(London) Yacht, huge properties, planes or works of art: Western sanctions imposed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine deprive wealthy Russians of their “luxury toys”. With an effectiveness that is difficult to assess.
Posted at 6:51 am
The high-profile asset freeze hits Russian oligarchs head-on, many of whom made their fortunes on the rubble of the Soviet Union and were hunted down in two decades of Vladimir Putin’s rule.
In the UK, more than 100 businessmen and their families have been fined since the invasion of Ukraine began. The United States has targeted 140, the European Union more than 30.
According to UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, it’s about starting where it hurts by “depriving the oligarchs, who are accused of using their wealth to serve power while enjoying a Western way of life, of their luxury toys”.
In London, sometimes nicknamed “Londongrad” because it has been home to many Russians for years, “the welcome mat is now being removed,” summarizes The Economist weekly.
Even Roman Abramovich was targeted, leading to the sale of London football club Chelsea, which he bought in 2003.
But targeting such a large number of people in a highly globalized economy remains “entirely uncharted territory,” notes researcher Alex Nice of the Institute for Government think tank. As a result, a “deep chasm between the West and Russia” will continue to develop after the war.
Independent Russian political scientist Konstantin Kalachev believes Vladimir Putin’s “special operation” in Ukraine could last “for years”. If the decision to lift sanctions was based on the situation in Ukraine, the West “will never lift them,” he told AFP.
“Avalanche of Sanctions”
The magazine forbes already removed 34 Russians from its list of billionaires last month, citing the impact of sanctions.
“The war is an absolute disaster for them,” said Elisabeth Schimpfoessl, a sociologist at Astom University in Birmingham and author of a book called Rich Russians.
Petr Aven, known for his large collection of Russian artworks, told the Financial Times he wasn’t sure “he had the right to let someone do the housework or let them drive”. He now fears deportation from Britain.
Many oligarchs are of several nationalities and are in no hurry to return to Russia.
Western countries provide a “base to go to if they fear prosecution in Russia,” says Dr.me insult
The scope of sanctioned ownership is immense. According to the British government, Roman Abramovich alone weighs more than 9 billion pounds (10.5 billion euros).
EU member countries have reported that nearly $30 billion in Russian assets have been frozen, including $7 billion in yachts, helicopters, real estate or works of art.
See “The Cry of the Rich”
The United States has sanctioned or blocked more than $1 billion worth of boats and planes owned by Kremlin relatives.
Last week, at Washington’s request, police in Fiji seized a 106-meter yacht worth more than $300 million linked to Suleiman Kerimov, a billionaire lawmaker who is the target of European and American sanctions.
These measures not only make you unhappy. “Ordinary Russians also like to see ‘the rich cry,'” Kalachev says, referring to a Mexican series that was popular in Russia in the early 1990s.
And according to the expert, “the attempt to force a change in foreign policy with economic sanctions has not proven its worth”, even if the sanctions “weaken Russia’s fighting power”.
While Abramovich has participated in talks to end the conflict, other oligarchs have openly criticized the war.
For example, on Instagram, Oleg Tinkov, a London-sanctioned banker where he recently treated leukemia, criticized “this crazy war.”
But experts say the oligarchs are unlikely to band together against Putin. “It would not be in their interest to speak out publicly against Putin,” she said.me insult