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Roman Abramovich, major Evraz shareholder, sanctioned by the United Kingdom

Click to play video: 'Roman Abramovich, major Evraz shareholder, sanctioned by the United Kingdom'
Roman Abramovich, major Evraz shareholder, sanctioned by the United Kingdom
WATCH: What could sanctions mean for workers at a steel mill in Regina after a Russian oligarch who is a major stakeholder in Evraz was hit with sanctions – Mar 11, 2022

In Saskatchewan, there is some concern around what could be next for workers at the Evraz Steel mill.

Evraz, which is partially owned by Russian oligarchs, is a major employer in Regina with over 1,700 employees.

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Thursday saw the U.K. government bring sanctions down on Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, freezing his assets.

Abramovich is the largest stakeholder of Evraz Steel with over 28 per cent of shares, according to the company.

The sanctions caused Evraz stock to fall by 14 per cent. Eventually the London Stock Exchange suspended trading of Evraz stock to protect investors, “pending clarification of the impact of the U.K. sanctions.”

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Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the North American contingent of Evraz, Evraz North America has separated itself from its Russian and European counterparts, saying in a statement that, “it operates independently in the United States and Canada. Even though it is a subsidiary, our facilities are ingrained in the local communities in which they operate”.

Those sentiments seemed to be agreed on by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe after he was questioned about his concerns for local Evraz workers.

“I have full confidence that the mill here in Regina and in Canada are going to continue their operations as per usual because they are not connected they are separate from the global and European operations that Evraz steel has,” Moe said.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland didn’t rule out the fact that some Canadian companies could be in harm’s way as Canada considers sanctioning Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin.

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Canadian business commenter Paul Martin said the recent UK sanctions on Abramovich will likely put political pressure on the Trudeau government to possibly follow suit.

If that were to come to pass, the sanctions would depend on, “whether you sanction only the oligarch or do you sanction the operations of a company in Canada,” Martin said.

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“It might be splitting hair but there is a nuance there.”

Mike Day is the USW Local 5890 president who represents those workers at the Regina Mill. In a statement he explained that the USW stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and strongly condemns Putin’s unjustified invasion of the country.

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However, when it comes to possible sanctions from the international or Canadian governments affecting his workers, Day said, “Our members come to work to produce high-quality Canadian steel used in critical infrastructure projects across the country. Their livelihoods shouldn’t be imperiled because of the actions of a foreign billionaire.”

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters has also weighed in on the topic, saying she would like to see the Russian oligarchs sell their shares in Evraz.

“That would be the simplest solutions so that we don’t have those collateral consequences to international sanctions,” Masters said.

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