Many Russians will welcome harsh Western actions against oligarchs, Skobov says

Putin addressing his "new nomenklatura" ruling elite. Russian kleptocrats have been parking their stolen wealth in the West since the break-up of the Soviet Union (Image: kremlin.ru)

Putin addressing his "new nomenklatura" ruling elite. Russian kleptocrats have been parking their stolen wealth in the West since the break-up of the Soviet Union (Image: kremlin.ru) 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

One of the “most popular” arguments Putin supporters in the West use against the imposition of sanctions against the Russian oligarchs is that this will intensify anti-Western attitudes among Russians and lead ever more of them to unite around the Kremlin leader against the West, Aleksandr Skobov says.

Aleksandr Skobov (Image: kasparov.ru)

Aleksandr Skobov
(Image: kasparov.ru)

But in fact, the Russian commentator points out, “a significant part of Russians animated by anti-Western attitudes do not have any warm feelings for the Putinist kleptocracy.” Moreover, their anti-Western attitudes are in many cases the result of their judgment that the West has allowed the oligarchs to live so well abroad. Consequently, Skobov continues,

“if the ruling circles of European countries decide to adopt real measures against the Russian kleptocrats who have settled among them, this could change the opinion of many Russians about the West to the better” and not to the West as those opposed to sanctions routinely insist.

As ever more Europeans especially on the left are beginning to understand, the introduction of “Russian criminal-oligarchic capital” into Western economies “is stimulating the rebirth of the most archaic and reactionary forms of capitalism.” And that shift means the anti-Putin opposition should rethink its relationship to the European left.

Some Western analysts especially in the United States have focused on the corrupting influence of Russian money on political life; but Skobov is pointing to something even larger, the way in which this massive influx of illegally acquired Russian wealth is corrupting capitalism itself, dragging it back to an ugly and unregulated past.

And that in turn means, although the Russian commentator does not mention it, that sanctions even if they hurt some Western capitalists as they are certain to do, will not only send the right signal to the Kremlin but make a serious contribution to the recovery of a more socially inclined public policy in the US and Western Europe.

To the extent that comes to be understood, liberals in the West should welcome sanctions on the Russian oligarchs rather than oppose them and should in fact be the leading sponsors of harsh treatment of the criminal class led by Putin under the old and still true Polish slogan, “for your freedom and ours!

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Ihor Dawydiak

    Aleksandr Skobov hit the nail on the head. With the exception of brainwashed “Putinistas”, why should the average Russian citizen care about the assets of Russian oligarchs whether those assets be located in Russia or especially in the West? More specifically, do the assets or the personal lives of Russian oligarchs have any affect on Russian citizens who can barely make ends meet in their daily lives? Obviously not. And just for an added effect, why should the average Russian citizen sympathize or care if a Russian oligarch or his or her extended family or associate end up losing a multi-million dollar apartment in London, England or their +$100,000 cars when so many Russian citizens can barely feed themselves and their children? However, the freezing or seizure of the Western assets of Russian oligarchs would definitely affect Putin. Why? Because Putin himself is one of those oligarchs and many if not most of those oligarchs are the same people that have propped up the chief Russian rodent in his never ending quest for greater power.

    • MichaelA

      russian people will applaud if oligarchs get sanctioned because it shows west is not being hypocritical anymore
      we let the oligarchs rip off the russian people and deposit their ill gotten gains in the west
      so of course russian people were cynical about the benefits of capitalism
      the oligarchs robbed their own people and brought the proceeds to the west and we let it happen because the oligarchs paid us off in various ways