Keir Starmer calls for UK to blacklist Russian ‘crony’ Igor Shuvalov

<span>Photograph: Dmitry Astakhov/TASS</span>
Photograph: Dmitry Astakhov/TASS

Labour leader says former Russian deputy prime minister should be on sanctions list for UK as well as EU

He is a former Russian deputy prime minister who owns an £11.44m luxury flat in London’s Whitehall, and on Wednesday Igor Shuvalov was accused of being one of Putin’s “cronies” who had “dipped their hands in blood”.

The 55-year-old, whose family wealth has been reported to top $200m, has this week been placed under sanctions by the EU, which said that he had supported actions and policies that “undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”.

Now the leader of the opposition has called for him to be blacklisted in the UK as well.

Speaking in parliament, Labour leader Keir Starmer described Shuvalov, now head of Russia’s development corporation VEB, as one of the “cronies who prop up [Vladimir Putin’s] regime” and who “dipped their hands in the blood of Putin’s war”. “He is on the EU sanctions list and not on the UK list. When will the prime minister sort this out?” Starmer said.

Former lawyer Shuvalov, who was seen as one of Russia’s most senior liberal figures serving in both Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin’s cabinets, stood down from politics to head VEB in 2018.

The fluent English speaker remains a highly influential figure. VEB is a key source of funding for the Kremlin’s priority projects, including the Sochi Olympics among others. He also headed the successful organising committee for the 2018 football World Cup bid.

Shuvalov’s UK connections have long been a matter of controversy.

Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny named Shuvalov as the owner of two luxury apartments in Whitehall Court, an ornate late-Victorian apartment block sandwiched between the Thames and key government buildings including the Ministry of Defence. The building was home to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service at the time of the first world war.

Whitehall Court in central London
Whitehall Court in central London, where Shuvalov owns two luxury apartments. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

According to an investigation by Navalny’s Fund for the Fight Against Corruption, Shuvalov turned the two flats into a 500 sq metre luxury apartment.

The properties, which Shuvalov has said he rented not owned, were bought in 2014 for £11.4m by a company that Navalny’s group linked to Shuvalov. That price is more than 100 times the official £112,000 salary Shuvalov had declared at that time.

The group also claimed he used a secret £38m private jet to fly his wife’s Corgi dogs around Europe – including to Britain – for competitions.

Shuvalov is also thought to rent a castle in Austria, while Navalny’s anti-corruption group has said he rented a beachfront home in Dubai in the past.

Shuvalov has previously said that his fortune was earned honestly as a lawyer and businessman before he joined the government.