Ukrainian President Zelensky calls on the Swiss government to freeze the bank accounts of Russian oligarchs

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday urged Switzerland to crack down on Russian oligarchs who he said were helping wage war on his country from the safety of “beautiful Swiss cities”.

In an audio link address to thousands attending an anti-war protest in Bern, Zelenskyy thanked Switzerland for its support since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, but also had clear language on the Swiss financial sector.

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“Your banks are where the money of the people who started this war is. It’s painful. It’s also a fight against evil, to have their accounts frozen. That would be a fight too, and you can do that. do,” he said. through a translator.

“Ukrainians feel what it is like when cities are destroyed. They are destroyed on the orders of people who live in Europe, in beautiful Swiss cities, who enjoy property in your cities. It would be really nice to deprive them of this privilege.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a protest for peace amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, outside the headquarters of the Swiss Federal Parliament Bundeshaus in Bern, Switzerland. (Image: Reuters)

Neutral Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, fully embraced EU sanctions against Russian individuals and entities and froze their assets in Swiss banks.

The government did not provide a figure on the wealth covered by the freeze. Secret Swiss banks hold up to $213 billion in overall Russian wealth, the country’s financial industry association estimates.

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Zelenskyy also attacked Swiss-based companies that continue to operate in Russia, pointing the finger at food group Nestlé NESN.S and accusing it of failing to live up to its “Good Food, Good Life” slogan.

Asked to comment on Zelenskyy’s remarks, a Nestlé spokesperson said the company was in full compliance with all sanctions and had reduced operations in Russia, including stopping all non-essential food imports and exports.

“Continuing to provide essential items to people in Russia does not mean that we are continuing to do business as usual in the country,” the spokesperson said, noting that the company had halted investment and product promotions. and made no profit there.

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Shawanda H. Saldana