‘Not even insiders are safe’ Kremlin cracking down on ‘closed-doors’ criticism of war

Liberal economist Vladimir Mau’s arrest just hours after he was last week re-elected the Gazprom’s board of directors demonstrates that even those who hold good relations with the Kremlin leader are not safe, experts have claimed. Mau has publicly supported the war and signed an open letter pledging to “rally around the President” after the announcement of the “special military operation”.

But at the same time, he “tried to reform the system from within”, according to the Financial Times.

He will now be held under house arrest until August after being arrested on suspicion of fraud.

The FT described this as “a sign that Russia’s wartime crackdown now extends even to its loyal servants”.

Kirill Rogov, who previously advised Mau on an economic programme for the Kremlin, told the paper that the arrest suggests even closed-doors criticism of the Moscow regime is not tolerated from above.

He said: “This shows how merciless the regime is.

“Mau had a good personal relationship with Putin, but it doesn’t mean anything.”

Max Seddon of the FT added in a post on Twitter: “Last week, liberal economist Vladimir Mau was re-elected to Gazprom’s board.

“Hours later, police announced his arrest – a sign not even Kremlin insiders are safe.”

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Some told Bloomberg, on the condition of anonymity, that they feared their country would become increasingly isolated from the world as a result of the “special military operation”.

They added, however, that they felt they could not raise these concerns to Putin directly as they believe there was “no chance” he would change his mind.

At an economic forum last month, many officials were also reported to have done their utmost to avoid the subject of the war in Ukraine.

When Putin himself raised the topic, Mr Seddon noted that the response from the audience was mere “tepid applause”.

Such is the strength of Moscow’s grip on opposition thinking that Sergei Guriev, who once former President Dmitry Medvedev, told the FT: “If I were inter shoes, I would run now.

“But it will be much more difficult to run.”

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