NEWSWATCH: “Londongrad oligarchs are being forced back to Russia’s embrace; As sanctions bite, tycoons feel hemmed in by Vladimir Putin’s power” – Financial Times/Max Seddon

File Photo of British Parliament Building, Big Ben, Thames, adapted from image at loc.gov

“…. once ideal go-betweens between Russia and the west. … [s]uddenly, oligarchs are too Russian for a west eager to clean up its act and too western for a Russia hunting for ‘enemies of the people.’ … the nature of oligarchy … has changed dramatically …. Putin shifted the power dynamic …. under an unwritten rule: they were allowed to keep their wealth in exchange for staying out of politics. The new set … were figures from … Putin’s childhood …. [who] amassed huge fortunes after he became president – often through … lucrative contracts from state companies …. After Russia annexed Crimea … the U.S. sanctioned [them] first …. [M]ore recent US sanctions have cast a wider net …. several sanctioned oligarchs cannot pay off dollar loans to the state banks to whom they pledged major assets as collateral … [and] may not be tycoons for much longer. … The pressure the tycoons face … put[s] the … UK oligarch service industry at risk. …”

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