Canada has put sanctions on Alexander Lebedev, the former KGB agent who little more than a decade ago bought the Evening Standard and the Independent.
The Russian billionaire was named in a fresh wave of sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime announced on Friday that also included a ban on the import of Russian vodka, diamonds and caviar, according to the Globe and Mail.
Lebedev, whose links to the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, are well documented, has not been sanctioned by the UK.
The Canadian government said the ban on trade in luxury goods and the addition of 14 oligarchs and associates of the Russian president was aligned with similar measures imposed by allies such as the US and the EU, and would “help to mitigate the potential for Russian oligarchs to circumvent restrictions in other luxury goods markets”.
The sanctions package, announced by Canada’s foreign minister, Melanie Joly, covers goods that were worth $75.7m (£47m) in 2021. It also bans the export of jewellery, art and kitchenware to Russia and restricts the export of “goods that could be used in the production and manufacture of weapons”.
“The Putin regime must, and will, answer for their unjustifiable acts,” Joly said. “Canada, together with our allies, will be relentless in our efforts to maintain pressure on the Russian regime until it is no longer able to wage war. We are unwavering in our support for Ukraine and its people.”
Lebedev finances the Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta. His son Evgeny owns the Evening Standard and the Independent and was appointed to the House of Lords in 2020 despite concerns raised by MI5. He published a statement in the Standard in February in which he pleaded with Putin to end the war.
According to the Globe and Mail, other figures Canada has newly sanctioned includeGleb Frank, a leading Russian fishery company owner; his father Sergei Frank, the former minister of transport and former CEO of Russian shipping firm Sovcomflot; and Sergei Frank’s wife, Ksenia Frank, the daughter of Gennady Timchenko, an oligarch and an associate of Putin.
David Davidovich, a close associate of Roman Abramovich, who has been forced to sell Chelsea after being sanctioned in the UK, was also sanctioned.
The fresh wave of sanctions came as talks between G7 countries and Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, concluded in Germany.
Canada has to date sanctioned more than 1,000 individuals and entities from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion.