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Ukraine sanctions Israeli-Georgian billionaire accused of backing Russia

Israeli press reported today that Israeli-Georgian businessman Mikhael Mirilashvili, considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was blacklisted by Ukraine several months ago.
Israeli-Georgian tycoon and philanthropist Mikhael Mirilashvili is pictured in an undated photo.

Israel's Zman Yisrael news outlet reported Monday that Israeli-Georgian billionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili was blacklisted this past February by Ukraine for allegedly supporting the Russian invasion of the country. Unnamed associates of Mirilashvili told the newspaper the businessman is being persecuted for unjust reasons, claiming that many of the businesspeople on the Ukrainian sanctions list were added only because of their Russian-sounding last names. 

While the listing appeared on the Ukrainian government's website on Feb. 28, 2023, Mirilashvili's blacklisting was not reported in Israel until Monday.

Ukraine's blacklist contains thousands of individuals and companies suspected of supporting Russia. Like other cases, the notification on Mirilashvili includes a call for governments worldwide "to sanction this person for their support of Russia’s war against Ukraine." The notification notes Mirilashvili’s birthdate but no personal details. Also, it lists the reason for sanctioning Mirilashvili as "Decree of the President of Ukraine from Feb. 26," without offering any other details. Mirilashvili is currently sanctioned only by Ukraine — not by the European Union or the United States, as are several on Ukraine's blacklist.

Mirilashvili is well known in Israel for several reasons. The Russian-language publication “Business St. Petersburg” listed him in 2016 as the second-wealthiest businessman in the city, with a net fortune estimated at $3.6 billion. The publication “Israel Forbes” placed the Mirilashvili family as 144 on its 2022 list of the world's Jewish billionaires, with an estimated fortune of $2.9 billion. His business enterprise operates in the fields of high tech, real estate, construction of shopping malls, casinos, the petroleum industry and renewable energy. He is one of the founders of the fourth-largest social network VKontakte (mostly used in Russia) and is president and co-founder of the Israel-based Watergen company, which develops atmospheric drinking water devices. 

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