© . FILE PHOTO: Katerina Tikhonova, deputy director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University, daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, can be seen on a screen as she participates in a St. Petersburg session
By Nandita Bose WASHINGTON () – The latest round of United States sanctions against Russia includes two new targets: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, Katerina and Maria, whom US officials say are hiding Putin’s wealth. Putin’s daughter Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova is a technical director whose work supports the Russian government and its defense industry, according to details in the US sanctions package announced Wednesday. His other daughter Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova leads state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin for genetic research, and is personally overseen by Putin, the United States said. “We have reason to believe that Putin, and many of his cronies, and the oligarchs, are hiding their wealth, hiding their assets, with relatives putting their assets and their wealth into the American financial system, as well as many other parts of the world. world,” a senior US government official told reporters. “We believe that many of Putin’s belongings are hidden with relatives, which is why we are targeting them,” the official said, on condition of anonymity. On Thursday, the Kremlin said it was dismayed by the US decision, describing the action against the daughters as part of a wider Western frenzy against Russia. was unable to reach Putin’s daughters or their representatives. The sanctions announced on Wednesday also include the daughter and wife of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The US also banned Americans from investing in Russia, targeting Russian financial institutions and Kremlin officials, in response to what President Joe Biden denounced as Russian “atrocities” in Ukraine. Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha, north of Kiev, have been staged to justify more sanctions against Moscow. Moscow says it is involved in a “special military operation” designed to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and Western governments reject that as a false pretext for the Russian invasion. The extent of Putin’s wealth is a sensitive topic in Russia. The Kremlin denied last year that it owned a lavish palace on the Black Sea, as opposition politician Alexei Navalny claimed in a video that drew huge audiences on YouTube. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in February that sanctions against Putin himself were pointless. “(Putin) is quite indifferent. The sanctions contain absurd claims about certain assets,” Peskov said. “The president has no assets other than those he has declared.” But US lawmakers think otherwise. “Putin and his oligarchs are pouring their dirty money into rule of law countries by buying mansions, mega yachts, works of art and other valuable assets,” US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said a few weeks ago, while enacting legislation offering cash. rewards for information leading to the seizure of assets held by sanctioned Russian oligarchs. ROCK ‘N ROLL DANCER Putin’s daughters, whom the US says are helping him hide his wealth, have never publicly confirmed that the Russian leader is their father, and he has declined to answer questions about them. A 2015 survey mapped out the connections and influence Katerina, an acrobatic rock and roll dancer, has in the next generation of Moscow’s elite. (For story, see: https://reut.rs/3ubo3kR) “Katerina, 29, described herself as the wife of Kirill Shamalov, son of Nikolai Shamalov, an old friend of President Putin,” the report said. Shamalov senior is a shareholder of Bank Rossiya, which US officials have described as the personal bank of the Russian elite. As husband and wife, Kirill and Katerina had business interests worth about $2 billion, according to estimates provided by financial analysts to . This was in addition to other property and assets. Putin’s eldest daughter Maria studied biology at St. Petersburg University and medicine at Moscow State University, according to ‘ research. She is also deeply involved in genetic research, which Putin has described in the past as a field that will “determine the future of the entire world.” According to Russian and Western media reports, Maria married Dutch businessman Jorrit Joost Faassen. She pursued a biomedical career specializing in the endocrine system in 2015, as a PhD student at the Endocrinology Research Center in Moscow, and is the co-author of a book on “idiopathic dwarfism” in children, according to the report. Her husband used to work for Gazprombank, a major lender with strong ties to Putin’s elite, the report said. No estimates were immediately available for their assets and holdings.