Sanctions 'Shock Therapy' for 'Brainwashed' Russians: Ex-Yeltsin Official

Andrei Kozyrev, who served as Russian Foreign Minister under former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, said Saturday that sanctions the West has imposed on Russia are important because they "should be a wakeup call" for Russians who are "brainwashed" by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His comments came during an interview on CNN, after the former Russian official was asked about a rally that Putin held in Moscow on Friday to mark the eighth anniversary of the country's annexation of Crimea, and tout Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Host Fredricka Whitfield showed video footage from the rally and asked Kozyrev if the thousands of people in the stadium are "all brainwashed."

"Is it that they all are in agreement with Putin? Or is there some other motivation for being there in these numbers, waving the flag and cheering on Putin in the middle of this invasion?" she asked.

"According to sources from Russia, many of them disagree, many," Kozyrev responded. He said some of the people in the crowd are intimidated—"and that's [Putin's] strategy...towards the West, his strategy towards the Ukraine and his strategy towards the Russian to intimidate"

Kozyrev also believes people were paid to be at the rally and argued that "some of them, probably a considerable amount of them, are really brainwashed."

"That's why the sanctions, even if they hit the population, are important. Because it should be a wakeup call, some kind of shock therapy, for those people to wake up to what really is happening," he added.

In February, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. had sanctioned Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, targeting major banks, members of the Russian elite, and restricting the country's ability to import certain goods from the U.S.

Sanctions ‘Shock Therapy’ for 'Brainwashed' Russians
Andrei Kozyrev, who previously served as Russian Foreign Minister said sanctions "should be a wakeup call" for Russians who are "brainwashed" by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Above, Putin speaks during a rally in Moscow, Russia, on March 18. Contributor

One Russian economist warned this month that Russia's economy is facing a "disaster" in the wake of the economic measures.

Ruben Enikolopov, an economist and rector of Moscow's New Economics School, told the Moscow Times that Russian officials aren't doing enough in response to the sanctions.

"In terms of the government, the problem is that they're silent about the economy," he said. "The first reaction for many of them—because they grew up in the Soviet Union, so that's the mentality they have—is price controls and things like that. They might work temporarily, but in the long run, it's a disaster for the economy."

Following Russia's invasion, major ratings agencies including Fitch and Moody's have downgraded Russia's credit rating.