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Published: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 7:36:44 AM
Updated: Friday March 21, 2014 MYT 7:38:05 AM

U.S. sanctions against Putin allies include two Finns

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The personal sanctions against 20 close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin announced by the United States on Thursday also include two Finnish, and thus European Union, citizens.

The extension of visa bans and asset freezes into Putin's inner circle came as Moscow rushed to consolidate the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, seized from Ukraine.

Oil trader Gennadi Timchenko and Boris Rotenberg, who received major contracts linked to Sochi Olympics, carry Finnish as well as Russian passports.

Timchenko and Rotenberg bought a sports arena in Helsinki last year as well as a 49 percent stake in a professional ice-hockey team Jokerit, which will move next season from the Finnish league to the Russian-based KHL league.

"We feel the situation is unjust but can say that the U.S. action does not have any immediate impact on the Rotenberg's businesses in Finland," Rotenberg's son Roman Rotenberg said in a statement.

Finnish Foreign Ministry official Aleksi Pursiainen said that the U.S. move would not have legal consequences in Finland.

"In Finland, assets will not be frozen and travel will not be restricted," he said.

When asked whether the men would also be included in the EU sanctions list, Finland's EU Affairs Minister Alexander Stubb said this was not automatic.

"Americans have their lists, Europeans their own," Stubb told the daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen told Finnish news agency STT earlier on Thursday that Finnish citizenship did not rule out inclusion on the EU sanctions list.

(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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