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Why the United States is Targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Daughters, Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova


Putin’s daughter Katerina (L) dances during the World Cup Rock’n’Roll acrobatic competition. (File)

Washington:

The latest round of US sanctions against Russia includes two new targets: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, Katerina and Maria, who US officials say are hiding Putin’s wealth.

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

His other daughter, Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, runs government-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin for genetic research and are personally overseen by Putin, the US said.

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

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

Reuters was unable to immediately reach Putin’s daughters, their representatives or the Kremlin for comment.

Sanctions announced on Wednesday also include the daughter and wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The United States has also banned Americans from investing in Russia and has targeted Russian financial institutions and Kremlin officials, in response to what President Joe Biden has condemned as Russian “atrocities” in Ukraine.

Russia denies intentionally attacking civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha, north of kyiv, were staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow.

Moscow says it is engaged in a “special military operation” intended to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western governments dismiss this as a false pretext for invading Russia.

The extent of Putin’s wealth is a hot topic in Russia. Last year, the Kremlin denied it was the owner of a lavish palace on the Black Sea, as alleged by opposition politician Alexei Navalny in a video that attracted a large following on YouTube.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in February that the sanctions introduced against Putin himself were unnecessary.

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

But US lawmakers think otherwise.

“Putin and his oligarchs funnel their dirty money into countries where the rule of law prevails by buying mansions, mega-yachts, works of art and other high-value assets,” said US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse a few weeks ago, while introducing legislation offering money. rewards for information that leads to the seizure of assets held by sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

rock ‘n’ roll dancer

Putin’s daughters, who the United States says help him hide his wealth, have never publicly confirmed that the Russian leader is their father, and he has refused to answer questions about them.

A 2015 Reuters investigation detailed the connections and influence of Katerina, an acrobatic rock ‘n’ roll dancer, 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, son of Nikolai Shamalov, a longtime friend of President Putin,” the report said. “Shamalov senior is a shareholder in Bank Rossiya, which US officials have described as the personal bank of Russia’s elite.”

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

Putin’s eldest daughter, Maria, studied biology at St. Petersburg University and medicine at Moscow State University, according to the Reuters investigation. She is also heavily involved in genetic research, which Putin has described in the past as a field that “will determine the future of the whole world”.

According to Russian and Western media, Maria married Dutch businessman Jorrit Joost Faassen.

She was pursuing a biomedical career specializing in the endocrine system in 2015, as a doctoral student at the Moscow Center for Endocrinology Research, and co-authored a book on ‘idiopathic growth retardation’ in children, according to the report. from Reuters.

Her husband worked for Gazprombank, a major lender with close ties to the elite around Putin, the report notes. No estimate was immediately available for their assets and holdings.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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