Ukraine-Russia conflict: The oligarch hit by sanctions who owns a major UK health brand

A list of 26 prominent Russian figures have been sanctioned by the European Union over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Measures include travel bans, an asset freeze, and banning making money available to those on the list.

Those sanctioned include oligarchs, government members, military officials and journalists.

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Among them is banker Mikhail Fridman, who controls the fund L1 Capital, which owns the UK’s biggest chain of health food shops, Holland & Barrett.

Mikhail Fridman attends a conference in 2019. Picture: PAVEL GOLOVKIN/AFP via Getty Images)

L1 Capital paid £1.8 billion for the chain in 2017, buying it from US private equity firm Carlyle.

There are now 1,368 Holland and Barrett stores around the world, in 16 countries.

The majority of these (715) are in the UK, but there are also 182 in the Netherlands, 52 in Ireland, 20 in Belgium and four in Sweden.

Mr Fridman, who is a UK tax resident, was born in western Ukraine and made his fortune in oil, banking and retail.

He has spoken out against the sanctions along with his long-term partner Pyotr Aven.

"These sanctions are groundless and unfair," he told reporters.

"I don't know if I will be sanctioned by the UK and US. I hope it will not happen."

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Mr Fridman has also spoken against the war.

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"For me that's a huge tragedy what is going on," he said. "The war should be stopped."

In a joint statement, Mr Fridman and Mr Aven said they will “contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions – vigorously and through all means available to them".

The EU said Mr Fridman had been "referred to as a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle".

Mr Fridman has said it is untrue he has “cultivated strong ties” to the administration of Vladimir Putin.

He is the co-founder of LetterOne, the holding company that includes L1 Capital. It is believed to have long-term investments of more than £25 billion in the health, retail, technology and energy sectors.

Other oligarchs and prominent figures facing sanctions include Igor Sechin, head of Russia's state oil company Rosneft, and chief executive of energy giant Transneft, Nikolay Tokarev.

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The list also includes Russia's deputy prime minister Dmitry Chernyshenko.

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