It is “foolish” to believe that Western sanctions against Russian businesses could have any effect on the Moscow government, Russian ex-president and deputy head of security council Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying on Friday.
The sanctions will only consolidate the Russian society and not cause popular discontent with the authorities, Medvedev told Russia’s RIA news agency in an interview.
The West has imposed an array of sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, but one month into the war, the Kremlin says it will continue the assault until it accomplishes its goals of Ukraine’s “demilitarisation and denazification”.
Some of the sanctions have specifically targeted billionaire businessmen believed to be close to President Vladimir Putin.
“Let us ask ourselves: can any of these major businessmen have even the tiniest quantum of influence of the position of the country’s leadership?” Medvedev said.
“I openly tell you: no, no way.”
Medvedev said opinion polls showed that three-fourths of Russians supported the Kremlin’s decision to carry out a military operation in Ukraine and even more supported President Vladimir Putin.
He lashed out at those Russians who spoke against the invasion while staying outside Russia:
“You can be dissatisfied with some of the authorities’ decisions, criticise the authorities – this is normal,” he said.
“But you cannot take a stand against the state in such a difficult situation, because this is treason.”
Thousands of people were earlier this month detained at Russia-wide protests against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, according to an independent protest monitoring group.