Switzerland has frozen an estimated 7.7 billion Swiss francs ($8.81 billion)in financial assets belonging to Russians, the government said on Friday, under sanctions designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

The figure, a provisional estimate, represented a slight increase from the 7.5 billion francs the Swiss government said it had blocked last year after the neutral country adopted European Union sanctions.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the agency overseeing sanctions, said the 7.7 billion francs figure was only its latest estimate and was subject to change.

It was difficult to give a precise figure due to new people being added or removed from the sanctions list, as well as legal cases to freeze or unlock further assets.

A more accurate figure is expected by the end of the second quarter 2024 when the Swiss banks report to the government. ($1 = 0.8742 Swiss francs) (Reporting by John Revill Editing by Gareth Jones)