Canada has not ruled out imposing sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s alleged girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast, says the foreign minister.
Kabaeva’s name is reported to have appeared on a draft list of individuals who could be sanctioned by the European Union.
White House press Secretary Jen Psaki, asked last month if Kabaeva could appear on a future sanctions list, said, “No one is safe from our sanctions.”
Melanie Joly said Canada’s goal was to be in lockstep with its allies on imposing sanctions on individuals with links to Putin.
The minister said in an interview that Canada is preparing a fresh list of sanctions that will be announced soon. She confirmed that Canada has not ruled out adding Kabaeva’s name to a future sanctions list.
“Our goal is to be completely in line with the European Union,” she said. “It is our goal that all the sanctions by our allies also be put in place in Canada.”
Canada and the EU have already imposed on Putin’s adult daughters, Mariya Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova. Canada has also sanctioned oligarchs close to the Russian president, as well as Putin himself.
Putin, 69, has been intensely private about his personal life and has previously denied a relationship with the 38-year-old former rhythmic gymnastics medallist, who has several children.
Kabaeva has won multiple Olympic medals, including gold, as well as world championship medals and European championship medals for rhythmic gymnastics.
She is reported to have a home with her children in Switzerland but was photographed in Moscow last month at a rehearsal of a junior gymnastics festival.
Aurel Braun, a professor of international relations at the University of Toronto, said that sanctioning Kabaeva would have “symbolic value” and suggest that “no one is safe” from sanctions, but he questioned whether it would have an impact on Putin.
Braun, who is an expert in Russian foreign policy, cautioned that “for sanctions to work they need to be part of a clearly thought-through strategy.”
The RCMP confirmed Thursday that around $85 million in assets have been frozen under the sanctions regime, and more than $253 million in payments have been blocked.
The RCMP is collecting information on assets owned or controlled by people on the sanctions list.
It said that people living in Canada, as well as Canadians outside the country, must disclose property that is owned or managed by sanctioned individuals.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2022.
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