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No Palace Coup in Store for Russia

Published: August 5, 2014 (Issue # 1822)



  • Western sanctions targeted government officials, mostly Putin's former colleagues from the security services, heads of key state companies and some of Putin's mouthpieces in the Duma and on the Federation Council.
    Photo: Kishjar / Flickr

When the U.S. government announced its first round of sanctions against President Vladimir Putin's friends over the Ukraine conflict in May, it made no bones about their aim: Increase the cost for them of Putin continuing his course and they will influence him to back off or, ultimately, throw him under the bus.

The sanctions quickly began to hit some where it hurts. Billionaire Gennady Timchenko, whom the U.S. Treasury Department has described as someone whose "activities in the energy sector have been closely linked to Putin," found that his wife was unable to pay for her back surgery in Switzerland in May when all his credit cards were suddenly blocked.

Timchenko, 61, has been friends with Putin for more than 20 years, and his labrador Romi is a daughter of Putin's favorite labrador Koni, he said in a rare and outspoken interview with ITAR-Tass published Monday.

In the interview, Timchenko said that business elites would not turn on Putin over sanctions and that he would be willing to give up all of his assets, estimated by Forbes in 2014 to stand at $14.3 billion, to the state "even tomorrow."

"We have encountered certain difficulties because of sanctions, but they are negligible when compared with the country's goals," he said, ruling out any expectation that he, along with other Putin's longtime friends Yury Kovalchuk, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who were also sanctioned, will pressure Putin to change course.

"It is naive to think that with such methods anyone will scare us or force us to retreat," he said, apparently admitting that there is a cohesive group surrounding Putin.

Putin's Elite, Tamed and Loyal

The people who have had sanctions slapped on them constitute a particular group of the president's longtime friends whose wealth has increased exponentially since Putin came to power at the end of 1999.

For instance, Kovalchuk, the largest single shareholder of Bank Rossiya, is described by the U.S. Treasury as "a close advisor to President Putin, [who] has been referred to as one of his 'cashiers.'"

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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