Ukraine is preparing sanctions against Russia over Crimean winery / Photo from UNIAN

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov says Ukraine has started preparations to sanction Russia over the sale of the Massandra winery in occupied Crimea.

"We have already collected all documents available in open sources (protocols, applications, biographies of the leadership of the so-called ministry in Crimea involved in the deal, etc.). The sanctions list is presently being prepared," the ministry's press service quoted Reznikov as saying.

Read alsoUkraine tells EU of Crimean Platform concept"Massandra has been transferred to a subsidiary of Bank Rossiya. This bank, like its main public beneficiaries, has been under international sanctions since March 2014, even before the start of [Russia's] armed aggression in Donbas. That is, Massandra was seized by those who are considered to be the mastermind behind the occupation of Crimea. And now they are tearing Crimea apart. Earlier, the same subsidiary and with the use of the same scheme – through an imitation of an auction – gained control over the Novyi Svet sparkling wine producer. This poses risks for Massandra, which is part of the cultural heritage of Ukraine and Ukrainian Crimea. The enterprise could be ruined, and the most valuable assets will be simply stolen. They will have to be held liable for all this," he said.

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The official stressed the ministry would take proper measures against persons involved in the illegal auction, in particular, through national sanctions and prosecution, including in international courts. It will also appeal to international partners to include the perpetrators in the sanctions lists and impose tougher restrictions on them.

Sale of Massandra winery

  • Russia-installed authorities in Crimea sold the Massandra winery at an auction on December 14. According to the official data, the buyer is a subsidiary of Bank Rossiya, LLC Yuzhniy Proekt. The winning bid was RUB 5.327 billion (US$72.3 million). In December 2017, LLC Yuzhniy Proekt bought the Novyi Svet sparkling wine producer in Sudak for RUB 1.5 billion (US$20.4 million). LLC Yuzhniy Proekt is registered in St. Petersburg and is 99.9% owned by Bank Rossiya. The main shareholder and former governor of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya is Yuri Kovalchuk, who the media dub 'Vladimir Putin's cashier.' Kovalchuk and the bank are under U.S. sanctions.
  • Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already expressed strong protest over the Massandra winery deal.
  • Ukrainian law enforcement agencies are now probing into illegal nationalization of the Massandra winery by the so-called "Crimean authorities."