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Russian Rail head: my sanction 'quarrel in a kitchen'

Russian entrepreneur Vladimir Yakunin - who has been sanctioned by the U.S. over his close ties with President Vladimir Putin - dismissed his penalties as inappropriate and a "quarrel in the kitchen."

Yakunin, who is chairman of the state-owned Russian Railways, said the fact that he is on Washington's sanctions list made him feel "strange."

"I don't see any reason (for it)," he told CNBC at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

He said the only reason given for the sanctions was because he was a friend of President Putin. "This is not diplomatic... It seems like a quarrel in the kitchen."

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The U.S. has imposed sanctions including visa bans and asset freezes on a number of Ukrainian and Russian individuals following the Kremlin's aggression in Ukraine.

The country has remained on the brink of crisis ever since the overthrow of the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych in February. In early March, Russia annexed Crimea in the south of the country, and since then, fighting between pro-Russian militias and Ukrainian forces in the east of the country has continued.

Other Russians hit by U.S. sanctions include Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire oil tycoon, and Yuri Kovalchuk, who is allegedly Putin's personal banker.

Vladimir Yakunin (L) and Vladimir Putin at SPIEF
Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Vladimir Yakunin (L) and Vladimir Putin at SPIEF

But Yakunin insisted he had done nothing wrong.

"I was disappointed when I read that someone pointed me out as the number one enemy of America. It is foolish," he said, highlighting that he had lived in the U.S. for five-and-a-half years.

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"The sanctions pointing out a person to try to harm his business and his personal life just to make a point is not appropriate," he added.

Despite this, Yakunin said he was not angry about being put on Washington's sanctions list, although he conceded it had affected Russian Railways.

"Of course it is somehow influencing the business," he said, but added: "So far, investors who bought our papers, they are not showing any concerns, so I am quite comfortable with that."

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