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Sanctioned Russian oligarch whines he can’t pay bills, afford driver or cleaner

A down-on-his-luck Russian oligarch worth billions of dollars claims he’s unable to cover his bills due to sanctions — complaining that he’s not sure if he can pay assistants or afford other trappings of his luxurious lifestyle. Petr Aven, who has an estimated personal fortune of $5.63 billion, was one of several Russian billionaires sanctioned by the European Union and United Kingdom 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 froze Aven’s bank accounts and assets — including his ritzy properties in and around London. Aven, the longtime head of Russia’s Alfa Bank Group, said his wife scrambled to withdraw cash from ATMs around London just before the penalties were imposed. “Will l be allowed to have a cleaner, or a driver? I don’t drive a car … maybe my stepdaughter will drive. We don’t understand how to survive,” Aven told the Financial Times. Aven complained about his financial situation during a brutal invasion of Ukraine in which the Russian military has 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 “laden with fruit and snacks.” The oligarch sought 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 comment on the war or on Putin specifically in the FT story, but did say he thought sanctions against Russians weren’t “fair.” But “I don’t complain when people are dying,” he said. Aven is attempting to challenge the sanctions, arguing business leaders are in communication with the Kremlin by necessity. “That’s very strange, just to be sanctioned because you meet 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 compassion for Ukrainians affected by the war and said sanctions against him and other oligarchs weren’t going to sway Putin to end the invasion. Aven and fellow sanctioned oligarch Mikhail Fridman resigned from Alfa Group’s board of directors days after the European Union sanctions were applied. They also resigned from the London-based investment firm they co-founded, LetterOne, which has more than $22 billion in assets under management. “Our business is completely destroyed. Everything which we were building for 30 years is now completely ruined. And we have to somehow start a new life,” Aven added.

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