Billionaire Mikhail Fridman says sanctioned Russian oligarchs like him have no influence over Putin.The West is targeting powerful Russians thought to be close to Putin to try and exert pressure on him.”To say anything to Putin against the war …would be kind of suicide,” Fridman told Bloomberg.
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Following the invasion of Ukraine, the US, EU, and UK sanctioned many rich Russians perceived to be close to Putin, attempting to put pressure on him to end the war.
Financier Fridman, who now runs LetterOne, a private equity firm, has been sanctioned by the UK and EU.At the time of the EU sanctions, Fridman told Reuters that it was “groundless and unfair.” He has not been sanctioned by the US.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek published Thursday, Fridman said Russian oligarchs have no power to influence Putin and that none of them would dare challenge him over the invasion.
“The power distance between Mr.
Putin and anybody else is like the distance between the Earth and the cosmos,” he said, adding he had often met with Putin in groups of business leaders rather than one-on-one.
“To say anything to Putin against the war, for anybody, would be kind of suicide.”
A number of oligarchs, including Fridman, have called for an end to an invasion.Such calls have so far fallen on deaf ears in Moscow.
Experts previously told Insider that Putin is unconcerned by criticism, and only his tiny inner circle have his ear.
“You’d need other oligarchs who are a lot closer to Putin to be dissenting.It would have to be enough to break that loyalty they’ve had for 20 years,” Emily Ferris, a research fellow at London’s Royal United Services Institute, told Insider.
“We’re talking about [people like] the head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, a real heavyweight who could pull people in behind him.”
Fridman, who was raised in the Soviet Union in what is now the Ukrainian city of Lviv, said that the EU misunderstands how power works in Russia.
“I’ve never been in any state company or state position,” he said.
“If the people who are in charge in the EU believe that because of sanctions, I could approach Mr.
Putin and tell him to stop the war, and it will work, then I’m afraid we’re all in big trouble.That means those who are making this decision understand nothing about how Russia works.And that’s dangerous for the future.”
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Fridman’s wealth dropped from $14 billion to $10 billion, Bloomberg said.
Fridman estimated that his living allowance, due to UK sanctions, is around £2,500 ($3,300) per month, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
“Maybe I should clean the house myself,” he said.
“That’s fine.I used to live in a small dormitory room with four men when I was a student, but after 35 years it’s unexpected.”
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