Who is the sanctioned ‘stepdaughter’ of the Russian foreign minister?

Polina Kovalena is the alleged stepdaughter of Sergei Lavrov, and is said to own a London property worth around £4m.

Amy Gibbons
Thursday 24 March 2022 14:25
People attend a demonstration outside Downing Street, London, to show solidarity with Ukraine following the invasion by Russia (James Manning/PA)
People attend a demonstration outside Downing Street, London, to show solidarity with Ukraine following the invasion by Russia (James Manning/PA)

Polina Kovaleva is in her mid-twenties, and said to have master’s degree from a leading London university and experience travelling the world.

But as of today, she has also been sanctioned by the UK Government over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ms Kovaleva, 26, is the alleged stepdaughter of the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, and is said to own a London property worth in the region of £4 million.

Her assets in the UK will now be frozen, along with the other newly targeted individuals, the Foreign Office said – which means no person or company in the country can do business with her.

There are reasonable grounds to suspect Polina Kovaleva is associated with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov... through her mother's relationship with him

Financial sanctions notice from the Treasury

A new financial sanctions notice from the Treasury, published on Thursday, gave a Kensington address for her property, which tallies with reports she bought a luxury apartment in the area with no mortgage in 2016, when she was only 21.

MPs and campaigners had previously called for Ms Kovaleva to be sanctioned, according to The Daily Telegraph, as her mother is said to be Mr Lavrov’s alleged mistress.

The Daily Mail said Ms Kovaleva was targeted by angry protesters outside her property earlier this month, with some wielding signs plastered with her face and the words “war criminal’s daughter”.

Reports suggest she attended a private boarding school in Bristol before achieving a first-class degree from Loughborough University.

It is said that she later gained a master’s in economics and strategy for business from Imperial College London, and worked for Gazprom, the Russian energy giant.

The Times reported that her now-deleted social media profiles featured photos of her travelling the world.

The FCDO said the move to target Ms Kovaleva sent a strong signal that people “benefiting from association of those responsible for Russian aggression” are within the scope of its sanctions.

The Treasury notice said “there are reasonable grounds to suspect that (Ms Kovaleva) is associated with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov… through her mother’s relationship with him”.

It added that Mr Lavrov is “is a senior member of the government of Russia, and a key decision-maker”.

“He is thereby involved in its attempts to destabilise Ukraine and undermining and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Government has announced it will target Russian billionaire Eugene Shvidler.

The FCDO said the oil tycoon is reportedly worth an estimated £1.2 billion, and has close business links to Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich, who was added to the UK’s sanctions list on March 10.

The Treasury notice stated that the pair have had a “close relationship for decades”.

It comes after a private jet suspected of being linked to the oligarch was impounded at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire hours before it was due to fly to Dubai earlier this month.

The aircraft was detained on the orders of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to enable an investigation into its connection with Mr Shvidler.

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