Russia’s second-richest man Vladimir Potanin has spoken out against the idea of confiscating the assets of foreign corporate giants that have opted to quit the country. He said such actions could take the nation back to the tragic days of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.
Potanin – the president and biggest shareholder of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s number one producer of palladium and high-grade nickel – has urged the Russian authorities to respond with pragmatism to its isolation from the global economy.
“Firstly, it would take us back 100 years, to 1917, and the consequences of such a step – global distrust of Russia on the part of investors, [which] we would experience for many decades,” Potanin said via Norilsk Nickel’s Telegram account.
“Secondly, the decision of many companies to suspend operations in Russia is, I would say, somewhat emotional in nature and may have been taken as a result of unprecedented pressure on them from public opinion abroad,” the billionaire added.
He claimed that foreign businesses would come back to the country, and called for this opportunity to be preserved.
“We see that the West’s own economies have suffered by imposing sanctions against Russia. So we must be wiser and avoid a scenario under which our sanctions hit us,” said Potanin, who has not been sanctioned by the West.
“We should not try to ‘slam the door’ but endeavor to preserve Russia’s economic position in those markets, which we spent so long cultivating.”
The EU, the US and some other counties have already imposed several rounds of severe sanctions on Moscow, targeting the country’s banking and industrial sector, freezing its foreign reserves, and causing a mass exodus of foreign businesses from the country.
Russian politicians have claimed that companies leaving Russia could be nationalized and restrictions could be imposed on property rights. A ban on voting by blocks of shares in subsidiaries has also been mooted, along with proposals to block assets and other measures.
However, instead of imposing such extreme measures, Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported the proposal for the external management of foreign companies leaving Russia.
“We ourselves are not going to close from anyone. We are open to work with all our foreign partners who want it,” he said.