Putin holds secret meeting with Russian oligarchs in Kremlin
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent meeting with top businessmen in the Kremlin was held under conditions of heightened secrecy for the first time in several years.
Not one of the 60 invitees, which included state bankers, the senior managers of state corporations, the owners of prominent companies and government officials – from Central Bank Head Elvira Nabiullina to presidential aide Andrey Belouslov – has uttered a word about the contents of the closed door discussion.
In his welcoming address, Putin said that “regal interiors” had been selected for the meeting in order to create “an atmosphere aimed at a good result”. He thanked everyone for their collaboration, gave New Year’s wishes, and invited the attendees to “relax” and “speak openly” without the press.
According to Kommersant, Putin spoke about the Normandy Format talks in Paris, where he said that the Russian delegation spent several hours insisting that the current Minsk agreements be implemented, while the Ukrainian negotiators insisted that the agreements needed to be amended. Putin said that this was because Kyiv “is under external control”.
Not a single participant has decided to disclose publicly what the president said at the meeting.
Putin’s previous meeting with major business owners in March was done differently. Vladimir Lisin, the second richest person in Russia with an estimated $21.3 billion according to Forbes, told RBC news agency that the president warned that relations with the West would continue to deteriorate.
According to Lisin, Putin also spoke about Venezuela: “We discussed the fact that everything there is complicated. I don’t think the president has made any particular choice on this situation, because he didn’t say anything about it. Nothing was said about Venezuela’s debts. The president said that we have good relations with Israel.”
VTB head Andrey Kostin said that the discussion also touched on the issue of security forces putting pressure on business. “The president promised to take additional steps to ensure that the exhortations which he made, primarily in his annual address, are broadcast system-wide,” Kostin explained.