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Booking.Com Investigates Hotels for Links to Sanctioned Ukrainians

Published: March 21, 2014 (Issue # 1802)



  • The Dnipro hotel in Kiev declined to say if it received an inquiry concerning links to sanctioned individuals.
    Photo: Otzyv.ru

International online reservation service Booking.com is investigating Ukrainian and Crimean hotels for possible connections to Viktor Yanukovych and 17 other Ukrainians against whom the European Union is enforcing sanctions.

The Amsterdam-based international company, which has offices world-wide and lists 425,000 hotels, apartments and hostels on its worldwide database, said they took the step in the fear that the EU may sue them for violating European sanctions against Ukrainian politicians ousted from power last month by long-running street protests.

"As a Dutch company we fall under the trade restrictions of the EU and cannot do business with the 18 persons identified by the European Commission who were part of, or related to the former government in Ukraine, "said Anoeska Van Leeuwen, communications director at Booking.com.

The EU sanction list includes Yanukovych, his sons, the former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, former Attorney General Victor Pshonka and others.

Booking.com said it would sever any contact with hotels that did not respond to a written request to confirm that none of the 18 sanctioned individuals have any stake in the business.

Their removal from the Booking.com database would potentially hit hotels hard "Fifty of every 100 bookings are made through Booking.com," a spokesperson of Comfortable Rooms in Berdyansk in southeast Ukraine told Kommersant.

The Yanukovych family is said to have business interests not only in the investment and oil sectors, but also in tourism. Yanukovych's son Alexander owns a yacht club and a hotel in Balaklava, the site of an underground Soviet submarine base near Sevastopol in Crimea, reported Forbes.

The small circle of politicians and business people close to Victor Yanukovych — known as "the family" — are widely believed to have amassed extensive wealth since Yanukovych was elected president in elections in 2010.

"We do not know which hotels belong to whom, we work only with the management," said a representative of the association of Ukrainian Hotels in Kiev on Thursday. The Tourist Association of Ukraine declined to give comment or reveal what share of the tourism business belongs to Yanukovych and his inner circle.

The hotel Slavyansky Alliance in Yalta confirmed that they received a letter from Booking.com. "We have already replied that we have no connections to Yanukovych or other officials and politicians," a representative of the hotel, who requested anonymity, said Thursday. "We were very confused by this step by Booking.com, but will continue working with them," she said.

The Dnipro Hotel in Kiev declined to say if they received such a statement from the online reservation service.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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