A wrecking ball of United States economic sanctions could leave a major stop on the Miley Cyrus world tour in ruins. Other performers, including Justin Timberlake, Elton John and Aerosmith are also looking at cancelled shows at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. Unless, of course, Russian President Vladimir Putin reverses course and gives Crimea back to Ukraine.
The major concert venue in Finland is owned by three Russian businessmen, Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Arkady Rotenberg. The Rotenberg brothers are childhood friends of Putin while the multi-billionaire Timchenko founded the Russian oil-trading mega-firm Gunvor.
All three are deemed by the United States to be part of Putin’s “inner circle” and are on an list of 27 members of the Putin “circle” who under U.S. sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, may not receive “economic resources” from American citizens or business entities.
In other words, no American may conduct business with anyone on that list of 27 Putin confidants. Which means that Miley Cyrus will not performing her “Wrecking Ball” hit single in Finland any time soon.
The wrecking ball appears to be swinging in the direction of Live Nation, the international concert promoter that booked the Miliey Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” show at the Helsinki venue, scheduled for June, the same month that Justin Timberlake is also scheduled to perform a concert there.
Elton John, Aerosmith, and Peter Gabriel have concerts scheduled for Hartwall Arena later in the summer, and could also be subject to the wrecking ball of the U.S.-Russia dispute.
The three Russian businessmen own an events management company, Arena Events Oy, which bought the Hartwall Arena in 2013.
“It is a real area of ambiguity. The company that owns the venue is not on the sanctions list, but Timchenko is,” said Tom Stocker, a prominent lawyer and expert on international transactions. “The question is whether you are giving Timchenko economic resources by allowing the concerts to go ahead.”
Stocker also said that even artists who are not American, such as Elton John and Peter Gabriel, may not be permitted to do anything that could be seen as contributing to making the Finland concerts happen, at least while they are in United States territory.
“They can’t send emails to their US management while on American soil, they can’t discuss arrangements for the concert,” Stocker said.
A Live Nation spokesperson said that the company planned to comply with the sanctions. But according to British lawyer Anthony Woolich, if all financial transactions for the shows were completed prior to the imposition of sanctions, the entertainment events may be allowed to go ahead legally.
The Hartwall Arena has not taken a Miley Cyrus-style wrecking ball to its slate of summer concerts. All are still listed as taking place as planned.