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Russian businessman, co-founder of Alfa-Group Mikhail Fridman

Russian-Jewish Billionaires Vow to Fight EU Sanctions Over Ukraine Invasion

Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, whose LetterOne investment firm owns Spain’s Dia supermarket chain, said Tuesday, March 1, he would contest the “unfounded” EU sanctions targeting him over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a joint statement, Fridman and Russian banker Petr Aven, a LetterOne co-founder, insisted they had “no financial or political relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Kremlin.

The two said they “will contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions — vigorously and through all means available to them — to reverse unwarranted and unnecessary damage to the livelihoods and prosperity” of their employees and business partners.

They did not say how they would go about contesting the EU sanctions.

Fridman, one of Russia’s richest men, resigned from the board of directors of Amsterdam-listed mobile network operator Veon, the company said Tuesday, following his inclusion in the EU’s sanctions blacklist of Putin’s allies.

Veon operates mobile networks in Ukraine and Russia, as well as Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. Fridman holds a 47.9% stake in the company through LetterOne.

In a statement late on Monday, Dia insisted it was not controlled by the Russian oligarch and would not be affected by his being blacklisted by the EU.

Dia said although it was 78% owned by LetterOne Investment Holdings SA (LIHS), “no individual shareholder controls the LIHS,” not Fridman nor Aven.

“Accordingly, the firm considers it is not affected in any way, either directly or indirectly (by the aforementioned individuals who do not control LIHS or, therefore, Dia), by the new package of sanctions.”

In a letter to his LetterOne employees, Fridman told staff that “war can never be the answer” and called for the “bloodshed” to end, the company told AFP on Sunday.

“This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years,” he wrote. (TOI / VFI News)

“God, we ask that you bring peace and ensure that Russia does not inflict more terror.”