Hungary and Slovakia tried to push for lifting sanctions against oligarchs close to Putin

Hungary and Slovakia tried to lift sanctions against oligarchs close to Putin, including the Russian-Uzbek businessman Alisher Usmanov.

In February, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Slovakia supported Hungary’s proposal to lift sanctions against several Russians, as reported by Aktuality.

The Slovak media outlet claims that the topic of lifting sanctions against Usmanov was on the agenda of talks between Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár with their Hungarian counterparts in Budapest in December 2023.

In addition, Slovakia supported the lifting of sanctions Arkady Volozh, founder of the Russian Yandex company; Sergei Mndoiants, a Kremlin advisor on EU relations, former Formula-1 racer Nikita Mazepin, and Russian billionaire Viatcheslav Kantor.

The Slovak side then asked Hungary to support the removal of businessman Jozef Hambalek from the EU sanctions list. He is affiliated with the pro-Putin biker club Night Wolves.

Despite the efforts of Slovakia and Hungary, Usmanov remained under sanctions. People refer to him as Russia’s richest man and link him to Vladimir Putin. Forbes previously reported that Usmanov had repeatedly solved the Russian president’s business issues.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk slammed the Hungarian and Slovak foreign ministers for meeting with their Russian counterpart during a regional forum in Turkey.

Tusk stated that meeting Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the same day that Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was buried in Russia was “not just an expression of good or bad taste.”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár met with Lavrov during the Antalya Diplomacy Forum. Szijjarto reported their meeting on his social media profile.

Representatives of Fico and Orban agreed to support a list of six people who were to be lifted at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. The list included the name of Russia’s richest man, Alisher Usmanov.

Western nations imposed sanctions on Usmanov for his ties to Putin, who started the war against Ukraine.
Authorities say that the businessman was involved in solving the Russian president’s business issues.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico and Hungary’s Prime Minister are known for previous statements that fit Russia’s interests, including criticism of sanctions against Moscow and opposition to military aid to Ukraine.

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