In response to the latest moves by Russia to annex areas of Ukraine, the New Zealand Government has signalled that it will impose more sanctions on Russians who support the invasion.

Greenpeace Aotearoa is welcoming the move, but spokesperson Amanda Larsson says the organisation wants the government to make it count by freezing the assets of New Zealand’s wealthiest Russian oligarch, Alexander Abramov.

“It was inspiring to hear Prime Minister Ardern speaking out strongly at the United Nations in favour of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty and calling for a complete ban on nuclear weapons. Now we’d like to see her match those words with action here in Aotearoa,” says Larsson.

“Everyone deserves to live in peace, without the threat of war. New Zealand once inspired the world with its nuclear-free status, and with stronger action now to help end the war on Ukraine, we could do it again.

“People are still dying every day in Ukraine, and Putin’s recent threats of nuclear war have put the world on edge. Every government must do its utmost to exert influence on Putin’s inner circle to end the war, and the New Zealand government could do more than it has by freezing the billionaire oligarch Alexander Abramov’s assets in Aotearoa.”

Shortly after the Russia Sanctions Act was passed, Greenpeace called for sanctions on Ambramov, launched a petition and joined the Aotearoa Peace Flotilla to sail north to Helena Bay, where the Russian billionaire oligarch has a 50 million dollar retreat, saying at the time that “for the Government’s sanctions to mean anything, they have to be targeting Abramov as New Zealand’s wealthiest Russian investor.”

Over eighteen thousand people have now signed the petition, and along with presenting the petition to the government, Greenpeace made a submission outlining what it says is a strong case for freezing Abramov’s Assets.

The submission details how Abramov’s assets were recently sanctioned by the Australian Government, he is in the top 20 wealthiest Russian oligarchs and is co-founder and chairman of UK-based steel producer Evraz, with an estimated net worth of $5.9 billion.

Abramov is the chairman and 29% shareholder in EVRAZ, which has been accused of providing steel to build Russian tanks. In early May, the UK placed sanctions on EVRAZ, stating that the company “operates in sectors of strategic significance to the government of Russia” and the action would “further chip away at Putin’s financial reserves and siege economy, and support Ukraine’s continued resistance”.

Abramov also has close ties with fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich, the recent owner of Chelsea Football Club, whose assets have been frozen by the UK over “clear links to Putin“. The two oligarchs are investment partners in businesses across the world, including substantial ownership of EVRAZ.

The UK Government has also placed sanctions on the lesser oligarch Eugene Shvidler’s UK assets because of his business links to Roman Abramovich and EVRAZ.

PETITION: Freeze russian oligarch assets in Aotearoa

In the name of peace, call on the New Zealand Government to freeze the assets of Russian billionaire oligarchs to pressure Vladimir Putin to call off the Russian Military invasion of Ukraine.

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