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EU removes three Russian business leaders from sanctions list

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union has removed three Russian business leaders from its sanctions targeting Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the EU's Official Journal showed on Thursday.

The deletion confirmed an earlier Reuters report.

The EU removed Grigory Berezkin, billionaire Farkhad Akhmedov, and Alexander Shulgin, former head of Russian e-commerce firm Ozon.

"Whether this decision can be seen as a sign of a shift from total sanctions policy to a more discretionary one or whether that would be 'wishful thinking' is difficult to say at this stage," said the team of lawyers representing Berezkin and Shulgin.

A lawyer representing Akhmedov said his client was still pursuing legal action at the European Court of Justice and was waiting for a hearing date.

"This is a recognition that our client should never have been included in the EU sanctions regime. As we have argued relentlessly for 18 months, both before the EU Council and the Court of Justice," Akhmedov's lawyer said.

The Kremlin on Thursday said, without naming any individuals, that Russian business leaders who voiced anti-Russian views in an effort to get personal Western sanctions on them lifted were traitors.

(Reporting by Julia Payne and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Evans)