Moscow will fight attempts to seize Russian property abroad in courts around the world, the former president Dmitry Medvedev has said.
Medvedev, who advises Vladimir Putin on national security matters, said in a post on Telegram on Wednesday that Russian businesses whose assets were subject to sanctions would take legal action in the US, EU and elsewhere.
“Our opponents … should understand that they will face a large number of cases in courts. Both in the national courts of the United States and Europe and in international courts,” wrote Medvedev.
Since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in late February the US, EU, UK and other allies have targeted sanctions at a series of Russia’s richest businesspeople and companies, ranging from state-controlled banks to arms manufacturers.
Medvedev served as president between 2008 and 2012, before Putin reassumed the presidency. Medvedev is deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, which is headed by Putin and advises the president on national security, and has used the Telegram to issue a mixture of threats and comments about sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine.
Medvedev himself was added to the US sanctions list on Wednesday, adding to the EU, UK and others.
Many of the sanctions against Russian interests have included asset freezes. Trophy assets that have been affected include company stakes, such the billionaire Roman Abramovich’s shares in Chelsea football club and in London-listed steelmaker Evraz. There is also a growing list of superyachts and planes linked to oligarchs that have been prevented from leaving to more friendly ports.
In the UK an asset freeze prevents the owners of assets such as land, buildings, company shares or artworks from gaining any economic benefit from them, including via their sale. However, those assets are not legally confiscated.
Russia’s government has in the past proven adept at using the courts of other countries. In one notable case the Russian state successfully pursued Sergei Pugachev, a former senior Kremlin official who ran an election campaign for Putin, in London courts to claim ownership of UK property Russia claimed was bought with stolen funds.
In his Telegram post, Medvedev acknowledged the courts systems in the US and Europe had “a significant degree of independence”, but complained that sanctions against Russian businesspeople were like the Spanish Inquisition.