The following is an excerpt from Polina Ivanova | March 13, 2018 | reuters.com |
MOSCOW, March 13 (Reuters) - Britain’s response to the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal on its soil, using a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union, could hit members of the Russian elite hard if it closes the door on their London lifestyles.
Britain gave Russian President Vladimir Putin until midnight on Tuesday to provide an explanation for the attack, and is due to consider its official response on Wednesday.
One possible counter-measure, suggested by British lawmaker Tom Tugendhat, could involve denying Russia’s so-called oligarchs access to the luxuries of London, where many have channelled their fortunes, traded their companies and relocated their family lives.
Most prominent among the residents of “Londongrad”, as the British capital has been nicknamed for its popularity among the Russian elite, are Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, respectively owner and major shareholder of the English football clubs Chelsea and Arsenal.
But they are far from alone. Around 10-15 percent of the 96 Russians on the so-called “oligarch list” published by the U.S. Treasury Department in January could have close ties to Britain, according to Vladimir Ashurkov, a businessman and critic of the Kremlin based in London.
“It’s very possible that Britain will take measures that could affect these individuals,” Ashurkov said.
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