What is 'Navalny 35' List? Payback Time for Insanely Rich Russian Oligarchs Close to Putin?

Alexei Navalny had prepared a list of 35 oligarchs earlier who are believed to be close to Vladimir Putin. In the current scenario of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the list seems to be useful for the West as the US could consider imposing a travel ban or sanctioning those oligarchs over their possible involvement in supporting Vladimir Putin in the attack, a call which the US Senators have been endorsing for days.

Navalny had exposed the extent of Putin's corruption and money laundering including the construction of a billion-dollar presidential palace.

Following Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Washington imposed sanctions against some of the Russian President's cronies. However, not all of them have been covered under the sanctions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File Photo: IANS) IANS

In a similar set of sanctions, nearly 15 countries, including the UK and Canada, agreed to ban Russian planes from flying over democratic skies. But some oligarchs are still enjoying themselves on their private planes and megayachts.

It's not only the sanctions that hit the oligarchs most, their presence is also affected by the travel bans too.

Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, said that the oligarchs are deeply concerned about travel bans because they undermine their reputations and philanthropy, which they use to bolster their public image.

Top of the List -- Putin's Banker

Roman Abramovich tops Navalny 35 list. The billionaire oligarch owns a British soccer club, and is said to be Putin's banker. Abramovich's worth is estimated at around $13.8 billion and he recently received citizenship in Portugal.

Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich Reuters

The Kremlingarch used to own $92 million worth of property in New York City. But soon before the sanctions were announced against him in 2018, the property was transferred to his ex-wife
Dasha Zhukova.

The UK members of parliament named him a key enabler of Putin's regime. But in the past, Abramovich has denied such allegations.

Abramovich owns $170 million in the UK, where he has been from entering for some time.

He reportedly owns a $600 million megayacht, Solaris, which boasts its own missile detection system; his other megayacht, Eclipse, was spotted docked in the tiny island of Saint Martin earlier this week, reported the New York Post.

The Navalny 35 list also includes some names who own properties in New York and some of them are yet to be sanctioned by the US government.

Oleg Deripaska

Deripaska's estimated worth is around $4.1 billion and he is on a US sanctions list which bars him from entering the US.

Oleg Deripaska
Oleg Deripaska Reuters

The officials in the US believe that Deripaska is close to the Russian President. Also, he is wanted for murder, money laundering, bribery and racketeering.

His assets were frozen by the US government. But Deripaska's companies were taken off sanctions lift after he reduced his partnership to under 50 percent. Abramovich and Len Blavatnik are his partners in some businesses.

Deripaska owned properties of millions in New York which are now transferred to his relatives.

Are Sanctions Effective against Oligarchs?

Oligarchs quickly transfer their properties in the name of their relatives, friends and ex-wives as they see the possibility of sanctions. And they also run many businesses in the name of their close ones and with the massive money they also easily secure strong legal firms to represent them. Such practices challenge officials to effectively impose sanctions against these oligarchs.

"Oligarchs' ability to transfer wealth to others is another loophole that can't be ignored," said Shelley stressing that the ability of politically exposed people to transfer property to friends and family is a way to get around the law, legislation is needed to address it.

This article was first published on February 28, 2022