According to the businessman, his bank card and accounts were blocked, because of which he cannot even pay for cleaning, much less find a new home to leave London. The founder of Alfa-Bank admitted that he feels "captured".
Billionaire Mikhail Fridman gave an interview to Bloomberg Businessweek for the first time since the start of Russia's "special operation" in Ukraine and falling under Western sanctions. In it, the founder of Alfa-Bank spoke about the difficulties he faced due to the freezing of accounts, and questioned the productivity of Western restrictions.
After falling under the sanctions, the billionaire, whose fortune was estimated at $ 15.5 billion in the latest Forbes rating, found himself in the "strange position of an 'oligarch' who has practically no money," writes Bloomberg Businessweek. The day after the imposition of EU sanctions, Friedman discovered that his bank card was not working.
The London-based entrepreneur said that once the accounts are blocked, he will have to get permission to spend money from the British government, which must determine whether his request is "reasonable". Friedman's expenses could be capped at around £2,500 (about $3,300) per month, the newspaper notes.
According to the entrepreneur himself, now he is trying to figure out how to pay even small expenses - for example, cleaning. “Maybe I should clean the house myself. This is fine. As a student, I lived in a small dorm room with four other men. But after 35 years, this is unexpected, ”says the billionaire.
The businessman has an Israeli passport, but there is no housing there, and now there is no access to money to buy such real estate, writes Bloomberg Businessweek. “I am a prisoner here,” Friedman admits. According to the entrepreneur, he has no real estate other than his mansion in London, a house in Moscow and an apartment for his parents in Latvia. At the same time, he noted that his problems are “nothing” compared to the situation in Ukraine.
Friedman considers Western sanctions directed against him, his partner Pyotr Aven and other representatives of Russian business as illogical. According to him, European leaders mistakenly believe that businessmen can influence the conduct of a "military operation" in Ukraine. “This means that those who make these decisions do not understand anything about how Russia works. And it is dangerous for the future,” said the billionaire.
Friedman also admitted that he hoped to protect himself from sanctions restrictions through partnerships with Western companies and institutions, including the Alfa Group scholarship program, which allowed residents of the US, UK and Germany to live and work in Russia. “We sincerely believed that we are such good friends of the Western world that we cannot be punished,” the businessman said.
Fridman and Aven came under EU sanctions on February 28. They vowed to challenge the restrictions. On March 15, the United Kingdom also imposed sanctions against them. “I don't know how to live on. I do not know. I really don't know," Friedman told Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Stephanie Becker by phone afterward. “He sounded confused,” she describes.