The Russian Jewish oligarch Viktor Vekselberg has been personally financially sanctioned by the U.S. government. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued sanctions targeting Russian and Kremlin elites, oligarchs, and Russia’s political and national security leaders who it says have supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal and illegal” invasion of Ukraine.
Viktor Vekselberg was born to a Jewish father and a Russian mother in Ukraine in 1957. In 1990, he co-founded Renova Group, a Russian energy concern, with college classmate, Leonard Blavatnik. He made a fortune from the privatization of the aluminum industry in Russia in the 1990s. In 1996, he co-founded the Siberian-Urals Aluminium Company (SUAL) via a merger of the Ural and Irkutsk Aluminum Plants.
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He is also an art collector and philanthropist. Viktor Vekselberg donated $4.5 million to the construction of the $50 million Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, and is the chairman of the museum’s board of trustees. He finances the restoration and construction of synagogues in Russia, including the construction of the Choral Synagogue in Saratov. In 2019, a monument was opened in Moscow to commemorate resistance heroes in concentration camps and ghettos. Vekselberg donated $300,000 to its creation.
But now his money is no longer wanted in certain areas. For example, the famed Tate museum in London cut its ties relations with Viktor Vekselberg, who was an honorary member of the prestigious fundraising arm of the museum the Tate Foundation. The Guardian quoted the Tate as saying, “Mr Vekselberg donated to Tate seven years ago and no longer holds his honorary membership title.”
In addition to Viktor Vekselberg, the move designated regime elites and business executives who are associates and facilitators of the Russian regime, including three immediate family members of President Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitriy Sergeevich Peskov and the Management Board of the sanctioned VTB Bank. Additionally, OFAC designated 12 members of the Russian State Duma, including Vyacheslav Victorovich Volodin, who is also a permanent member of Russia’s Security Council.
“Today’s designations further hold to account those actors who were directly responsible for Russia’s illegitimate and unlawful recognition and facilitating the sham pretext used by Putin to justify the … unprovoked war against Ukraine,” the Treasury said.
“Treasury continues to hold Russian officials to account for enabling Putin’s unjustified and unprovoked war,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Today’s actions also further isolates the severely damaged Russian economy by prohibiting trade in products that are key to the economic and financial interests of all Russian elites.”