(CN) — Attending a high-level meeting with Vladimir Putin on the day of the invasion of Ukraine justifies sanctions against a Russian chemical billionaire, the EU’s second-highest court ruled Wednesday.
Dmitry Mazepin was one of 36 top business officials who met with the president and other Kremlin leaders to discuss how to respond to Western sanctions, making him one of Putin’s inner circle, the European Union’s General Court found.
In March 2022, Brussels added the fertilizer tycoon to the list of hundreds of Russian officials who are banned from entering the European Union and have had their financial assets seized, during one of eleven rounds of sanctions imposed in response to the invasion.
“He is supporting or implementing actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” the European Council wrote in its decision concerning restrictive measures.
Mazepin appealed the order to the Luxembourg-based court, arguing that being invited to a meeting with Putin doesn’t mean he supports Russia’s policies in Ukraine. But the three-judge panel disagreed, finding there was a clear “link between the targeting of leading businesspersons operating in economic sectors providing substantial revenue to the government … and the objective of the restrictive measures in the present case, which is to increase pressure on the Russian Federation.”
The court also noted that in January 2022, Mazepin’s company, Uralchem, posted an update on its website to announce a meeting with Putin. Mazepin “expressed his gratitude to President Putin and the Government of the Russian Federation for their support of the chemical industry,” according to the post.
The 55-year-old is one of dozens of Russians contesting the sanctions at the court. His son, race car driver Nikita Mazepin, was able to convince judges at the court that he was not involved in the war in Ukraine. The Formula One driver had been forbidden from racing in the EU and is still banned from competing on a team with links to his father.
In June 2022, the court also upheld sanctions against Yevgeny Prigozhin, the suspected leader of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group. Prigozhin’s mother, on the other hand, did not have a sufficient link to official activities, judges found earlier this year. They ordered Brussels to remove the 83-year-old from the sanctions list.
Mazepin has two months to appeal the decision.Follow @mollyquell
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