Swiss MPs call for Russian money to be used to reconstruct Ukraine
Members of Swiss parliament from across the political spectrum have called for the billions of frozen Russian assets to be used to rebuild Ukraine.
Members of parliament from both left and central-right parties in Switzerland have submitted a motion calling for the government to hand over the frozen assets belonging to Russian oligarchs to Ukraine to be used for the reconstruction of the war-torn country.
"Switzerland is home to an above-average number of sanctioned Russian fortunes”, according to MP Mattea Meyer.
“So it is right that this money benefits the country which is currently being destroyed by Putin”.
Another MP, Andrea Caroni also supports the motion.
"From the point of view of international law, it is clear that Russia owes damages to Ukraine because of its aggression”, he said.
More than 1,000 individuals sanctioned in Switzerland
Neutral Switzerland decided in late February to join the EU sanctions efforts, despite criticism from inside and outside the country.
Russian assets in Switzerland are estimated to amount to 200 billion francs; Swiss authorities have blocked CHF7.5 billion so far.
More than 1,000 individuals have been sanctioned by the Swiss government as a consequence of the invasion, although not all of those sanctioned are believed to live in Switzerland.
Switzerland is also under increasing pressure to place sanctions on former Russian gymnast and Swiss resident Alina Kabaeva, who is rumoured to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-time mistress and the mother of four of his children.
According to US news outlet Page Six and British newspaper The Times, Kabaeva lives in a heavily fortified chalet in the Ticino alps in the south of the country.
However, US officials said they believed Kabaeva lived “in a high-walled villa with a helipad” in Cologny, an upmarket suburb of Geneva, Swiss news media reports.
The sanctions, which were controversially imposed by neutral Switzerland in the days after the Russian invasion, do not only impact the mega rich in Switzerland.
Ordinary employees of Russian companies hit by sanctions have also had their wages frozen.
Natalyia, an administrative assistant who wished to remain anonymous, told Watson she and many others had been indirectly impacted by the sanctions.
“We are Swiss citizens and ordinary employees with ordinary wages, we have families and financial obligations,” Natalyia, who did not want to give her real name, told Watson.
In April, news emerged that a Russian oligarch in Geneva had applied for social assistance after his assets were frozen.