She has been reported to be in a relationship with Putin, although the Russian president has denied this.
“Alina Kabaeva is the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the National Media Group (NMG), a holding that owns large stakes in almost all major Russian federal media that reproduce the Russian Government propaganda. She is a former Russian gymnast and a former member of the State Duma. She is closely associated with President Vladimir Putin,” the official EU text said.
“She is therefore responsible for supporting actions and policies which undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine. Furthermore, she is associated with a listed person responsible for and actively supporting actions undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, as well as stability and security in Ukraine.”
The EU’s sixth round of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine was presented by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in early May but approval was held up for weeks, mainly due to Hungarian concerns over the oil embargo that formed the centerpiece of the package.
Even after EU leaders agreed a deal that will allow Budapest to continue importing Russian oil via pipeline, Hungary threw another spanner in the works by demanding Patriarch Kirill, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, be dropped from the sanctions list.
Multiple EU diplomats were frustrated by Hungary’s last-minute move but, keen to get the package finally approved, they acceded to Budapest’s demand.