Russia's 'Frank Sinatra' tops new sanctions list

Frank Sinatra by Gottlieb

The latest additions to the European Union's list of those Russians and Ukrainians who have had their European assets frozen and barred from travel to Europe for their role in the crisis in Ukraine, include a famous crooner along with several ministers in Putin's government.

The announcement came as hostilities seemed to have already reignited in the disputed territories in the east of Ukraine, after a ceasefire began Sunday night.

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There are 19 people and nine organisations on the new European Union list of those subject to sanctions - including several armed separatist groups fighting the Ukrainian army. These organizations delight in names like: Death Battalion; Sparta Battalion and Cossack National Guard.

And there are also a few individuals who are extremely well-known in Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the new sanctions "contradict common sense" - the country has always denied that it has soldiers in east Ukraine, in spite of a number of Russian military officials appearing on the list.

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Here, we outline some of what we know about those new to the sanctions list.

Iosif, or Joseph, Kobzon

The 77 year old Russian crooner, who was born near Donetsk, the Ukrainian city where much of the bloodshed has occurred, has performed for Russian leaders since Stalin's time. He has also shared a stage with Western singers like Liza Minnelli and Julio Iglesias, although he has never quite managed to crack the West.

Much like Frank Sinatra, to whom he is often compared, Kobzon has been dogged by allegations, which he has always strenuously denied, of links to gangsters.

A member of Russia's State Duma for nearly three decades, he has been added to the EU list over statements in support of the rebels in his native province, and an appointment as Honorary Consul for the "People's Republic of Donetsk" (the breakaway state which has been proclaimed by Russian separatists) in Russia.

Maria Zakharova, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's press department, said on Facebook after the news, according to Reuters: "Joseph, sing, please carry on singing!"

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Bakhin, the Russian first deputy defense minister and his colleague Antonov, the deputy defense minister, have been sanctioned for being "involved in the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine", according to the official EU document announcing the sanctions.

This means the EU is directly calling out Russian denials that it has troops over the border.

Andrei Kartapolov

The deputy chief of the general staff of the Russian army might be best known to Western audiences as the official who claimed that a Ukrainian combat jet was responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MN17 in Ukrainian airspace - a tragedy which was blamed by many on Russian-backed separatists. According to the EU, he is "actively involved" in planning Russian military actions in Ukraine.

Valery Rashkin

The founder of the organisation "Krassnaya Moskva- Red Moscow -Patriotic Front Aid" has, according to the EU, organised demonstrations in favor of the separatists.

He's also known in the West as the Russian MP who thought Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst winning the Eurovision Song Contest was "a slight on humanity".

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