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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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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