Lavrov's stepdaughter Polina Kovaleva among new Russian sanctions

24 March 2022, 11:13 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 11:25

Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov's stepdaughter has been sanctioned
Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov's stepdaughter has been sanctioned. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Will Taylor

New sanctions have been slapped on the Russian elite, including the step-daughter of Putin's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

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Russian anti-corruption activists led by jailed dissident Alexei Navalny had called for Polina Kovaleva, 26, to be sanctioned due to her family connection to the regime.

She made headlines in the UK after the invasion of Russia, when it emerged her mother Svetlana Polyakova is considered an "unofficial wife" of Lavrov's.

He is one of the most prominent figures in Vladimir Putin's regime, parroting Kremlin propaganda about the war in Ukraine, falsely declaring it to be run by neo-Nazis.

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"The UK has already sanctioned over 1,000 individuals and businesses since Russia's invasion of Ukraine," foreign secretary Liz Truss said.

"Today, I announce 65 more including the Wagner Group of mercenaries, Foreign Minister Lavrov's step-daughter and the CEO of Russia's largest bank."

It emerged Ms Kovaleva, a graduate of Loughborough University and Imperial, bought a luxury flat near Kensington High Street worth £4.4 million, when she was 21, without taking out a mortgage.

Activists at Mr Navalny's FBK organisation raised questions over how she managed that, saying her mother is unemployed and her biological father is not tremendously wealthy.

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Her mother is thought to be in a relationship with Lavrov. The foreign minister has been married to Maria Lavrova since the 1970s but the FKB's investigation chief Maria Pevchikh claimed Svetlana is the "actual wife".

It is unclear if Ms Kovaleva is still in London.

Joining her on the sanctions list is Eugen Shvidler, the billionaire oil tycoon, Oleg Tinkov, who founded Tinkoff bank, and Herman Gref, the CEO of Sberbank, Russia's largest bank.

The Foreign Office announced on Thursday it was targeting industries that are helping the invasion of Ukraine, including Russian Railways and Kronshtadt, a defence firm which is the main supplier of drones.

Financial firms including Alfa Bank have been hit, as has Alrosa, the world's largest diamond producer.

Paramilitary company Wagner Group has also been hit. Mercenaries working for the firm have been active in Ukraine and countries in Africa and are seen as effectively forming Putin’s private army.

Galina Danilchenko, who Russia installed as mayor in Melitopol, a city it has occupied in the invasion, is also one of the targets.

In total, 59 people and groups have been struck.

Earlier on Thursday, Boris Johnson told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that he was looking into whether the West can go after Russia’s gold reserves and wants to encourage more action as he meets with Nato leaders in Brussels.

"We need to do more. And so we need to do more economically, can we do more to stop him using his gold reserves for instance, in addition to his cash reserves?" he said.

"What can we do more to sanction SWIFT? And then we need to do more to give the Ukrainians military support."