Russia’s Patriarch Kirill first name on Czech national sanctions list

Patriarch Kirill with Vladimir Putin

The Czech government has placed the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, on its national sanctions list for supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. His name is the first to appear on the Czech sanctions list after the government passed its own version of the US Magnitsky Act last year.

Russia’s Patriarch Kirill | Photo: ČT24

Czechia approved its own version of the US Magnitsky Act so as to allow the country to impose its own sanctions against individuals and legal entities for serious violations of international law. Some are already on the EU sanctions list, but many are not.

Russia’s Patriarch Kirill | Photo: ČT24

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, the first name to appear on the Czech list, is a case in point. The 27-nation bloc tried to put Kirill on its sanctions list last year, but the motion, which required unanimous approval, was scuppered by Hungary. Czechia has now taken that step unilaterally. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský announced the news at a televised news briefing.

“Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev has been placed on the Czech sanctions list due to his frequent public remarks in support of the war in Ukraine and his efforts to justify the atrocities committed by Russian troops there. There is clear evidence of this that was easily documented. Kirill is also on the national sanctions lists of Great Britain, Canada, Lithuania and Ukraine.”

Kirill’s inclusion on the list means that he is barred from entering Czechia, any assets he has in the country have been frozen and he cannot undertake any financial transactions here.

Patriarch Kirill | Photo: ČT24

More names –both of individuals and companies -are expected to be added to the list soon. The people on the EU sanctions list include only a few Russian entrepreneurs active in this country. Yet according to statistics, there are over 12,000 companies with Russian owners operating on Czech territory – many of whom are not physically present and merely conduct financial transactions from third countries.

One such suspect individual is Denis Katsyv, a Russian businessman investigated in the US for large scale money laundering. According to American investigators, he used fictitious companies and Czech banks for his illegal activities.

Under the Czech version of the Magnitsky law, Czechia can impose sanctions against individuals in the interest of national security, protection of fundamental human rights and combatting terrorism. The law also creates a legal basis for the inclusion of entities on the EU sanctions list at Czechia’s initiative. Foreign Minister Lipavský said the government would use it to the full to prevent individuals and companies from money laundering and otherwise violating international law on Czech territory.

Photo: Jernej Furman,  Flickr,  CC BY 2.0

“Naturally, we will continue assessing individual cases and presenting further proposals. The system has been set in motion and there is a concerted effort to see this through. The sanctions regime will be implemented by the respective authorities just as it is with sanctions approved by the UN Security Council or the EU.”

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