High Profile Putin Adviser Flees Russia To Protest Ukraine Attack


Opposition inside Russia to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is continuing to build. Now, Bloomberg reports that “Russian climate envoy Anatoly Chubais has stepped down and left the country, citing his opposition to President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the situation, becoming the highest-level official to break with the Kremlin over the invasion.” Chubais “had maintained close ties with Western officials,” as Bloomberg explains, and he actually “gave Putin his first Kremlin job in the mid-1990s and initially welcomed his rise to power at the end of that decade,” according to the same outlet. Chubais’s specific role until his reported resignation in protest of the war was apparently that of envoy for sustainable development, to which Putin appointed him last year, according to Bloomberg’s description.

Inside Russia, there have been over 15,000 detentions of anti-war protesters since the current violence in Ukraine began to unfold, according to reporting from this past weekend. On this past Sunday, there were at least 936 arrests across 37 Russian cities in association with anti-war demonstrations, which have continued even through attempts by officials in the country to tamp down opposition. Jail terms of up to 15 years have been implemented for certain instances of spreading so-called fake news related to the war. Putin recently commented that “any people, and particularly the Russian people, will always be able to tell the patriots from the scum and traitors and spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths… I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge” — so clearly, Putin and his regime are standing by the violence in Ukraine.

There have also been protests against Russian invaders in temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory, including Kherson, where demonstrators were fired upon by Russian personnel. Putin and his regime have faced steep economic pushback from around the world in response to the invasion of Ukraine; measures along these lines have included sanctions targeting wealthy Russian individuals and an announced end to the most favored nation trade status designation that Russia previously held within the United States. The designation provided for relatively free trade between the two countries.

Russian oligarchs have faced asset seizures in multiple countries, including Spain, Italy, and France, and the values of these assets have repeatedly reached into hundreds of millions of dollars. A remarkably high-dollar vessel that is apparently the world’s largest sailing yacht and is owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Igorevich Melnichenko was recently seized by the Italian government. It’s some 470 feet long and is worth around $578 million. Among other seizures, the Swiss government also took control of what Reuters describes as a “luxury mountain home” from the apparent possession of Russian oligarch Petr Aven. The U.S. Justice Department stated that information provided by U.S. officials assisted with certain seizures overseas, although they didn’t specify which seizures were being referenced. Providing an unsurprising look ahead at what seems likely to be the prevailing global stance after the Ukraine war ends, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently said that “to try to re-normalize relations with Putin after this, as we did in 2014, would be to make exactly the same mistake again.”