Of the 9,582 companies in the Czech Republic with Russian ownership, dozens have changed their citizenship since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to avoid sanctions or outflow of clients.
As news site Seznam Zprávy reported, 154 owners of Russian companies changed their citizenship since the outbreak of the conflict.
Most of them, 63%, decided to get Czech citizenship. The rest took British, Cyprus, Azerbaijan and Romanian citizenships.
Disagreement with the Russian regime led by Russian President Vladimir Putin is among the reasons for change. The Czech government wanting to prevent Russian business people from accessing financing from Czech banks and public budgets is another.
“It (the change of citizenship) may be an attempt by company owners to circumvent sanctions,” said Petra Štěpánová, an expert from Dun & Bradstreet corporation that analysed the companies with Russian owners.
According to Czech Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura, the Czech Republic has frozen almost €41 million worth of Russian assets in the country.
If these properties are identified as possible support for Russia’s war crimes, confiscation of these assets is planned in the future.
However, Czechia does not have effective regulation in force, and it is difficult for local authorities to freeze and seize Russian oligarchs’ assets.
Meanwhile, Russian businessmen are exploring ways to circumvent restrictive measures. As Seznam Zprávy reported, some companies with ties to Russia have also transferred their assets to new owners.