Aven wins court case in Europe, but sanctions remain in place for now

According to a release from the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs April 10, Latvian citizen and Russian businessman Petr Aven has won a European-level court case seeking to annul sanctions imposed upon him in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, the ruling does not mean sanctions will be immediately lifted against him, the MFA stressed.

"On 10 April 2024, the European General Court (Court) passed judgments in Cases T-301/22 Petr Aven v Council and T-304/22 Mikhail Fridman v Council that annul the inclusion of both the individuals on the lists of persons subject to the European Union (EU) restrictive measures (sanctions) between February 2022 and March 2023. An appeal against the decision may be brought before the Court within two months," said the MFA.

Although the Court judgments annul the 2022 decisions on the inclusion of the two oligarchs on the sanctions imposed on them in 2022, "the acts whereby the sanctions imposed had been extended remain in force," said the MFA.

"The lifting of sanctions currently in force may be decided by the Council of the EU and, pending such a decision, sanctions against those persons shall remain in force," – so none of their frozen assets will be unfrozen for now.

"Latvia has provided a substantiated position to justify the sanctions; therefore, Latvia will call on the Council of the EU to appeal against the judgment of the Court," the MFA promised.

In his application to the court Aven claimed "no sufficient link" had been established between him and the Russian Federation and that "the Council does not show that the applicant is a prominent or leading businessman or that he is involved in economic sectors providing a substantial source of revenue to the government of the Russian Federation".

News of the judgment of the court came in a press release saying:

"The General Court upholds the requests of Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman and annuls both the initial acts and the acts maintaining the lists of restrictive measures for the period from 28 February 2022 to 15 March 2023. The General Court considers that none of the reasons set out in the initial acts is sufficiently substantiated and that the inclusion of Mr Aven and Mr Fridman on the lists at issue was therefore not justified."

It goes on to say that "although the grounds put forward by the Council may be such as to establish, as the case may be, a degree of proximity between Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman and Vladimir Putin or his entourage, they do not demonstrate that they have supported actions or policies that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or that they have provided material or financial support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Ukraine, or that they have benefited from those decision-makers" – a statement that may amaze many.

As previously reported by LSM, Aven's Latvian citizenship is also a matter of some controversy. In two applications made to the court on May 23, 2023, he gives addresses in both Latvia and the United Kingdom

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