RSPP head Shokhin says sanctions expected, as they are based on list of participants in meeting at Kremlin

Head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) Alexander Shokhin has said he is not surprised by the restrictions imposed on him by the European Union, since the logic of EU sanctions was explained to the public earlier.

The EU imposed restrictions on Shokhin and a number of major businessmen on Tuesday. This is new for anti-Russian restrictions: there were no sanctions on heads of business associations before despite their continuous interaction with the authorities.

"It was expected. Both Brussels and London made it clear that they were acting on the basis of the list of participants in a meeting with the president [held in the Kremlin on February 24], as they viewed them as the inner circle," Shokhin told Interfax in comment on the latest package of restrictions published on Tuesday.

There is no doubt that the EU decisions might have negative implications for RSPP contacts with international business associations, which are "clearly discouraged" from discussing with the RSPP the possibility of work in the areas free from sanctions and addressing problems caused by the withdrawal of foreign companies from Russia, the effort to keep jobs, etc.

Shokhin said, however, that a lot would depend on the stance of business unions, such as the Association of European Businesses (AEB), the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce and others. "Indeed, it is a pity but I would like to see the reaction of our colleagues. Hopefully, our colleagues will not be afraid to interact with the RSPP because of a possibility of facing the so-called secondary sanctions," he said.

About half of RSPP Bureau members are under restrictions but it is not planned for now to either dismiss or elect a new Bureau, Shokhin said. The question is how businessmen who had to leave executive positions and lists of corporate beneficiaries would want to position themselves in the future. Changes might be made in RSPP governing bodies at their initiative, he said.

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