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No Palace Coup in Store for Russia

Published: August 5, 2014 (Issue # 1822)



  • Western sanctions targeted government officials, mostly Putin's former colleagues from the security services, heads of key state companies and some of Putin's mouthpieces in the Duma and on the Federation Council.
    Photo: Kishjar / Flickr

When the U.S. government announced its first round of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's friends over the Ukraine conflict in May, it made no bones about their aim: Increase the cost for them of Putin continuing his course and they will influence him to back off or, ultimately, throw him under the bus.

The sanctions quickly began to hit some where it hurts. Billionaire Gennady Timchenko, whom the U.S. Treasury Department has described as someone whose "activities in the energy sector have been closely linked to Putin," found that his wife was unable to pay for her back surgery in Switzerland in May when all his credit cards were suddenly blocked.

Timchenko, 61, has been friends with Putin for more than 20 years, and his labrador Romi is a daughter of Putin's favorite labrador Koni, he said in a rare and outspoken interview with ITAR-Tass published Monday.

In the interview, Timchenko said that business elites would not turn on Putin over sanctions and that he would be willing to give up all of his assets, estimated by Forbes in 2014 to stand at $14.3 billion, to the state "even tomorrow."

"We have encountered certain difficulties because of sanctions, but they are negligible when compared with the country's goals," he said, ruling out any expectation that he, along with other Putin's longtime friends Yury Kovalchuk, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who were also sanctioned, will pressure Putin to change course.

"It is naive to think that with such methods anyone will scare us or force us to retreat," he said, apparently admitting that there is a cohesive group surrounding Putin.

Putin's Elite, Tamed and Loyal

The people who have had sanctions slapped on them constitute a particular group of the president's longtime friends whose wealth has increased exponentially since Putin came to power at the end of 1999.

For instance, Kovalchuk, the largest single shareholder of Bank Rossiya, is described by the U.S. Treasury as "a close advisor to President Putin, [who] has been referred to as one of his 'cashiers.'"

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Oct. 21


The Environment, Health and Safety Committee of AmCham convenes this morning at 9 a.m. in the organization’s office.


Take the opportunity to pick the brains of Dmitry V. Krivenok, the deputy director of the Economic Development Agency of the Leningrad region, and Mikhail D. Sergeev, the head of the Investment Projects Department, during the meeting with them this morning hosted by SPIBA. RSVP for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru before Oct. 17 if you wish to attend.


Improve your English at Interactive English, the British Book Center’s series of lessons on vocabulary and grammar in an informal atmosphere. Starting at 6 p.m., each month draws attention to different topics in English, with the topic for this month’s lessons being “visual arts.”



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