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Posted: Wednesday, July 30th 2014 at 4:10pm

3 Putin allies among 8 hit with new EU sanctions

By The Associated Press
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BRUSSELS (AP) -- Three long-time Putin associates are among eight people who have been hit with new European Union sanctions, an official EU document showed Wednesday.

The EU measures were the first to target members of the Russian president's inner circle for Russia's actions in Ukraine.

Among those sanctioned are Arkady Rotenberg, Putin's former judo sparring partner and a major shareholder of the civil engineering company Giprotransmost. The company received a public contract to conduct a study on building a bridge from Russia to Crimea, which Russia annexed unilaterally in April.

Also targeted by the EU is Yuri Kovalchuk, a longtime Putin acquaintance identified by the EU as co-founder of the Ozero Dacha, a cooperative society bringing together influential individuals around Russia's President. He is also the chairman and largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya, which has opened branches in Crimea since its annexation.

The third Putin ally on the sanctions-list is Nikolai Shamalov, another co-founder of the Ozero Dacha and the second-largest shareholder in the Bank Rossiya.

The other five people targeted by the new EU sanctions, which go into effect immediately, include the first deputy chief of staff of the Russian presidential administration and three pro-Russian officials in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Three companies were also subjected to EU restrictions, including the subsidiary of a Russian state-owned airline that operates flights between Moscow and Crimea, and Almaz-Antei, which EU documents identified as a state-owned Russian maker of anti-aircraft weaponry whose missiles have been supplied to separatists in Eastern Ukraine and used to shoot down airplanes.

The new measures mean a total of 95 people and 23 entities have been subjected to EU restrictions for allegedly subverting Ukraine's sovereignty or territorial integrity, or profiting from the Kremlin takeover of Crimea.
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