Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has previously had a friendly relationship with the country’s oligarchs, has seemingly changed his mind about the country’s richest citizens.
In his address to Russia’s parliament, Putin took a rancorous tone to the elites, saying the sanctions they have faced since the start of the Ukraine war are the price tag for their Western relationships and labeled them as traitors to the Russian state.
“Instead of creating employment here, this capital was spent buying elite real-estate, yachts,” he said, according to CNBC. “Some came to Russia, but the first wave was spent on consuming Western goods.…The latest events have demonstrated that the West was just a ghost in terms of being a safe haven. Those who saw Russia as just a source of income and were planning to live abroad, they saw that they just got robbed in the West.”
Sanctions by the U.S. and other countries led to $95 billion in losses for oligarchs last year. Putin, though, showed no sympathy for the rich, saying “none of the simple citizens of this country were sorry about those who lost massive bank accounts in the West.”
Sanctions against Russian oligarchs have resulted in several high-profile seizures in the past year, including megayachts worth $300 million and $325 million, but a $500 million boat managed to escape seizure.
Some oligarchs have been increasingly vocal against the Ukraine war, which could have been the root cause of the rift with Putin. Several oligarchs have been found dead since that criticism started, including two last April within 48 hours of each other. In both of those cases, their family was found dead as well.
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