Hungary and Iceland Aided in Shielding Belarusian Oligarch From Sanctions
Iceland leveraged its lobbying influence within the EU to protect Alexander Moshensky, a Belarusian oligarch close to Alexander Lukashenko, from sanctions, while Hungary also exercised its veto power in his favor, according to an analysis conducted by a consortium of investigative websites, as reported by Euractiv.
Moshensky, a Belarusian businessman known as the "Fish King" of Belarus due to his ownership of prominent food producers "Santa-Bremor" and "Savushkin Product," maintained diplomatic and business relations with Iceland over the span of two decades. Subsequently, Reykjavik lobbied within the EU to safeguard Moshensky from European sanctions, despite his close ties to the Lukashenko regime.
While many other wealthy businessmen closely associated with Lukashenko have been placed on the EU sanctions list, Moshensky has managed to avoid such measures.
An analysis carried out by the Belarusian Center for Investigative Journalism (BCIJ), in collaboration with LRT (Lithuania) and Heimildin (Iceland), with support from CyberPartisans and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), illustrated the extent of Moshensky's connections to Lukashenko.
As per the Heimildin newspaper, representatives from the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs made over 30 calls to EU decision-makers, urging them to lobby for Moshensky's interests in order to prevent EU sanctions from being imposed on him.
The newspaper reports that Hungary came to Moshensky's aid after 10 EU countries, during a meeting in early May, requested his inclusion in the sanctions list. This move reportedly caused consternation among Poles and Lithuanians.
Moshensky's ties to the Belarusian government are well-documented: he accompanied Lukashenko on official trips abroad in the government plane, supported him in election campaigns, and was even awarded a medal.
BCIJ described Moskensky's business network as interwoven through offshore zones in the Seychelles, the British Crown Dependency of Jersey, and Cyprus, an EU member state. This arrangement allowed the Belarusian company to whitewash its origins and utilize Lithuania's Klaipeda port for importing fish raw materials from Norway, Iceland, South America, and Asia.
Moshensky has already taken steps to safeguard his business in case he gets placed on the sanctions list. His Lithuanian company, Santa Trade, changed ownership just a month and a half after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Currently, Santa Trade is owned by Cypriot company Newride Services Limited. According to OCCRP, this company is owned by Moshensky's daughter, Yana Moshenskaya.
As reported by The Gaze, it was revealed that the EU has prepared a sanctions package against Belarus, which includes sectoral restrictions on the production of military and dual-use goods, weapons, ammunition, aviation products, and technology. These measures aim to block the transit of goods through Belarus to Russia that could be used for military purposes.
The EU has already implemented six rounds of sanctions against Belarus. The latest package came into effect a year ago. Discussions about further restrictive measures against Minsk due to its involvement in Russia's war against Ukraine have been ongoing within the EU for several months.
The Gaze reported, that Hungary will appeal to the European Union to extend the exception from sanctions against Russia for one year. This exception allows the Slovnaft oil refinery to export products processed from Russian oil to the Czech Republic.
Hungary is among several EU countries refusing to condemn Russia's aggression in Ukraine and consistently blocking EU assistance to Ukraine. The country remains dependent on energy supplies from Russia, and its government is under direct influence from Moscow.
Recall that Hungary's government has repeatedly blocked EU sanctions against Russian Patriarch Kirill. Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated that Hungary opposes including church leaders in the European sanctions list, as this could allegedly threaten religious freedom.