Putin’s people. Is a split brewing in the Russian elite?
The main news of recent days was a lawsuit filed by a group of Russian oligarchs against the American publisher of the book, British journalist Catherine Belton
The book is called ” Putin’s people. How the KGB regained Russia and launched an offensive in the West.
The plaintiffs were such people as the owner of the Chelsea club Roman Abramovich, co-founder of Alfa Group Mikhail Fridman, head of Alfa Group Petr Aven and developer Shalva Chigirinsky. Chigirinsky, by the way, is mentioned in the book due to the fact that he has long known his former colleague in the real estate market Donald Trump and his not very transparent business.
In addition, the state-owned company Rosneft filed a lawsuit against the publishing house, which was mainly created from the Yukos oil company stolen from Mikhail Khodorkovsky and placed at the personal disposal of Putin’s friend Igor Sechin.
The book also mentions other influential people known in Russia, but so far only these have been brought to court.
Why is it important? I think this event is indicative of two strategically significant trends. First, Russian oligarchs, especially those closely associated with the West, want to draw a very clear line between themselves and Vladimir Putin.
If earlier it was honorable and prestigious to be called ” Putin’s man”, now this title has become a stigma that makes its bearer the most toxic and hands-free in the West.
This is not yet “Hitler’s accomplice”, but it is already very close to that. Russian billionaires living and working in the West are very unhappy when the source of their wealth and influence is called Vladimir Putin and the mafia regime he created based on robbery and murder.
And Belton’s book describes well and in detail what kind ( not very legal and beautiful) their fortunes were created and how they survived, what role Vladimir Putin played in this, and how, what and why they still owe him.
This book binds the plaintiffs firmly to the Russian regime and makes them an integral part of it. Although they want to distance themselves from him as much as possible, at least in the eyes of the Western public.
It is precisely the desire of the Russian oligarchs to dissociate themselves from Putin, to disown the definition of ” Putin’s people” – this is evidence of the growing split in the Russian elite.
Those oligarchs who see a little further than their noses understand that very soon the mere mention of their names in such a book will call into question their ability to live and work normally in the West.
They are afraid of becoming plague and lepers for Western partners, for banks, officials, and so on. Their goal is to become an integral part of the Western world and the Western elite, and not become a target for future lawsuits by people and states affected by Putin and his regime. Therefore, they shout at the top of their lungs: “We are not with him, we are not his people!”
The split in the Russian elite that has begun is the first tendency to become apparent thanks to lawsuits against publishers.
The second trend is the growing fear of the Russian oligarchs about Western sanctions.
The owners of the largest Russian companies are well aware that as long as Putin remains in power, the West will impose more and more sanctions against those around him.
The businesses of those who find themselves under these sanctions will, if not completely destroyed, then severely undermined. They themselves, as well as their relatives, will be deprived of the opportunity to travel to the USA, EU, Great Britain – to all those places where they have homes, where they are used to living, relaxing, studying, being treated, and so on.
Naturally, no one wants such a fate for themselves. Therefore, the question arises: which of them will be punished by Joe Biden and the European leaders? How will they define the roll-call list?
There are many ways, but one of them is books like the one that Catherine Belton wrote. In this case, this is generally inevitable. The fact is that it was this book that Alexei Navalny referred to in his investigation of the Putin palace.
And now, for Western leaders and Western public opinion, he has become a real knight in the struggle against the darkness, evil and corruption reigning in Russia. The heroes of this book perceive Belton’s book in his hands as a two-handed sword raised above their heads.
Of course, they want their names to be deleted from there. And as soon as possible. Hence, in fact, the claims.
However, Joe Biden and his foreign policy aides see this book and the names listed in it as a kind of menu in a sanctioned restaurant.
They can now choose some kind of Russian oil oligarch. Or gas. Or a banker. Or a developer. Cook it, pepper, salt, bite off a piece, chew it slowly – and swallow it!
Or even try some combination of oligarchs – an exquisite dish. Financial Intelligence and the US State Department have very good chefs.
It seems to me that it is highly likely to assume that all the other “ Putin’s People” from the menu offered in the book, looking at all this, will do their best to be deleted from this menu. If this requires permanently abandoning support for Putin and going over to the side of the West, then so be it.
By the way, do you remember that quite recently the Russian aluminum baron Oleg Deripaska suddenly went against the Kremlin? He is also worried: if the Americans impose sanctions on him, he will go bankrupt. In Russia, no one needs its aluminum, they do not produce anything from it, it is all exported.
I think that this is unlikely to happen in the near future, since the West needs aluminum. But a little later – quite.
It is important to say here that Biden will have to choose from a list of sanctions against Russia very soon. According to the law, he is obliged to introduce some new sanctions against the Kremlin in June. Therefore, all these lawsuits, I think, are connected with the fact that no one wants to be on the lists of those punished.
Here, someone may notice: what if in Belton’s book really one untruth is written? In theory, this could be, but: she has an impeccable reputation. She worked as an FT correspondent in Moscow for many years, so she knows a lot about Russia and the standards of journalism.
In addition, the publishing house ” HarperCollins”, which will have to answer in court charges of libel, personal data privacy and interference with privacy, said that he had no complaints about this book, it was written in compliance with all the necessary requirements for such books. kind. Therefore, no one will withdraw it from sale.
In a statement on the matter, the publishing house calls The People of Putin “authoritative, important and conscientiously prepared work.” And it has already managed to declare that “it will vigorously defend this innovative book that has received recognition,” and will also defend the right to report things of significant public interest. “
I wish the publishing house a victory in this confrontation with Russian oligarchs. The fate of the entire campaign to undermine and split the Russian elite largely depends on his success. And its split is an absolutely necessary condition for a speedy change of the regime in the Russian Federation.