Britain sanctions 'Butcher of Mariupol' Russian general

Britain sanctions ‘Butcher of Mariupol’ Russian general accused of massacring 300 civilians in theatre attack, the head of Russia Today and 12 more Kremlin allies as Liz Truss blasts Putin’s ‘torrent of lies’ about invasion of Ukraine

  • Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev ordered theatre strike that killed 300 civilians
  • One of 14 people hit in the latest wave of UK’s punitive economic measures
  • Also includes Kremlin funded TV-Novosti, which owns the RT news channel.

Russia’s bloody ‘Butcher of Mariupol’ and a host of Kremlin poodle television executives have been added to Britain’s sanctions list.

Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, who ordered a strike on a theatre that killed 300 civilians, is among 14 people hit in the latest wave of punitive economic measures unveiled by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.   

The latest names added to the sanctions list include propagandist Sergey Brilev and Kremlin funded TV-Novosti, which owns the RT news channel.

Aleksandr Zharov, chief executive of Gazprom-Media, Alexey Nikolov the managing director of RT and Anton Anisimov, the head of Sputnik International Broadcasting were also sanctioned.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: ‘Putin’s war on Ukraine is based on a torrent of lies. Britain has helped lead the world in exposing Kremlin disinformation, and this latest batch of sanctions hits the shameless propagandists who push out Putin’s fake news and narratives.

‘We will keep on going with more sanctions to ramp up the pressure on Russia and ensure Putin loses in Ukraine. Nothing and no one is off the table.’ 

Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev was accused of ordering the attack on the Mariupol theatre which killed 300

New satellite images show the collapsed remains of Mariupol theatre which was sheltering hundreds of children and their families before being levelled in a Russian airstrike

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: ‘Putin’s war on Ukraine is based on a torrent of lies. Britain has helped lead the world in exposing Kremlin disinformation, and this latest batch of sanctions hits the shameless propagandists who push out Putin’s fake news and narratives.’

The latest names added to the sanctions list include propagandist Sergey Brilev (circled) and Kremlin funded TV-Novosti, which owns the RT news channel.

Who has been targeted by latest round of sanctions?

Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev 

The 59-year-old director of the Russian National Centre for Defence since 2014 is accused of targeting civilians in Mariupol.

Developed a reputation for brutality overseeing the horrors inflicted on Aleppo in Syria.

Sergey Brilev 

Presenter on State TV channel Rossiya, which has toed Kremlin line on ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine.

Member of foreign minister Sergei Lavrov’s  Russian International Affairs Council.

Aleksandr Zharov

Chief executive of Gazprom-Media, which owns the NTV channel.

It has accused Ukraine of developing biological weapons with US assistance. 

Alexey Nikolov

Managing director of RT, the international television channel.

It has had  its UK and European broadcasting licences revoked over its reporting of the war.

Anton Anisimov

The head of Sputnik International Broadcasting. 

He has described the invasion as ‘a combination of a military operation with a humanitarian mission.


Kremlin-funded body that controls RT.

Rossiya Segodnya

Media group owned and run by the Russian government. It controls the Sputnik news agency, which the FCDSO says has ‘published disinformation undermining Ukraine’.

Strategic Culture Foundation

Seven directors and staff at the online journal have been sanctioned for spreading ‘disinformation. 

They have all previously been sanctioned by Australia. 

Mizintsev is facing demands for a war crimes prosecution over the attack on the theatre which killed 300. 

Video released at the weekend showed injured civilians covered with dust filing out of the Donetsk Regional Drama Theatre after it was near-totally destroyed in Russian bombs aimed at building on March 16 despite a large inscription saying ‘children’ being clearly visible on the pavement outside.

In a chilling intercepted phone call he also appeared to berate a junior officer for not cutting off the ears of a private who had been caught not wearing his uniform properly.

Olexander Scherba, Ukraine’s ex-Austrian ambassador, this week branded Mizintsev the ‘Butcher of Mariupol’ while Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of Ukraine’s Centre for Civil Liberties, called on him to face war charges. 

A Foreign Office source said: ‘Liz wants to keep on hitting Putin with sanctions to debilitate the Russian war economy and put Ukraine in the strongest possible negotiating position. There’ll be plenty more sanctions to come.’ 

RT had its UK licence revoked earlier this month by Ofcom. The TV watchdog said RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, was ‘not fit and proper’ to hold a licence amid 29 ongoing investigations into the ‘due impartiality of the news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’.

A statement released by the regulator at the time said: ‘We consider the volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern – especially given RT’s compliance history, which has seen the channel fined £200,000 for previous due impartiality breaches.

‘In this context, we launched a separate investigation to determine whether ANO TV Novosti is fit and proper to retain its licence to broadcast.’ 

The network, which has been described as Vladimir Putin’s ‘personal propaganda tool’, was previously fined £200,000 for ‘serious and repeated’ breaches of impartiality rules over a string of 2018 broadcasts on the Salisbury poisonings and the Syrian war. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: ‘Putin’s propaganda machine has been working overdrive to spread misinformation and distract from his barbaric actions in Ukraine.

‘These sanctions will target those who are complicit in covering up the Russian state’s actions. 

‘We will not hesitate to act further against individuals and organisations attempting to deceive people about this misguided war.’

UK defence intelligence analysts said ‘significant’ shelling and missile strikes have continued around the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, despite Russia’s indications it would cut back military activity in the area.

In an intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) tweeted: ‘Despite Russian statements indicating an intended reduction of military activity around Chernihiv, significant Russian shelling and missile strikes have continued.

‘Russian forces continue to hold positions to the east and west of Kyiv despite the withdrawal of a limited number of units. Heavy fighting will likely take place in the suburbs of the city in coming days.

‘Heavy fighting continues in Mariupol, a key objective of Russian forces, however Ukrainian forces remain in control of the centre of the city.’

RT, previously known as Russia Today, is a Russian state-backed news channel, based in the UK.

Launched in 2014, it is funded by the federal tax budget of the Russian government.

The UK media regulator, Ofcom, has repeatedly found RT to have breached its rules on impartiality and on one occasion found it had broadcast ‘materially misleading’ content.

In September 2015, Ofcom found RT in breach of the impartiality rules in its coverage of the events in Ukraine and Syria.

In December 2018, Ofcom ruled that seven programmes broadcast by RT between 17 March and 26 April of that year, in the wake of the Salisbury poisonings, had breached the UK’s impartiality rules.

RT said it was ‘extremely disappointed by Ofcom’s conclusions’, but it was fined £200,000.

It closed for TV broadcasting on 30 July 2021. But it still runs live streams via its English-speaking website.

Nadine Dorries had ordered Ofcom to take ‘timely and transparent’ action against Russia Today amid growing concerns it is spreading propaganda during the Ukraine crisis.

The Culture Secretary spoke to the broadcast regulator to raise concerns that the Kremlin-backed outfit could ‘look to spread harmful disinformation’ in the UK.

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