From luxury yachts to large palaces, private jets and artifacts, the wealthy Russians are deprived of their luxury possessions, due to sanctions against the backdrop of the war waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
Indeed, the confiscation and freezing of assets was the most difficult challenge for the powerful Russians near the Kremlin, many of whom became wealthy after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In Britain, sanctions have been imposed on more than 100 rich and powerful Russian figures and their families. The United States has imposed sanctions on 140 of these, while the European Union has targeted more than 30 of them.
British Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the move was aimed at targeting them with painful measures by depriving them of the benefit of their “luxury possessions”.
For years, the British capital has been called “London Degree”, after turning it into a refuge for the Russians and their money, where their children learn, and follow their lawsuits.
“The welcome rug is being pulled out from under the feet of the rich and powerful Russians,” reads an article in the British magazine The Economist.
The target of the famous businessman, Roman Abramovich, who was forced to offer the Chelsea club he bought in 2003.
But taking action against the many players in a large economy that is too open to the world is a step “into the unknown,” according to Alex Ness, a researcher at the Institute of Government.
According to Nice, the war will end one day, but the sharp division between the West and Russia will remain, even if the assets are just frozen, and their owners are not stripped of their property rights. “There does not seem to be any prospect of lifting sanctions any time soon,” Nice said.
In Moscow, independent political analyst Konstantin Kalachev said Putin’s “special operation” in Ukraine could take “years” and possibly extend to fulfill his dream of rebuilding the Russian Empire. If the decision rests on Ukraine, Nice said, “the sanctions will not be lifted.”
A storm of punishment
Undoubtedly, sanctions achieve their goals. Last month, Forbes removed 34 Russians from its annual list of billionaires, due to “an avalanche of sanctions”.
“The war is an absolute disaster for them,” said Elizabeth Schimfussel, author of Rich Ross, a professor of sociology at Aston University in Birmingham, central England.
Russian collector Peter Ivin has told the Financial Times he is not sure if he is “allowed to hire a cleaner or a driver” and runs the risk of being deported from the UK.
His partner, Mikhail Friedman, told Bloomberg News he was “shocked” and struggling to pay for the cleaner.
Many rich and influential Russians have various nationalities, and they are in no hurry to return to Russia.
Shemphosel said the West was “a base to which they can turn at any time when they are afraid of being persecuted in Russia.”
She added that “the powerful Russians have never made any attempt to establish the rule of law in Russia.”
long TV series
The size of the assets targeted by the sanctions is large, as the British government estimates that the value of assets owned by Abramovich alone exceeds nine billion pounds. It also targeted two of its partners whose assets exceed £ 10 billion.
Abramovich apparently owns six luxury yachts, two of which have been moored in Turkey since last March to avoid sanctions. And member states of the European Union have announced the freezing of Russian assets of about $ 30 billion, including yachts, helicopters, real estate and artifacts worth about $ 7 billion.
Washington, for its part, has announced sanctions and confiscated more than $ 1 billion in boats and aircraft. US President Joe Biden has proposed permanent sanctions, saying the rich and powerful Russians should not be allowed to enjoy their luxury items while Ukraine’s children die.
In Fiji last week, police seized the 106-meter Amadea yacht, which is estimated to be worth about $ 300 million, and is believed to be owned by Russian financier Suleiman Karimov, who is being targeted by US sanctions in connection with the war in the Ukraine. Scenes of impounded yachts and enclosed mansions belonging to Putin’s inner circle also disrupt their luxurious lives in Russia. “Ordinary Russians would love to see (the rich cry too),” Kalachev said, referring to the long-running Mexican television series that Russians watched in the early 1990s. But it is not yet clear whether the consequences of the sanctions will affect Moscow’s decisions. Kalachev said it does not affect Putin because he meets with these businessmen to “give his directions to them”, which means the meeting does not involve dialogue.
Nice said that “the record of using economic pressure to bring about a change in foreign policy is not good,” but stressed that sanctions “will undoubtedly weaken Russia’s fighting ability.”
Abramovich is active on the line of talks aimed at ending the war with a mandate from both sides. Wealthy and influential Russians expressed their opposition to the ongoing conflict.
In a comment on “Instagram”, the Russian businessman and banker, Oleg Tinkov, who is under British sanctions, criticized “this crazy war” and Russia’s “dirty” army.
Friedman called for an end to the bloodshed, while Oleg Deripaska, who is under British, European and American sanctions, said the ongoing fighting was “a form of insanity.” But analysts have questioned whether they can form a front against Putin. “It is difficult for that to happen,” said Nice.
In turn, Schymfüssel said: “It will not be in their interest to show premature opposition to Putin.”
• Member States of the European Union have announced the freezing of some $ 30 billion worth of Russian assets, including yachts, helicopters, real estate and some $ 7 billion worth of artifacts.
• The confiscation and freezing of assets poses the most difficult challenge for the rich and influential Russians who are close to the Kremlin, many of whom became rich after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
• Britain has imposed sanctions on more than 100 rich and influential Russian figures and their families. The United States has imposed sanctions on 140 of these, while the European Union has targeted more than 30 of them.
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