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Biden sanctions Putin's 'money man' and child's godfather

Biden sanctions Putin’s ‘money man’ and godfather to one of his children, two yachts he has a financial interest in and two private jets

  • Sanctions hit Putin’s ‘middle-man’ Sergei Roldugin
  • Roldugin is also a cellist and conductor; his wife is a soprano singer
  • Russia-flagged Graceful and Cayman-flagged Olympia identified as Putin-linked and sanctioned 
  • Putin voyaged with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the Black Sea aboard the ships
  • Sanctions also his two other Putin-linked yachts
  • They also hit  324-foot vessel that has a helicopter, an elevator, a beach club, and a gym
  • White House says Russian economy ‘is staggering under the weight of financial and trade sanctions’
  • But Bloomberg News reported that Russia was expected to collect $285 billion from its oil and gas industry this year 

The Treasury Department unveiled new sanctions Thursday meant to claw back prizes amassed by Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and their family members – including seizing a 324-foot yacht valued at $150 million belonging to a member of the state Duma.

This time the government’s sanctions seek to go deeper into the Russian president’s financial network as Russia’s war on Ukraine surpasses its 100th day. 

The sanctions hit five oligarchs and elites, including Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who has trashed the U.S. in her public statements.

The sanctions also target Sergei Roldugin, identified as the money manager for Putin’s offshore wealth, as well as the godfather to one of Putin’s daughters.

Treasury describes Roldugin as a ‘close friend’ to Putin, as well as his ‘middle-man’. He is also a cellist and conductor of the state-owned St. Petersburg Music House. His wife Elena Yuryevna Mirtova is a soprano singer and actress. 

New Treasury sanctions hit Russian billionaire and businessman Sergei Roldugin (L), a cellist and conductor described as a friend to President Vladimir Putin as well as a ‘middle-man’ who manages his offshore empire

The sanctions also go after ‘Putin-linked yachts and Kremlin aligned yacht brokerages.’

These include the Graceful, flagged in Russia, and identified as blocked property in which Putin ‘has an interest,’ and the Cayman Islands-flagged Olympia. 

Putin ‘has taken numerous trips on these yachts, including a 2021 Black Sea expedition where he was joined by Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is also designated by Treasury as corrupt.

Belarus allowed Putin to use its country as a staging ground for the Ukraine invasion.

Treasury sanctions also target two additional yachts linked to Putin, the Shellest and the Nega, which are owned by a Russian company.

‘Shellest periodically travels to the coast where President Putin’s infamous Black Sea Palace is located, and President Putin uses Nega for travel in Russia’s North,’ according to a Treasury statement.

Roldugin is a ‘close friend’ to Putin, as well as his ‘middle-man’. He is also a cellist and conductor of the state-owned St. Petersburg Music House

The Madame Gu has a helicopter landing pad

Russian billionaire Andrei Skoch’s Superyacht ‘Madame Gu” (99m) pictured in Port Hercules for the 26th Monaco Yacht Show.  It is flagged in the Cayman Islands. The 324-foot vessel has a helicopter, an elevator, a beach club, and a gym

The sanctions also blocked a private plane, and Airbus A319.

 ‘The Russian economy is staggering under the weight of financial and trade sanctions, export controls, and the exodus of approximately 1,000 U.S. and multinational businesses,’ according to a White House fact sheet. 

But Bloomberg News reported that Russia was expected to collect $285 billion from its oil and gas industry this year, helping finance its war – even as Europe takes measures to cut off importation of some Russian oil.

The sanctions also identify jet aircraft owned by San Marino-based SRL Skyline Aviation, which were transferred in a complex scheme were transferred to an anonymous offshore company managed by the chief of staff of Russian banker Andrei Kostin, CEO of VTB Bank. 

Another yacht, Sea Rhapsody, flagged in the Marshall Islands and linked to Kostin, was identified as property in which Kostin has an interest, and is valued at $65 million.

Yet another yacht designated as blocked property, the Madame Gu, is flagged in the Cayman Islands. The 324-foot vessel has a helicopter, an elevator, a beach club, and a gym, and has a yearly painting budget of $1 million. It is linked to sanctioned Duma member and billionaire Andrew Vladimirovich Skoch. The sanctions also blocked a private plane, and Airbus A319. 

President Joe Biden’s administration has pushed sanctions on Russia and on members of Putin’s circle


Putin had ‘treatment for advanced cancer in April, survived an assassination attempt in March and is increasingly paranoid about his grip on power’, US intelligence report claims

  • Three sources claim US intelligence assessments concluded that Vladimir Putin of Russia had treatment for cancer in April
  • ‘Putin’s grip is strong but no longer absolute,’ one told Newsweek 
  • It comes amid feverish speculation that the Russian leader is in ill health
  • Every public appearance is scrutinized for signs of weakness 



By Rob Crilly, Senior Political Reporter for 

President Vladimir Putin of Russia had treatment for advanced cancer in April and survived an assassination attempt a month earlier, according to a U.S. intelligence report.

Putin’s health has been the source of endless rumor and speculation, as analyst pore over footage of his every public appearance for evidence of physical decline.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied ill-health and U.S. officials have also warned against wishful thinking.

But now three senior intelligence figures have told Newsweek that Putin’s health is the subject of intense scrutiny by the Biden administration and that a classified report confirms reports of cancer treatment.

‘Putin’s grip is strong but no longer absolute,’ one of the senior intelligence officers said. 

‘The jockeying inside the Kremlin has never been more intense during his rule, everyone sensing that the end is near.’ 

The sources – drawn from Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Intelligence Agency – agree that Putin’s health is more grave than previously believed. 

They said that his physical exhaustion was matched by Russia’s own exhaustion, as the conflict enters its fourth month. 

Analysts have pored over images like this one, trying to gauge the state of Vladimir Putin’s health. His puffy face has raised speculation that he is sick

Three intelligence source said the state of Putin’s health matched his country’s own exhaustion from the war in Ukraine. Smoke is seen rising here in the city of Severodonetsk during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the eastern Donbas region

A man walks next to heavily damaged buildings and destroyed cars following Russian attacks in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine

And the intelligence assessments also confirm an assassination attempt was made in March, the officials say. 

However, they cautioned that some sources of intelligence had evaporated since the war began and that Putin’s isolation had made it harder to assess his condition. 

‘What we know is that there is an iceberg out there, albeit one covered in fog,’ said the DNI leader.

Meanwhile the DIA official said Putin’s reduction in meetings with outsiders had also choked off information. 

‘Putin has had few meetings with foreign leaders,’ the source said. 

‘Putin’s isolation has thus increased levels of speculation.’

That speculation has brought repeated denials from the Kremlin.

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied that Putin was ill or dying.

‘President Vladimir Putin appears in public every day,’ he told French television.

‘You can watch him on screens, read and listen to his performances. I don’t think that sane people can see signs of some kind of illness or poor health.’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the fact that viewers can watch Putin on screens and read his speeches disproved any notion that the Russian leader was unwell

He added that reports of Putin’s poor health should be left ‘on the conscience of those who spread such rumors.’

His statements come amid reports that the Kremlin was reusing old footage of Putin for several meetings. 

An FSB officer was quoted in media outlets on May 29 warning that Putin has just three years left to live as speculation abounded over his health.

And former British spy Christopher Steele, who wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, has also suggested that Putin is in poor health.

‘Certainly, from what we’re hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill,’ he told Sky News recently.

But he admitted that it was unclear what was ailing him. 

‘It’s not clear exactly what this illness is — whether it’s incurable or terminal, or whatever. But certainly, I think it’s part of the equation,’ he added.

A former Soviet spy has claimed that Putin has Parkinson’s disease while the Proekt investigative website said that Russian leader is thought to have thyroid cancer.  

Heavy fighting is under way in the eastern Donbas region, but battles are also taking place to the west of Kherson as Ukraine counter-attacks

One source of intrigue is Putin’s April 21 meeting with his defense minister.

Putin gripped the table with his right hand as soon as he sat down, and held it throughout the meeting. 

Some observers took it as evidence of Parkinson’s disease while others suggested it was simply his old KGB weapons training and he was staying ready to reach for a gun. 

 ‘Someone once seen as omnipotent was now mostly seen as struggling with the future, his own in particular,’ said the DNI leader.

Top-ranking Russian officials are said to be plotting a government without Putin after Kremlin sources claimed the Russian president has turned almost everybody against him amid the invasion of Ukraine.

A government source told Russian-Latvian outlet Meduza last week that ‘there are almost no people who are satisfied with Putin’ among Kremlin officials and Russian elites.

‘Businessmen and many members of the government are unhappy that the president started the war without thinking about the scale of the sanctions – it is impossible to live with such sanctions,’ the source said – a sentiment which was later corroborated by two other government insiders.

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