The powerful businessmen who had previously served as a pillar of Putin’s legitimacy are now the Kremlin’s target as retaliation for its embarrassing missteps.
The Russian economy is in freefall as a result of President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked conflict in Ukraine, and he is about to start confiscating the valuable assets of oligarchs he believes to be too disloyal.
Putin has already referred to people who have left Russia in response to his invasion in February as a “threat” to the country, specifically mentioning prominent businessmen who he believes are siphoning off Russian money and hiding it in tax havens overseas.
In a segmented interview that the Kremlin released this week, he intensified his criticism of individuals who act in their own self-interest instead of the purported 99% of Russians who are prepared to give their lives for the “motherland.”
The Russian legislature has now prepared a bill that would raise tax rates for Russians who have fled since the start of the conflict, which Putin had previously insisted on calling a “special military operation” out of bureaucratic and public relations reasons before finally calling a “war” last week.
Analysts contend that the action likely acts as a precondition for nationalizing the real estate and other assets of these businessmen, who he had previously regarded as essential proof of his legitimacy.