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Ukrainian Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tells UK To Put Russia On "High Risk" List

Oleksandra Matviichuk pictured preparing to speak in The Hague in 2023 (Alamy)

3 min read

A Ukrainian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize has issued a call for the UK to put Russia on its list of “high risk” jurisdictions to make it harder for the country to get around sanctions.

Human rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk told PoliticsHome that she does not know “why it has not been done yet”, and said that putting Russia on such a list would “oblige companies and banks and state authorities to be more careful” with their operations.

Matviichuk was speaking on a visit to London, shortly after the two year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She said that Ukraine is “very grateful for the support of people in the United Kingdom” during the country’s “dramatic time of our history”.  “We will never forget the support and it has helped us to survive,” she added. 

Matviichuk heads up the Ukrainian human rights organisation the Centre for Civil Liberties, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022. According to the prize organisation, the winners that year “have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens”. 

She said that an “important problem” is the idea that “Russia still finds a way to bypass sanctions”, such as importing technologies that are then used in the war, and believed that this would be an important way the UK could further crack down on Russia.

“What the United Kingdom can do is put Russia on the United Kingdom’s High Risk jurisdiction list, I really don’t know why it has not been done yet," she continued. 

“Russia tries to find different creative schemes to bypass sanctions and that is why we have to narrow all possibilities, and this is one of the important legal tools to do it and it can be done very easily, it’s just political.”

The UK government has said that it decides the countries on the high risk list in line with the judgement of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). 

According to their website, the FATF “leads global action to tackle money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing”. They also research money laundering and how terrorism is funded. 

The FATF suspended Russia as a member in February 2023, and member nations include the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Spain, as well as the UK. 

UK officials believe that co-ordinated action with allies such as other G7 nations is the strongest response to Russia’s actions. 

The UK has sanctioned more than 2,000 individuals and entities, and officials say that they will continue to respond as the risks evolve. 

A Government spokesperson said: “We align the UK list of High Risk Third Countries with those by the Financial Action Task Force, the global standard setting and monitoring body. This means that we remain in line with international standards, underpinned by consistent methodology and robust assessment processes.

“This is part of our wider toolkit to tackle the threat of illicit finance, including other obligations in the Money Laundering Regulations and our National Money Laundering Risk Assessment.”

On Tuesday, Sky News reported that British carmakers have continued to sell luxury vehicles to Russia, despite the sanctions regime

According to the broadcaster, although there have been no exports directly to Russia, there has been an increase in exports to neighbouring countries such as Azerbaijan. A source told Sky that Russian buyers prefer to use Azerbaijan as a route for purchasing British cars. 

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