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Does the Sanctioned Daughter of the Kremlin’s Press Chief Have a Kazakh Bank Account?

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Does the Sanctioned Daughter of the Kremlin’s Press Chief Have a Kazakh Bank Account?

A recent report suggests that Elizaveta Peskova may have registered for an individual identification number in Kazakhstan — that in turn may have enabled her to access the Kazakh banking system.

Does the Sanctioned Daughter of the Kremlin’s Press Chief Have a Kazakh Bank Account?
Credit: Depositphotos

The sanctioned daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary may have registered for a individual identification number (IIN) in Kazakhstan, the Current Time investigative project “System” reported this week, citing an online database operated by Kazakhstan’s National Certification Center.

According to the report, someone with the same full name and birth date of Elizaveta Peskova – the 26-year-old daughter of Dmitry Peskov – appears to have registered for an IIN. If she did, she would have done so before September 2022, as the number was assigned to the state revenue department of Nur-Sultan. The capital of Kazakhstan bore the name Nur-Sultan for a little over two years, from March 2019 to September 2022.

An IIN in Kazakhstan is necessary to access government and banking services. 

After the September 2022 “partial mobilization,” thousands of Russians crossed the border into Kazakhstan. In the first week alone, an estimated 98,000 Russian citizens entered Kazakhstan. The following month, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Digital Development Asset Turysov said that the government had received around 200,000 applications for IINs from foreigners since the mobilization. He did not specify the proportion that were Russians. Russians also applied for IINs in the months before the mobilization, though at arguably lower rates and with far less media coverage of the fact.

As a Kazakh researcher explained in a November 2022 article for The Diplomat: “Obtaining an IIN is one of the first things resettling Russians do, as the number is necessary for employment in Kazakhstan, as well as for setting up a phone number and a bank account in the country.”

It would also be useful for bypassing sanctions. Opening a local bank account in Kazakhstan would help a Russian avoid restrictions imposed by Visa and Mastercard.

In reviewing the vulnerability of Kazakhstan to secondary sanctions in June 2023, Sophia Nina Burna-Asefi noted that despite the government’s strident attestations that it did not and would not aid Russia in circumventing sanctions or allow the resale of dual-use goods through its territory, there were several administrative loopholes. One of them was the IIN registration system. 

A case in point is that Kazakh banks continue to issue Kazakh individual identification numbers (IIN) to Russian nationals without them actually needing to be in the country in person,” Burna-Asefi wrote. “This IIN gives its holder the opportunity to do business and engage in trade in the country.”

In November 2023, the Kazakh Ministry of Internal Affairs proposed banning foreigners from using e-government portals to file applications for IIN, instead forcing them to apply in person. The rule change was approved in late February 2024 and went into effect as of March 25.

While the change doesn’t necessarily address the issue of IINs already registered to people who many not physically be in Kazakhstan but are using the Kazakh banking system, it does close one loophole. 

Current Time noted in its report, “It is unknown whether Peskova managed to take advantage of this loophole.” 

Having an IIN is one matter; using it to access services is another. And Peskova is not an unknown person.

Peskova was sanctioned by the United States in March 2022, shortly after the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A U.S. Treasury Department press release counted her among the “Russian and Kremlin elites, oligarchs, and Russia’s political and national security leaders who have supported Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

Dmitriy Peskov has served as the Kremlin’s press secretary since 2012 and was among the first round of sanctioned officials in early March 2022. In the next batch, his wife, and two adult children – Nikolay and Elizaveta – were sanctioned. Regarding Elizaveta, the release stated: “Liza has tens of thousands of followers on social media, where she displays her luxurious lifestyle. She previously interned for a member of the European Parliament who publicly supported Russia’s attempted annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.”

In an interview with Business Insider after her designation, she called the sanctions “totally unfair and unfounded.” Peskova is reported to hold a 30 percent stake in a Moscow-based advertising agency whose clients include various government agencies.

Whether Peskova has used the Kazakh banking system is not clear from present reporting, but the discovery of an IIN that appears to be tied to her name suggests it is a possibility.