ATHENS – Greece is hunting for Russian assets in the country to meet European Union sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, the bloc having compiled a list of some 870 Russians who have property internationally.
It wasn’t said how many were in Russia, but Kathimerini reported that the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is toughening its stance against Russia, straining traditionally tight ties.
The EU list has been sent to all member states but it wasn’t said if that includes candidate countries including North Macedonia and Montenegro – who are in NATO – as well as Turkey and Serbia, who won’t go along with sanctions – Air Serbia flying Russians into the country to get around a ban on its airlines in the EU.
The list has been forwarded to Greece’s anti-money laundering authorities, with the newspaper reporting that they are working with international agencies to find assets of Russians in Greece to be seized.
The United States is already freezing assets with worry it would lead to Russia doing the same to American companies doing business there, no report whether that would happen with Greek companies or how Greeks living in that country would be affected.
The report said that Greek officials are already going ahead to seize real estate in Athens suburbs and on islands as well as bank accounts, but only a small number so far and no report whether wealthy investors who bought Golden Visas – that come with EU passports – are on the list.
So far, 596 visas have been given Russia investors – with family members added on – but the program was suspended temporarily for Russians because of the invasion, but their names and assets are known because they had to buy at least 250,000 euros ($272,850) in property to qualify.
A source not named told the paper that the international list is constantly being updated by EU member states with more names while the paper said the Greek officials were working in collaboration with foreign agencies.
The international sanctions around the world have also included high-profile Russian oligarchs, such as Chelsea soccer club owner Roman Abramovich who was hit with an assets freeze and travel ban as part of new British government sanctions but it wasn’t said if Greek-Russian citizens with dual nationality would be included too.
That includes Ivan Savvidis, the 30th richest Russian in the world, who owns a big stake in Greece’s second-largest port of Thessaloniki and the PAOK soccer team. He’s had an unserved arrest warrant out against him for four years for carrying a gun onto the field during a championship game.