Thousands of millionaires russians may be preparing to leave their country while the war with ukraine continues, the UK Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update today, signaling possible opposition or concerns among the Russian elite over the economic costs of foreign sanctions.
About 15,000 Russian millionaires have submitted migration requests and may be preparing to leave the country, the intelligence update said.
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The ministry notes that the potential exodus could be motivated by people’s “personal opposition to the invasion” or fears about the economic impact of Western sanctions against Russia.
The departure of large numbers of wealthy Russians from the country could only serve to worsen its long-term economic prospects, the update noted.
Despite the efforts of Kremlin to quell all opposition to the war, several Russians have joined the so-called “Legion of Freedom for Russia”, which is now fighting alongside Ukrainian forces, the report adds.
As its progress in Ukraine slowed, Moscow passed laws to silence any opposition to the war, including a 15-year prison sentence for sharing what is considered false information about the military. Most of the Russian elite expressed support for the war or remained silent about it. Those who spoke out against the invasion, such as banking magnate and former billionaire Oleg Tinkov, would have faced a backlash from the state. Last month, Tinkov said he was forced by the Kremlin to sell his stake in Russia’s second-largest bank without any negotiation opportunities. Tinkov, who now lives in Italy, has voiced his opposition to what he called the “mad war”. The former billionaire suggested that several members of Russia’s business and government elite agreed with him privately but were too afraid to speak out publicly.
Several Russian oligarchs and their foreign-owned assets have been targeted by Western sanctions since the start of the Russian invasion. This has led to the seizure of multimillion-dollar yachts and villas owned by oligarchs with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this month, US officials formally seized a superyacht linked to Russian gold tycoon and billionaire Suleiman Kerimov. Yachts belonging to other Russian billionaires such as Igor Sechin and mining tycoon Alisher Usmanov were also seized by European authorities. The biggest highlight of these seizures came last month, when Italian authorities seized a superyacht believed to be owned by Putin himself.
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