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Watch: Sanction These 5,825 ‘Mid-Level’ Russians And Putin’s Regime Might Collapse, Navalny’s Aide Urges EU

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A key aide of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has presented the EU with a list of 5,825 ‘mid-level’ Russians, arguing that their sanctioning could deal a significant hammer blow to Vladimir Putin’s power.

The list ranges from MPs, state bankers and people who work in Russian federal media to Ministry of Defence staff, key security figures, educators, artists, and influencers.

“One of the reasons Putin started his war against Ukraine is definitely the fact that he didn’t expect such a consolidated reaction from the West,” Leonid Volkov, who is Navalny’s chief of staff, told a press conference.

“The sanctions that have been applied so far have made a difference. There is tension in Russia now, some oligarchs are very nervous and some are even leaving the country, making confessions and publicly pulling back their support for Putin. That’s OK but not sufficient.”

 

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Volkov argued that sanctions will be more painful on the 5,825 ‘war enablers’ on the list, published by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, than they have been for Russian oligarchs.

“If an oligarch stole billions, then not being allowed to enter Europe means he can fly his private jet to the Seychelles and relocate his yacht to the Caribbean. However, these mid-level people might have stolen 5 million rubles and not 5 billion, and if they have a villa in France or a restaurant in Germany and send their children to Europe, then [relocating to Europe] is their retirement plan.”

“That’s pretty much everything they have. They have sold their souls to the devil, to Putin, in exchange for this European future for them and their children. They must pay this price now and it will be very painful for many of them.”

“We really believe that targeting this mid-level of Putin’s accomplices will make it much harder for Putin to carry on with this atrocious war when his executives start thinking about their future and leaving his team, as some top oligarchs have already done.”

Questioned by Lovin Malta as to whether sanctioning these Russians may actually make them more dependent on Putin and consequently push them further into his hands, Volkov responded that, first and foremost, they must be punished for their role in helping Russia become a “fascist state”. 

“It’s a question of morality,” he said.

However, he added that for many of them, the choice between a future by Putin’s side and a future without the Russian president “is not so obvious”.

“While the inner circle of Putin’s elite consists of his schoolfriend and university friends and so on, the mid-level of executives consists of mostly much younger people who must think of their future after Putin,” he said. “They must think about whether they want to be on the side of war criminals or if they will take some action to get excluded from this list.”

“For many of them, the perspective of getting included in this list will cause many second thoughts and many will reevaluate what they’re doing and if they want to keep on playing their current roles. If many of them won’t continue to do what they’re doing now, then the regime will just collapse.”

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Do you think the EU should follow Volkov’s advice?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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