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Economy

Europe's "Freeze And Seize" Hits Russian Oligarchs For 12.5 Billion

According to the EU Commission, the amount of confiscated Russian assets has doubled since April, German daily Die Welt reveals, including yachts, real estate, artwork and more.

Yachts moored in the marina, Monaco​

Yachts moored in the marina, Monaco

Christoph B. Schiltz

BRUSSELS — The European Union has made significant progress in sanctioning Russian oligarchs, nearly doubling the seizure and freezing of assets in the last month alone. So far, more than 12.5 billion euros worth of luxury yachts, helicopters, paintings, real estate property and other assets have been seized or frozen from people on sanctions lists for supporting Putin's war of aggression, a top EU official has told Die Welt.

The European Union has collected half of this amount since April alone. "The amount of frozen assets of Russian oligarchs has almost doubled from 6.7 billion euros in April to currently just over 12.5 billion euros," the European Commission spokesman for justice Christian Wiegand confirmed.


The jump in frozen assets was largely due to the fact that numerous assets were found and seized in the past few weeks, especially in Germany.

Assets from more than 1,100 entities

In March, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, on behalf of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, set up a special unit ("Freeze and Seize Taskforce") to coordinate the activities of EU countries against sanctioned individuals and to track down the assets of oligarchs. The EU Commission and national law enforcement and financial authorities have since worked closely together. The task force presented figures for the first time on April 8.

“EU sanctions result in the freezing of all assets and economic resources owned or controlled by sanctioned individuals. The assets of more than 1,100 people and bodies ('entities') are currently frozen," the spokesman for the EU Commission authority said. He stressed that the reserves of the Central Bank of Russia and related transactions worth 196 billion euros were also blocked.

Turn over every stone.

At the end of May, Brussels presented a proposal to allow frozen Russian money to be seized. According to the proposal, this money could be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine. "We should turn over every stone for this – if possible, also Russian assets that we have frozen," von der Leyen emphasized at the time. But that will probably not be so easy.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) said Germany is open to a debate on the use of seized Russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine. However, he said a distinction must be made between state funds – such as the central bank – and private funds. "In our constitution there are guarantees for private assets," Lindner said.

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Green

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

Photo of women harvesting saffron in Kashmir

Harvesting of Saffron in Kashmir

Mubashir Naik

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

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