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Russian Billionaires' Corporate Websites Go Dark After U.S. Sanctions


The website for Oleg Deripaska's conglomerate, Basic Element, Basel.ru, is down on April 11.

The websites of several Russian firms targeted in the latest round of U.S. sanctions have gone dark for unclear reasons following Washington's announcement of the punitive measures.

The companies in question and their owners -- Russian tycoons Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg -- are among the more than two dozen entities and individuals hit with U.S. sanctions in Washington's latest push to punish what it calls Russia's "malign activity around the globe."

Deripaska's and Vekselberg's publicly traded companies have taken substantial hits since the U.S. Treasury Department's April 6 announcement of the asset freezes and financial restrictions, as have other Russian companies and the Russian ruble.

The Russian news portal Agenstvo Moskva reported on April 10 that the websites of Deripaska's conglomerate, Basic Element, and Vekselberg's investment vehicle, Renova Group, were inaccessible.

Basic Element's site remained down on April 11, while Renova's featured only a message saying that the site was under construction.

The website of Deripaska's aluminum giant Rusal was also reported to be down on April 10. It was live again on April 11, though it directed visitors exclusively to an investor-information page. Attempts to access other pages on the site led back to the same investor-information link.

The websites of other Deripaska-controlled firms hit by U.S. sanctions were not loading at all on April 11. They included En+ Group, which manages the billionaire's assets, Russian Machines, EuroSibEnergo, and Agroholding Kuban.

It was not immediately clear if the inaccessibility of the sites was connected to the new U.S. sanctions, which targeted a range of Russian security officials, politicians, and businessman deemed by Washington to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Only one of the companies responded to a request for comment from RFE/RL.

Basic Element spokesman Aleksei Sadykov said in an e-mail that the company was "not commenting" on the matter.

The Treasury Department sanctions, which Russia has called "unacceptable," broadly prohibit "U.S. persons" from dealing with the listed individuals and companies. Furthermore, non-U.S. persons could be hit with sanctions themselves for "knowingly facilitating significant transactions for or on behalf of the individuals or entities" blocked in the action.

Of the Deripaska- and Vekselberg-linked websites examined in this report, all but two are hosted in Russia, according to IP geolocation services.

Agroholding Kuban's website is hosted in Germany, while the En+ Group site is hosted in Britain. The British host, TalkTalk, did not respond to a request for comment. The German host, Hetzner Online, said it could not discuss clients with third parties.

Renova's website was live as recently as April 5, according to Internet archives. The message stating that the site was under construction appeared the following day -- the same day that the new U.S. sanctions were announced.

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