Skip to main content

Judo partner and personal banker: 10 of Putin's close aides targeted by sanctions

By Ivana Kottasova, CNN
updated 2:34 PM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
Vladislav Surkov is a close aide and adviser to Putin. He is often described as the "Gray Cardinal" of the Kremlin, one of the masterminds behind the current Russian political system. Vladislav Surkov is a close aide and adviser to Putin. He is often described as the "Gray Cardinal" of the Kremlin, one of the masterminds behind the current Russian political system.
Putin's inner circle targeted
Dmitry Kiselyov
Vladimir Yakunin
Sergei Ivanov
Arkady and Boris Rotenberg
Gennady Timchenko
Valentina Matviyenko
Elena Mizulina
Yuri Kovalchuk
  • The list of Russians targeted includes some of Vladimir Putin's closest aides
  • Highest-ranking politicians and influential businessmen are among those listed
  • Informal aides and long-term allies to Putin are banned from traveling to EU and the U.S.

(CNN) -- The list of Russians targeted by Western sanctions is expanding. The EU has added a further 12 names to its original 21-strong lists, while the U.S. focused its sanctions on some of the key people from President Vladimir Putin's inner circle.

Here is a selection of some of the most interesting names from the lists:

Vladislav Surkov

Surkov is a close aide and adviser to Putin. He is often described as the "Gray Cardinal" of the Kremlin, one of the masterminds behind the current Russian political system. He served as the deputy chief of staff of Putin's presidential office and as Putin's deputy when Putin held the position of prime minister.

Surkov resigned from that position last year.

Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council

Russian business uneasy after sanctions
EU announces new round of sanctions
Inside Politics: Putin's D.C. sanctions
EU taking careful approach with sanctions

Effectively number three on Russia's power list, and one of the highest-ranking women in Russian politics. Matviyenko is a firm supporter of Putin and rose to power as the governor of St. Petersburg, Putin's home town.

She is credited with bringing major investors into St. Petersburg and transforming the city into an international hub. Several global companies, including General Motors and Nissan invested in the region while it was under her governorship.

Arkady and Boris Rotenberg

The Rotenberg brothers have close links with Putin, having been his sparring partners in judo training for years. Boris is the president of Dynamo Moscow football club, while Arkady is an executive for Dynamo's ice-hockey club.

The U.S. says the two received about $7 billion in contracts for the Sochi Olympic Games. "They have made billions of dollars in contracts for Gazprom and the Sochi Winter Olympics awarded to them by Putin," the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement announcing the sanctions.

Gennady Timchenko, founder of energy trading company Gunvor

Magnate Gennady Timchenko's activities in the energy sector have been directly linked to Putin, according to the U.S. Treasury. Gunvor is responsible for much of Russia's oil export transactions.

In a statement Thursday, Gunvor said Timchenko sold all his shares in the company on March 19. It added that Putin "has not and never has had any ownership" interest in Gunvor.

The U.S. said Putin has investments in Gunvor, and may have access to Gunvor funds.

Dmitry Kiselev, news anchor

One of the most influential pro-Kremlin journalists in Russia. Known for his highly controversial views. Advocating Russia's anti-gay laws in 2013, he said: "I believe it is not enough to impose fines on gays for engaging in the propaganda of homosexuality among adolescents. We need to ban them from donating blood and sperm, and if they die in car accidents, we need to bury their hearts in the ground or burn them as they're unsuitable for the aiding of anyone's life."

Sergei Ivanov, Chief of staff of the presidential executive office

Ivanov has been Putin's colleague for decades, since their years of service in the Soviet KGB in St. Petersburg. They continued working together in the Federal Security Office in the 1990s and later in politics. Ivanov served as Putin's first deputy prime minister from 2001 to 2007 and was seen as one of Putin's potential successors in 2008.

Vladimir Yakunin, Russian railway chairman

Yakunin is another St Petersburg figure. The Russian Railway chief was in charge of some of the biggest infrastructure projects of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Yakunin was also involved in a holiday housing community in the countryside outside St Petersburg. Set up in the 90s, media has speculated that Putin was also involved in the housing cooperative, together with Ivanov and Kovalchuk.

Yuri Kovalchuk, Bank Rossiya's largest shareholder.

The U.S. Treasury Department described Kovalchuk as "the personal banker" to Putin and other senior Russian officials.

Bank Rossiya is Russia's 17th biggest bank, with $10 billion in assets, according to a senior U.S. administration official. It has substantial interests in oil and gas.

Elena Mizulina (also known as Yelena Mizulina), a State Duma Deputy

Mizulina was one of the parliamentarians behind Russia's anti-gay legislation and was also a strong proponent of the anti-Magnitsky law, which banned adoptions of Russian orphans by American families.

Read more: Would World Cup boycott hit harder?
Read more: U.S. sanctions on Russia begin to bite
Document: Full U.S. Treasury list

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, Nina Dos Santos, Nick Paton Walsh, Susannah Palk and CNNMoney's Mark Thompson contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 3:51 AM EDT, Fri October 3, 2014
Reza Sayah looks into why thousands of Ukrainians have left their old lives to volunteer to fight.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva speaks to The New Republic's Linda Kinstler about Putin's motives with Ukraine and China.
updated 10:36 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
President Barack Obama speaks at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of "high-energy objects" from outside, a preliminary report by Dutch aviation investigators said Tuesday.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
"There were many scenes that defied logic," writes OSCE spokesman Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first international observers to arrive at the site.
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
On a country road in eastern Ukraine, a scene of bucolic tranquility was suddenly interrupted by the aftermath of carnage.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue September 2, 2014
In the city of Donetsk, the devastation wrought by weeks of fighting between pro-Russia rebels and Ukrainian forces is all too apparent.
updated 8:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's Diana Magnay reports from the front lines in the Ukrainian conflict.
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
A few miles south of the town of Starobeshevo in eastern Ukraine, a group of men in uniform is slumped under a tree.
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
A shopkeeper's mutilated body, relatives' anguish, homes destroyed ... this is Donetsk.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
A 20-minute drive from Kiev takes you to a neighborhood that feels more like Beverly Hills than central Ukraine.
updated 9:12 AM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Photos illustrate the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as fighting continues to flare in the region.
updated 12:31 PM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
Future imports, exports between the EU and Russia are now banned -- but existing contracts continue.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.