EU Court Removes Prigozhin’s Mother From Ukraine Sanctions List

The EU General Court has annulled Ukraine-related sanctions imposed on the mother of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the chief of the Wagner mercenary group that is spearheading Moscow’s war in eastern Ukraine.

The EU sanctions, which were first initiated after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, included a travel ban and potential asset freezes slapped on those involved in Moscow’s actions.

Violetta Prigozhina was added to the EU Ukraine sanctions list last year on February 23, the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, together with members of the Russian government, banks, businesspeople, and lawmakers.

In response to a contest filed by Prigozhina, the bloc’s second-highest court ruled on March 8 that her inclusion on the sanctions list was based only on her family connection with Prigozhin, which the court said was insufficient proof she was complicit to her son’s role in the Ukraine war.

Prigozhin, an oligarch known as “Putin’s Chef” due to his onetime Kremlin catering business, is the owner of the infamous private mercenary company Wagner and has been behind Russian “troll factories” aimed at interfering in U.S. elections.

Prigozhin’s mercenaries have been heavily involved in the invasion of Ukraine, mainly in the ongoing offensive on the eastern town of Bakhmut, where heavy fighting has been under way for months.

The EU, the court said, placed Prigozhina, 83, on the sanctions list on the grounds that she was the owner of Concord Management and Consulting LLC, part of the Concord group founded and owned until 2019 by her son, and also owned other business interests with links to him.

The court said it had established that Prigozhina, although owning shares in Concord, has not been the owner of company since 2017. The EU also failed to prove that Prigozhina owned other ventures linked to her son when the sanctions were adopted.

“Even if [Prigozhin] is responsible for actions undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine, the link between Ms. Prigozhina and her son established at the time of the adoption of the contested acts is based solely on their family relationship and is therefore not sufficient to justify her inclusion on the contested lists,” the court statement said.

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