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Who are Vladimir Putin’s daughters? Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonov sanctioned by the US

Russian leader’s children targeted by latest sanctions in response to civilian massacre at Bucha

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 06 April 2022 20:30 BST
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Russian president Vladimir Putin, with his ex-wife Ludmila and their daughter Maria (left) at a Moscow polling station in December 2007
Russian president Vladimir Putin, with his ex-wife Ludmila and their daughter Maria (left) at a Moscow polling station in December 2007 (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty)

The daughters of Vladimir Putin have been targeted in the latest round of sanctions against Russia for its continued war in Ukraine, US officials have said.

The US and EU sanctions were imposed on the Russian leader’s adult daughters with his former wife Lyudmila, Maria Vorontsova and Katerina Tikhonova.

“We believe that many of Putin’s assets are hidden with family members, and that’s why we’re targeting them,” a senior US official told reporters on Wednesday.

The White House said that Ms Vorontsova and MsTikhonova were being added to the sanctions list “for being the adult children of Putin, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked”.

The new measures have also been imposed on the family of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and major Russian banks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his former wife Lyudmila (Getty Images)

Ms Vorontsova, the eldest of the two sanctioned daughters, was born to Mr Putin and his then-wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva in St Petersburg (then Leningrad) on 28 April 1985.

She now works as a paediatric endocrinologist, specialising in genetics and dwarfism.

The US said on Wednesday that Ms Vorontsova “leads state-funded programs that have received billions of dollars from the Kremlin towards genetics research and are personally overseen by Putin.”

She spent much of her early life in Dresden, East Germany, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, where her father served as a KGB agent.

She reportedly played the violin as a child and went on to study biology at St Petersburg State University and medicine at Moscow State University.

She is married to Dutch businessman Jorrit Faassen and the couple reportedly now live in Moscow.

Her sister Katerina was born on 31 August 1986 in Dresden and is now an academic and, more surprisingly, a former acrobatic rock ’n’ roll dancer.

She enrolled at the same university as Maria and graduated with a degree in Asian studies, specialising in Japanese history, also holding degrees in physics and mathematics.

The extent of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (PA)

Ms Tikhonova is now director of Innopraktika, a $1.7bn project to create a science centre at Moscow State University, as well as deputy director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at the same institution.

She was married to gas company executive Kirill Shamalov, son of the co-owner of Rossiya Bank, between 2013 and 2018.

The US described Ms Tikhonova as a “technology executive whose work supports the GoR [Russian government] and defence industry.”

The US claimed Putin’s assets are hidden with his family members (AP)

While they are the only children Mr Putin has acknowledged, it has long been rumoured in the Russian press that he has multiple other offspring from his affairs with millionaire Svetlana Krivonogikh and Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Alina Kabaeva.

He has always angrily denied the speculation.

The sanctions announcement comes as international outrage grows over atrocities being carried out by Russian troops on the ground in Ukraine.

A mass grave was discovered this week in the town of Bucha near Kyiv, where as many as 20 civilian corpses were left dead in its streets with their hands bound.

Accusations of rape and sadistic torture have also been widespread in the five weeks since the conflict erupted on 24 February.

Bucha resident Tetiana Ustymenko weeps over the grave of her son, buried in the garden of her house (AFP via Getty Images)

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky visited the site of the massacre in person on Monday and subsequently accused Russia of engaging in genocide, calling on the UN Security Council to take action against Moscow for what he said were the worst war crimes to take place on European soil since the Second World War.

He asked the council to establish an international criminal tribunal through which to prosecute its perpetrators, akin to the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson agreed with Mr Zelensky’s assessment on Wednesday and said: “I’m afraid when you look at what’s happening in Bucha, the revelations that we are seeing from what Putin has done in Ukraine doesn’t look far short of genocide to me.”

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