The UK has lifted sanctions against Oleg Tinkov, a Russian businessman and former owner of Tinkoff Bank, according to government documents.
Earlier this was called for by the founder of Virgin Group Corporation, billionaire Richard Branson. In a letter addressed to the British authorities, he said that he had known Tinkov for 20 years and considered the sanctions imposed on him “unjustified”.
“Although he is a wealthy Russian businessman, he has never been an oligarch. I always knew him as a self-sufficient and dynamic entrepreneur. That is why I respected and supported him and continue to do so”, Branson noted.
A similar appeal was made by businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who sent a letter to the British Foreign Ministry.
Tinkov fell under the kingdom’s sanctions after the war in Ukraine began – in March 2022. British authorities described him as a “prominent Russian businessman” who had previously been involved in a “strategically important sector” for the Kremlin.
Tinkov’s assets in the UK were frozen, his private jet grounded and he was banned from entering the country. He was not affected by the sanctions imposed by the US, Canada and the European Union.
Tinkov himself repeatedly spoke out against the invasion of Ukraine on his social media accounts, and then decided to renounce his Russian citizenship. “I can’t see all this and associate with Putin’s fascism! I can’t see my former compatriots killing and robbing peaceful people for nothing”, he said and called on other businessmen to follow his example.
In response, the Kremlin forced Tinkov to sell his stake in the bank he founded. Vladimir Potanin’s investment company Interros became the new owner of the credit organization. According to Tinkov, if he refused to sell, the bank was going to be nationalized.
The businessman considered the British sanctions against himself unfair. “I should never have been under them – and not because of what I said after the invasion, but because of what I did before. I was probably the most liberal businessman in Russia… In 2012, when Putin was illegally elected, I protested on Pushkin Square”, Tinkov recalled.
In early 2023, he asked the British Foreign Office to remove him from the blacklist, noting that in this way the West would demonstrate that “sanctions are not aimed at all Russians, but only at those who support Putin and his invasion”.
According to Forbes calculations, Tinkov is no longer a dollar billionaire: before the war his fortune was estimated at $9.4 billion, and in March 2022 – only $820 million. Tinkov himself said last May that he had only about $200 million left of his former wealth.
This is the second time in a month that the UK has lifted restrictions against a Russian. In early July, it lifted sanctions on former Sberbank first deputy chairman Lev Khasis. The UK blacklisted him on March 24, 2022, although he left the bank and emigrated to the United States a few days before the war broke out.