BRUSSELS (AP) -- Three long-time Putin associates are among eight people who have been hit with new European Union sanctions, an official EU document showed Wednesday.<br />
The EU measures were the first to target members of the Russian president's inner circle for Russia's actions in Ukraine.<br />
Among those sanctioned are Arkady Rotenberg, Putin's former judo sparring partner and a major shareholder of the civil engineering company Giprotransmost. The company received a public contract to conduct a study on building a bridge from Russia to Crimea, which Russia annexed unilaterally in April.<br />
Also targeted by the EU is Yuri Kovalchuk, a longtime Putin acquaintance identified by the EU as co-founder of the Ozero Dacha, a cooperative society bringing together influential individuals around Russia's President. He is also the chairman and largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya, which has opened branches in Crimea since its annexation.<br />
The third Putin ally on the sanctions-list is Nikolai Shamalov, another co-founder of the Ozero Dacha and the second-largest shareholder in the Bank Rossiya.<br />
The other five people targeted by the new EU sanctions, which go into effect immediately, include the first deputy chief of staff of the Russian presidential administration and three pro-Russian officials in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.<br />
Three companies were also subjected to EU restrictions, including the subsidiary of a Russian state-owned airline that operates flights between Moscow and Crimea, and Almaz-Antei, which EU documents identified as a state-owned Russian maker of anti-aircraft weaponry whose missiles have been supplied to separatists in Eastern Ukraine and used to shoot down airplanes.<br />
The new measures mean a total of 95 people and 23 entities have been subjected to EU restrictions for allegedly subverting Ukraine's sovereignty or territorial integrity, or profiting from the Kremlin takeover of Crimea.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
President Vladimir Putin's chief political foe was convicted along with his brother on Tuesday in a fraud case widely seen as a vendetta by the Kremlin, triggering one of Russia's boldest anti-government demonstrations in years.
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