The man who used to be the “Kremlin’s banker” argues that Vladimir Putin is a born-and-bred
Sovetskiy chelovek (Soviet man) — and that has informed his view of the world.
“Everything in his consciousness flows from the Soviet Union,” Sergei Pugachev told The Guardian’s Luke Harding. “He’s of this epoch. He saw [former Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev and the politburo. Like any simple person he formed his opinions from watching Soviet TV.”
Back during Putin’s first two terms, Pugachev was a big player in Moscow. He founded Mezhpromback (International Industrial Bank) in Moscow in 1992, and soon known as the “Kremlin’s banker.” He even claims to have been one-third of threesome that put Putin into power.
However, relations between Putin and Pugachev soured in 2010, and he ultimately fled to London in 2011.
Pugachev said that the Russian president “isn’t a strategist” and “is still not a politician.”
Instead, he “listens to the politburo that surrounds him, made up of KGB people. They are very aggressive.”
Furthermore, Pugachev argues, the influence of those KGB advisers is clear.
“I don’t think he’s an evil genius who wanted to set up the criminal regime that exists today,” he added. “He surrounded himself with like-minded people whom he didn’t know very well and who had served with him in the KGB. They immediately began enriching themselves.”
In the Guardian interview, Pugachev also highlighted a darker connection to the communist past: He believes that Putin will remain in office for life, not unlike Soviet leaders Brezhnev and Stalin.
“I don’t see any guarantees for him [if he steps down]. Putin doesn’t see them either.”
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