Overnight the New Zealand Government has increased its list of sanctions on Russian people and entities, but Greenpeace Aotearoa says the sanctions are token and have still missed the most obvious target – Alexander Abramov, the Russian oligarch with the largest investments in New Zealand.
On Friday 8th April in Auckland, Greenpeace will present a petition to Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, Phil Twyford calling on the New Zealand Government to “freeze oligarch assets”. The presentation will be at the Maritime Museum in The Viaduct alongside the veteran protest yacht SV Vega from where Greenpeace set sail to join the peace flotilla.
This comes as Russia’s actions in Ukraine are increasingly being characterised as war crimes.
“As the true horror of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being revealed, the case for sanctions against all significant Russian interests in New Zealand is growing painfully clear, but the Labour Government has yet to take meaningful action,” says Greenpeace Aotearoa programme director Niamh O’Flynn.
“The sanctions placed on Russian nationals and Russian entities so far by the New Zealand Government are token at best. It seems very unlikely that any New Zealand businesses have much trade with the Cossack National Guard, or that members of Russia’s State Duma will be planning a New Zealand getaway any time soon.
“To make it count, the Ardern Government needs to find the resolve to target the wealthiest Russian oligarch in New Zealand, and that means freezing Alexander Abramov’s assets here,” said O’Flynn.
The UK Government has also frozen the assets of Roman Abramovich, including the steel company Evraz Metals over allegations that Evraz supplied steel for Russian tanks. Alexander Abramov is a major business partner in Evraz
As well as sanctioning Abramovich, the UK government has recently sanctioned the lesser oligarch Eugene Shvidler, who is a “longstanding business partner” of Abramovich, saying that through his shares in the oligarch’s Evraz metals and mining business, he had “been involved in obtaining a benefit from or supporting the government of Russia”.
O’Flynn says this provides a very strong precedent and moral case for the Ardern government to go further than it has and freeze Alexander Abramov’s assets in New Zealand.
Over 12,500 people have signed the petition calling for the New Zealand Government to “freeze oligarch assets”.
Greenpeace Aotearoa first called on the Government to put sanctions on Russian oligarchs in New Zealand on the 5th March 2022.
On the 8th March 2022, Greenpeace announced it would join the Peace Flotilla.
On March 12, Greenpeace released information that links Alexander Abramov to Vladimir Putin.