Sanctioned oligarchs who remain outside Russia regularly receive calls from the Kremlin urging them to return home after the invasion. The Financial Times writes about this, citing two people who received such calls, and several other people familiar with the situation.
According to the interlocutors of the publication, many businessmen claim that the sanctions are pushing them back to Russia. “Some people say: “Do I need all this? I will return to Moscow, where I can go to restaurants with pleasure and feel great,” says one of the businessmen. Sanctions, he argues, force elites to get even closer to the Kremlin, even if they prefer to distance themselves from it.
Some people in Western political circles share this skepticism about sanctions. “There are two types of oligarchs in Russia,” says Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Moscow. - There are oligarchs of the 90s, and we are all very proud when we impose sanctions on them and seize their yachts. But let's be clear: these guys have no influence on Vladimir Putin."
A typical member of the new cohort, according to McFaul, is “a very rich guy close to Putin, but he is rich precisely because he is close to Putin.” "So he [also] doesn't have the leverage to make him stop the war," he explains.
The publication's interlocutors note that the sanctions have deprived the oligarchs of a choice and they feel that they are trapped between resigning themselves to their fate in Russia and the fact that they will have to face reprisals for speaking out against the war.
“They say they are afraid of being poisoned, but in reality they are afraid of losing their money and the reputation they have worked so hard to build,” says a senior Russian businessman. And he adds that now they "do not know how to act in that situation, they are completely disoriented."
When asked why they were no longer opposed to the war, several oligarchs pointed to the case of banker Oleg Tinkov.
In April, Tinkov opposed the war in Ukraine. In his opinion, 90% of Russians do not support the Russian invasion. “I don’t see a single beneficiary of this crazy war! Innocent people and soldiers are dying. The generals, waking up with a hangover, realized that they had a shitty army. And how will the army be good if everything else in the country is shit and mired in nippotism, servility and servility? Kremlin officials are shocked that not only they, but also their children will not go to the Mediterranean in the summer. Businessmen are trying to save the rest of their property... Of course, there are morons who draw Z, but morons in any country are 10%. 90% of Russians are against this war!” he wrote on his Instagram page.
The day after the anti-war post, the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation contacted the leadership of Tinkoff Bank and threatened to nationalize it if the company did not break ties with the founder. Tinkov spoke about this in an interview with The New York Times. According to the businessman, the Kremlin forced him to sell the bank for "three percent of the real value", in the end he sold a 35 percent stake to Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin.