MOSCOW Aug 4 An ally of Vladimir Putin said on
Monday that Russia's business elite would not put pressure him
to change tack on Ukraine due to Western sanctions which would
only strengthen support for the president's policies.
Gennady Timchenko, who is under U.S. sanctions, told
Itar-Tass news agency the West had miscalculated when it
designed punitive measures it hoped would put pressure on
Putin's inner circle and change Russia's course in Ukraine.
"No, this can be ruled out," Timchenko said when asked
whether the business elite could influence Putin.
"Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) is only thinking about the
interest of Russia. Full stop. There can be no compromise here.
And it won't even cross our (businessmen's) minds to speak out
about this subject," said Timchenko, whose fortune is estimated
at $12-$16 billion.
"It is naive to think that with such methods anyone will
scare us or force us to retreat," he said.
Timchenko was among the first Russian businessmen who had
sanctions imposed on him by the United States, whose asset
freezes and visa bans were part of a broader Western drive to
punish Russia for annexing Crimea and for stirring rebellion in
Ukraine's eastern regions.
Timchenko owns large stakes in Russian gas producer Novatek
, coal miner Kolmar, Bank Rossiya and petrochemical
In the interview, he said he did not use a computer or
mobile phone for fear of being monitored, and shrugged off the
importance of the billions he had amassed during Putin's rule,
saying he would hand his assets to the state if needed.
"I can speak for myself clearly and definitely: if it is
necessary, then tomorrow I will give it all to the state. Or to
charity. So it can be useful," he said.
"My wife and I have often discussed this theme. Personally
we don't need billions," said Timchenko.
The former co-owner of Gunvor, one of world's top five oil
traders, said one of the results of the sanctions was that he
could no longer use Mastercard and Visa cards and had therefore
switched to using the Chinese payment system UnionPay.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and