The sanctioned Russian oligarch complains that he can’t pay the bills or afford a driver or a cleaner

This Russian wine does not age well.

A billionaire oligarch frets that he can no longer afford to pay personal assistants or live in the high-flying style he’s become accustomed to thanks to sanctions over his pal Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Petr Aven, who has an estimated private fortune of $5.63 billion, was one of several Russian billionaires sanctioned by the European Union and the UK during an economic crackdown in response to the Ukraine war.

EU officials describe him as “one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs” with close ties to the Kremlin.

The sanctions have frozen Aven’s bank accounts and assets – including his posh properties in and around London. Aven, the longtime head of Russia’s Alfa Bank Group, said his wife was scrambling to withdraw cash from ATMs in London just before the penalties were imposed.

“May I have a cleaner or a driver? I don’t drive a car… maybe my stepdaughter will. We don’t understand how to survive,” Aven said the Financial Times.

The Italian Villa by Petr Aven
A view of Russian billionaire Petr Aven’s villa in Italy. In response to the Ukraine war, the oligarch’s assets were frozen.
Getty Images

Aven complained about his financial situation during a brutal invasion of Ukraine, during which the Russian military increasingly targeted civilian population centers, leaving many without food, heat or electricity.

The billionaire conducted the interview from his London duplex, speaking at a table that was described as “loaded with fruit and snacks.”

The oligarch tried to downplay his connection to the Kremlin, despite being photographed with Putin on the day Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February.

He didn’t specifically comment on the war or Putin in the FT story, but he said he thinks sanctions on Russians aren’t “fair.” But “I don’t complain when people die,” he said.

Aven is trying to challenge the sanctions, arguing that business leaders are bound to be linked to the Kremlin.

Petr Aven and Vladimir Putin
Petr Aven was photographed with Vladimir Putin on the day the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
AFP via Getty Images

“It’s very strange just being sanctioned for meeting the President. We try to be absolutely out of politics. With Putin, I was presenting Alfa Group, not myself at all,” Aven told FT.

Aven also expressed sympathy for war-affected Ukrainians, saying sanctions against him and other oligarchs would not make Putin end the invasion.

Aven and his sanctioned oligarch Mikhail Fridman resigned from Alfa Group’s board of directors days after European Union sanctions were imposed. They also resigned from London-based investment firm LetterOne, which they co-founded and which has more than $22 billion in assets under management.

“Our business is completely destroyed. Everything we built for 30 years is now completely ruined. And we have to start a new life somehow,” Aven added. The sanctioned Russian oligarch complains that he can’t pay the bills or afford a driver or a cleaner


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