Podcast 5:59: The coexistence of the Russian business elite with the Putin regime has been hit by severe war in Ukraine. There are isolated, but nevertheless critical reservations about the Kremlin. Is there any sign of resistance in the climate in Russia? Is there a split between Putin and the financial magnates? And what are the consequences?
What you will hear in today’s episode 5:59
- Catherine Belton, a reporter for The Washington Post, describes the interconnected system of Russian politics and business, which has changed dramatically since the 1990s. Whereas the oligarchs used to have the upper hand, today it is President Putin who has the leverage for economic magnates.
- Protests by Russia’s economic elites have their limits, they can easily go to jail or lose their investments or jobs. They are often afraid of physical attacks.
- “I think as far as Putin’s immediate area is concerned, everyone is still in their seats in Russia. He can’t leave. Only those on the fringes who were useless for the running of the state could leave, “Catherine Belton describes the atmosphere of fear that prevails among the Russian elites.
After more than two months of war in Ukraine, Russian oligarchs are beginning to break the silence that has haunted them so far. But they are still cautious in their statements. They are afraid that they will be persecuted by the Russian regime.
As shown by the example of Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov, they can easily lose their business. According to Tinkov, who opposed the Russian aggression in Ukraine, he was forced to sell his stake in the bank he owned for three percent of its true value.
“Putin controls the economy through fear and can take his business from anyone at any time. If Russia’s central bank chief Elvira Nabiullin or former Russian Finance Minister and Chamber of Accountants Alexei Kudrin took a sharper stance if they tried to leave the country or if they wanted to resign, they could face imprisonment, “Belton said.
In addition to the threat of criminalization, economic magnates are also afraid of physical violence. A series of deaths of influential officials of Russian state and private companies connected to the Kremlin leadership have recently taken place in Europe. Police investigated their deaths as suicides.
“Maybe they were ordered to move money, hide money, maybe they kept something for themselves or just talked a lot. We just don’t know, but whatever happened to them was clearly a warning to the rest of this business elite, ”concludes investigative reporter Catherine Belton.
In Tuesday’s episode of the 5:59 podcast, you will learn which oligarchs dared to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions and what the impact was. Listen to more in the audio at the beginning of the article.
Editors: Barbora Sochorova, Matej Valek
Sound design: David Kaiser
Audio sample sources: Television List, ČT 24, Czech Radio Radiožurnál, BBC News, CNN, CBS NEWS, YouTube – The White House, YouTube – Forbes Middle East
Team news podcast Lenka Kabrhelová. One crucial topic every weekday for a minute six. The most important events in the Czech Republic, in the world, politics, economics, sports and culture through the lens of the List of News.
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