Mikhail Kasyanov, former Russian Prime Minister and an open critic of Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, said that western countries should continue to target Putin’s inner circle as punishment for Russia annexing the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March.
“People became nervous. Some of them already signaled in the inner cycle that they don’t like it, because what they are dreaming about, bragging [about] and enjoying—now everything could disappear,” he said during a visit to Ottawa this week.
Kasyanov said Putin thought he could get away with invading neighboring countries after he invaded Georgia with little consequence in 2008.
Business went back to usual three months after Russia signed an agreement with the European Council to de-escalate the conflict in Georgia, which it never fully implemented.
Kasyanov said the West needs to stand up to Putin, otherwise he will continue to pursue his national interests unchecked, and sanctions are a good first step.
Mikhail Kasyanov served as Russia’s Prime Minister starting in 2000 till he was expelled by Putin in 2004. He said that in a short time, Putin destroyed the whole institute of a democracy in the country.
“Right now we don’t have a single feature of a democratic state – don’t have free media, don’t have [an] independent judiciary, no separation of powers and no free elections,” said Kasyanov.
He was one of the 20,000 people who came out to protest the 2012 presidential elections Putin won, saying the elections were rigged and the results not credible.