Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Navalny aide urges sanctions on Russian oligarchs

Navalny aide urges sanctions on Russian oligarchs

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Leonid Volkov, Chief of Staff of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, speaks during an interview in Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Tuesday. AFP

Navalny aide urges sanctions on Russian oligarchs

A top aide of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called for sanctions on top Russian oligarchs in an interview with AFP, as the US followed the EU in imposing sanctions on some officials.

Leonid Volkov also said Navalny’s anti-corruption movement was hoping to unseat “at least 60 to 70” deputies from President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party in elections this year.

The aide, who runs Navalny’s political campaign across Russia, said EU sanctions against four Russian officials involved in Navalny’s detention were a “good step forward”, but “not enough”.

Washington on March 2 also adopted sanctions on seven government officials, signalling a harder line from US President Joe Biden.

But, speaking in his office in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, Volkov said: “What would really create leverage against Putin would be sanctioning the close circle of his oligarchs.”

Volkov said he was “very disappointed” by remarks from EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell about sanctions being targeted at people “directly connected” to Navalny’s arrest, arguing that oligarchs close to Putin were also linked.

“There is such a clear connection and we will do our best to convince European politicians that such a connection exists.

“But still, even if only those four people are on the list, it’s a very important first step,” said Volkov, who is currently wanted in Russia and its former Soviet allies on charges of encouraging minors to attend pro-Navalny demonstrations.

Volkov said key figures close to Putin who were not on the EU sanctions list “will definitely feel very vulnerable”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on March 2 brushed off the sanctions, saying that “such a policy does not achieve its goals”.

Navalny was jailed in January after returning to Moscow from Germany, where he had spent months recovering from a poisoning with a banned nerve agent he blames on Putin.

The Kremlin denies it was behind the attack.

The imprisonment of Putin’s best-known opponent sparked nationwide protests that saw thousands of demonstrators detained and triggered calls in the West for Navalny’s release.

The 44-year-old campaigner was reportedly transferred to a penal colony some 100km east of Moscow last week to serve out his sentence of two and a half years.

Volkov said Navalny’s campaign would try to field its own candidates in elections in September but, failing that, would call for “smart voting” in favour of other candidates to try to oust lawmakers from the ruling United Russia party.

“We expect that we will be able to unseat at least 60 to 70 incumbent United Russia members of the Duma . . . which will be a major blow for them,” he said, adding that the aim was to “cause as much political damage to United Russia as possible”.

Volkov said the elections were “crucial” because the next parliament will be in power during the 2024 presidential election when Putin will have to consider whether to run again and extend his more than two decades in power.

Despite a wave of arrests against organisers of Navalny’s anti-corruption campaign, Volkov said they would be able to increase the number of regional offices to 45 from 37 currently.

Asked about Amnesty International’s decision last month to strip Navalny of “prisoner of conscience” status because of his past ultra-nationalist views, Volkov said the respected human rights group had been “manipulated by Kremlin propaganda”.

“It has been weaponised by Putin,” he said.


  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished