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Sanctions are felt in Russia

A prominent Russian economist, Konstantin Sonin, told the ABC that Russians are already feeling the pain of sanctions imposed by the West.

Many Russians are in trouble because of Western sanctions. Many here try to withdraw funds in St. Petersburg. Reuters: Anton Vaganov

Professor Sonin is one of around 300 economists who have signed a petition calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. He says the sanctions are “unprecedented”.

“Never such heavy penalties [been] imposed on such a large country with such a developed and advanced financial system,” he said.

He believes they will have a broad impact on Russian workers – the middle and upper classes and the oligarchs – leading to higher prices, shortages of certain products and restrictions on travel abroad.

“Only about 20% of Russians travel abroad. But these are still tens of millions of people, everyone knows that if you travel abroad and [you have] Russian cards, they wouldn’t work there,” he says.

Yet even if the sanctions lead Russians to protest against President Vladimir Putin, Professor Sonin says they are unlikely to bring about his downfall on their own.

“Historically, most authoritarian regimes are overthrown by internal coups,” he said.

“They can be driven by discontent, popular anxiety and things like that. But it’s usually the coup, not a mass revolution.”

Reporting by Europe Desk Manager Steve Cannane

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