Faced with economic calamity, Putin talks about nationalizing Western companies

Western companies that once symbolized post-Soviet Russia’s integration into the global economy, such as McDonald’s and Ikea, are of part...

Western companies that once symbolized post-Soviet Russia’s integration into the global economy, such as McDonald’s and Ikea, are of particular concern and have now closed hundreds of stores and factories. Mr Putin told officials at the televised meeting that the assets of these companies should be placed under “external management” and then transferred “to those who want to work”.

Dmitry A. Medvedev, the deputy chairman of Mr Putin’s security council, said the Kremlin could respond to Western companies leaving the Russian market with the seizure of their assets “and their possible nationalization”.

The prospect of the Kremlin seizing private assets has rattled Russian business circles. Vladimir Potanin, a metal magnate who is one of Russia’s richest men, issued a statement warning that such nationalization would “take us back 100 years, to 1917” – the year of the Russian Revolution, when the Bolsheviks took over private companies by force.

The Russian oligarchs face their own threat to their assets. On Thursday, the British government imposed new sanctions on seven prominent Russian businessmen, including Roman Abramovichthe owner of Chelsea Football Club, and Oleg V. Deripaskaa powerful metal magnate.

Not all Russians are affected equally by economic dislocation.

Those employed by the sprawling public sector and state-owned enterprises – which make up much of Mr Putin’s political base – are relatively isolated, with their jobs likely to be secure. By contrast, middle-class Russians whose jobs and lives are intertwined with the global economy, and who are already more likely than the average Russian to oppose Mr. Putin, are at greater risk.

The risk for the West, some warned, is that crushing sanctions could trigger a backlash.

“The medicine could turn out to be worse than the disease, even from the standpoint of the stated goals,” Enikolopov said, arguing that the sanctions could end up entrenching anti-Western views. “Nobody looks at collateral damage at all.”

On the shores of Lake Valdai in western Russia, Tatyana Makarova, an entrepreneur, said she supports Mr Putin’s war in Ukraine – and the impact of sanctions only shows that Russia has been overly dependent on the West. Ms Makarova, owner of a small cleaning business, said in a telephone interview that she believed the economic crisis would finally force Russia to develop local technology.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Faced with economic calamity, Putin talks about nationalizing Western companies
Faced with economic calamity, Putin talks about nationalizing Western companies
Newsrust - US Top News
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