Montenegro freezes assets of two Russians on EU sanctions list

Session of the Government of Montenegro in Podgorica. Photo: Government of Montenegro

Montenegro’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday authorities had frozen the assets of two Russian citizens under European Union sanctions against Russia related to its war on Ukraine.

The ministry told BIRN that Montenegro’s property office blocked the real estate of an unnamed Russian citizen in Zabljak and Russian politician Marat Bashirov in the resort town of Budva. Bashirov is the leader of pro-Russian separatists in the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine.

“A Russian citizen complained to the administrative court about the decision of the property office, so we cannot publish his name at this time,” the property office told BIRN.

On April 8, the government confirmed the implementation of European Union sanctions against Russia, which Montenegro joined on March 1.

As part of the restrictive measures, Montenegro banned Russian overflights from its airspace and access to its airports, and halted transactions with the Russian Central Bank.

Montenegro also joined the Swift ban on seven Russian banks, freezing the assets of Russian and Ukrainian citizens on EU restriction lists and suspending the broadcasting of Russian state media.

On June 10, Interior Minister Filip Adzic said Montenegro would freeze 44 properties of 34 Russian and Ukrainian citizens, following EU sanctions. But on July 7, Finance Minister Aleksandar Damjanovic said the Property Office had made a technical error.

“After a detailed check of the restriction list, it was found that regardless of the name matches, they are not the same people. Nobody’s assets were frozen if they were not thoroughly checked,” Damjanovic told TV. Vijesti.

Opinion in Montenegro is divided over Russia and its invasion of Ukraine. The country’s large ethnic Serbian community is sympathetic to Russia, while other communities are much less so.

The ruling parties and part of the opposition support the EU sanctions, but the largest opposition bloc, the Democratic Front, opposes them.

For years, Montenegro has been dubbed the “Russian VIP resort” – the favorite destination of Russian oligarchs. According to some surveys, more than 40% of real estate in Montenegro is owned by Russians, including some former politicians and billionaires.

On July 7, the Central Bank of Montenegro, CBCG, said that Russians are still the biggest buyers of real estate in the country, having bought 20 million euros worth of property since February.

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