Sergei Pugachev, who was once so close to Mr Putin that he was known as the “Kremlin’s banker”, told Financial Times that Russian businessmen were all now “serfs” who belonged to the president, with none of the country’s companies beyond his grasp.
In his first interview since 2012, Mr Pugachev warned that there were no longer any “untouchables” in a Russian business landscape dominated by President Putin. The Russian economy, he argued, had been transformed into a feudal system where businessmen were only nominal owners of their assets. His comments come at the time of the ongoing dispossession of Vladimir Yevtushenkov which is watched very closely by the business community. Pugachev has also claimed that Mezhprombank’s bankruptcy was orchestrated by Kremlin in order to seize the controlling stakes he held in Russia’s two biggest and most modern shipyards at a knockdown price.
“Today in Russia there is no private property. There are only serfs who belong to Putin,” he said. “Now there is Putin and there are his lieutenants who carry out his orders – and all cash generated is put on the balance of Putin,” he continued. “The country is in a state of war. And therefore big business cannot live as before. It has to live under military rules.”
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