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Yuri Kovalchuk, chairman and largest shareholder of the Bank Rossiya, is considered to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's private banker. / Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP

The European Union has tightened the financial screws on three cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Kremlin's annexing of Crimea and its support for Ukraine separatists.

The oligarchs are among eight people the EU sanctioned Wednesday and the first in Putin's inner circle, according to a document cited by the Associated Press. In all, the EU has placed financial, trade and travel restrictions on 95 people and 23 entities.

The three Putin allies are:

? Yuri Kovalchuk, chairman and the largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya, the personal bank for senior Russian officials. Called Putin's banker, he is ranked No. 1263 on Forbes' list of billionaires. In 1996, he, Putin and seven other powerful, wealthy Russians united their dachas into a cooperative called the Ozero.

? Nikolai Shamalov, another Ozero co-founder and Bank Rossiya's second-largest shareholder.

? Arkady Rotenberg, who owns a major piece of Giprotransmost, a civil engineering firm and is Putin's longtime judo partner.

The EU also punished the state-owned arms manufacturer that made the anti-aircraft missiles used by Kremlin-backed separatists to shoot down aircraft in eastern Ukraine. Also targeted was the Russian airline Dobrolyot, which flies between Moscow and Crimea, and the Russian National Commercial Bank, the first to enter Crimea after Putin annexed it in April.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: EU sanctions Putin's banker, 2 other cronies over Ukraine

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