Support The Moscow Times!

Putin Ally Targeted by U.S. Sanctions Buys Winery in Crimea

A bottling line at the Novy Svet winery, a major Russian manufacturer of sparkling wines (Vladimir Smirnov / TASS)

A billionaire ally of President Vladimir Putin has bought a century-old winery in the Crimean peninsula in  the first major privatization of former Ukrainian state property since the 2014 annexation.

The winery was bought by an entity controlled by Yury Kovalchuk — a man the U.S. calls Vladimir Putin's "personal banker" — who was targeted by sanctions for Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.

Crimean authorities had planned to privatize the famed 140-year-old Novy Svet vineyard since last spring, the RBC business portal reported

Kovalchuk bought Novy Svet for the starting price of 1.5 billion rubles ($26.4 million), Crimean authorities told RBC on Wednesday. 

The state-owned sparkling wine maker was purchased by a company called “Yuzhny Proyekt,” a 100-percent subsidiary of Kovalchuk’s Bank Rossiya. 

Novy Svet’s sparkling wine was served at the coronation of Russia’s last tsar in 1896 and was poured out in the Kremlin to celebrate Crimea’s annexation, RBC reported.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.